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Great French War
Part of Second Hundred Years' War
Andrieux - La bataille de Waterloo.jpg

Battle of Waterloo
Date 1792 – 1815 (23 years)
Location Europe (primarily Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Russia, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain), Egypt, Palestine
Result Coalition victory (French victory in the French Revolutionary Wars; French victories during the Napoleonic Wars but final Coalition victory at Waterloo)

The Great French War is a term sometimes used to describe the period of almost continuous conflict from April 20, 1792 to November 20, 1815 (23 years 7 months), between France and various other states of Europe. Nowadays, historians commonly recognize a split between the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.

The conflict began when France declared war on Austria following a gradual increase in tensions following the French Revolution in 1789. The wars continued through several régime changes in France (beginning with the deposition of King Louis XVI in 1792 and continuing through the Terror instigated by the Jacobins under Maximilien de Robespierre). The Jacobins were in turn overthrown and an Executive Directory set up, eventually also giving way to the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte—first as First Consul then as Emperor.

The Treaty of Amiens produced the only period of general peace during the Great French War (besides Napoleon's brief exile on Elba), and separates the earlier French Revolutionary Wars from the later Napoleonic Wars, although both terms are sometimes used to cover the entire period.

In total the war claimed between 4 million and 6.5 million lives (including civilian casualties) and involved between 6 and 10 million combatants. It was fought principally in Europe, but conflict did occur in both north Africa and South Africa as well as in South America, North America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, India and throughout much of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Some colonial possessions changed hands permanently, with crucial implications for their later history, such as South Africa.

The wars saw the rise and fall of French dominance over Europe, as well as the rapid decline of the Spanish and Portuguese empires. The Russian and British Empires thus both benefited from the wars in the short term. One lasting result of the conflict was a dramatic growth in Italian and German nationalism, which culminated in the unification of Italy in 1861 and of Germany in 1871. The war proved to be the last ever fought between Britain and France, ending the Second Hundred Years' War that had seen them constantly in conflict between 1689 and 1815.

See also




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