The Napoleonic Wars (1803-15) were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, theyrevolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly owing to the application of modern mass conscription. French power rose quickly as Napoleon's armies conquered much ofEurope but collapsed rapidly after France's disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812. Napoleon's empire ultimately suffered complete military defeat resulting in the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy inFrance.
Despite a final victory against Napoleon, five of seven coalitions saw defeat at the hands of France. France beat the first and second coalition during the French Revolutionary Wars, anddefeated the third (Victory of Austerlitz), the fourth (Victory de Jena, Eylau, Friedland) and fifth coalition (Victory of Wagram) under the leadership of Napoleon. These great victories gave the French Armya sense of invulnerability, especially when they approached Moscow. But after the retreat from Russia, in spite of incomplete victories, France was beaten by the sixth coalition in Leipzig and theseventh coalition in Waterloo.
The wars resulted in the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire and sowed the seeds of nascent nationalism in Germany and Italy that would lead to the two nations'respective consolidations later in the century. Meanwhile, the global Spanish Empire began to unravel as French occupation of Spain weakened Spain's hold over its colonies, providing an opening fornationalist revolutions in Spanish America. As a direct result of the Napoleonic wars, the British Empire became the foremost world power for the next century, thus beginning Pax Britannica.
No consensusexists as to when the French Revolutionary Wars ended and the Napoleonic Wars began. An early candidate is 9 November 1799, when Bonaparte seized power in France with the coup of 18 Brumaire. 18 May...
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