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Rheinbund (de)
États confédérés du Rhin (fr)
Confederation of the Rhine
Confederation of Client states of France

1806–1813 Wappen Deutscher Bund.svg
Flag Rheinbundmedaille
The Confederation of the Rhine in 1812
Capital Frankfurt
Political structure Confederation
Protector Napoleon I of France
Prince-Primate
 - 1806-1813 Karl von Dalberg
 - 1813 Eugène de Beauharnais
Historical era Napoleonic Wars
 - Formation 12 July 1806
 - Holy Roman Empire dissolved 6 August 1806
 - Collapse 4 November 1813
Today part of  Austria
 Czech Republic
 Germany
 Italy
 Liechtenstein
 Poland

The Confederation of the Rhine or Rhine Confederation (German: Rheinbund; French: États confédérés du Rhin officially and Confédération du Rhin in practice) was a confederation of client states of the First French Empire. It was formed initially from 16 German states by Napoleon after he defeated Austria's Francis II and Russia's Alexander I in the Battle of Austerlitz. The Treaty of Pressburg, in effect, led to the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine. It lasted from 1806 to 1813.

The members of the confederation were German princes (Fürsten) from the Holy Roman Empire. They were later joined by 19 others, all together ruling a total of over 15 million subjects providing a significant strategic advantage to the French Empire on its eastern front.

Contents

Formation

On 12 July 1806, on signing the Treaty of the Confederation of the Rhine (German: Rheinbundakte), 16 states in present-day Germany formally left the Holy Roman Empire and joined together in a confederation (the treaty called it the états confédérés du Rhin, with a precursor in the League of the Rhine). Napoleon was its "protector." On 6 August, following an ultimatum by Napoleon, Francis II gave up his title of Emperor and declared the Holy Roman Empire dissolved. In the years that followed, 23 more German states joined the Confederation; Francis's Habsburg dynasty would rule the remainder of the empire as Austria. Only Austria, Prussia, Danish Holstein, and Swedish Pomerania stayed outside, not counting the west bank of the Rhine and Principality of Erfurt, which were annexed by the French empire.

According to the treaty, the confederation was to be run by common constitutional bodies, but the individual states (in particular the larger ones) wanted unlimited sovereignty.

Instead of a monarchical head of state, as the Holy Roman Emperor had been, its highest office was held by Karl Theodor von Dalberg, the former Arch Chancellor, who now bore the title of a Prince-Primate of the confederation. As such, he was President of the College of Kings and presided over the Diet of the Confederation, designed to be a parliament-like body though it never actually assembled. The President of the Council of the Princes was the Prince of Nassau-Usingen.

The Confederation was above all a military alliance: the members had to supply France with large numbers of military personnel. In return for their cooperation some state rulers were given higher statuses: Baden, Hesse, Cleves, and Berg were made into grand duchies, and Württemberg and Bavaria became kingdoms. States were also made larger by incorporating the many smaller "Kleinstaaten," or small former imperial member states.

After Prussia lost to France in 1806, many medium-sized and small states joined the Rheinbund. It was at its largest in 1808, including four kingdoms, five grand duchies, 13 duchies, seventeen principalities, and the Free Hansa towns of Hamburg, Lübeck, and Bremen.

In 1810 large parts of northwest Germany were quickly incorporated into the Napoleonic Empire in order to better monitor the trade embargo with Great Britain, the Continental System.

The Confederation of the Rhine collapsed in 1813, with the aftermath of Napoleon's failed campaign against the Russian Empire. Many of its members changed sides after the Battle of the Nations, when it became apparent Napoleon would lose the War of the Sixth Coalition.

Member monarchies

The following table shows the members of the confederation, with their date of joining, as well as the number of troops provided, listed in parenthesis.[1]

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Member states of the Confederation of the Rhine,1812
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The College of Kings

Flag Member monarchy Year joined Notes
Grand Duchy of Baden 01806-07-12 12 July 1806 Co-founder; former margraviate (8000)
Kingdom of Bavaria 01806-07-12 12 July 1806 Co-founder; former duchy (30,000)
Grand Duchy of Berg 01806-07-12 12 July 1806 Co-founder; absorbed Cleves, both formerly Duchies (5000)
Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt 01806-07-12 12 July 1806 Co-founder; former landgraviate (4000)
Principality of Regensburg 01806-07-12 12 July 1806 Co-founder; formerly Prince-Archbishopric and Electorate; after 1810 the Frankfurt Grand Duchy of Frankfurt
Kingdom of Saxony 01806-12-11 11 December 1806 Former duchy (20,000)
Kingdom of Westphalia 01807-11-15 15 November 1807 Napoleonic creation (25,000)
Kingdom of Württemberg 01806-07-12 12 July 1806 Co-founder; former duchy (12,000)
Grand Duchy of Würzburg 01806-09-23 23 September 1806 Napoleonic creation (2000)

The College of Princes

Flag Member monarchy Year joined Notes
Duchy of Anhalt-Bernburg 01807-04-11 11 April 1807 (700)
Duchy of Anhalt-Dessau 01807-04-11 11 April 1807 (700)
Duchy of Anhalt-Köthen 01807-04-11 11 April 1807 (700)
Duchy of Arenberg 01806-07-12 12 July 1806 Co-founder; mediatized 13 December 1810 (4000)
Principality of Hohenzollern-Hechingen 01806-07-12 12 July 1806 Co-founder (4000)
Principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen 01806-07-12 12 July 1806 Co-founder (4000)
Principality of Isenburg-Birstein 01806-07-12 12 July 1806 Co-founder (4000)
Principality of Leyen 01806-07-12 12 July 1806 Co-founder; former countship or graviate (4000)
Principality of Liechtenstein 01806-07-12 12 July 1806 Co-founder (4000)
Principality of Lippe-Detmold 01807-04-11 11 April 1807 (650)
Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin 01808-03-22 22 March 1808 (1900)
Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz 01808-02-18 18 February 1808 (400)
Duchy of Nassau (Usingen and Weilburg) 01806-07-12 12 July 1806* Union of Nassau Usingen Nassau-Usingen and Nassau-Weilburg Nassau-Weilburg, both co-founders (4000 each)
Duchy of Oldenburg 01808-10-14 14 October 1808 annexed by France 13 December 1810 (800)
Principality of Reuss-Ebersdorf 01807-04-11 11 April 1807 (400)
Principality of Reuss-Greiz 01807-04-11 11 April 1807 (400)
Principality of Reuss-Lobenstein 01807-04-11 11 April 1807 (400)
Principality of Reuss-Schleiz 01807-04-11 11 April 1807 (400)
Principality of Salm (Salm-Salm and Salm-Kyrburg) 01806-07-25 25 July 1806 Co-founder; annexed by France 13 December 1810 (4000)
Duchy of Saxe-Coburg 01806-12-15 15 December 1806 (part of 2000 for Saxe duchies)
Duchy of Saxe-Gotha 01806-12-15 15 December 1806 (part of 2000 for Saxe duchies)
Duchy of Saxe-Hildburghausen 01806-12-15 15 December 1806 (part of 2000 for Saxe duchies)
Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen 01806-12-15 15 December 1806 (part of 2000 for Saxe duchies)
Duchy of Saxe-Weimar 01806-12-15 15 December 1806 (part of 2000 for Saxe duchies)
Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe 01807-04-11 11 April 1807 (650)
Principality of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt 01807-04-11 11 April 1807 (650)
Principality of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen 01807-04-11 11 April 1807 (650)
Principality of Waldeck 01807-04-11 11 April 1807 (400)

Aftermath

The allies opposing Napoleon dissolved the Confederation of the Rhine 4 November 1813. After its demise, the only attempt at political coordination in Germany until the creation on 8 June 1815 of the German Confederation was a body called the Central Administration Council (German: Zentralverwaltungsrat); its President was Heinrich Friedrich Karl Reichsfreiherr vom und zum Stein (1757 – 1831). It was dissolved on 20 June 1815.

On 30 May 1814 the Treaty of Paris declared the German states independent.

In 1815, the Congress of Vienna redrew the continent's political map. In fact, most surviving members had only minor border changes, and the resulting German Confederation consisted more or less of the same members as the Confederation of the Rhine, with the important addition of the two German great powers of Austria and Prussia.

See also

References

Sources and external links


Simple English

The Confederation of the Rhine was a client state of First French Empire. It existed from 1806 through 1813. Its ruler was a Protector, who was Napoleon I of France. It was one of the succesors of Holy Roman Empire and one of the predecessors of German Confederation.


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