1797: The Treaty of Leoben – A Great Victory of Young General Bonaparte

1797: The Treaty of Leoben – A Great Victory of Young General Bonaparte
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According to the provisions of this treaty, the Habsburg Monarchy lost what is now Belgium and Lombardy, the wealthiest and most developed lands ruled from Vienna.

This day in 1797 marks the anniversary of the Treaty of Leoben, named after the city of Leoben in Styria, which is situated on the river Mur, some 40 km northwest of Graz. The Treaty of Leoben marked a great strategic victory of Napoleon Bonaparte, since it represented the failure of a coalition of foreign powers to defeat the French Republic. Napoleon was at that time only one of the generals of revolutionary France, which was still ruled by the so-called Directory. Napoleon took power only two years later (1799).

Napoleon signed the treaty on the behalf of the Directory, while General Count Maximilian von Merveldt and Marzio Mastrilli (the Marquis of Galla) signed it on the behalf of the Habsburg Monarchy. According to the provisions of this treaty, the Habsburg Monarchy lost what is now Belgium (then called the Austrian Netherlands) and Lombardy. This was a big loss for the Habsburgs since those two provinces were the wealthiest and the financially and economically most developed countries ruled from Vienna. This loss was supposed to be “compensated” by giving the Habsburgs control over the lands of the Republic of Venice, which the French had recently conquered.

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