The road to Waterloo: Week 3 (9 – 15 Mar 2015)

Napoleon is declared an outlaw
Late on Saturday night, 11 March 1815, the news that  Napoleon had landed in France reached the Congress of Vienna. Two days later, on Monday 13, the eight powers there assembled signed a declaration naming Napoleon as an outlaw.

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Their statement formally declared that Napoleon’s invasion of France was an illegal act which voided the Treaty of Fontainebleau; signed following his defeat in 1814 this had stripped Napoleon of his powers as ruler of the French Empire and established the island of Elba, where he was exiled, as a separate principality to be ruled by him.

The powers now declared their support for Louis XVIII, the French King, and offered their assistance to resist the attack upon him.

The ‘declaration of outlawry’ exists in several drafts, with the paragraphs in a slightly different order. The text given here is an extract from a translation of the one that was sent to Paris on 14 March 1815, to Sir Henry Hardinge, to be published there.

“By thus breaking the convention which established him on the island of Elba, Bonaparte has destroyed the only legal title on which his existence depended. By reappearing in France, with ambitions for disorder and upheaval, he has deprived himself of the protection of the law and has demonstrated, in the face of universe, that there can be neither peace nor truce with him. […] The Powers declare that, as a result, Napoleon Bonaparte has placed himself beyond the pale of civil and social relations, and that, as an enemy and disturber of the peace of the world, he has rendered himself liable to public vengeance.”

[Translated from the French, printed in WD, xii, pp. 269-70]

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