The Treaty of Amiens temporarily ended the hostilities between France and the United Kingdom during the French Revolutionary Wars. It was signed on March 25, 1802 (Germinal 4, year X in the French Revolutionary Calendar) by Joseph Bonaparte and the Marquess Cornwallis as a "Definitive Treaty of Peace". The consequent peace lasted only one year, and was the only period of peace during the so-called 'Great French War' between 1793 and 1815. Under the treaty, the United Kingdom recognized the French Republic. Together with the Treaty of Lunéville (1801) the treaty of Amiens marked the end of the Second Coalition. The War started well for the Coalition, with General Bonaparte's reverses in Egypt. But, after France's victories at Marengo and Hohenlinden, Austria, Russia and Naples asked for peace. Nelson's victory at Copenhagen (April 2, 1801) halted the creation of the League of Armed Neutrality and led to a negotiated ceasefire: Preliminary Articles of Peace were signed in London, October 1801, and greeted with illuminations and fireworks; in Dublin a street would be named for the treaty. Peace, it was thought, would lead to the withdrawal of the income tax imposed by Pitt, the reduction of grain prices and a revival of markets. The Treaty was made possible by William Pitt's resignation 16 February 1801, on an unrelated issue; Henry Addington replaced him. The British negotiators in Paris were led by Robert Jenkinson, Lord Liverpool.
In justifying an immediate casus belli for resumption of hostilities, it has been alleged that the United Kingdom did seize all French ships in British ports; there appears to be no evidence to support such an assertion. Napoleon certainly believed it, stating that six ships had been seized "on the high seas," although these ships and their captains have never been named. On 18 May a declaration of war was laid before Parliament. Presented as a response, on 22 May 1803 (2 Prairial, year XI) the First Consul suddenly ordered the imprisonment of all British males between the ages of eighteen and sixty in France, trapping many travelling civilians. This act was denounced as illegal by all the major powers. Napoleon claimed in the French press that the British prisoners that he had taken amounted to 10,000, but French documents compiled in Paris a few months later show that the numbers were 1,181. It was not until the abdication of Napoleon in 1814 that the last of these imprisoned British civilians were allowed to return home.
Napoleon, now emperor, assembled armies on the coast of France to invade England, but Austria and Russia, the United Kingdom's allies, were preparing to invade France. The French armies were christened La Grande Armée and secretly left the coast to march against Austria and Russia before those armies could combine. The Grande Armée defeated Austria at Ulm the day before the Battle of Trafalgar, and Napoléon's victory at the Battle of Austerlitz effectively destroyed the Third Coalition. In 1806, Britain re-took the Cape Colony from the Batavian Republic, which Napoleon abolished later that year in favour of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Holland, ruled by his brother Louis.
The Long Farewell: Russell Chamberlin Observes as Menorca Celebrates the Bicentennial of Treaty of Amiens.(Column)
Sep 01, 2002; `THE ENGLISH HAVE GONE--but left their weather behind', a Menorcan remarked ruefully, surveying a bleak, treeless promontory from...