Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 53

Napoleonic Wars - Political effects of the wars, Military legacy of the wars, First Coalition 1792–1797, Second Coalition 1798–1801

economic britain french

(1800–15) The continuation of the Revolutionary Wars, fought to preserve French hegemony in Europe. They were initially a guarantee for the political, social, and economic changes of the 1789 Revolution, but increasingly became a manifestation of Napoleon's personal ambitions. The wars began with Napoleon's destruction of the Second Coalition (1800). After a peaceful interlude (1802–3) Britain resumed hostilities, prompting Napoleon to prepare for invasion, and encouraging the formation of a Third Coalition (1805–7). While Britain retained naval superiority (1805), Napoleon established territorial domination, sustained by economic warfare, resulting in the invasions of Spain (1808) and Russia (1812). Gradually the French were overwhelmed by the Fourth Coalition (1813–14); the Hundred Days' epilogue ended with Waterloo (1815).

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