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Napoleon's Peninsular Campaigns
In the video on the Fourth Coalition, I forgot to add to one super important consequence of the Treaties of Tilsit. And especially the Treaty of Tilsit with Prussia. I already talked about that it was all about carving up Prussia, and humiliating Prussia. And really removing it from the status of one the preeminent powers. And all I talked about was the loss of the territories of Prussia west of the Elbe. And that's about that area right there. But just as important as that, the Polish holdings of Prussia. So all of this area right over here, this also was removed from Prussia and became a French satellite state. It became the Duchy of Warsaw. So I just really want to emphasize. The Treaty of Tilsit, I only emphasized kind of what happened on the western side of Prussia, but the eastern side of Prussia also got carved up. And Prussia essentially lost half of its size. So it's very dramatic humiliation for Prussia at the end of the Treaty of Tilsit. Or the Treaties of Tilsit. Now with that out of the way, we talked about in the last video, that at the end of the Fourth Coalition, Napoleon was kind of near the peak of his power. He'd kind of done everything right. He had this kind of steady upward momentum, or France had a steady upward momentum in its power. But what we're going to see in this video, at least the beginnings of the downfall of Napoleon. And it's not going to be obvious when you look at the territory. Because from a territorial point of view, you're going to see in this video that he's actually gaining territory. But he is going to start doing some of the actions that end up undermining him. So we talked about in the last video, we talked about this whole notion of the Continental System, where Napoleon was obsessed with people on the continent of Europe boycotting England, not trading with England. And he figured this is the only way that he could really undermine England's dominance on the ocean. Or eventually maybe even undermine England generally. So as we said, in the Treaties of Tilsit he got Russia to participate in the Continental System. So he wanted everyone to buy into it. And one party that, at this point, we're talking about-- we're in 1807 now-- one party that wasn't all that keen in participating in the Continental System was Portugal. That's Portugal right there. So Napoleon goes and chats-- well they didn't chat directly-- but he gets the agreement of the King of Spain. This is Charles IV, and he's going to look like a bit of a fool and this video. And Napoleon says, hey Charles, let's go in there, let's go into Portugal, that little upstart country that doesn't want to participate in the Continental System. You and me, we'll invade together. We'll bring them into kind of our realm of influence. And we can both kind of pillage the lands and get the wealth of Portugal. Charles IV, he's all up for this. So a combined French and Spanish force invade Portugal. So in 1807, this is the end of 1807, it's actually in October. In October, you have a combined French and Spanish invasion of Portugal. And they are able to take Portugal, but we're going to see that it's reasonably temporary. Now I just mentioned that this guy is going to look like the fool of this video. And the reason is, because with the excuse of reinforcements, obviously to get to Portugal, you have to go through Spain. So with the excuse of sending in reinforcements, Napoleon in 1808-- and now we're talking about early 1808, in particular in March. So with the excuse of sending in reinforcements to support the Portugal campaign, and Spain is like your my ally, sure, send those hundreds of thousands of troops right through our territory. We're not going to worry about it. And with that excuse, Napoleon was able to send 100,000 troops and occupy Madrid. So this is one of those lessons of never get too greedy. This guy got greedy, wanted to help Napoleon. Or I guess the other lesson is be careful who your friends are. This guy wanted to invade Portugal, but the side effect of it is that Madrid gets occupied. And that actually he gets dethrowned. And so you have this situation here, the French are now in control of Spain. In May of 1808-- and this is really going to be the first little spark that is kind of the downfall of Napoleon. In May 2, 1808, a popular uprising starts in Madrid. Dos de Mayo. So a popular uprising in Madrid. And at the same time, a little bit after that-- So you can imagine, this is a hugely tumultuous time. You have this occupation of Portugal with the excuse of reinforcements in March. The French troops occupy Madrid. Then in May-- so a couple of months later-- a popular uprising starts in Madrid. This leads to popular uprisings throughout Spain. But at the very same time as this-- this is a little bit after the uprising in May-- Napoleon says, oh, this is just a little uprising, I'm still in control of Spain. He appoints his other brother-- remember, there's this whole business he's putting his brothers in charge of different parts of the Empire. He puts his brother Joseph, he appoints his brother Joseph-- or you could kind of say-- he inserts his brother Joseph as the King of Spain. So this is all in kind of early, mid-1808. Spain is in all of this turmoil. A new king has been appointed, who is Napoleon's brother. The old king is no longer in charge. You have this ongoing battle in Portugal. They don't have a firm hold on Portugal just yet. And in the rest of 1808, the uprising that occurs throughout Spain is actually pretty successful in enforcing the French troops to retreat. And a major, I guess, aspect of this uprising is it's one of the first real national uprisings in history. It's people saying we are Spanish, we do not like being controlled by the French. We do not like how they have treated our royalty. We as a nation are going to rise up. And the other interesting aspect of this whole uprising that starts in Madrid with Dos de Mayo, but then it starts continuing throughout the whole nation, is the idea of guerrilla warfare. Not gorilla warfare. And this comes from the Spanish for little war. Not from the large ape. And what it implies, you probably heard the word on the news before, is kind of a non-conventional style of fighting, where small little groups kind of engage their enemy in very nontraditional styles. So it becomes a very painful-- at least for it Napoleon's forces-- it became very difficult fighting these non-conventional battles all over Spain. So they were able to force the French to retreat. Napoleon says, gee, you know what? If you want a job well done, you've got to do it yourself. So Napoleon comes in at the end of the year, and then he retakes Madrid. So December of 1808, Napoleon back in Madrid. Now, you might say all is fine and well. Now Napoleon is back here. He has firm control of Spain. But not everything is good. Because as you could imagine, there's all these other characters here that keep forming coalitions for and against Napoleon. Even when they say that they're allied, you know that in the back of their minds they can't wait until they can declare the next war on Napoleon. So in 1809-- let me write this down-- Austria declares war. And since Great Britain was in-- at this point in time-- perpetual war with France, this becomes the Fifth Coalition. But this one is fairly short-lived. Napoleon says gee, I got these guys on my eastern front. Austria is re-declaring war on me. So he leaves Spain to go lead that fight. And he leaves 300,000 of his best troops in Spain to hold Spain. And frankly, this is the most important side effect of the Fifth Coalition, is that it makes Napoleon go to fight Austria, to lead that effort, as opposed to worrying about Spain. And essentially by doing that-- and I don't know if it's necessarily the fact that Napoleon wasn't there. But it could be because Napoleon wasn't there-- is that Spain just becomes a major thorn in Napoleon's side. This guerrilla warfare just continues on and on and on. And it just goes back and forth. And the French will win a battle and they'll win another battle. But they still don't have control. And these guerrillas will kind of peck at them and continue the uprising. And this really just drains the French army. And really just gets at them little bit by little bit, really over the remainder of Napoleon's reign. So all the way until 1814. We haven't gone over that yet. But this occurs all the way to 1814. So I said at the beginning the video, this is one of the starting points of Napoleon's downfall. That's just because he was just stuck in Spain from 1808 on, just continuing to have to send troops and supplies and reinforcements and wealth to support what they called the Peninsular Campaign. And it just drains him. It drains his resources, it drains his energy. And it really hurts his ability to fight wars with all of the other people who he needs to fight wars with. This is one of the major downfalls. The other one, which we'll probably talk about in the next video or video after that, is his invasion of Russia. Which he does in 1812. One could debate which one drains France's resources more. But the invasion of Russia really decimates Napoleon's forces. And really makes him susceptible to really conquest by England and all of the other allies. And we're going to see that in a couple of videos. So you have this been Peninsular Campaign continuing to drain Napoleon. It all started because he wanted to enforce the Continental System on Portugal. And he got a little bit greedy. And he also wanted to conquer Spain. And just to highlight why it's called the Peninsular Campaign. This right here, a little bit of geography, this is called the Iberian Peninsula right there that I'm circling. So you could call it the Iberian Peninsular Campaign, because it's everything that's going on in this Peninsula in Spain and Portugal. Now if we back up a little bit back to 1808, where we had this uprising in Spain, and they were able to push the French back. At the same time, you also had a popular uprising in Portugal roughly in the fall, late summer or fall of 1808. The British got excited. They saw it as their chance to push Napoleon out of Portugal. So you have this gentleman right here, Sir Arthur Wellesley. He's a future Duke of Wellington. And he's eventually going to be responsible for pushing Napoleon out of Spain entirely. Or at least out of Madrid. Him and along with the British and along with the Portuguese are able to push the French out in August of 1808. So let me put this in my not so neatly drawn timeline here. So in December, Napoleon is back, so right before that in August, out of Portugal. And this is another motivation for Napoleon to say, gee, you know what? Things aren't going well on the Iberian Peninsula, I have to take charge of things myself. Now, at the very same time as all of this is happening, and this is really just kind of out of interest. Well it's more than out of interest, because actually it has huge global repercussions. You might say, OK, well you have this Iberian Peninsula. Spain is going back and forth between the French and the guerillas. And Portugal has this whole situation where their king was dethrowned, but then the British help and take it back. But you could imagine, these nations are in just a super state of flux. Now you could also imagine, the King of Spain wasn't just the King of Spain, he was King of the Spanish Empire. And the Spanish Empire, the main land mass of the Spanish Empire was in the Americas. So this right here. That was the Spanish Empire at the time. This was a 400 year old Spanish Empire. Starting with Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 1492. You had this huge Spanish Empire. And one of the really important side effects of Napoleon invading Spain and having this long protracted engagement in Spain, is it catalyzed the ability of these colonies at the time to start looking for their independence. And we're going to do whole videos on that in the future. But this really is one of the things that allowed them to get independence. Obviously, if the empire is in flux, these guys can say hey, gee, why do we have to listen to that nation anymore? We don't even know who's in charge there. At the same time, same thing in Portugal. Brazilian independence didn't come until a little bit later after this period, but Napoleon's invasion is what really sparked the beginning of a lot of turmoil in Portugal. And that eventually is one of the causes that leads to the eventual independence of Brazil. That doesn't happen for another 10 or 15 years. But you could imagine, this is where a lot of that action can be traced back. Now, another interesting point that occurred around this time. And actually, I didn't tell you what happened on the Fifth Coalition. I said Austria declared war. Obviously Britain was already at war. So it was the Fifth Coalition. Napoleon had to leave, that maybe made Spain a little bit harder to hold for France. And that's why it kind of bled France slowly. But Napoleon was able to take care of Austria. And then he was able to take a little bit more land from them. Actually Galicia, this area of Austria was given to the Duchy of Warsaw, which was a French satellite state. And then Austria once again, had to say oh Napoleon, we're your friend, we're going to do whatever you ask us to. So you can imagine at this time landwise, the empire of Napoleon seemed pretty dramatic. You could include Spain here. Although he had to spend a lot of resources to keep Spain. And then now we had Austria, at least it was in the fold. You know Prussia was not really happy about it. But this whole area here, the western half of Poland was under French control. Germany-- the Confederacy of the Rhine-- which is now Germany. And then a good bit of Italy, the Kingdom of Italy was also a French satellite state. But Napoleon, of course, he wanted everyone to participate in the Continental System. That's the only way to really strangle England. And the Papal States were not participating in the Continental System. So he sent some people over to kind of try to convince them to. And when they didn't, they occupied the Papal States. So French troops occupied the Papal States. And then once again, this was still back in 1808. This is actually early 1808, it's just on a different front. So in February, up here, in 1808. Actually, that's before they even occupied Madrid. So in 1808, February, French troops occupy Papal States. They essentially give them over to the Kingdom of Italy, which at that time was a French satellite state. So it's almost like annexing it to France. And then once the Fifth Coalition was done with, Napoleon felt so good about himself, that he formally annexed the Papal States. Now we're in 1809. In 1809, he formally-- The Papal States are actually annexed into the French Empire. Now you can imagine that the Pope wasn't that happy about this. This is the Pope at the time, this is Pius VII. He wasn't so happy about it. So he excommunicates Napoleon. And I'll do a whole video on excommunication. But it's really about as bad as something you could do to someone within the powers of the Catholic Church. And by implication, you're no longer part of the church, and you'll probably go to hell now, at least if the Pope has anything to do with it. So Napoleon wasn't happy about this. He sent some people, some officers, once again to talk to the Pope about it. To say hey, gee, why do you want to excommunicate Napoleon? Why don't you just play nice? Why don't you just agree to whatever Napoleon says? The Pope doesn't agree, and so he gets abducted. This is why it's interesting. Napoleon, he's not afraid to take some serious action. So he gets abducted in 1809 by French officers. And it's not clear, it's not obvious that Napoleon told them to do it. But once he was abducted, and they actually started shuttling him all around France depending on who needed to talk to him. Or if they were afraid that the British might try to free him from one port, they would send them some place else. But it wasn't clear that Napoleon ordered this. But he never ordered his release. So in some ways, you got to say that it was sanctioned by Napoleon. So all of this mess starts, you know, Napoleon is messing with the Pope. He has this ongoing bleeding going on in Spain. And that ends actually in 1812 where Sir Arthur Wellesley finally retakes Madrid. But during this whole period, you can imagine it's really draining into the resources of the French Empire.