Treaty of Amiens

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The Treaty of Amiens temporarily ended hostilities between the French Republic and the United Kingdom during the French Revolutionary Wars. It was signed in the city of Amiens on 25 March 1802 (Germinal 4, year X in the French Revolutionary Calendar), by Joseph Bonaparte and the Marquess Cornwallis as a "Definitive Treaty of Peace". The consequent Peace of Amiens lasted only one year, and was the only period of peace during the so-called 'Great French War' between 1793 and 1815.[1] Under the treaty, the United Kingdom (UK) recognised the French Republic; George III had only two years previously dropped the English crown's historical claim, dating back to 1340 and Edward III, to the now-defunct French Kingdom. Together with the Treaty of Lunéville (1801), the Treaty of Amiens marked the end of the Second Coalition, which had waged war against Revolutionary France since 1798.



The War of the Second Coalition started well for the coalition, with successes in Egypt. After France's victories at Marengo and Hohenlinden, Austria, Russia and Naples asked for peace, with Austria eventually signing the Treaty of Lunéville. Nelson's victory at Copenhagen (2 April 1801) halted the creation of the League of Armed Neutrality and led to a negotiated ceasefire.

The French First Consul, Napoleon Bonaparte, first made truce proposals to British foreign secretary Lord Grenville as early as 1799. Because of the hardline stance of Grenville and Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, their distrust of Bonaparte, and obvious defects in the proposals, they were rejected out of hand. However, Pitt resigned in February 1801 (over King George's unwillingness to support Catholic emancipation in Ireland), and was replaced by the more accommodating Henry Addington. Addington's foreign secretary, Robert Jenkinson, Lord Hawkesbury, immediately opened communications with Louis Guillaume Otto, the French commissary for prisoners of war in London, through whom Bonaparte had made his earlier proposals. Hawkesbury stated that he wanted to open discussions on terms for a peace agreement. Otto, generally under detailed instructions from Bonaparte, engaged in negotiations with Hawkesbury through the summer of 1801. Unhappy with the dialogue with Otto, Hawkesbury sent diplomat Anthony Merry to Paris, who opened a second line of communications with the French foreign minister Talleyrand. By mid-September, written negotiations had progressed to the point where Hawkesbury and Otto met to draft a preliminary agreement. On 30 September they signed the preliminary agreement in London; it was published the next day.

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