(World History) Overview of Napoleonic Era & Continental System

 Napoleonic Era & Continental System


Emperor NapoleonOutline

  • In 1806, Napoleon defeated Prussia in the battle of Zena and a new ‘Warsaw Dutchy’ was established
  • In 1807, Napoleon launched an attack on Russia
  • Battle of Elo was fought - thousands of soldiers were killed but the battle was indecisive
  • On 14th June 1807, the battle of Freedland was fought and Russian was defeated
  • Accordingly, Treaty of Tilsit was signed. This marked the zenith of Napoleon’s ascendancy
  • Also, with his diplomatic skills, Napoleon won Russia’s friendship and Russia promised not to have trade relations with England
  • Napoleon’s empire now stood at the heights of its glory

Continental System of Napoleon Bonaparte

  • After the treaty of Tilsit, the only remaining enemy was England and supremacy over Europe was incomplete without defeating England.
  • We know that England was surrounded by sea and had an invincible fleet.
  • Therefore it was not possible to defeat England in naval battle.
  • But Napoleon knew that England flourished on the continental trade and commerce and if its trade and commerce was destroyed, England could be defeated.
  • So with this aim in mind, Napoleon implemented a scheme called the ‘Continental System’ - It was a scheme to destroy the economic system of England.
  • According to this - the European countries had to boycott England economically .
  • On 21st November 1806, Napoleon barricaded British Isles and banned European trade with England and with all her colonies.
  • All the ports of Europe were put under an embargo for British ships.
  • Also, on 25th January1807, Napoleon issued Warsaw ordinance - this banned British trade on the sea costs of Prussia and Hanover.
  • The Continental System proved detrimental to France as well as entire Europe.
  • The steps taken by Napoleon to implement this scheme entangled him into terrible battles.
  • In response to this scheme, England issued ordinances called ‘Orders in Council’.

It said that no independent trade will be carried out with France and its allies. Also, the ships of France and allies would not be allowed to cross regions dominated by England. The strong navy of England barricaded European ports so strictly that Europe got cut off with its colonies. Export import came to a standstill. The European businessmen faced heavy slump in business, there was scarcity of essential commodities and people became miserable. European countries began protesting against the Continental system.

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