Tilsit, Treaty of 1807
Tilsit, Treaty of (1807)
a set of agreements between France and Russia and between France and Prussia, signed in Tilsit (now the city of Sovetsk, Kaliningrad Oblast) on June 25 (July 7) and July 9, respectively, after the victory of Napoleon’s troops in the War of the Fourth Coalition (1806–07). In accordance with the Franco-Russian treaty, Prussia was stripped of approximately half its territory and population. Its lands along the left bank of the Elbe were ceded to the newly constituted Kingdom of Westphalia, the Cottbus region was given to Saxony, Danzig was made a free city, and the Bialystok region was transferred to Russia. The lands that Prussia had previously annexed after the partitions of Poland were used to create the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, which was handed over to the king of Saxony.
Alexander I recognized the changes that Napoleon had brought about in Europe. He promised to mediate in the conflict between France and Great Britain, pledged to conclude a truce with Turkey and to withdraw Russian troops from Walachia and Moldavia, and acknowledged France’s sovereignty over the Ionian Islands, which he promised to transfer to France together with the Bay of Kotor (Cattaro), which had been captured by the Russian fleet. Napoleon, in turn, agreed to restore the duchies of Oldenburg, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and Saxe-Coburg and to pay subsidies to several German princes.
In a concomitant secret agreement, the signatories of the Franco-Russian treaty pledged themselves to a joint war against any third power. Specifically, in the event that Great Britain refused Russia’s mediation, did not recognize the freedom of the seas, or failed to return the French colonies it had seized after 1805, Russia would break off diplomatic relations with Great Britain and in effect join the continental blockade. Similarly, in the event that Turkey refused France’s mediation, Napoleon would declare war on Turkey.
In accordance with the Franco-Prussian treaty, Prussia, in addition to making territorial concessions, agreed to reduce its army to 40,000 men and to pay an indemnity of 100 million francs. It also promised to participate in the continental blockade.
The Treaty of Tilsit represented a great humiliation for Germany and inspired the emergence of a national liberation movement. In Russia, too, it was regarded as unfair and demeaning to the nation’s honor. The treaty proved incapable of reconciling the differences between France and Russia, which eventually led to the War of 1812. At the outbreak of the war, the treaty became defunct.
REFERENCEVneshniaia politika Rossii XIX i nachala XX v., series 1, vol. 3. Moscow, 1963. Pages 631–50.
M. N. MASHKIN