Continental Blockade

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Continental Blockade


a system of economic and political measures instituted in 1806–14 by Napoleonic France against its enemy, Great Britain. It was declared on Nov. 21, 1806, in the Berlin Decree of Napoleon I. The decree on the continental blockade prohibited the carrying on of trade, postal, and other relations with the British Isles; the blockade was applied to all countries under French authority, dependent on France, or allied with France.

The continental blockade contributed to the intensified development of individual branches of French industry (mainly, metallurgy and manufacturing); at the same time it had an extremely negative effect on the economy of several European countries, which had traditional economic ties with Great Britain. The chief aim of the blockade set by Napoleon—the crushing of Great Britain—proved to be unattainable. Great Britain answered the blockade with a counterblockade, the broad deployment of a naval trade war and contraband trade, with which the customs protection organized by the French authorities and their allies was in no position to deal. By the Treaty of Tilsit of 1807, Russia was compelled to join the continental blockade. The burdensome conditions for Russia of the blockade contributed to the aggravation of Franco-Russian relations; this was one of the most important reasons for the beginning of Napoleon I’s war against Russia in 1812. After France’s defeat in the war with Russia, the blockade was to all intents and purposes no longer observed, and in April 1814, after the complete destruction of the Napoleonic Empire, it was abolished totally.


Tarle, E. V. “Kontinental’naia blokada.” Soch., vol. 3. Moscow, 1958.
Zlotnikov, M. F. Kontinental’naia blokada i Rossiia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1966.
Crouzet, F. L ’economic britannique et le blocus continental (1806–1813), vols. 1–2. Paris, 1958.


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