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Pax Francia? Napoleon applies the Strasbourg Memorandum.

Visigoethe

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The year of 1805 would be the apex of Napoleon's maneuverings in Europe. Crushing a renewed and rejuvenated coalition at Ulm and Austerlitz he would have the opportunity to completely re-shape Europe however to his liking. The resultant Treaty of Pressburg signed with Austria produced the worst of both worlds. It stripped Austria of territory without taking enough to render the Habsburgs subservient. The Austrian empire would remain quite intact but embarrassed on the continental stage and with little incentive not to strike at Bonaparte again. The slapdash creation of the Confederation of The Rhine spawning from the French victory would anger Prussia, especially as they had no prior input or notification in its creation. The CotR and the overall treatment of Austria in the peace process by Napoleon encouraged Prussia to mobilize and eventually kick off the War of The Fourth Coalition. Leading to Napoleon's final victory* and the seeds of his demise. The creation of the Continental System, followed shortly thereafter by the invasion of Spain and the disaster in Russia.

But it didn't have to have to be this way. While Napoleon conducted his Ulm campaign, his foreign minister Talleyrand was drafting a series of proposals at the fortress in Strasbourg for something approaching a permanent peace for the First French Empire. The details of the Strasbourg memorandum was thus:
- Napoleon will give up his claim to be "King of Italy" (likely making Beauharnais the independent king)
- The Austrian's will release all of their recently-conquered Venetian lands (along with Trieste and the rest of Istria) as a new neutral, merchant republic.
- Austria will cede Tyrol to someone of their choosing (assuming this means like OTL it will pass to Bavaria but some scholars believe this means an independent Tyrolean kingdom to a friendly Austrian noble). Also, as per otl, the Habsburgs will lose their Further Austrian lands to the South German kingdoms.
- Austria will be compensated by these losses with the taking of Moldavia, Wallachia, and Northern Bulgaria from the Ottomans. In return, Austria will act as a protector to the Ottomans from further aggression by the British and Russians.
- The French and Austrians will recognize all of their previous territorial gains and promise not to take any more territory from each other.
- France will come to Austria's aid against Russian aggression.

The main thrust of the proposals was to be lenient on the Austrians and re-direct their attention from Central Germany and the Adriatic to the mouth of the Danube and the Black Sea. In effect creating two buffers, 1) between the French and Austrians by ceding Tyrol and re-establishing Venice and 2) setting up the frontiers of Austria, Prussia, and likely a re-constituted Poland as a buffer between the French and Russians. Talleyrand's purpose with the memorandum was to create a lasting-alliance between the French and Austrians to rule over Europe. Some see it as an early attempt by Talleyrand of creating a balance-of-power and permanent peace similar to the later "Concert of Europe", but to me, personally, it looks more like taking away the burden of Napoleonic conflict from France and pushing it instead on the nations that happen to border Russia. Whom Talleyrand had regarded with suspicion ever since the partition of Poland.

*Ok technically that would be the War of the Fifth Coalition, but, I mean, c'mon. The jig was already up even then.

"Two months earlier, Talleyrand had sent him a memorandum on the subject of a Franco-Austrian alliance, which in instinct with statesman-like foresight. He stated that there were four Great Powers—France, Great Britain, Russia, and Austria: he excluded Prussia, whose rise to greatness under Frederick the great was but temporary. Austria, he claimed, must remain a great power. She had opposed revolutionary France; but with Imperial France, she had no lasting quarrel. Rather did her manifest destiny clash with that of Russia on the lower Danube, where the approaching break-up of the Ottoman Power must bring those States into conflict. It was good policy, then, to give a decided but friendly turn of Hapsburg policy towards the east. Let Napoleon frankly approach the Emperor Francis and say in effect: 'I never sought this war with you, but I have conquered: I wish to restore complete harmony between us: and, in order to remove all causes of dispute, you must give up your Swabian, Tyrolese, and Venetian lands: of these Tyrol shall fall to a prince of your choice, and Venice (along with Trieste and Istria) shall form an aristocratic Republic under a magistrate nominated in the first instance by me. As a set-off to these losses, you shall receive Moldavia, Wallachia, and northern Bulgaria. If the Russians object to this and attack you, I will be your ally.' Such was Talleyrand's proposal."
(Rose, John Holland. The Life of Napoleon I, Chapter 23 "Austerlitz", Page 544. The MacMillan Company, New York, 1918)
strasbourg mem big.png (Thumbnail map. Click to make bigger.)

Reading through lots of Napoleonic history recently and contemplating what Napoleon winning would look like, this particular scenario struck me as one of the most plausible. There's still a lot of hinges, getting both parties to accept this new order is a tall task. But Napoleon was reported to actually be fairly wavering during these peace negotiations between leniency and harshness. Perhaps while campaigning he suffers a painful victory like Wagram and decides that now is the time to settle with Austria (maybe even settled with an earlier marriage into the Habsburgs). Adolphe Thiers believed that the Strasbourg Memorandum could never work because Austria would be too reticent to take up an aggressive stance towards Russia. But with Napoleon in Vienna, I don't think they'd have much choice in the matter.

In my map, I've paired the Strasbourg Memorandum's proposals with the proposed lands to be given to Prussia in return for an alliance by the French foreign ministry that was happening at the same time. (Talleyrand personally had given up on an idea of a Prussian alliance after 1803 but let's say that he had a change of heart and also accepted it for balance's sake). Basically, whereas the French would have mastery of the Confederation of the Rhine along their borders and in Southern Germany, the Prussians would have a confederation of their own and incorporate Hesse-Kassel, Brunswick, Hanover, the two Mecklenburgs, and the Hanseatic Cities (Napoleon never really cared for these lands with the exception of the Hanseatic Cities which might stay independent in this universe). I've also had the Austrians set up a client state in troublesome Serbia which seems likely given that the first big Serb uprising has just kicked off.

So SLP, is this a plausible scenario for a Napoleon victory? What would be the reaction on the Austrian and Ottoman end of things? What does the world look like where Napoleon and Talleyrand never had their rupture in relations? Could Romania and Bulgaria be that easily assimilated into the Austrian Empire? Is France destined to be the world's strongest power with this agreement? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this and any other comments people would like to add!
 

Redolegna

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1) The snake Thiers should be relied on as much as... no, I've got nothing as untrustworthy as him. Talleyrand likewise.

2) Austria won't see this as being merciful, it will see it as being stripped of lands which are its since time immemorial (the Tyrol particularly) and being made a French protectorate. And taking lands from the Ottomans? vite dit !

3) The Prussians should get prizes why? They're already dangerous, gifting them land everywhere will just encourage.

4) None of this will appease the British and it will madden the Russians. Since the Austrians and the Prussians got stronger and don't like Napoléon anymore than they ever will and his legitimacy at home rests on his military prowesses, that does not strengthen his rule, domestically or abroad.
 

Cevolian

Well-known member
1) The snake Thiers should be relied on as much as... no, I've got nothing as untrustworthy as him. Talleyrand likewise.

2) Austria won't see this as being merciful, it will see it as being stripped of lands which are its since time immemorial (the Tyrol particularly) and being made a French protectorate. And taking lands from the Ottomans? vite dit !

3) The Prussians should get prizes why? They're already dangerous, gifting them land everywhere will just encourage.

4) None of this will appease the British and it will madden the Russians. Since the Austrians and the Prussians got stronger and don't like Napoléon anymore than they ever will and his legitimacy at home rests on his military prowesses, that does not strengthen his rule, domestically or abroad.
Also one of the major through lines of Thermidorian to Napoleonic diplomacy was that Prussia should be moved East at the expense of Russia, not West, and that Western Germany should be reorganised into one or two medium sized pro-French states to balance the former HRE and buffer France against Prussia and Austria. So highly doubt you’d get a Prussia actually compensated with Hannover.
 
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