Paris, First and Second Treaties of

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After the disastrous military campaigns of 1813 marked in particular by the severe defeat of Leipzig, Napoleon's political and military power was on the decline. The emperor was unable to avoid the entry of the Allied powers in Paris on March 31, 1814, and was forced to abdicate in April 1814. On May 30, 1814, following the restoration of Louis XVIII, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, the plenipotentiary of the new king, signed the first Treaty of Paris with representatives of King George III of England; of François I, emperor of Austria; of King Frederic-William III of Prussia; and of Tsar Alexander I. This treaty, which put an end to the war between France and the Fourth Coalition and to the French hegemony in Europe, covered both territorial and geopolitical matters.

France retained its boundaries of January 1, 1792. Thus it was allowed to keep Avignon and the Comtat-Venaissin, a large part of Savoy, Mont-beliard, and Mulhouse, but had to surrender Belgium and the left bank of Rhine as well as territories annexed in Italy, Germany, Holland, and Switzerland. No indemnity was requested, and England gave back all the French colonies except for Malta, Tobago, St. Lucia in the Antilles, and the Isle of France in the Indian Ocean. In addition, the Allied powers had to withdraw from French territory. Last, the treaty included secret clauses that ceded the territory of Venetia to Austria and the port of Genoa to the Kingdom of Sardinia.

On the political level, the treaty called for a general congress to be held at Vienna to settle all questions about boundaries and sovereignty and to confirm the decisions taken by the Allied powers: Switzerland was to be independent, Holland was to be united under the House of Orange, Germany was to become a federation of independent states, and Italy was to be composed of sovereign states.

The relative leniency of the treaty was largely due to the diplomatic ability of Talleyrand; yet, despite its moderation, the document was badly received by the French public opinion and it contributed to the discredit of the Bourbons.

At the time the treaty was signed, Napoleon I was prisoner on the island of Elba and separated from his family. He escaped from the island and landed on March 1, 1815, at Golfe Juan with nine hundred faithful soldiers. He tried to take advantage of his strong popularity to drive Louis XVIII off the throne and restore his own personal power. But that attempt lasted only one hundred days and collapsed with the catastrophic defeat at Waterloo on June 18, 1815. Napoleon had to abdicate again and was sent to the island of Sainte-Hélène, where he died on May 5, 1821.

Following this final abdication, a new treaty was signed in Paris on November 20, 1815. It was much tougher than the previous one; the cost of the one hundred days was high. France was confined to its former boundaries of 1790. It was authorized to keep Avignon and the Comtat-Venaissin, Montbéliard and Mulhouse, but lost the duchy of Bouillon and the German fortresses of Philippeville and Marienbourg given to the Netherlands, Sarrelouis and Sarrebruck attributed to Prussia, Landau given to Bavaria, the area of Gex attached to Switzerland, and a large part of Savoy given to the king of Piedmont. Regarding the colonies, the loss of Malta, St. Lucia, Tobago, and of the Isle of France was confirmed. A financial cost was added to this territorial cost: the French state had to pay an indemnity of 700 million francs and to undergo in its northeast frontier areas a military occupation. This occupation was limited to five years and 150,000 men but had to be paid by the French budget.

Despite its severity, the second Treaty of Paris was faithfully respected by King Louis XVIII; this respect allowed France to get rid of the foreign occupation as early as 1818two years earlier than expectedand to play again at that date a significant role in the international relations.

See also: alexander i; france, relations with; napolean i

Marie-Pierre Rey