September 20, 2006 cameron

#11 – Peace With Britian

After the signing of The Treaty of Luneville in February 1801, France was at peace with every country in Europe. Only Britian stood in the way of a total peace. Listen in as JDM and I discuss some of the key events of the following period:

  • William Pitt had been replaced briefly by Henry Addington as Prime Minister of Britian
  • The impact of the assassination of Tsar Paul I of Russia in March 1801
  • Nelson’s destruction of the Danish fleet at Copenhagen ends Napoleon’s idea of invading England via Ireland
  • The reasons behind the Treaty of Amiens which was signed in March 1802
  • The terms of Amiens
  • Bonaparte made First Consul For Life, August 1802
  • The “infernal machine” and the trial of the Duc D’Enghien
  • Why Amiens failed
  • Britian declares war on France, May 1803

David and I would like to sincerely thank the thousands of listeners who tuned in since our last episode and a special thanks to those of you who have left us some feedback. Please keep it up! It warms the cockles of our hearts to hear that you are being entertained and even in some cases educated.


Comments (38)

  1. Marcus

    Hmmmm! The Scots, Irish and Welsh did’nt like the British??? Well, I would have thought that the Celts are the indigenous Britons, I could be wrong, though.

    As for Napoleon crossing the English Channel, well if he did the RN would soon plug the gap and he would have been stranded, just like Egypt. This time, though, he would never have escaped. If he he can’t hold Malta, how on earth could he conquer Great Britain?

    Futhermore, stopping and boarding ships is normal practise of any dominate naval power in whatever war you care to name (USN, RN in Persian Gulf circa 2006?)

    Also, Cameron, 10 million mercantile, enterprising, capitalist Britons will defeat 25 million socialist French anyday – regardless of how clever their leader is.

    P.S Enjoying your podcasts very much – despite the propaganda.

  2. G’day Marcus! Glad you like the show and hope you find the propaganda just one opinion which you can feel free to disregard! …. by the way, you wouldn’t happen to be British, would you? 🙂

    My mistake in referring to the ENGLISH as BRITISH. Somehow I never think of the people of Scotland, Ireland and Wales as really “British”. I never really could get used to the whole “United Kingdom” thing. Damn that James VI!

    The Scots, Irish and Welsh are all “britons” but that doesn’t mean they have always been great fans of their English oppressors! Vive Robert The Bruce! One of my ancestors, Raghallach of Connaught, was an Irish King in the 7th century AD.

    You’re right that the RN would have been a problem, but Napoleon wouldn’t have needed long on the mainland before he would have beaten the Royal Army, forced peace with England, and the RN would have obeyed their orders. Surely you’re not going to try to tell me that the “British” army had much of a chance against Napoleon at the height of his military powers?

    The stopping and boarding of ships you refer to may be acceptable in times of war – but we were talking about during PEACE TIME! I note, however, that the wikipedia article I point to in my show notes claims there is no evidence to support France’s claim that this ever happened. David, as the true historian on the show’s team, will have to provide primary evidence to back up our tale! 🙂

  3. Marcus

    G’day Cameron.

    “…beaten the Royal Army” ? “…Surely you’re not going to try to tell me that the “British” army had much of a chance against Napoleon at the height of his military powers?”

    Did the French Army ever beat the British Army( That included many Irish, Scots and Welsh) after 1800? I think not.

    I’ve read Soult’s comments regarding the Battle of the Nivelle, as I’m sure you have. Even though in a defensive position of note(more so than Talavera or Buçaco) the French got a lesson in the art of war from Wellington.

    Indeed, since 1700 when have the French triumphed over the British? Like I said the capitalist, industrious people will defeat the, agrarian, socialist types anyday.

    Thank god for that!

  4. Tim Van Dyck

    Dear Cameron and David,

    Great episode again, as usual.
    You covered an important part of Napoleonic history and gave so much information, thanks. Good to show that Napoleon wanted nothing but peace and that it was England which broke the great peace of Amiens…

    Concerning the Duke d’Enghien…Napoleon send somebody of the Council of State to see that the trial was correct but this person did not receive the message (…) en it was not planned that he was shot immediately after the trial, but Savary took control of the situation and prevented a request of d’Enghien to see the First Consul who would very likely have pardoned him…because Napoleon was furious when he heard of the execution…but he took up his responsibility although he was not in fact responsible.

    I am looking forward to the next episode…

    Please do not forget the Coronation! (The Emperor did not take the crown from the hands of the pope…)

    Vive l’Empereur

    Tim Van Dyck


  5. Cameron Reilly

    Marcus, yes, the French army under Napoleon defeated the British army under Wellington at Waterloo in 1815. Only the Prussians’ late arrival on the scene saved the day. The rest of the time the British army managed to hide from Napoleon behind their navy. I don’t know about your “capitalist, industrious people will defeat the agrarian, socialist types” idea. I could point to the Vietnam War for a start, but this isn’t the right forum for that debate.

    Tim, I’m not sure how much I buy the “official” story of the Duc’s execution / murder. Napoleon apparently said in St Helena that he would do the same thing again. Reading between the lines, it’s always appeared to me that this was a moment when Napoleon’s Corsican temperment got in the way of his political savvy.

    The Coronation is coming up soon! Probably next episode I guess. That and The Third Coalition leading to the mighty Battle of Austerlitz!

  6. Tim Van Dyck

    Dear Cameron and David,

    Yes the Emperor said that under similar circumstances he would do the same, related to the Duke d’Enghien, but togethet with that he said that he had arrested and tried (!) not executed the Duke…like General Michel Franceschi had showed it, it was in fact more a plot against Napoleon, this execution…

    Vive l’Empereur!

    Looking forward to the next episode…

    Tim Van Dyck

  7. Cameron Reilly

    Interesting concept Tim! A plot against Napoleon by whom?
    Do you live close to Waterloo?

  8. Tim Van Dyck

    Dear Cameron and David,

    The ‘plot’ against Napoleon consisted of Savary and other republicans who wanted to prevent that Napoleon became a general Mock (who restored the king to the throne in England after Cromwell) and restored the throne to the Bourbons…and by preventing that Napoleon pardoned d’Enghien and by executing the Duke (but as I mentioned Napoleon didn’t want this and whould have very likely pardoned him) it seemed as if Napoleon murdered a Bourbon and that it became unlikely that he would restore the Bourbons to the throne…(Talleyrand, … were also involved)

    I live about 60 kilometres from Waterloo…I already visited it twice, but much closer in Antwerp there are two docks built by Napoleon, one of them is still named Bonaparte Dock. At the Belgian coast we have a magnificent ‘fort Napoleon’…

    Vive l’Empereur!

    Tim Van Dyck

  9. Nathan Blyth

    Hey David & Cam, love the show. I only got on board about 2 months ago, but I went back & downloaded all the old episodes. I knew nothing about Napoleon 2 monts ago, you guys have taught me alot. By the way I live in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. Cheers, Nathan.

  10. Marcus

    Oh dear! Cameron, mate, you think that the Anglo – German – Dutch Army under Wellington was defeated at Waterloo???

    Didn’t Wellington choose his ground at Waterloo on a personal promise from Blucher?

    Ergo, Wellington chose to fight at Mount St Jean with a promise of a Prussian re-enforcement falling on Napoleon’s right/ rear flank in mind. So he was saved by nobody, was he? Napoleon might have called Wellington’s tactic the classic “manoevre sur les derrieres”.

    I could be wrong.

    P.S Not sure how the British were hiding behind their Navy whilst in the Penninsular for 5 years? Though, of course, the power with the dominant navy was always going to win in Spain, wasn’t it?

    P.P.S I apologise for getting way ahead of the podcasts.

  11. Marcus, you keep changing your argument mate! You asked Did the French Army ever beat the British Army… not the British Army supported by the rest of Europe. Geez.

    Spain… welll we’ll cover Spain when we get to it. 🙂

  12. Marcus

    Cameron, my point is that the Royal Navy won the Revolutionary Napoleonic wars.

    When the time comes, I’ll expand.

  13. Ben

    Cameron, David, great effort guys.

    Marcus, When since 1700 have the french beathen the royal army. Well now, let’s see.

    * The French under Maurice, Comte de Saxe sound beat Cumberland’s British and Allied Army in 1745 at Fontenoy.

    * In 1755, 105 French regulars and 750 Indians and militia defeated 1500 British regulars under Braddock, killing Braddock in the process at the Battle of the Monongahela

    * In 1758, French and Indians under Le Marchand de Lignery defeated British regulars and colonial militia under Grant at the Battle of Fort Duquesne.

    * Washington and de la Fayette’s Comntinentals along with Rochambeau’s expeditionary force faced off against Cornwallis at the Seige of Yorktown in 1781. How did that one end again?

    * In 1793, British regulars were among the defenders of Toulon. Napoleon himself was wounded in the thigh by a British sergeant’s bayonet. The sans-cullotes defeated the British regulars.

    * The Walcheren Expedition in 1809 was a massive failure for the ‘invincible’ King’s regulars, wasting £8 million and incapacitating over 16,000 men. The poor command decisions by Pitt and Strachan meant that the French hardly had to fire a shot.

    * While Battle of Corunna in 1809 can be viewed in the Dunkirk way as a ‘Glorious Defeat’, it was still a defeat. Moore had been outmanouvered by the French under Soult and was forced to withdraw.

    And that was just a couple of the victories. Granted, the British Beat the French in battle too, but It was hardly as one sided as email forwards and shoddy History Channel docs would have you believe. If in doubt, pick up a book. It can never hurt.

  14. I just realised that I have spent (and enjoyed) over 11 hours listening to you guys rant enthusiastically about your pet subject. The thing is, I HATE history and couldn’t care less about Napoleon – what’s going on here?

    Fang – Adelaide – Australia

  15. Whew! Quite a Bonapartist diatribe in this one! Did you guys really defend Boney’s executing le duc D’Enghien? Boney did many great things, but the equal application of justice was not one of them! He was always above the law, and it seems he used his power to arbitrarily dispatch political opponents, the same as the lowest despot.

    Anyway, great job again, I enjoyed it, other than JDM’s horrible VoIP connection! Please try to get that ironed out before the next show.

    P.S. This has been bugging me for a while now, but you say that Josephine and her first husband reconciled before his execution. What happened to his estate? Why didn’t Josephine, or at least the children, inherit? Was it “nationalized?” Or did it pass on and was squandered? Or was there simply not much to receive?

  16. Whoa Andy! I think you’ll find David said the execution “did what it was intended to do” and that the Duc’s behaviour was treason, but I don’t think we defended it. I said the whole affair makes me cringe and that it was heavy-handed. I can understand Napoleon and Talleyrand’s intentions and motivations, but it was out of character for Napoleon’s rule. I’ve always put it down to his Corsican temper and I certainly see it as one of the biggest mistakes of Napoleon’s career.

    Sorry about the VOIP connection, it was a bitch. Not sure how we get it “ironed out”… unless you have some pull at Skype. 🙂

    Regards Josephine, I know she faced financial difficulties after she Alexandre’s execution but I don’t know the details. She did manage to regain some of his property after the new laws were passed in 1795 but, with what we know of Josephine, she probably blew it pretty quickly.

    Oh and yes you can expect that EVERY episode will be a Napoleon diatribe. We make no bones about being pro-Bonaparte. You’ll find though that neither of us are under any illusions about him though. After all, it was his flaws and mistakes along with his genius and success that make him so interesting a subject.

  17. Mike

    Enjoying the podcast about what he did politically & militarily. Any chance of a bit more on what he was like as a person, work habits etc? maybe a fly on the wall during a working day?

    – from near Birmingham in the United Kingdom –

  18. Marcus

    Ben says: “pick up a book”… Well, that’s very good advice, Ben.

    First point: What is the Royal Army? I’ve never heard of it. Please enlighten me, my friend.

    Point two: I said: “Indeed, since 1700 when have the French triumphed over the British?”

    I stand by that. When ,indeed, did the French defeat Britain in a war between 1688 and 1815?

    Know your enemy, Ben.

  19. Terry Doherty

    I really enjoy the podcasts. Until this podcast I was unaware that David Markham lives in the Pacific NW. I was also unaware of the conference hear a couple of weeks ago! I need to pay more attention. I live near beautiful Snohomish WA. Thanks for making me aware of activities in the Pacific NW.

  20. Ben


    Sorry for the typo, replace Royal with British.

    Second point, I misunderstood, I was merely stating the times when the British Army was beaten in battle, as per your question:

    Marcus Said: ”Did the French Army ever beat the British Army”

    The British hardly ‘Won’ the War of Spanish Succession. The Parliament’s stellar decision making and shoddy treatment of Marlborough ended up staving off a certain victory.

    I also don’t recall a victory in the American Revolution.

    Regarding the ‘pick up a book’, I apologise, I thought perhaps you were of the opinion that the British Army was invincible in battle (i.e viewed the Sharpe series as an accurate portrayal).

  21. Marcus

    Ben, mate, you mean the Sharpe series isn’t accurate? Surely you jest?

    Well I see the 1688-1815 conflict as a second “Hundred Years’ War”. Thankfully the French lost.

    P.S. I would hardly call the American Revolution a French victory. After all its navy was humiliated(yet again). Futhermore, it bankrupted France, led to cake eating, mass murder, the dictatorship, and ultimately, more humiliation at the hands of perfidious Albion.

    I would call that a good result.


  22. Michael Conway

    I have been listening to your podcasts via my ipod while training for a marathon. It passes the time well- Very informative and the format is well done- much better than a straight lecture.

    Unfortunataly, I came to this late and heard the first 10 shows in rapid succession. I am eager for the rest…

    Michael Conway, Albany, NY USA

  23. Hey guys,

    In the Sharpe series (book), there is a few references to the “French Army making its advance” and the drums playing a particular beat with the soliders crying “Viva l’emperor” or something similar.

    There’s a lot of detail of how terrifying, and overwhelming this would be.

    So my question is: Was there a specific tune or beat that was thrashed out? And what did it sound like (in a modern, Hollywood kinda way)

    Apart from that, I agree with Mike Seyfang – History, who’d have thought???

    Sydney, Australia

  24. David Markham

    Dear Friends,

    I don’t think I have internalized the need to check in on the posts on a regular basis. I am so very pleased to see so many posts, and even find the debate over the French v. the British interesting. Sorry, Cameron, for leaving you out here to do all of the responding. For my part, I’m not sure that the question is all that important (and I certainly don’t buy this superior industrious v. lazy socialist business). That said, it is true that Great Britain was more industrialized than France, and this gave her an advantage. But while I’d take the British navy over the French navy, I’d take Napoleon leading his troops over Wellington or anyone else you’d care to name every time. Napoleon never lost to the British. Unfortunately, the French army led by assorted marshals and generals did, hence the disaster in Spain. As to Waterloo, take out the Prussians and…!

    On the question of boarding ships, I know that it happened during peacetime and that the rest of Europe and the US were very unhappy about it and filed protests and took collective action (e.g. the Armed Neutrality treaties). I criticize President Bush’s preemptive strike, and register the same complaint against the 19th century British.

    Before I forget: Terry, I’m delighted to hear that you live reasonably close to me. Please contact me and lets get together. The same goes for anyone else who lives near me, or who happens to pass through. My home has, ahem, a certain theme to the decor, which we can enjoy over a fine cognac!

    As to the good Duke d’E, it really worked out pretty well for Napoleon, as he was no longer threatened by royalists and he was seen as “one of us” by most of the radicals. It didn’t go over well with the rest of Europe, but the French people seemed to understand that treason is treason. And the rest of Europe wanted to displace him with a Bourbon, so I am shocked — shocked! — that they were upset.

    Tim, we will cover the coronation and I’ll tell the story of the planning, etc. He took the crown, all right, but it was all planned. Tune in and I’ll tell you why (can you say, ‘Charlemagne?’)

    Mike, I did a marathon when I was 40, but we won’t compare times! If you’ve been listening to me while training, you’ve probably discovered that ‘you can run but you can’t hide!’

    As to my VoIP connection, I am very sorry that it is sometimes really bad. I don’t know why it is that way, but think the problem lies in Australia. I did a Skype podcast for my publisher (Wiley) and there was no sound problem at all. That podcast, on my Napoleon for Dummies book, should be posted sometime in November.

    Well, I hope that catches me up. If I missed anyone, shoot me an email. I’m always glad to hear from you. And as a reminder, if by some chance you will be in New York City on 21 December, stop by the Dahesh and hear my talk on the Egyptian campaign.

    My best to one and all,


  25. Gavin

    Hey guys, I’ve only found your neat podcast recently and am enjoying it heaps. I very much enjoy the discussion style to the podcast and am looking forward to future episodes.

    My only gripe is Cameron’s assumption that every person listening is anti the Iraq war! Please understand that I love this podcast but am also a supporter of the current U.S. Administration.

    Thanks again for your hard work in bringing us this show,

    Gavin Nardi

  26. Marcus

    David Markham said: “Napoleon never lost to the British.”

    Unless you count losing the whole bloody war.

    As for me, I’m inclined to do just that.

    Prussians and…! pffft!

  27. Gavin, glad you’re enjoying the show but allow me to clarify about the Iraq “war” (by the way, I think you can only call it a “war” if both sides actually have an army). I assume nothing about your opinions about it! And when I bring up my opinions on it, it is merely to draw parallels between current events and Napoleonic events. That said, I’ve agreed to try to avoid mentioning it (don’t mention the “war”) in future as I can see some of you are quite sensitive about it!

  28. Gavin

    Thank you cameron for your kind reply to my griping, I certinatly cracked a smile at your Fawlty Towers reference (that was a great episode 🙂 I respect your views on the war/engagement/conflict/brutal slaying/etc. and look forward to the next episode…(hurry up!)



  29. Gentlemen,

    My sincere thanks for your effort to enlighten the wired world to the joys of the history colloquium. I remember some very pleasant classes in one of my prof’s home with cheese wine and stimulating conversation, which often veered off the topic, usually the incompetence of the current administration. Later I had the pleasure of a graduate Historiography seminar with Harold T. Parker.

    Concerning Mr. Reilly’s rants, “Rant on” where you can make a relevant comparison and criticism of a failure, a repeated failure, by Napoleon and President Bush (just the justaposition give more credit to Bush than he deserves). I look forward to your discussion of the “Spanish Ulcer.”

    If you wish to focus on current events with a focus on the historical lessons that should have been learned in Spain ( as well as U.S. involvement in Philipines, Haiti, Nicaragua and Southeast Asia), why not a separate special one-off podcast?

    Napoleon was Emperor of the Empire, Commander-in-Chief of the Grande Armee and a genious. President Bush is no dummy but he has failed provided leadership and dicipline (i.e. fires Rumsfeld). Napoleon’s failure parallel current leadership.

    I know this is a podcast on Napoleon, but the Duke of Wellington is a very important figure in determining Napoleon’s fate. Wouldn’t a podcast dealing with the “Sepoy General” be a useful ploy to highlight the intellectual struggle that took place at Waterloo.
    Could you invite a “Wellington” expert to highlight the contrast.

    I look forward to your next episode.


  30. Scott, excellent idea. I’m sure we’ll cover Wellington in due course and getting an expert in sounds like a great idea. Perhaps David can suggest someone.

  31. Dave

    Hi Cameron and David,

    I stumbled onto your podcast by accident. I love it and am powering through the earlier episodes. Keep up the great work.

    Perth, Australia

  32. Patrick

    hey guys- i’ve listened to all 11 episodes as i drive around melbourne, australia. enjoy your banter and have learnt quite a bit….

    you didn’t mention theobald wolfe tone in the peace with britain episode- an interesting character and would have expanded yr ‘what if’ scenrio beyond mere speculation to actual preparation… also could have mentioned how bonaparte became a semi-mythical figure in illiterate rural ireland in 19th century as the figure ‘boney’ – had semi-magical powers and would one day come to rescue the irish from the english….

    i’d like to know who performs the version of la marseillaise at the start of each episode…

  33. pedro

    So England did not lose to the French after the American War of independence?

    England entered the first coalition and when the first coalition fell, France was as powerful as (or more than) in the beginning, beating Prussia and Austria and the insurgents aided by the british, including defeating british regulars and british navy in Toulon. Also with another victories over the british, in land: Tourcoing, Hondshoote.

    England entered the second coalition because she didn’t want the french to be masters of flanders and the netherlands, and when the second coalition fell, France keep mastering (for 13 years more)flandes and the netherlands. With defeats for the british in belsen and castricum, after which they had to abandon netherland soil.

    England entered the third coalition and the third coalition was smashed after Ulm and Austerlitz.

    England entered the fourth coalition and the fourth coalition was destroyed in Jena, in Auerstadt, even in Eylau (french stood in the field, prussians-russians withdraw) and finally and definitely in Friedland.

    England entered the fifth coalition and it was destroyed in Wagram, with the british fiasco in the Walcheren Expedition and (before) in Corunna. “We wished to escaped from total destruction and we got it! It is a victory!” If you say you had so many victories, how it is that you need to count corunna as such??. Try to be honest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We Love To Hear From Our Listeners.

Get in touch with us!