Napoleon's role in serfdom abolition

Napoleon's role in serfdom abolition

It is known that Napoleon has given constitutions to a set of countries. The constitutions were written in the style of the French one.

How many of those napoleonic constitutions have played a role in serfdom abolition?

I know that serfdom has been cancelled at least in Duchy if Warsaw and Westphalia, but surely there are more to it. On the other hand, some places could have already gotten rid of serfdom in advance. And some could restore it right after Napoleon's fall.

Whenever Napoleon conquered land the Napoleonic Code followed. The Napoleonic Code abolished all feudalism, therefor serfdom was no longer needed because it was the lowest social class in the feudal society.

The Emancipation of the Russian Serfs, 1861

Michael Lynch takes a fresh look at the key reform of 19th-century Russia.

In 1861 serfdom, the system which tied the Russian peasants irrevocably to their landlords, was abolished at the Tsar’s imperial command. Four years later, slavery in the USA was similarly declared unlawful by presidential order. Tsar Alexander II (1855-81) shared with his father, Nicholas I, a conviction that American slavery was inhumane. This is not as hypocritical as it might first appear. The serfdom that had operated in Russia since the middle of the seventeenth century was technically not slavery. The landowner did not own the serf. This contrasted with the system in the USA where the negro slaves were chattels that is, they were regarded in law as the disposable property of their masters. In Russia the traditional relationship between lord and serf was based on land. It was because he lived on his land that the serf was bound to the lord.

The Russian system dated back to 1649 and the introduction of a legal code which had granted total authority to the landowner to control the life and work of the peasant serfs who lived on his land. Since this included the power to deny the serf the right to move elsewhere, the difference between slavery and serfdom in practice was so fine as to be indistinguishable. The purpose behind the granting of such powers to the Russian dvoriane (nobility of landowners) in 1649 had been to make the nobles dependent on, and therefore loyal to, the tsar. They were to express that loyalty in practical form by serving the tsar as military officers or public officials. In this way the Romanov emperors built up Russia’s civil bureaucracy and the armed services as bodies of public servants who had a vested interest in maintaining the tsarist state.

The serfs made up just over a third of the population and formed half of the peasantry. They were most heavily concentrated in the central and western provinces of Russia.

Why was it necessary to end Serfdom?

In a number of respects serfdom was not dissimilar to the feudalism that had operated in many parts of pre-modern Europe. However, long before the 19th century, the feudal system had been abandoned in western Europe as it moved into the commercial and industrial age. Imperial Russia underwent no such transition. It remained economically and socially backward. Nearly all Russians acknowledged this. Some, known as slavophiles, rejoiced, claiming that holy Russia was a unique God-inspired nation that had nothing to learn from the corrupt nations to the west. But many Russians, of all ranks and classes, had come to accept that reform of some kind was unavoidable if their nation was to progress.

It became convenient to use serfdom to explain all Russia’s current weaknesses: it was responsible for military incompetence, food shortages, over population, civil disorder, industrial backwardness. These were oversimplified explanations but there some truth in all of them: serfdom was symptomatic of the underlying difficulties that held Russia back from progress.It was, therefore, a particularly easy target for the intelligentsia, those intellectuals who in their writings argued for the liberalising of Russian society, beginning with the emancipation of the exploited peasants.

As often happened in Russian history, it was war that forced the issue. The Russian state had entered the Crimean War in 1854 with high hopes of victory. Two years later it suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of the Allied armies of France, Britain and Turkey. The shock to Russia was profound. The nation had always prided itself on its martial strength. Now it had been humiliated.

Alexander II’s Role

By an odd twist of fate, defeat in the war proved of value to the new Tsar. Although he had been trained for government from an early age, foreign observers had remarked on how diffident and unsure he appeared. The war changed all that. Coming to the throne in 1855 in the middle of the conflict, Alexander II was unable to save Russia from military failure, but the humiliation convinced him that, if his nation was to have stability and peace at home and be honoured abroad, military and domestic reforms were vitally necessary. The first step on that path would be the removal of serfdom, whose manifest inefficiency benefited neither lord, peasant, nor nation. Alexander declared that, despite Russia’s defeat, the end of the war marked a golden moment in the nation’s history. Now was the hour when every Russian, under the protection of the law, could begin to enjoy ‘the fruits of his own labours’.

Alexander was right in thinking the time was propitious. It had long been appreciated that some land reform was necessary. To the social and economic arguments were now added powerful military ones. The army was the great symbol of Russia’s worth. As long as its army remained strong Russia could afford to ignore its backwardness as a nation. But the Crimean defeat had undermined this notion of Russia’s invincibility. Few now had reasoned objections to reform. Serfdom was manifestly not working. It had failed to provide the calibre of soldier Russia needed.

So it was that in 1856, the second year of his reign, Alexander II (1855- 81) announced to the nobles of Russia that ‘the existing condition of owning souls cannot remained unchanged. It is better to begin to destroy serfdom from above than to wait until that time when it begins to destroy itself from below’. These words have often been quoted. What is less often cited is his following sentence: ‘I ask you, gentlemen, to figure out how all this can be carried out to completion.’ Alexander was determined on emancipation, but he shrewdly judged that – by making over to the landowners the responsibility for detailing how this was to be done – he had made it very difficult for them either to resist his command or to blame him if their plans were subsequently shown to be faulty. This was evidence of the remarkable power and influence that the tsar exercised as absolute ruler.

Over the next five years, thousands of officials sitting in a range of committees drafted plans for the abolition of serfdom. When their work was done they presented their proposals to Alexander who then formally issued them in an Imperial Proclamation. When it was finally presented, in 1861, the Emancipation statute, which accompanied the Proclamation, contained 22 separate measures whose details filled 360 closely printed pages of a very large volume. Alexander declared that the basic aim of emancipation was to satisfy all those involved in serfdom, serfs and land owners alike:

Called by Divine Providence We vowed in our hearts to fulfil the mission which is entrusted to Us and to surround with Our affection and Our Imperial solicitude all Our faithful subjects of every rank and condition.

Betrayal of the Peasants?

Impressive though these freedoms first looked, it soon became apparent that they had come at a heavy price for the peasants. It was not they, but the landlords, who were the beneficiaries. This should not surprise us: after, it had been the dvoriane who had drafted the emancipation proposals. The compensation that the landowners received was far in advance of the market value of their property. They were also entitled to decide which part of their holdings they would give up. Unsurprisingly, they kept the best land for themselves. The serfs got the leftovers. The data shows that the landlords retained two-thirds of the land while the peasants received only one-third. So limited was the supply of affordable quality land to the peasants that they were reduced to buying narrow strips that proved difficult to maintain and which yielded little food or profit.

Moreover, while the landowners were granted financial compensation for what they gave up, the peasants had to pay for their new property. Since they had no savings, they were advanced 100 per cent mortgages, 80 per cent provided by the State bank and the remaining 20 by the landlords. This appeared a generous offer, but as in any loan transaction the catch was in the repayments. The peasants found themselves saddled with redemption payments that became a lifelong burden that then had to be handed on to their children.

The restrictions on the peasants did not end there. To prevent emancipation creating too much disruption, the government urged the peasants to remain in their localities. This was easy to achieve since, for obvious reasons, the great majority of the ex-serfs bought their allotments of land from the estates where they were already living. It was also the case that the land available for purchase came from a stock of land granted to the village and was then sold on to individual peasants.

A further aid to the authorities in maintaining control was the reorganisation of local government, which was one of the key reforms that followed in the wake of emancipation. The government, through its land ‘commandants’ (officials appointed to oversee emancipation) insisted that the mir (the village commune) become the focus of life in the countryside. The motive was not cultural but administrative. The mir would provide an effective organisation for the collection of taxes to which the freed serfs were now liable it would also be a controlling mechanism for keeping order in the countryside. Arguably, after 1861, the freed Russian peasant was as restricted as he had been when a serf. Instead of being tied to the lord, the peasant was now tied to the village.

What all this denoted was the mixture of fear and deep distaste that the Russian establishment traditionally felt towards the peasantry. Often contemptuously referred to as the ‘dark masses’, the peasants were seen as a dangerous force that had to be kept down. Beneath the generous words in which Emancipation had been couched was a belief that the common people of Russia, unless controlled and directed, were a very real threat to the existing order of things. Whatever emancipation may have offered to the peasants, it was not genuine liberty.

The Significance of Emancipation

Emancipation proved the first in a series of measures that Alexander produced as a part of a programme that included legal and administrative reform and the extension of press and university freedoms. But behind all these reforms lay an ulterior motive. Alexander II was not being liberal for its own sake. According to official records kept by the Ministry of the Interior (equivalent to the Home Office in Britain) there had been 712 peasant uprisings in Russia between 1826 and 1854. By granting some of the measures that the intelligentsia had called for, while in fact tightening control over the peasants, Alexander intended to lessen the social and political threat to the established system that those figures frighteningly represented. Above all, he hoped that an emancipated peasantry, thankful for the gifts that a bountiful tsar had given them, would provide physically fitter and morally worthier recruits for Russia’s armies, the symbol and guarantee of Russia’s greatness as a nation.

There is a sense in which the details of Emancipation were less significant than the fact of the reform itself. Whatever its shortcomings, emancipation was the prelude to the most sustained programme of reform that imperial Russia had yet experienced (see the Timeline). There is also the irony that such a sweeping move could not have been introduced except by a ruler with absolute powers it could not have been done in a democracy. The only comparable social change of such magnitude was President Lincoln’s freeing of the negro slaves in 1865. But, as a modern Russian historian (Alexander Chubarov, The Fragile Empire, New York, 1999, p.75) has provocatively pointed out: ‘the [Russian] emancipation was carried out on an infinitely larger scale, and was achieved without civil war and without devastation or armed coercion’.

Yet when that achievement has been duly noted and credited, hindsight suggests that emancipation was essentially a failure. It raised expectations and dashed them. Russia gave promise of entering a new dawn but then retreated into darkness. This tends to suggest that Alexander II and his government deliberately set out to betray the peasants. This was certainly the argument used by radical critics of the regime. It is important to consider, however, that land reform always takes time to work. It can never be a quick fix. Alexander’s prime motive in introducing emancipation was undoubtedly the desire to produce results that were beneficial to his regime. But this is not to suggest that he was insincere in his wish to elevate the condition of the peasants.

Where he can be faulted is in his failure to push reform far enough. The fact is that Alexander II suffered from the besetting dilemma that afflicted all the reforming tsars from Peter the Great onwards - how to achieve reform without damaging the interests of the privileged classes that made up imperial Russia. It was a question that was never satisfactorily answered because it was never properly faced. Whenever their plans did not work out or became difficult to achieve, the Romanovs abandoned reform and resorted to coercion and repression.

Emancipation was intended to give Russia economic and social stability and thus prepare the way for its industrial and commercial growth. But it ended in failure. It both frightened the privileged classes and disappointed the progressives. It went too far for those slavophiles in the court who wanted Russia to cling to its old ways and avoid the corruption that came with western modernity. It did not go far enough for those progressives who believed that a major social transformation was needed in Russia.

There is a larger historical perspective. It is suggested by many historians that, for at least a century before its collapse in the Revolution of 1917, imperial Russia had been in institutional crisis the tsarist system had been unable to find workable solutions to the problems that faced it. If it was to modernise itself, that is to say if it was to develop its agriculture and industry to the point where it could sustain its growing population and compete on equal terms with its European and Asian neighbours and international competitors, it would need to modify its existing institutions. This it proved unable or unwilling to do.

Therein lies the tragedy of Emancipation. It is an outstanding example of tsarist ineptitude. Its introduction held out the possibility that Russia could build on this fundamentally progressive measure and modify its agricultural economy in such a manner as to cater for its vast population, which doubled to 125 million during the second half of the 19th century. But the chance was lost. So reduced was the peasant as an agricultural worker by 1900 that only half of his meagre income came from farming. He had to sustain himself by labouring. So much for Alexander II’s claim that he viewed the task of improving the condition of the peasants as ‘a sacred inheritance’ to which he was honour bound.

Issues to Debate

To what extent did defeat in the Crimean War provide Alexander II with an ideal opportunity to introduce major reforms?

In what ways were the Russian peasants better off because of Emancipation, in what ways worse off?

Do you accept the view that the Emancipation of the Serfs was symptomatic of the unwillingness of the tsarist system to embrace much needed root and branch reform?


Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Serfdom, condition in medieval Europe in which a tenant farmer was bound to a hereditary plot of land and to the will of his landlord. The vast majority of serfs in medieval Europe obtained their subsistence by cultivating a plot of land that was owned by a lord. This was the essential feature differentiating serfs from slaves, who were bought and sold without reference to a plot of land. The serf provided his own food and clothing from his own productive efforts. A substantial proportion of the grain the serf grew on his holding had to be given to his lord. The lord could also compel the serf to cultivate that portion of the lord’s land that was not held by other tenants (called demesne land). The serf also had to use his lord’s grain mills and no others.

The essential additional mark of serfdom was the lack of many of the personal liberties that were held by freedmen. Chief among these was the serf’s lack of freedom of movement he could not permanently leave his holding or his village without his lord’s permission. Neither could the serf marry, change his occupation, or dispose of his property without his lord’s permission. He was bound to his designated plot of land and could be transferred along with that land to a new lord. Serfs were often harshly treated and had little legal redress against the actions of their lords. A serf could become a freedman only through manumission, enfranchisement, or escape.

From as early as the 2nd century ce , many of the large, privately held estates in the Roman Empire that had been worked by gangs of slaves were gradually broken up into peasant holdings. These peasants of the late Roman Empire, many of whom were descendants of slaves, came to depend on larger landowners and other important persons for protection from state tax collectors and, later, from barbarian invaders and oppressive neighbours. Some of these coloni, as the dependent peasants were called, may have taken up holdings granted them by a proprietor, or they may have surrendered their own lands to him in return for such protection. In any case, it became a practice for the dependent peasant to swear fealty to a proprietor, thus becoming bound to that lord.

The main problem with the coloni was that of preventing them from leaving the land they had agreed to cultivate as tenant farmers. The solution was to legally bind them to their holdings. Accordingly, a legal code established by the Roman emperor Constantine in 332 demanded labour services to be paid to the lord by the coloni. Although the coloni were legally free, the conditions of fealty required them to cultivate their lord’s untenanted lands as well as their leased plot. This not only tied them to their holdings but also made their social status essentially servile, since the exaction of labour services required the landlord’s agents to exercise discipline over the coloni. The threat, or the exercise, of this discipline was recognized as one of the clearest signs of a man’s personal subjection.

By the 6th century the servi, or serfs, as the servile peasants came to be called, were treated as an inferior element in society. Serfs subsequently became a major class in the small, decentralized polities that characterized most of Europe from the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century to the initial reconstitution of feudal monarchies, duchies, and counties in the 12th century.

By the 14th century, economic conditions in western Europe were favourable to the replacement of serfs by a free peasantry. The growth of the power of central and regional governments permitted the enforcement of peasant-landlord contracts without the need for peasant servility, and the final abandonment of labour services on demesnes removed the need for the direct exercise of labour discipline on the peasantry. The drastic population decline in Europe after 1350 as a result of the Black Death left much arable land uncultivated and also created an acute labour shortage, both economically favourable events for the peasantry. And finally, the endemic peasant uprisings in western Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries also forced more favourable terms of peasant tenure. Although the new peasants were not necessarily better off economically than were their servile forebears, they had increased personal liberties and were no longer entirely subject to the will of the lords whose lands they worked.

This favourable evolution was not shared by the peasants of eastern Europe. Peasant conditions there in the 14th century do not seem to have been worse than those of the west, and in some ways they were better, because the colonization of forestlands in eastern Germany, Poland, Bohemia, Moravia, and Hungary had led to the establishment of many free-peasant communities. But a combination of political and economic circumstances reversed these developments. The chief reason was that the wars that devastated eastern Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries tended to increase the power of the nobility at the expense of the central governments. In eastern Germany, Prussia, Poland, and Russia, this development coincided with an increased demand for grain from western Europe. To profit from this demand, nobles and other landlords took back peasant holdings, expanded their own cultivation, and made heavy demands for peasant labour services. Peasant status from eastern Germany to Muscovy consequently deteriorated sharply. Not until the late 18th century were the peasants of the Austro-Hungarian Empire freed from serfdom, thus recovering their freedom of movement and marriage and the right to learn a profession according to personal choice. The serfs of Russia were not given their personal freedom and their own allotments of land until Alexander II’s Edict of Emancipation of 1861.

Throughout Chinese history, land-bound peasants were considered freemen in law but depended entirely upon the landowner for subsistence. In this system of serfdom, peasants could be traded, punished without due process of law, and made to pay tribute to the lord with labour. All serfs were freed, however, upon the creation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy McKenna, Senior Editor.

1.3: Civil Life

  • Christopher Brooks
  • Full-time faculty (History) at Portland Community College

Despite the rapacity of the initial invasions, French domination brought certain beneficial reforms to the puppet states created by France, all of them products of the French Revolution&rsquos innovations a decade earlier: single customs areas, unified systems of weights and measures, written constitutions, equality before the law, the abolition of archaic noble privileges, secularization of church property, the abolition of serfdom, and religious toleration. At least for the early years of the Napoleonic empire, many conquered peoples - most obviously commoners - experienced French conquest as (at least in part) a liberation.

Napoleon was not just a brilliant general, he was also a serious politician with a keen mind for how the government had to be reformed for greater efficiency. He addressed the chronic problem of inflation by improving tax collection and public auditing, creating the Bank of France in 1800, and substituting silver and gold for the almost worthless paper notes. He introduced a new Civil Code of 1804 (as usual, named after himself as the Code Napoleon), which preserved the legal egalitarian principles of 1789.

In education, his most noteworthy invention was the lycée, a secondary school for the training of an elite of leaders and administrators, with a secular curriculum and scholarships for the sons of officers and civil servants and the most gifted pupils of ordinary secondary schools. A Concordat (agreement) with the Pope in 1801 restored the position of the Catholic Church in France, though it did not return Church property, nor did it abandon the principle of toleration for religious minorities. The key revolutionary principle that Napoleon imposed was efficiency - he wanted a well-managed, efficient empire because he recognized that efficiency translated to power. Even his own support for religious freedom was born out of that impulse: he did not care what religion his subjects professed so long as they worked diligently for the good of the state.

Napoleon was no freedom-lover, however. He imposed strict censorship of the press and had little time for democracy. He also took after the leading politicians in the Revolutionary period by explicitly excluding women from the political community - his 1804 law code made women the legal subjects of their fathers and then their husbands, stating that a husband owed his wife protection and a wife owed her husband obedience. In other words, under the Code Napoleon, women had the same legal status as children. From all of his subjects, men and women alike, Napoleon expected the same thing demanded of women in family life: obedience.

Early life and education

Napoleon was born on Corsica shortly after the island’s cession to France by the Genoese. He was the fourth, and second surviving, child of Carlo Buonaparte, a lawyer, and his wife, Letizia Ramolino. His father’s family, of ancient Tuscan nobility, had emigrated to Corsica in the 16th century.

Carlo Buonaparte had married the beautiful and strong-willed Letizia when she was only 14 years old they eventually had eight children to bring up in very difficult times. The French occupation of their native country was resisted by a number of Corsicans led by Pasquale Paoli. Carlo Buonaparte joined Paoli’s party, but, when Paoli had to flee, Buonaparte came to terms with the French. Winning the protection of the governor of Corsica, he was appointed assessor for the judicial district of Ajaccio in 1771. In 1778 he obtained the admission of his two eldest sons, Joseph and Napoleon, to the Collège d’Autun.

A Corsican by birth, heredity, and childhood associations, Napoleon continued for some time after his arrival in Continental France to regard himself a foreigner yet from age nine he was educated in France as other Frenchmen were. While the tendency to see in Napoleon a reincarnation of some 14th-century Italian condottiere is an overemphasis on one aspect of his character, he did, in fact, share neither the traditions nor the prejudices of his new country: remaining a Corsican in temperament, he was first and foremost, through both his education and his reading, a man of the 18th century.

Napoleon was educated at three schools: briefly at Autun, for five years at the military college of Brienne, and finally for one year at the military academy in Paris. It was during Napoleon’s year in Paris that his father died of a stomach cancer in February 1785, leaving his family in straitened circumstances. Napoleon, although not the eldest son, assumed the position of head of the family before he was 16. In September he graduated from the military academy, ranking 42nd in a class of 58.

He was made second lieutenant of artillery in the regiment of La Fère, a kind of training school for young artillery officers. Garrisoned at Valence, Napoleon continued his education, reading much, in particular works on strategy and tactics. He also wrote Lettres sur la Corse (“Letters on Corsica”), in which he reveals his feeling for his native island. He went back to Corsica in September 1786 and did not rejoin his regiment until June 1788. By that time the agitation that was to culminate in the French Revolution had already begun. A reader of Voltaire and of Rousseau, Napoleon believed that a political change was imperative, but, as a career officer, he seems not to have seen any need for radical social reforms.

The abolition of feudalism

Of course the violence of peasant insurgency worried the deputies of the National Assembly to some it seemed as if the countryside were being engulfed by anarchy that threatened all property. But the majority were unwilling to turn against the rebellious peasants. Instead of denouncing the violence, they tried to appease peasant opinion. Liberal nobles and clergy began the session of August 4 by renouncing their ancient feudal privileges. Within hours the Assembly was propelled into decreeing “the abolition of feudalism” as well as the church tithe, venality of office, regional privilege, and fiscal privilege. A few days later, to be sure, the Assembly clarified the August 4 decree to assure that “legitimate” seigneurial property rights were maintained. While personal feudal servitudes such as hunting rights, seigneurial justice, and labour services were suppressed outright, most seigneurial dues were to be abolished only if the peasants paid compensation to their lords, set at 20 to 25 times the annual value of the obligation. The vast majority of peasants rejected that requirement by passive resistance, until pressure built in 1792–93 for the complete abolition of all seigneurial dues without compensation.

The abolition of feudalism was crucial to the evolution of a modern, contractual notion of property and to the development of an unimpeded market in land. But it did not directly affect the ownership of land or the level of ordinary rents and leases. Seigneurs lost certain kinds of traditional income, but they remained landowners and landlords. While all peasants gained in dignity and status, only the landowning peasants came out substantially ahead economically. Tenant farmers found that what they had once paid for the tithe was added on to their rent. And the Assembly did virtually nothing to assure better lease terms for renters and sharecroppers, let alone their acquisition of the land they tilled.

The Haitian Revolution and the Hole in French High-School History

Toussaint Louverture, according to the scholar Sudhir Hazareesingh, was “the first black superhero of the modern age.” Louverture was born enslaved on a sugar plantation on Saint-Domingue, a French colony on the island of Hispaniola, sometime in the early seventeen-forties. He was emancipated in adulthood and, at about fifty, led the most important slave revolt in history, effectively forcing France to abolish slavery, in 1794. Next, he united the island’s Black and mixed-race populations under his military command outmaneuvered three successive French commissioners defeated the British overpowered the Spanish and, in 1801—despite having been wounded seventeen times in battle and having lost most of his front teeth to a cannonball explosion—authored a new abolitionist constitution for Saint-Domingue, asserting that “here, all men are born, live, and die free and French.” Napoleon Bonaparte first sent twenty thousand men to overthrow him, reinstating slavery in the French colonies, in 1802. Louverture instructed Jean-Jacques Dessalines to torch the capital city, “so that those who come to re-enslave us always have before their eyes the image of hell they deserve.” Ultimately taken captive, Louverture was deported to France and died within months in a prison in the Jura Mountains. In 1803, Bonaparte’s army was defeated, having lost more soldiers (his brother-in-law among them) on Saint-Domingue than he would, twelve years later, at Waterloo. The next year, the revolutionaries established a new, independent, and free nation: Haiti, the world’s first Black republic.

For the moment, a typical French student completes her high-school education without hearing much about any of this. Despite Marcus Garvey’s assertion that Louverture’s “brilliancy as a soldier and statesman outshone that of a Cromwell, Napoleon, and Washington,” despite Aimé Césaire’s belief that Haiti was the place where “negritude stood up for the first time and proclaimed its faith in its humanity,” despite the fact that Louverture—hailed as “the Black Spartacus,” hero of Frederick Douglass—embodied the ideals of the French Revolution and, then, the Haitian Revolution, which inspired the modern anti-colonial movement all over the world, France has not seen him and his fight as indispensable elements of its national narrative. “It’s thought of as a minor story, not la grande histoire,” Elisabeth Landi, a history professor in Martinique, said. In 2009, an inscription honoring Louverture was engraved in a wall at the Pantheon. The story of his country’s revolution is taught in high schools in some of France’s overseas territories. In metropolitan vocational high schools, whose students are more likely to come from working-class and immigrant families, the recently updated curriculum acknowledges the Haitian Revolution as a “singular extension” of the American and French revolutions. But it is not mentioned in the general lycée curriculum. A future pipe fitter in Paris will thus know that enslaved Black people in a French colony sought and secured their own freedom, but an aspiring politician, having done all her homework at lycée, may understand emancipation simply as a right granted in 1848, by decree of the Second Republic.

Now the Fondation pour la Mémoire de l’Esclavage (Foundation for the Memory of Slavery), an organization whose creation was announced in 2016, under the Presidency of François Hollande, is lobbying French authorities to address these absences. “When it comes to slavery, we don’t teach the same history to all the children of France,” the foundation wrote in a report published this September. The report was issued in advance of the twentieth anniversary of the Taubira law, which in 2001 designated the slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity, and mandated that school curricula accord them “the substantial place that they merit.” France’s education system is highly centralized, and the years following the passage of the law saw significant progress in updating historiography, training teachers, and revising textbooks. (The reforms were not without backlash: in 2005, the French legislature passed a law requiring schools to emphasize the “positive role” of colonialism, a stipulation that was subsequently rescinded.) In 2006, the center-right President Jacques Chirac instituted an annual day of commemoration for slavery, and an arm of the education ministry issued a nonbinding suggestion that Haitian independence be taught in lycée. In a groundbreaking speech, Chirac spoke explicitly of Haiti, invoking Louverture alongside such figures of resistance as Solitude, Cimendef, and Dimitile. “Too few French people know these names,” he said. “However, they are part of the history of France.”

But, according to the foundation’s note, the momentum gained with the passing of the Taubira law “has gradually faded.” Jean-Marc Ayrault, a former Prime Minister of France who now serves as the organization’s president, told me that he wondered whether the Taubira law, unanimous in 2001, would pass without opposition today, given the increasing polarization in French society around questions of race and identity. “When we discuss the history of slavery, we get the impression that we should almost apologize for talking about it,” he said. “That’s a climate that worries me.”

The Ministry of Education updated the general high-school history program last year. An early draft of the curriculum addressed slavery in the Portugese islands and Brazil, and in the Americas, but not in the French plantation economy. Ayrault and Christiane Taubira—a former justice minister, who sponsored the 2001 law and serves as a patron of the Foundation for the Memory of Slavery—successfully petitioned for its inclusion. But the Haitian Revolution, specifically, remains absent from the new curriculum. Philippe Raynaud, the vice-president of the Conseil Supérieur des Programmes, the ministry body that advises on school curricula, pointed out that eighth graders study slavery, and that teachers are free to cover Haiti as part of a unit on the French Revolution, “even if it does not occupy the same place in all high school programs.” Ayrault and others consider this insufficient. “This history needs to be heard,” Marc Lienafa, who teaches history and geography at a vocational high school near Caen, said. This year, his students created a comic book about slavery in Saint-Domingue, which was chosen as a finalist in an annual national competition co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education. Lienafa continued, “I think that to put a veil on this colonial history is to nourish resentments and to encourage people to withdraw into identity.”

The Haitian anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot argued that the Haitian Revolution has been “silenced” in part because it was “unthinkable even as it happened”: white hegemony so pervaded the world views of white Europeans and Americans, as well as of observers in Saint-Domingue, that they were unable to conceptualize the military triumph and political birth of a Black nation. This incredulity has, in some ways, never really faded. French historians, Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall has written, have tended to focus on the colonial traumas of the twentieth century rather than on French slavery, which took place outside its European borders, “making slavery seem less central to France’s past.” This is compounded by the fact that French universalism has traditionally precluded discussions of race, both as a specious scientific category and on the ground that “citizen” is one’s primary identity.

Yet, even as French historiography has obscured the Haitian Revolution, its consequences endure today. In 1825, France imposed a hundred-and-fifty-million-franc indemnity on Haiti, under threat of war, forcing the nation to borrow money from a French bank at extortionate rates in order to compensate former slaveholders. Even though the debt was later reduced to ninety million francs, Haiti didn’t finish paying it off until 1947, and, according to Marlene Daut, an expert on Haiti at the University of Virginia, its effects are still being felt. Still, many French people are unaware of the ties between the two nations. Daut, who taught English at the Lycée Camille Saint-Saëns, in Rouen, in 2002, recalled, “On one occasion, a student asked me where my family was from, and, when I said ‘Haiti,’ he started doing the hula because he thought I said ‘Tahiti.’ ”

During the 2017 Presidential race, Emmanuel Macron spoke of the need to face history honestly, calling colonialism a “crime against humanity,” but, recently—with another election coming in 2022 and the far right as one of his strongest competitors—he has struck a less progressive tone. Jean-Michel Blanquer, the Minister of Education, does not appear to be particularly interested in examining the education system’s treatment of colonization. Asked recently on television about the Algerian War, he replied, “If we do more and more repentance, we’ll have less and less integration,” adding that the French were better off “not looking to excuse ourselves every five minutes for everything.” On October 16th, an Islamist terrorist beheaded Samuel Paty, a middle-school history and geography teacher who had shown caricatures of Mohammed to his students as part of a classroom discussion about free expression. In an interview following the attack, Blanquer linked the fragmentation of French society to “an intellectual matrix coming from American universities and intersectional theses, which want to essentialize communities and identities”—a statement that the far right accused him of plagiarizing from its literature. (Blanquer declined to comment through a spokesperson.)

As Hazareesingh writes in “Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture,” Louverture wasn’t a perfect republican—even he, at one point, owned at least one slave, and he proclaimed himself governor for life. But he was one of the most exemplary ones France has had. In 1800, Charles Vincent, who was sent by Bonaparte as an emissary to Saint-Domingue, wrote, “There is no man more attached to the ideal of French republicanism.” Louverture and the Haitian revolutionaries were maybe the ultimate Lumières, taking the ideals of liberté, égalité, and fraternité further than their European contemporaries were willing or able to, and envisioning, with racial equality, Hazareesingh writes, “a much bolder vision of brotherhood than that of the French jacobins.” Acknowledging their signal role in the history of France, Ayrault said, is a matter of national cohesion as much as of historical justice: “When we evade these questions, when we hide them, when we forget them, there’s a risk that they resurge,” he said. “If we try to cover up this history, it comes back and it often comes back in a more violent manner.”

Class 10 History ch-1 Rise of Nationalism in Europe

During the nineteenth century, nationalism emerged as a force which brought about sweeping changes in the political and mental world of Europe and resulted in the emergence of the nation-state.

Frederic Sorrieu

  1. He was a French artist famous for prints prepared in 1848 that visualized the dream of a world consisting of Democratic and Social He prepared a series of four print.
  2. In the first print peoples of Europe and America are shown marching and paying homage to the statue of liberty.
  3. The statue of liberty is personified as a female figure who bears the torch of enlightenment in one hand and the character of rights of man in the other hand.
  4. In utopian views of sorrieu peoples of the world are differentiated through these flags and national costume.

And finally, the remains of the absolutist institutions can be seen broken and shattered on the Earth indicating the end of conservatism and absolutism.


A state that establishes itself as a separate political and geographical entity and functions as a complete and sovereign territorial unit. This concept emerged in 19th century Europe as a result of the growth of nationalism.

Modern State

A state in which sovereignty is exercised by a centralized power over a specific territory and population.

Absolutist Government

A system of government wherein limitless powers is vested in a single person or body. It is a monarchical form of government in which the ruler is the absolute authority and is not answerable to anybody.


A feeling of oneness with the society or the state, love and devotion for the motherland and belief in the political identity of one’s country are the basic attributes of nationalism.

The French Revolution and the idea of the Nation

French Revolution (1789)

It marks the beginning of nationalism.

Salient features of the French Revolution were:

  • France was under the absolute monarchy in 1789.
  • The Revolution transferred sovereignty from the monarch to the French people.

The French revolutionaries introduced various measures to create a sense of collective identity amongst the French people

  1. Ideas of La patrie (the fatherhood) and Le citoyen (the citizen) adopted.
  2. New French Flag, the tricolour, adopted replacing the royal standard.
  3. Estates General elected by citizens and renamed the National Assembly.
  4. A centralized political system established.
  5. Internal custom dues abolished.
  6. Uniform weights and measures adopted.
  7. French became the language of the nation.
  8. French armies moved into Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy in the 1790s with a promise of liberating the people from their despotic rulers.

Napoleon (1769-1821)

  • Ruled France from 1799 to 1815.
  • Assumed absolute powers in 1799. Napoleon had destroyed democracy in France, but in the administrative field, he had incorporated revolutionary principles.

Civil Code/Napoleonic Code (1804)

  1. Established equality before the law.
  2. Abolished all privileges based on birth.
  3. Granted the right to property to French citizens.
  4. Simplified administrative divisions.
  5. Abolished feudal system and freed peasants from serfdom.
  6. Removed restrictions on guilds in towns.
  7. Improved transport and communications.

Militarily, Napoleon proved to be an oppressor for the people of the conquered territories. Taxation and censorship were imposed and military services were made mandatory.

Europe in the mid-eighteenth Century

  • No nation states because Europeans never saw themselves as sharing a common identity or E.g., The Habsburg Empire of Austria–Hungary comprised French, Italian and German-speaking people.
  • Europe was broadly divided into two classes during this period namely:


  1. The landowning
  2. Numerically small, but dominated Europe, both socially and politically.
  3. Spoke French which was considered the language of the high society.
  4. Families were connected through marriages.


  1. Tenants and small landowners who worked as Serfs.
  2. Cultivated the lands of the aristocratic lords.
  • The growth of trade and industrial production facilitated the growth of towns and rise of a commercial class of Consequently, the new conscious, educated, liberal middle class emerged and popularized nationalism and stood for the abolition of the aristocracy.

What did liberal nationalism stand for?

  • For the new middle classes politically liberalism stood for:
  1. Individual freedom
  2. Equality before law
  3. Politically, Government by consent
  4. End of autocracy and clerical privileges
  5. A constitution and representative government through parliament.

In the economics sphere liberalism stood for:

  1. Freedom of markets
  2. Abolition of state-imposed restrictions on the movement of goods and capital.
  3. Removal of trade restrictions.
  4. inviolability of private property.
    • Liberalism became the main concern in Europe after the French Revolution because:
      1. Universal Adult Suffrage was not granted to the people by the Napoleonic Code. Men without property and women were denied the right to vote.
      2. Women were made subject to the authority of men.
      • Markets were not free as the 39 confederacies of France had their own laws which posed problems for the free movement of goods.
      1. There were no standard weights and measures and no fixed rates of customs duties, which greatly affected the trade. Example: Elle, the measure of cloth, stood for different length in each region.

      A customs union formed in 1834 at the initiative of Prussia. It abolished tariff barriers and reduced the number of currencies to two from over thirty.

      A new conservatism after 1815


      Stands for the preservation of the traditional institutions of state and society such as the monarchy, the church, social hierarchies and family along with the modern changes introduced by Napoleon. Conservatism as a political ideology arose after the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo. The conservative regimes

      • Were autocratic
      • Were intolerant to criticism and dissent
      • Adopted the censorship of press for curbing the liberal ideals
      • Discouraged any questions that challenged their legitimacy

      Congress of Vienna (1815)

      In 1815, representatives of the European powers – Britain, Russia, Prussia and Austria, who had collectively defeated Napoleon, met at Vienna for drawing a new settlement for Europe and restoring the monarchies that were overthrown by Napoleon for creation of a new conservative order. The Congress was hosted by the Austrian Chancellor Duke Metternich.

      The salient features of the treaty were as follows:

      1. The Bourbon dynasty restored to power in France.
      2. France was disposed of its conquered of its territories.
      3. The Kingdom of Netherlands, which included Belgium, was set up in the North and Genoa was set up in the South for preventing French expansion in future.
      4. Prussia was given new territories, including a portion of Saxony.
      5. Austria got control over Northern Italy.
      6. Russia got Poland.
      7. Napoleon’s Confederation of 39 states was not changed.

      The Revolutionaries

      Upholders of the idea of liberalism and against the conservative regimes of the 19thcentury. Many secret societies were formed whose main aims were:

      1. Training the revolutionaries and spreading their ideas throughout Europe.
      2. Opposing monarchical governments established after the Vienna Congress of 1815.
      3. Fighting for liberty and freedom from autocratic rule.
      4. Emphasizing the idea of creation of nation states.

      Giuseppe Mazzini

      • Italian revolutionary’ born in 1807.
      1. Became a member of the secret society of the Carbonari.
      2. 1831: Sent into exile for attempting an upsurge in Liguria.
      3. Founder of Young Italyat Marseilles and Young Europeat Berne, the two secret societies.
      4. Believed in the unification of Italy into a republic.
      5. Enemy of the monarchical form of government and conservative regimes.
      6. Metternich described him as “The most dangerous enemy of our social order”.

      The Age of Revolutions (1830-1848)

      1. The consolidation of power by the conservative regime made liberalism and nationalism associated with the revolution in many regions of Europe.
      2. Italian and German states, the provinces of the Ottoman Empire, Ireland and Poland experienced such revolutions.
      3. The revolutionaries comprised professors, school teachers, clerks and members of the commercial middle class.

      July Revolution, France (1830)

      1. The Bourbon Kings, who had been restored power after the Vienna Congress of 1815 was overthrown by liberal revolutionaries.
      2. Louis Philippe was installed as a constitutional monarch.
      3. Belgium broke away from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

      Greek Revolution (1830)

      1. Greek War of independence.
      2. Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire since the 15th century.
      3. Growth of nationalism in Europe started Greek’s struggle for independence from the Ottoman rule in 1821.
      4. Support from West European countries.
      5. Poets and artists, who were inspired by the ancient Greek culture and literature, also supported the E.g., Lord Byron, the famous English Poet organized funds.
      6. 1832: The Treaty of Constantinoplerecognized Greece as an independent

      The Romantic imagination and national feeling

      Romanticism (1830s)

      A cultural movement that rejected science and reason and introduced heart and emotions. The concern of the romantics was to create a sense of shared collective heritage and a common cultural past for arousing nationalism.

      • German philosopher and romanticist Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) believed that true German culture can be discovered only among common people (das volk) through their practice of flock traditions.
      • Emphasized on vernacular languages and folklore for conveying their ideas to illiterate Example: Poland Karol Kurpinski celebrated the national struggle through his opera and music.

      Nationalistic Feeling (1830s)

      The sense of recognizing the society and nation as “we” and the sharing of many traits by its members. Culture with art and poetry, stories and music played a major role in the shaping and expression of nationalistic feelings and nation.


      (1) Let us recall three definitions : the original history is the immediate history, written by the witnesses or the actors the reflexive history refers to the historical science the philosophical history defines the philosophy of history.
      (2) This point of view can be connected to Goethe's : "That is why Napoleon was one of the most productive man who ever lived." Conversations de Goethe avec Eckermann, p.551 (Gallimard).
      (3) Kojève considers, in his Introduction à la lecture de Hegel that Napoleon is to Hegel, at the end of the chapter 6 of the Phenomenology, preceding the exposition of the absolute knowledge, " the God who appears." Kojève is wrong because the expression refers to the Christ and because Napoleon is a hero, that is a demigod.
      (4) Whether or not Chateaubriand held the Comments in hands, as he wrote in Mémoires d'Outre Tombe, he places anyway Napoleon at the same level as Caesar.
      (5) Chateaubriand calls Napoleon "the man of the battles."
      (6) On the contrary, one of the reasons for the opposition of B. Constant to Napoleon was that he hated the antique city and philosophy.
      (7) Hegel, director if the Nurnberg Gymnasium from 1808 to 1816 admires the regulation of the french high schools. See the excellent edition by B. Bourgeois of the pedagogic texts of Hegel (Vrin ed.).
      (8) Was this constitution applied ? Rambaud doubts it.
      (9) Napoleon is a reader of Corneille : he would have made him Prince.
      (10) After Napoleon's death, Hegel reads Le Memorial, Gourgaud and Montholon. From Berlin, Hegel writes to Van Ghert : "In Brussels, according to what I am learning, there is a reprint of the Mémoires sur Napoléon, from Gourgaud and Montholon could you ask the bookkeeper to send me an issue?" (Correspondance, T.3, p.14). Let us recall that the Napoleonic literature is then submitted to the Prussian censorship.
      (11) The monarch is the individual who makes the decision : he signs. This Hegelian idea is illustrated by the session of the Council of State, February 19, 1811. (See Le Souvenir Napoléonien, ndeg.397, p.26).
      (12) May, 21st 1813, in a letter addressed to Niethammer, Hegel laughs at the Bachkirs, the Cossacks and " other excellent liberators." (Correspondance, T.2, p.12).
      (13) Let us recall two judgments, the first one from Chateaubriand, the second from Goethe : " Isn't everything over with Napoleon?" (Mémoires d'Outre Tombe, 25th Book), "his life was the march of a demigod, from battle to battle and from victory to victory One could say about him that he was in a perpetual enlightenment : that is also why his destiny had such a fame that the world had never seen before him, and will maybe never see after him." (Conversations de Goethe avec Eckermann, p.550).


      Despite Polish historians’ attempts to describe Napoleon’s actions towards Poland as that of a liberator, Napoleon, in his correspondence and notes of the first half of 1807, resolutely underlined his merely political interest in the country. On 23 February, he wrote to Duroc that: “The main service the Poles can do for me is to contain the Cossacks”. And again on 18 May, he wrote that Poland was simply a pawn in future peace negotiations. The Emperor, did not however forget what “individuals of the Polish army” had done for him, and in a decree on 4 June, specified that “twenty million francs should be set aside” as recompense for them.

      25 June, 1807: Meeting at Tilsit between Napoleon and Tsar Alexander I. The future of Poland figured highly during their discussions. As a result of these discussions, on 7 and 9 July, the French Empire, the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia signed the Treaty of Tilsit. France and Russia formed an alliance and divided the Prussian lands between them. Napoleon’s regime was recognised and Russia joined him in his fight against Britain, by accepting the Continental Blockade.

      A direct consequence of this treaty for Poland was the creation of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw on 22 July, 1807. It measured 104,000 km² and was formed with the land which Prussia had acquired during the second and third partitions of Poland in 1793 and 1795, with the exception of Danzig, with a population of 2.6 million people. It was ruled over by King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony, grandson of Augustus II who had been king of Poland and Duke of Lithuania from 1733-1763. However, Frederick Augustus had very little power and was rarely in the Duchy, so the real power remained in French hands, namely Marshal Louis Nicholas Davout, who was Governor-General of the Duchy. The Polish nobility were keen for their old Constitution of 3 May, 1791 to be applied, but Napoleon installed his own Constitution instead, largely based on the French model, including a Council of State. This Constitution included liberal ideas, previously unseen in Poland, such as divorce and civil marriage, the abolition of serfdom and equality between all men before the law. The Code Napoléon was also introduced. The Continental Blockade was implemented in the Duchy, as it had been in all the other vassal states of France. The Duchy of Warsaw was mainly a military base, which served as a barrier between the French empire and Russian interests in Eastern Europe. Its army, under the command of Prince Joseph Poniatowski, was also under French power.

      9 March, 1808: Frederick Augustus I of Saxony began recruiting more soldiers for the army of the duchy. Soldiers had to be between twenty-one and twenty-eight years old. Teachers, clergy and Jews were dispensed this military service.

      19 April, 1809: Whilst the French troops (including a strong Polish contingent) were away fighting in Spain, Austria tried to take advantage by attacking Bavaria and the Duchy of Warsaw (which was consequently short of armed forces). After the first Battle of Raszyn, Austrian troops successfully invaded the Duchy of Warsaw, which Josef Poniatowski and his men were forced to abandon. Following this humiliating defeat, Poniatowski retreated to Galicia and mounted an insurrection, forcing the Austrians to evacuate Warsaw. On 14 October, after Napoleon’s victory at Wagram, Austria and France signed the Treaty of Schönbrunn, ending the campaign of Austria. Among other sanctions, Austria lost part of its territory, including Krakow and Lublin, to the Duchy of Warsaw. Poniatowski’s role in events was recognised by Napoleon, who made him Grand-officier of the Légion d’honneur.

      January, 1810: Diplomatic relations between France and Russia were becoming tense. Russia, through its ambassador Prince Alexis Kurakin and its chancellor Count Nikolai Petrovich Rumyantsev, was keen for the French Emperor to formally declare that he had no intention of re-establishing the kingdom of Poland, but the Emperor refused. Armand de Caulaincourt (French ambassador to Russia) and Rumyantsev agreed on a draft convention that banned the restoration of the independent Polish state. Napoleon however rejected it. In a letter dated 24 April, 1810, Napoleon argued that any declaration against an independent Polish state had to be met with a Russian declaration against the restoration of the Kingdom of Sardinia. By July 1810, Napoleon was refusing point blank to make any sort of declaration: in his meeting with Prince Alexis Kurakin, as reported in volume two of Vandal’s Napoléon et Alexandre (pp.417-424), he declared that “French blood will not be spilt fighting for Poland, but nor will it be spilt fighting against this unhappy nation. It would be utterly demeaning to my person to make that commitment or any such similar one.”

      Mid-1810: This clash over Poland led to Russian attempts to re-negotiate the Tilsit agreement. However, Kurakin’s lack of authorisation to discuss the articles of any potential alliance allowed Napoleon to dismiss any further discussion on the matter.

      End of 1810: a large number of vessels from a convoy carrying British goods and proceeding through the Baltic successfully landed in Russian ports as neutral ships or were simply left to continue their journey. Napoleon realised that Alexander was no longer respecting the Continental Blockade agreed at Tilsit, and, with more and more vessels landing in Russia, on 13 December, 1810, a sénatus-consulte was announced which formally incorporated the Hanseatic cities of Lübeck, Bremen and Hamburg into the French empire. Despite French military presence in the ports for more than four years, fraud and counterfeit were still widespread and the annexation was intended to strengthen the blockade along the Baltic.

      31 December, 1810: the Russian tsar announced a ukase (proclamation) decreeing that goods (other than those of British provenance) could once again enter Russia via its ports, whilst imports entering the empire over land (the majority of which was of French origin) would be hit with heavy duties.

      January, 1811, Alexander I began a correspondence with Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, the celebrated Polish diplomat, close personal friend to the tsar and former Minister of Foreign Affairs at the Russian court. The Russian tsar began exploring ways to begin an offensive against the French, one of which was to try and use Czartoryski’s patriotism and weight among his Polish countrymen to convince the Poles that an alliance with the Russians would bring about the reconstitution of a Polish Kingdom. Uncertainty among Polish leaders regarding Russia’s motives was to prove a stumbling block, however, and it did not take long for the French authorities to learn of Alexander’s plans. By the spring of 1811, the project had been shelved.

      30 December, 1811: War between France and Russia became more and more imminent as Russia began to look towards Turkey and the Duchy of Warsaw. Napoleon reorganised his army, integrating the Polish troops into his own and taking on their costs. The forces from the Duchy of Warsaw were still led by Prince Josef Poniatowski. A few months later, the troops were ready to attack, and Napoleon’s coalition army began to advance towards Russia in June 1812.

      June, 1812: Alexander I had three Russian armies positioned to guard the western frontier. He was the overall commander of these armies, and was installed in Barclay de Tolly’s headquarters near Vilna. On 24 June, the Grande Armée crossed the Russian border and the Russian armies were ordered to withdraw. The French (and Polish) forces followed them, until they reached Moscow on 15 September, 1812, where they stayed for a month.

      28 June, 1812: the Polish Parliament was given permission to vote a motion which aimed to restore the kingdom of Poland. On this date, the General Confederation of the Kingdom of Poland was formally established, and Prince Czartoryski was named Marshal of General Council of the Confederation. The government was similar to that of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The confederation did not last a year as Russian occupation of 30 April, 1813 put an end to it.

      December 1812: After Napoleon’s brief occupation of Moscow, the remnants of the Grande Armée re-entered the Duchy of Warsaw. The Polish troops had suffered colossal losses of the 35,000 men Poniatowski left with, only a few hundred returned. Napoleon rushed back to Paris in order to form a new army. In January 1813, the Russian army entered the Duchy of Warsaw, chasing the remnants of the Grande Armée and successively occupying the territories of Lithuania and of the Duchy. On 5 February, the Polish government left the capital. A month later, the Tsar established a Supreme Council, mostly made up of Russian generals, to guarantee Russian control. From this time, the Duchy of Warsaw existed in name only as it was under full Russian domination. The fate of the Duchy remained uncertain as other powers such as Prussia and Austria were keen to regain Polish territories.

      After the disastrous Russian campaign, Napoleon began to be threatened from all sides. The Russian army continued to press on towards the west. On 17 March, 1813, Prussia declared war on France, in June Napoleon lost Spain to the Duke of Wellington and on 12 August, Austria declared war on France. Poniatowski had gathered together the surviving Polish soldiers after the retreat from Russia, and he now followed Napoleon to Leipzig, only to drown in the river Elster during the battle of Leipzig (16-19 October, 1813).

      30-31 March 1814: Fall of Paris. From 4 – 11 April, Napoleon abdicated as Russian troops camped on the Champs Elysées.

      18 September, 1814 – 9 June, 1815: The Congress of Vienna, held to discuss the re-organisation of Europe, divided the duchy of Warsaw between Prussia, Austria and Russia. Only Krakow remained autonomous. Russia created the Kingdom of Poland, which was allowed its own Constitution. However, this constitution was frequently violated by the Russian powers. This was to be the fourth and final partition of Poland. Poland would not find independence for another hundred years.

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