Tilsit Undermined, 1807-1809
THESE two years were to see two dramatic developments. Spain would rise against Napoleon's attempted take-over and begin a national war of independence. Austria, fearing the same fate as Spain, would fight one more great war for dynastic independence. Both these stirring events would contribute something to the final outcome of the Napoleonic wars and the transformation of European politics. Both, however, owed their ultimate importance also to two other undramatic developments of these years: that France and Russia never became real allies, and that Britain survived.
As will be seen, not everything Napoleon did in reorganizing and expanding his empire after 1807 had the principal aim of bringing Britain down. Almost everything was in some way connected with this effort, however, and the measures taken were thorough and generally effective. First Denmark and Russia were brought actively into the anti-British coalition, then Austria and Prussia. A series of annexations and occupations were carried through in Italy, ostensibly to destroy British trade. The Emperor renewed his demands on his satellites for naval construction and a more vigorous war at sea.1 He pushed further his plans and preparations for the conquest of Sicily and the development of bases for more war in the east,2 and he annexed part of his brother Louis's Kingdom of Holland, all supposedly to organize the Continent against the common enemy. The Russo-Swedish war in early 1808 and Napoleon's campaign launched in late 1807 to destroy Portugal and turn Spain into a French province were at least ostensibly designed to bring England down.____________________