On this day in 1814, the Treaty of Fontainebleau was signed by Napoleon and representatives of Austria, Russia and Prussia. It put an end to the War of the Sixth Coalition (1812-1814) and ratified Napoleon’s abdication as emperor of France.
The War of the Sixth Coalition started in 1812 after Napoleon unsuccessfully attempted to invade Russia. Although initially supporting France, Prussia and Austria decided to switch sides and join Russia, Sweden, Portugal, Great Britain, Spain and some German states to stop Napoleon from conquering more territories. The conflict saw some major battles such as the Battle of the Nations, in which the allies forced the Napoleonic armies out of Germany in 1813. When the Emperor refused to cede all of his territories in Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland to the Coalition, they proceeded to invade France. After a brief military campaign, they occupied Paris and Napoleon was then compelled to enter into negotiations.
The allies negotiated with the French Senate Napoleon’s abdication and prompted them to form a provisional government. On April 2, the Senate agreed to the Coalition’s terms and issued a decree deposing the French Emperor, who abdicated in favour of his son. However, this idea was rejected and he was forced to renounce to his heirs’ claim to the throne of France and Italy. Over the following days, the Treaty of Fontainebleau was negotiated.
The Treaty was signed on April 11 by all sides and ratified by Napoleon on the 13th. It consisted of 21 articles, among which the most important one was the deposition of Napoleon’s powers. Still, he and his wife Marie-Louise were allowed to keep their titles as emperor and empress. Moreover, Napoleon was forced to go into exile to the island of Elba, which became a separate principality to be ruled by him. Despite that, he was allowed to take with him 400 men as his guard to the island.
In another article of the agreement, Empress Marie-Louise was granted the Duchy of Parma, the Duchy of Placentia and the Ducky of Guastalla and one of her male descendants would receive the title of Prince of Parma, Placentia and Guastalla. However, Napoleon had to cede all of his estates in France to the French crown and give back all of his crown jewels.
The Treaty of Fontainebleau was followed by the Treaty of Paris, which was signed on May 30, 1814, and put an end to the war between France and the allies. A few months later, the Congress of Vienna (1814-185) was held to negotiate France’s fate. The outcome of the Congress was the reduction of France’s frontiers to that of those before the war of the first coalition, the elimination of the Duchy of Warsaw and the addition of some German states to Prussia.
In the meanwhile, as Napoleon’s abdication left the French throne empty, the Senate looked for another candidate to become ruler. They decided to offer the crown to the Count of Provence, brother of King Louis XVI, who had been killed during the French Revolution. The Count was then crowned Louis XVIII.
- war of the sixth coalition
- congress of vienna
- battle of the nations