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The Confederated States of the Rhine, simply known as the Confederation of the Rhine, was a
confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty, confederations of states tend to be established for dealing with critical issu ...
of German
client state A client state, in international relations International relations (IR), international affairs (IA) or international studies (IS) is the scientific study of interactions between sovereign states. In a broader sense, it concerns all activ ...
s established at the behest of
Napoleon Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General o ...

Napoleon
some months after he defeated
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe. It is composed of nine States o ...
and
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...
at the
Battle of Austerlitz The Battle of Austerlitz (2 December 1805/11 Frimaire An XIV French Republican Calendar, FRC), also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was one of the most important and decisive engagements of the Napoleonic Wars. In what is widely regard ...

Battle of Austerlitz
. Its creation brought about the
dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire The dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire occurred ''de facto ''De facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practic ...
shortly afterward. The Confederation of the Rhine lasted from 1806 to 1813.Hans A. Schmitt. "Germany Without Prussia: A Closer Look at the Confederation of the Rhine". ''German Studies Review'' 6, No. 4 (1983), pp 9–39. The founding members of the confederation were German princes of the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
. They were later joined by 19 others, altogether ruling a total of over 15 million subjects. This granted a significant strategic advantage to the French Empire on its eastern frontier by providing a separation between France and the two largest German states,
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...
and Austria (which also controlled substantial non-German lands).


Formation

On 12 July 1806, on signing the Treaty of the Confederation of the Rhine () in Paris, 16 German states joined together in a
confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty, confederations of states tend to be established for dealing with critical issu ...
(the treaty called it the ', with a precursor in the
League of the Rhine The League of the Rhine (also known as the ''Erster Rheinbund'', First Rhine- Bund; or the ''Rheinische Allianz'' - Rhenish Alliance) was a defensive union of more than 50 German princes and their cities along the River Rhine ), Surselva, G ...
). The " Protector of the Confederation" was a hereditary office of the Emperor of the French, Napoleon. On 1 August, the members of the confederation formally seceded from the Holy Roman Empire, and on 6 August, following an ultimatum by Napoleon,
Francis II
Francis II
declared the Holy Roman Empire dissolved. Francis and his
Habsburg The House of Habsburg (), alternatively spelled Hapsburg in English (german: Haus Habsburg ; es, Casa de Habsburgo ; hu, Habsburg-család), also known as the House of Austria (german: link=no, Haus Österreich; es, link=no, Casa de Austria), ...
dynasty continued as
emperors of Austria The Emperor of Austria ( German: ''Kaiser ''Kaiser'' is the German word for "emperor" (female Kaiserin). In general, the German title was only used for rulers above the rank of king (''König''). In English, the (untranslated) word ''Kaiser' ...
. According to the treaty, the confederation was to be run by common constitutional bodies, but the individual states (in particular the larger ones) wanted unlimited
sovereignty Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty is assigned to the person, body, or institution that has the ultimate a ...
. Instead of a monarchical
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role that one adopts, or a fictional ch ...
, as the Holy Roman Emperor had had, its highest office was held by
Karl Theodor von Dalberg Karl Theodor Anton Maria von Dalberg (8 February 1744 – 10 February 1817) was Principality of Regensburg, Prince-Bishopric of Regensburg, Archbishop of Regensburg, Prince-Elector#High offices, Arch-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Empire, Bishop of ...
, the former Arch Chancellor, who now bore the title of a
Prince-Primate Prince-Primate (german: Fürstprimas, hu, hercegprímás) is a rare prince A prince is a Monarch, male ruler (ranked below a king, grand prince, and grand duke) or a male member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. ''Prince'' is also a ...
of the confederation. As such, he was President of the College of Kings and presided over the ''
Diet Diet may refer to: Food * Diet (nutrition) In nutrition, diet is the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism. The word diet often implies the use of specific intake of nutrition for #Health, health or #Weight management, weight-mana ...
of the Confederation,'' designed to be a parliament-like body although it never actually assembled. The President of the Council of the Princes was the Prince of Nassau-Usingen. In return for their support of Napoleon, some rulers were given higher statuses:
Baden__notoc__ Baden (; ) is a historical territory in South Germany Southern Germany () as a region has no exact boundary but is generally taken to include the areas in which Upper German dialects are spoken. This corresponds roughly to the hi ...
, Hesse,
Cleves Kleve ( , ; traditional en, Cleves ; nl, Kleef; french: Clèves; es, Cléveris; la, Clivia) is a town in the Lower Rhine region The Lower Rhine region in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany ">Germany.html" ;"title="North Rhine-Westphalia ...
, and
BergBerg may refer to: People *Alban Berg (1885–1935), Austrian composer *Berg (surname), a surname (including a list of people with the name) *Berg Ng (born 1960), Hong Kong actor Former states *Berg (state), county and duchy of the Holy Roman Emp ...
were made into grand duchies, and
Württemberg Württemberg ( ; ) is a historical German territory roughly corresponding to the cultural and linguistic region of Swabia upThe coat of arms of Baden-Württemberg shows the three lions passant of the arms of the Duchy of Swabia, in origin th ...
and
Bavaria Bavaria (; German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language ...

Bavaria
became kingdoms. Several member states were also enlarged with the absorption of the territories of Imperial counts and knights who were mediatized at that time. They had to pay a very high price for their new status, however. The Confederation was above all a military alliance; the member states had to maintain substantial armies for mutual defense and supply France with large numbers of military personnel. As events played out, the members of the confederation found themselves more subordinated to Napoleon than they had been to the Habsburgs when they were within the Holy Roman Empire. After Prussia lost to France in 1806, Napoleon cajoled most of the secondary states of Germany into the Confederation of the Rhine. Eventually, an additional 23 German states joined the Confederation. It was at its largest in 1808, when it included 36 states—four kingdoms, five grand duchies, 13
duchies A duchy is a medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe s ...
, seventeen
principalities A principality (or sometimes princedom) can either be a monarchical feudatory or a sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. Intern ...
, and the Free Hansa towns of
Hamburg en, Hamburgian(s) , timezone1 = Central (CET) , utc_offset1 = +1 , timezone1_DST = Central (CEST) , utc_offset1_DST = +2 , postal_code_type = Post ...

Hamburg
,
Lübeck Lübeck (; Low German Low German or Low Saxon (in the language itself: , and other names; german: Plattdeutsch, ) is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language variety spoken mainly in Northern Germany and the northeastern part of the ...
, and
Bremen Bremen (, also ; Low German : : : : : , minority = (70,000) (30,000) (8,000) , familycolor = Indo-European , fam2 = Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by t ...
. The west bank of the Rhine and the
Principality of Erfurt The Principality of Erfurt (german: Fürstentum Erfurt; french: Principauté d'Erfurt) was a small state in modern Thuringia Thuringia (; german: Thüringen ), officially the Free State of Thuringia ( ), is a states of Germany, state of Germa ...
had been annexed outright by the French Empire. Thus, as either emperor of the French or protector of the Confederation of the Rhine, Napoleon was now the overlord of all of Germany except Austria,
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...

Prussia
, Danish
Holstein Holstein (; nds, label=Northern Low Saxon, Holsteen; da, Holsten; Latin and historical en, Holsatia, italic=yes) is the region between the rivers Elbe and Eider (river), Eider. It is the southern half of Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost S ...
, and
Swedish Pomerania Swedish Pomerania ( sv, Svenska Pommern; german: Schwedisch-Pommern) was a Dominion The word Dominion was used from 1907 to 1948 to refer to one of several self-governing colonies of the British Empire. "Dominion status" was formally accorded ...
, plus previously independent Switzerland, which were not included in the Confederation. In 1810 large parts of what is now northwest Germany were quickly annexed to France in order to better monitor the
trade embargo Economic sanctions are commercial and financial penalties applied by one or more countries against a targeted self-governing state, group, or individual. Economic sanctions are not necessarily imposed because of economic circumstances—they ma ...
with
Great Britain Great Britain is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atoll An atoll (), ...

Great Britain
, the
Continental System 300px, The French Empire in 1812 The Continental Blockade (), or Continental System, was the foreign policy of Napoleon Bonaparte against the United Kingdom during the Napoleonic Wars. As a response to the naval blockade of the French coasts ...
. The Confederation of the Rhine collapsed in 1813, in the aftermath of Napoleon's failed invasion of the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . commonly referred to as Imperial Russia, was a historical empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, succeeding the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad that ended the Great Northern War. ...
. Many of its members changed sides after the
Battle of Leipzig The Battle of Leipzig, contemporaneously called the Battle of Leipsic (french: Bataille de Leipsick; german: Völkerschlacht bei Leipzig (); sv, Slaget vid Leipzig) and later the Battle of the Nations (french: Bataille des Nations; russian: ...
, when it became apparent Napoleon would lose the
War of the Sixth Coalition In the War of the Sixth Coalition (March 1813 – May 1814), sometimes known in Germany as the War of Liberation, a coalition of Austrian Empire, Austria, Kingdom of Prussia, Prussia, Russian Empire, Russia, the United Kingdom of Great Britain ...
.


Types of states within the Confederation

Both French influence and internal autonomy varied greatly throughout the confederations' existence. There was also a great variation between the power and influence of the individual states. There are three basic types: * The first group formed the "Model States", which were mostly ruled by relatives of Napoleon. These include the
Kingdom of Westphalia The Kingdom of Westphalia was a kingdom in Germany, with a population of 2.6 million, that existed from 1807 to 1813. It included territory in Hesse Hesse (, , ) or Hessia (, ; german: Hessen ), officially the State of Hessen (german: links=n ...
under
Jérôme Bonaparte Jérôme-Napoléon Bonaparte (born Girolamo Buonaparte; 15 November 1784 – 24 June 1860) was the youngest brother of Napoleon, Napoleon I and reigned as Jerome Napoleon I (formally Hieronymus Napoleon in German), Kingdom of Westphalia, King of ...

Jérôme Bonaparte
. The
Grand Duchy of Berg The Grand Duchy of Berg (german: Großherzogtum Berg), also known as the Grand Duchy of Berg and Cleves, was a territorial grand duchy A grand duchy is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is ...
was first administered by
Joachim Murat it, Gioacchino-Napoleone Murat , religion = Roman Catholic Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancien ...

Joachim Murat
before he was appointed King of
Naples Naples (; it, Napoli ; nap, Napule ), from grc, Νεάπολις, Neápolis, lit=new city. is the regional capital of and the third-largest city of , after and , with a population of 967,069 within the city's administrative limits as of ...
in 1808, and then by Napoleon himself. The third model state was the
Grand Duchy of Frankfurt The Grand Duchy of Frankfurt was a German satellite state of Napoleonic creation. It came into existence in 1810 through the combination of the former territories of the Archbishopric of Mainz along with the Free City of Frankfurt itself. Histor ...
, which was run by the house of until 1813. Because of the collapse of the Napoleonic supremacy, this position could no longer justify its own existence. These new foundations were intended to serve as a model for the remaining Rhine federal states through their legal and social policies, such as the
Napoleonic Code The Napoleonic Code (, lit. "Code Napoleon"), officially the Civil Code of the French (; simply referred to as ) is the French civil code A civil code is a codification of private law relating to property law, property, family law, family, an ...
. *The second group were the reform states of
Bavaria Bavaria (; German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language ...

Bavaria
,
Württemberg Württemberg ( ; ) is a historical German territory roughly corresponding to the cultural and linguistic region of Swabia upThe coat of arms of Baden-Württemberg shows the three lions passant of the arms of the Duchy of Swabia, in origin th ...
,
Baden__notoc__ Baden (; ) is a historical territory in South Germany Southern Germany () as a region has no exact boundary but is generally taken to include the areas in which Upper German dialects are spoken. This corresponds roughly to the hi ...

Baden
, and
Hesse-Darmstadt The Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt (german: Landgrafschaft Hessen-Darmstadt) was a State State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The St ...
. These were not dependent areas but in many ways Napoleon's true allies. Although these states took inspiration from the French model, they also went their own way. The historian
Lothar Gall Lothar Gall (born 3 December 1936 in Lötzen, East Prussia, present day Poland) is a German historian known as "one of German liberalism's primary historians". He was professor of history at Goethe University Frankfurt from 1975 until his retiremen ...

Lothar Gall
suggested that the rulers of the Confederation of the Rhine were made revolutionaries by Napoleon himself. Opposition to the emperor would have been possible only by renouncing the power that he had given to them. "He had not made satellites which were politically incapable of action and forced to be obedient through use of force, but real allies who followed in his well-understood policy reasons of state." *A third group formed the states that joined after 1806. These included the numerous smaller northern and central German territories, except for Saxony. In these, the internal changes were minimal. The reforms remained significantly limited in these states. However, there were also considerable differences among these states. In
Mecklenburg Mecklenburg (; nds, label=Low German : : : : : , minority = (70,000) (30,000) (8,000) , familycolor = Indo-European , fam2 = Germanic languages, Germanic , fam3 = West Germanic languages, West Ge ...

Mecklenburg
and
Saxony Saxony (german: Sachsen ; Upper Saxon Upper Saxon (german: Obersächsisch, ; ) is an East Central German East Central German (german: Ostmitteldeutsch) is the eastern, non-Franconian languages, Franconian Central German language, part o ...

Saxony
, the old structures remained almost unchanged. In the
Duchy of Nassau The Duchy of Nassau (German language, German: ''Herzogtum Nassau'') was an independent state between 1806 and 1866, located in what is now the Germany, German states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse. It was a States of the Confederation of the ...

Duchy of Nassau
, on the other hand, Minister Ernst Franz Ludwig Marshal von Bieberstein ensured moderate administrative modernization and the introduction of religious tolerance.


Member monarchies

The following table shows the members of the confederation, with their date of joining, as well as the number of troops provided, listed in parentheses.


College of Kings


College of Princes


Aftermath

The
allies An alliance is a relationship among people, groups, or sovereign state, states that have joined together for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out among them. Members of an alli ...
opposing Napoleon dissolved the Confederation of the Rhine on 4 November 1813. After its demise, the only attempt at political coordination in Germany until the creation on 8 June 1815 of the German Confederation was a body called the Central Administration Council (); its President was Heinrich Friedrich Karl Reichsfreiherr vom und zum Stein (1757–1831). It was dissolved on 20 June 1815. On 30 May 1814 the Treaty of Paris declared the German states independent. In 1814–1815, the
Congress of Vienna The Congress of Vienna (, ) of 1814–1815 was an international diplomatic conference to reconstitute the European political order after the downfall of the French Emperor Napoleon I Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) w ...

Congress of Vienna
redrew the continent's political map. Napoleonic creations such as the huge Kingdom of Westphalia, the Grand Duchy of Berg and the Duchy of Würzburg were abolished; suppressed states, including Hanover, the Brunswick duchies, Hesse-Kassel and Oldenburg, were reinstated. On the other hand, most members of the Confederation of the Rhine located in central and southern Germany survived with minor border changes. They, along with the reinstated states, Prussia, and Austria, formed the
German Confederation The German Confederation (german: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe, created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 as a replacement of the former Holy Roman Empire, which had ...

German Confederation
.


See also

*
History of Germany The concept of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the and by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the , according t ...
*
League of the Rhine The League of the Rhine (also known as the ''Erster Rheinbund'', First Rhine- Bund; or the ''Rheinische Allianz'' - Rhenish Alliance) was a defensive union of more than 50 German princes and their cities along the River Rhine ), Surselva, G ...
*
List of French possessions and colonies From the 16th to the 17th centuries, the First French colonial empire stretched from a total area at its peak in 1680 to over , the second largest empire in the world at the time behind only the Spanish Empire. During the 19th and 20th centurie ...
*
List of German monarchs This is a list of monarchs who ruled over East Francia, and the Kingdom of Germany (''Regnum Teutonicum''), from Treaty of Verdun, the division of the Francia, Frankish Empire in 843 until German Revolution of 1918–19, the collapse of the Germ ...
*
West Germany West Germany is the common English name for the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG; german: Bundesrepublik Deutschland , BRD) between its formation on 23 May 1949 and the German reunification German reunification (german: Deutsche Wieder ...


Notes


Explanatory notes


Citations


External links


English translation of the treaty establishing the Confederation of the Rhine

French version of the treaty establishing the Confederation of the Rhine


on Napoleon Guide.com

on World Statesmen.org {{DEFAULTSORT:Confederation Of The Rhine 1813 disestablishments in Europe 1800s in Germany 1810s in Germany States and territories established in 1806 States and territories disestablished in 1813 Client states of the Napoleonic Wars 1806 establishments in Europe