Russian Tsar against the Emperor of the French. From Tilsit to Erfurt

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Russian Tsar against the Emperor of the French. From Tilsit to Erfurt
Russian Tsar against the Emperor of the French. From Tilsit to Erfurt

Video: Russian Tsar against the Emperor of the French. From Tilsit to Erfurt

Video: Russian Tsar against the Emperor of the French. From Tilsit to Erfurt
Video: USA vs Russia Meme - Nuclear Warheads Transportation 2023, October

12 failures of Napoleon Bonaparte. On the morning of June 25, 1807, two emperors, Alexander I Romanov and Napoleon I Bonaparte, simultaneously entered the boats and sailed to the raft, anchored in the middle of the Nemunas. Napoleon was the first to board the raft and met Alexander as he stepped out of his boat. Eyewitnesses remembered Alexander's first words to Napoleon: "Sovereign, I hate the British as much as you do!" "In that case," answered Napoleon, smiling, "everything will be settled, and the world will be consolidated."


The negotiations took place in the main pavilion and lasted for about two hours. Napoleon immediately invited Alexander to negotiate tete-a-tete, without witnesses: "I will be your secretary, and you will be mine." Alexander's proposal to involve the Prussian king in the negotiations was rejected by Napoleon: "I often slept together, but the three never slept."

In the following days, Napoleon and Alexander almost never parted with each other. In the morning, they conducted reviews and exercises of the French troops. Then, more often in Napoleon's salon, less often in Alexander's, they negotiated. They were interrupted by sumptuous dinners, always at Napoleon's. The Emperor of France invariably turned down all invitations to Alexander to dine with him. He visited the Russian Tsar once, but did not even touch tea.

During the negotiations, Napoleon expressed his opinion, listened to Alexander's arguments, and on the same evening or the next day he sent the tsar a short but succinct note with motivated solutions. If disagreements persisted, Napoleon proposed a compromise option in which he allowed Alexander to win something without losing anything himself.

During the Tilsit meetings, Napoleon was imbued with sympathy for Alexander: “I was extremely pleased with him! - he told Josephine after the first meetings with the tsar. - This is a young, extremely kind and handsome emperor. He's much smarter than people think. Napoleon was still sincerely interested in an alliance with Russia, and the fact that the tsar seemed so accommodating gave hope for the treaty France needed.

Alexander also fell under the spell of Napoleon: "I did not feel such prejudice for anyone as I did for him," he explained his impression of the first meeting with Napoleon, "but after a conversation that lasted three quarters of an hour, it dissipated like a dream." There is no doubt that the king admired the military genius of the emperor of the French, his sharp mind, but it is also true that this sympathy was not unconditional.

Historians explain Alexander's behavior in Tilsit as follows: “He needed to lull the slightest suspicions of Napoleon. He decided not to stop at nothing for this, even before humiliation. Hatred of Napoleon did not lose its strength or sharpness, but he managed to hide it and was afraid to discover it by some careless act. " Nevertheless, Napoleon and Alexander in Tilsit made "a sincere attempt at a short-term alliance on the basis of mutual seduction."

Already on June 27, the draft peace treaty was initialed. French, Russian and Prussian prisoners were released. Napoleon called Alexander his "best friend" and added to the draft treaty: "I tried to combine the politics and interests of my peoples with a great desire to be pleasant to Your Majesty …". The Russian tsar ended his reply letter with the words that he prays to God to keep His Imperial Majesty under his holy and high patronage.

Alexander even suggested making Jerome Bonaparte the king of Poland with his marriage to Grand Duchess Ekaterina Pavlovna, thus dividing the Polish throne between France and Russia, but Napoleon rejected this project.

End of the fourth coalition

In reality, Alexander had to bother only about the territories of his friend Frederick Wilhelm III. Napoleon initially suggested simply liquidating Prussia, dividing it between France and Russia, and only "out of respect for His Majesty the Emperor of All Russia" agreed to leave the Prussian kingdom on the European map, cutting it off by a third.

On July 7, 1807, three documents were signed that put an end to the war and the "fourth coalition":

1. Peace treaty of 29 open clauses.

2. 7 special and secret articles.

3. Secret Treaty of Alliance of 9 Articles.

They divided the world, and Western Europe retreated to Napoleon, and Eastern Europe and Asia to Alexander.

Russian Tsar against the Emperor of the French. From Tilsit to Erfurt
Russian Tsar against the Emperor of the French. From Tilsit to Erfurt

Alexander, from whom Napoleon did not demand any indemnities or territorial concessions, promised to mediate in the negotiations between France and England, and if they fail, to join the continental blockade. Considering the role that trade with England played in the economic life of Russia, it can be said that the continental blockade meant a knife in the heart of the Russian economy.

The treaty was ratified by both emperors on July 9th.

In a letter to Talleyrand, Napoleon expressed himself bluntly: "I have reason to hope that our alliance will be permanent." Indeed, Tilsit was both Napoleon's triumph and Alexander's success. Russia acquired a powerful ally, ended the war with Turkey, and gained freedom of action against Sweden.

The celebration was overshadowed by an episode that took place at the ceremony of awarding the highest awards of their powers by the emperors. Alexander presented 5 Orders of Andrew the First-Called to Napoleon, Jerome, Talleyrand, Murat and Berthier, and Napoleon - 5 Orders of the Legion of Honor to Alexander, Konstantin Pavlovich, Minister of Foreign Affairs Budberg, Kurakin and Lobanov-Rostovsky. Alexander offered to reward Bennigsen instead of Budberg, but Napoleon flatly refused. Already in exile, he explained how he "was disgusted that his son was asking for a reward for the murderer of his father."

This is not forgiven

Alexander understood everything. Outwardly, the farewell of the emperors was quite friendly, but the repeated insult led the tsar to understand that he would never become a friend of Napoleon, and sooner or later, together with other monarchs, would again declare him a "common enemy" …

The capitals of their sovereigns met in different ways. Napoleon was in for a triumph, his power reached its climax, and when, already in exile, he is asked what time of his life he considers the happiest, he will answer in one word: "Tilsit".

A completely different reception awaited Alexander I in Russia after Tilsit. The tsar met with open discontent. The Empress Mother remarked that it was "unpleasant for her to kiss Bonaparte's friend." The higher clergy cursed Napoleon, the nobility protested and spoke of "Tilsit betrayal", the very word "Tilsit", as A. S. Pushkin would note, became an "offensive sound" for the Russian ear.

Devoted Novosiltsev declared back in Tilsit: "Sovereign, I must remind you of the fate of your father." Later, Count Tolstoy, one of the participants in the conspiracy against Paul, would remind him of the same: “Beware, sir! You will end up like your father! " In the St. Petersburg salons they were going to “tonsure the emperor into a monk, and send Chancellor Rumyantsev to trade in kvass”.

The people became the support for Alexander. The tsar saw the love of ordinary people for themselves always and everywhere: “Alexander rode with great difficulty among the crowd: the people kissed his feet, his dress and even his horse,” a contemporary recalled.

Not an ally, but a junior partner

Alexander continued to correspond with Napoleon, approving almost every idea he had. Napoleon wrote to Alexander: “An army of 50,000 people, Franco-Russian, perhaps, and Austrian, which will go through Constantinople to Asia, will not reach the Euphrates yet, as England trembles … I stand firm in Dalmatia, Your Majesty - on the Danube. A month after we agree, our army may be on the Bosphorus. The blow will strike in India and England will be subdued. " Alexander replied: “The views of Your Majesty seem to me equally great and just. Such a supreme genius as yours is destined to create such an extensive plan, your genius - and to direct its execution."

Sometimes one got the impression that Alexander was behaving not like the emperor of a great power, but like some petty elector who, for the sake of survival, had to maneuver between the mighty of this world and adapt to them. His own subjects began to call him "Napoleon's clerk."

The humiliating position of the junior partner began to weigh on the Russian tsar. Napoleon sensed the emerging crisis in time and in February 1808 offered Alexander a new meeting at any point halfway between St. Petersburg and Paris. Alexander chose Erfurt.


At that time, a real popular war broke out against the French troops in Spain, and it was important for Napoleon to show that the isolated failures of individual generals did not affect the greatness of the French Empire. Therefore, Napoleon furnished the Erfurt meeting with breathtaking pomp.

“Before negotiations begin,” he said to Talleyrand, “I want to blind the Emperor Alexander with a picture of my power. It makes any negotiations easier. " All the sovereigns vassal in relation to France (kings, princes, dukes, electors) and celebrities of European culture were invited to Erfurt, including J. V. Goethe and K. M. Wieland. The first composition of the "Comedie francaise" troupe, headed by F. J. Talma, was called from Paris.


In Erfurt, Alexander showed much more intractability than in Tilsit. In public, both emperors still generously bestowed each other with friendly hugs, gifts and kisses. The theater of two great actors was designed for a very specific audience. As Eugene Tarle noted: "For Napoleon, these kisses would have lost all their sweetness if the Austrians had not learned about them, and for Alexander, if the Turks had not learned about them."

They called him Northern Talma

However, behind the screen where the negotiations were taking place, the situation was completely different. And serious passions raged here. So, once, after a long debate, Napoleon tried to influence Alexander, grabbed a hat from the fireplace, threw it on the floor. Alexander looked at this scene with a smile. “You are harsh and I am stubborn,” he said calmly. “We’ll argue, or I’ll leave.”

Although Napoleon and Alexander needed each other, each naturally pursued their own interests: Napoleon wanted to rely on Alexander in the implementation of the continental blockade and in the impending war with Austria, Alexander - on Napoleon at the end of the three wars that Russia then waged against Sweden, Iran and Turkey.

With regard to England, the two emperors agreed to act in "perfect agreement among themselves." The neutral condition for peace with England was to recognize Finland, Wallachia and Moldavia for the Russian Empire and the new colonial regime established by France in Spain.

The convention also spoke about the position of Russia and France in relation to Turkey and Austria. If the Ottoman Empire abandons the Russian conditions, it was indicated in the 10th article of the convention, and "a war breaks out, then the Emperor Napoleon will not take any part in it … But if Austria or any other power united with the Ottoman Empire in this war then His Majesty the Emperor Napoleon immediately merged with Russia. "And, conversely, in the case "when Austria starts a war with France, the Russian Empire undertakes to declare itself against Austria and unite with France …".

In exchange for the obligation to act together with the French, if necessary, against Austria, Napoleon offered the Russians Galicia. Later, the Slavophiles would reproach the tsar for not taking advantage of this unique opportunity. In their opinion, he turned out to be the bad grandson of his great grandmother: Alexander could have obtained Galicia as easily as Catherine received the ancient Russian lands as a result of the partition of Poland.

Alexander I, however, rejected Napoleon's offer. There were several reasons for this: ethical, economic, and political. If we talk about ethics, then Alexander (after his father and contrary to the arguments of Catherine) always considered the partition of Poland not a success, but a disgrace of Russian diplomacy. If we talk about the economy, the break with England and the continental blockade caused more and more tangible damage to the Russian economy, and therefore it was time to think not about the French, but about their own interests.


Alexander was already solving a fundamentally new foreign policy task: gradually and very carefully, Russia began to drift from Paris to London. The Russian emperor, this true Byzantine, whom his contemporaries called "Northern Talma" for his artistry, in the end simply outplayed Napoleon. He was still talking about the Russian-French alliance out of inertia, and Alexander was already thinking about his leading role in the new coalition directed against Napoleonic France.

Thus, neither the signed convention nor the public demonstration of friendship deceived anyone. Eyewitnesses testified that Napoleon left Erfurt gloomy, apparently feeling that relations between Russia and France left much to be desired. He was never able to achieve the main goal - to completely free his hands for the war in Spain and prevent a war with Austria. It was almost a diplomatic defeat.

The Erfurt Congress partially compensated for the Tsar's "loss" in Tilsit. Russia managed to retain the conquered territories. Although both emperors declared in Erfurt their desire to "give the union that unites them a closer and more lasting character", their agreement only "prolonged the alliance, but did not strengthen it." Alexander was satisfied with this, Napoleon was disappointed.

Marriage chores

Finally, another crisis was associated with the second marriage of Napoleon, who did not stop thinking about the heir, but in his marriage to Josephine waited in vain for the birth of a legitimate descendant. He decided to enter into a new alliance, especially since everything pushed the emperor to divorce - both the desire to have an heir, and the family that encouraged him to "abandon the old woman," and, finally, the realization that all people are mortal.

In 1809, during the storming of Regensburg, he was wounded in the leg and then thought that if this shot were more accurate, his empire would have remained not only without a sovereign, but also without an heir. In the fall in Vienna, when Napoleon was finishing his review of the guards, a 17-year-old student from Naumburg, Friedrich Staps, made his way to him, who was seized a second before he drew his knife. During interrogation, Shtaps admitted that he wanted to kill Napoleon with this knife.

Napoleon ordered in the strictest secrecy to compile a list of the princesses of marriageable age. It included two Russians, Austrian, Bavarian and Saxon, and one Spanish and Portuguese girl.

“Here,” writes Tarle, “the course of his thoughts turned out to be extremely quick and quite clear. In the world, besides the great French Empire, there are three great powers that are worth talking about: England, Russia and Austria. But with England - a war for life and death. Russia and Austria remain."

The Romanovs are closer to the Bonaparte as allies, which means that you need to start with Russia. In Erfurt, Napoleon, through Talleyrand, probed the possibility of his marriage to the Grand Duchess Ekaterina Pavlovna, but the Dowager Empress hastily gave her daughter's hand to the German prince George of Oldenburg, a puny and pimply stutterer.


Napoleon immediately instructed Caulaincourt to officially ask the tsar for the hand of his other sister, Anna Pavlovna. “If the matter concerned only me, then I would willingly give my consent, but this is not enough: my mother retained power over her daughters, which I have no right to challenge,” Alexander replied.


The empress agreed to the marriage of Anna Pavlovna to Napoleon, but, due to the youth of the bride, who was sixteen years old, not earlier than two years later. Such consent was tantamount to a refusal, but it was difficult to expect otherwise given the sharply hostile attitude of Alexander's mother and the entire Russian society to Napoleon. This refusal further worsened Russian-French relations.

On October 14, 1808, Napoleon escorted Alexander from Erfurt to St. Petersburg. Saying goodbye, the sovereigns embraced and agreed to meet in a year. But this meeting was no longer destined to take place.