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54. The Fall Of The German Empire

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The peace of Presburg had been concluded; it had deprived Austria of her best provinces.

The offensive and defensive alliance between Prussia and France had been signed; it had deprived Prussia of the principalities of Cleves, Berg, and Neufchatel.

Germany, therefore, had reason enough in the beginning of 1806 to mourn and complain, for her princes had been humiliated and disgraced; her people had to bear with their princes the ignominy of degradation and dependence.

Germany, however, seemed to be joyful and happy; festivals were being celebrated everywhere--festivals in honor of the Emperor Napoleon and his family, festivals of love and happiness.

After the victory Napoleon had obtained at Austerlitz over the two emperors, after the conclusion of the treaty of Presburg and the alliance with Prussia, all causes of war with Germany seemed removed, and Napoleon laid his sword aside in order to repose on his laurels in the bosom of his family, and, instead of founding new states, to bring about marriages between his relations and the scions of German sovereigns--marriages which were to draw closer the links of love and friendship uniting France with Germany, and to make all Germany the obedient son-in-law and vassal of the Emperor of France.

In Munich, the wedding-bells which made Napoleon the father-in-law of a German dynasty, were first rung. In Munich, in the beginning of 1806, Eugene Beauharnais, Napoleon's adopted son, was married to the beautiful and noble Princess Amelia of Bavaria, daughter of Maximilian, Elector of Bavaria, who, by the grace of Napoleon, had become King of Bavaria, as Eugene, by the same grace, had become Viceroy of Italy.

All Bavaria was jubilant with delight at the new and most fortunate ties uniting the German state with France; all Bavaria felt honored and happy when the Emperor Napoleon, with his wife Josephine, came to Munich to take part in the wedding-ceremonies. Festivals followed each other in quick succession in Munich; only happy faces were to be seen there, only jubilant shouts, laughter, and merry jests were to be heard; and whenever Napoleon appeared in the streets or showed himself on the balcony of the palace, the people received him with tremendous cheers, and waved their hats at the emperor, regardless of the blood and tears he had wrung but a few days before from another German state.

No sooner had the wedding-bells ceased ringing in Munich than they commenced resounding in Carlsruhe; for Napoleon wanted there, too, to become the father-in-law of another German dynasty, and the niece of Josephine, Mademoiselle Stephanie de Beauharnais, married the heir of the Elector of Baden, who now, by the grace of Napoleon, became Grand-duke of Baden.

And to the merry notes of the wedding-bells of Munich and Carlsruhe, were soon added the joyful sound of the bells which announced to Germany the rise of a new sovereign house within her borders, and inaugurated the elevation of the brother-in-law of the Emperor of France to the dignity of a sovereign German prince. Those solemn bells resounded in Cleves and Berg, and did homage to Joachim Murat, who, by the grace of Napoleon, had become Grand-duke of Berg. Prussia and Bavaria had to furnish the material for this new princely cloak; Prussia had given the larger portion of it, the Duchy of Cleves, and Bavaria, grateful for so many favors, had added to it the principality of Berg, so that these two German states together formed a nice grand-duchy for the son of the French innkeeper--for Joachim Murat, for the brother-in-law of the French emperor.

And when the joyful sounds had died away in Munich, Carlsruhe, and the new grand-duchy of Berg, they resounded again in Stuttgart, for in that capital the betrothal of Jerome, youngest brother of Napoleon, and of a daughter of the Elector of Wurtemberg, who now, by the grace of Napoleon, had become King of Wurtemberg, was celebrated. It is true Jerome, the emperor's brother, wore no crown as yet; it is true this youngest son of the Corsican lawyer had hitherto been nothing but an "imperial prince of France," but his royal father-in-law of Wurtemberg felt convinced that his august brother, Napoleon, would endow the husband of his daughter in a becoming manner, and place some vacant or newly-to-be-created crown on his head. Napoleon, moreover, had just then endowed his elder brother Joseph in such a manner, and made him King of Naples, after solemnly declaring to Europe in a manifesto, that "the dynasty of Naples had ceased to reign, and that the finest country on earth was to be delivered at length from the yoke of the most perfidious persons." And in accordance with his word, Napoleon had overthrown the Neapolitan dynasty, expelled King Ferdinand and Queen Caroline from their capital, and placed his brother Joseph on the throne of Naples. [Footnote: Napoleon rewarded his generals and ministers, besides, with duchies, which he created for them in Italy, and the rich revenues of which he assigned to them. Thus Marmont became Duke of Ragusa; Mortier, Duke of Treviso; Bessieres, Duke of Istria; Savary, Duke of Rovigo; Lannes, Duke of Montebello; Bernadotte, Prince of Pontecorvo; Talleyrand, Prince of Benevento; Fouche, Duke of Otranto; Maret, Duke of Bassano; Soult, Duke of Dalmatia; Berthier, Prince of Neufchatel; Duroc, Duke of Frioul, etc.]

Hence, the King of Wurtemberg was not afraid; he was sure that Napoleon would discover somewhere a falling crown for his brother Jerome, and give to the daughter of the most ancient German dynasty a position worthy of the honor of her house.

 

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Louisa of Prussia and Her Times -by- Louisa Muhlbach

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