Confederation of the Rhine

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A grouping of middle and south German states. After Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz (1805) he announced the creation of a Confederation of the Rhine, whose members were obliged to abdicate from the old Holy Roman Empire, which was then declared dissolved. After the defeat of Prussia at Jena (1806) other princely states and cities joined. Napoleon had annexed for France all the left bank of the Rhine, but the new Confederation gradually extended from the Rhine to the Elbe. It was at first welcomed by the German people as a step towards unity, but it was really a barrier against Prussian and Austrian power, and as the Continental System began to result in economic hardship, it became less popular. It contributed a contingent to Napoleon's campaigns of 1813. After his defeat at Leipzig, however, the Confederation broke up; one by one the German states and cities made peace and supported the Quadruple Alliance of Prussia, Britain, Russia, and Austria. A new German Confederation was to emerge from the Congress of Vienna.

Subjects: World History.

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