Peace of Amiens

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March 25, 1802-May 22, 1803. The Peace of Amiens was the short lived parenthesis of what was otherwise an unremitting series of hostilities that composed the Great French War (1793-1815).

Treaty of Amiens

The treaty that brought an end to the first phase of the Great French War, the Wars of the French Revolution, was signed in Amiens on 25 March, 1802 by Joseph Bonaparte and Charles, Lord Cornwallis. It effectively recognized the French Republic and restored various possessions to French client states. At the same time, it established a more sure British foothold in India, by ceding Ceylon.

Resumption of Hostilities

The seeds of war lay hidden in this treaty however, as the British mercantile classes balked at certain terms (the ceding of Malta, Port Mahon, etc.), and Napoleon Bonaparte chafed at British demands for further concessions as insults to his honor. Indeed, after the initial euphoria of peace, the government of Prime Minister Henry Addington became increasingly unpopular, and after the renewal of hostilities, his perceived mismanagement of the war led to its downfall and the resurgence of Pitt the Younger.

Napoleon himself shattered the peace however, by declaring that Britain had seized six French men-of-war. He then moved swiftly to arrest all British male nationals in France, large numbers of whom had taken advantage of the peace to travel there. As many as 10,000 men were alleged by the French to be thus imprisoned, though British figures were substantially lower.

In the Canon

The Peace of Amiens and its sequel provide the backdrop for Post Captain. Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are returning to Britain aboard the Charwell when news of the treaty reaches them. After his usual troubles ashore, Jack accompanies Stephen to the Continent, their ultimate destination being Stephen's properties in Catalonia. They are in France visiting Captain Christy-Palliere when war resumes and Stephen disguises Jack as a bear to evade arrest.

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