Soon after his coronation, Napoleon had conceived the idea of depriving the Pope of his temporal power, and transporting him to Paris, where the influence of the Sovereign Pontiff might be advantageously employed for the promotion of his own ambitious designs. After a succession of annoyances and threats, Napoleon demanded that the Pope should accede to the continental system, close his ports against the English, and conclude an alliance, offensive and defensive, with France, at least against the Infidels, by which title he designated the Turks and all the Protestant powers. On the refusal of the Pope to entertain this proposal, the Emperor took possession of Rome, and annexed to the kingdom of Italy four provinces belonging to the States of the Church. These measures were speedily followed by the publication of a decree dated from Schönbrunn, in which the temporal authority of the Pope was declared to be at an end; and in the following year 1810 the rest of the States of the Church were incorporated into the French empire. Pius VII, who had excommunicated the the originators , and perpetrators of these acts of violence, was carried off by force to Grenoble, and thence removed to Savona, where he remained three years a prisoner, refusing with exemplary firmness to resign his temporal authority, and establish his residence at Paris. In the summer of 1812, he was removed to Fontainebleau, for the purpose of negotiating a fresh concordat, and returned to Rome after the abdication of Napoleon, in 1814.
After the peace of Tilsit, an attempt was made by the Austrian government to reestablish its political influence in Europe. With this view the army was reorganized; and when Napoleon, in consequence of this movement, called on the members of the Rhenish Confederacy to hold themselves in readiness, the Austrians resolved to anticipate his attack. A proclamation was accordingly issued by the Emperor's brothers, the Archdukes Charles and John, as commanders-in-chief of the army destined to act in Bavaria and Italy, calling on the German nation to cooperate with Austria in her struggles for the liberty of their common fatherland; but scarcely any effect was produced by this appeal. The army commanded by the Archduke Charles, which had entered Bavaria, was defeated in a series of engagements, which lasted from the 19th to the 23d of April at Abensberg, Landshut, Eckümhl, and Ratisbon, by a force composed almost entirely of Germans, and compelled, after sustaining immense loss, to cross the Danube, and retreat towards Bohemia.
On the 13th of May, Vienna was a second time taken by the French; Napoleon, who had advanced by forced marches for the purpose of preventing the relief of Vienna by the archduke Charles, was defeated on the 21st and 22d of May, near the villages of Aspern and Esling. He then formed a junction with the Italian army under Eugene Beauharnais, a second time crossed the Danube, and defeated the archduke Charles in the sanguinary battle of Wagram, on the 5th and 6th of July. The two armies met again at Znaim, in Moravia, and victory had already begun to incline to the side of the French, when hostilities were suspended by the arrival of Prince Lichtenstein, who was empowered by the Emperor to arrange the terms of an armistice. After this battle, and an unsuccessful attempt of the English to effect a diversion by landing on the island of Walcheren, in Holland, the Austrian war was terminated on the 14th of October by the peace of Vienna. By this treaty Austria lost 2000 square miles of territory, with three and a half millions of inhabitants.
In the hope of obtaining an heir to his throne, and of imparting in some sort, a legitimate character to his dynasty, Napoleon divorced himself from Josephine, and married Maria Louisa, daughter of the Emperor Francis of Austria. On the 20th of March, 1811, the new Empress was delivered of a son, who was immediately created king of Rome. His brother Louis having declared his readiness to abdicate in favor of his son, rather than ruin Holland by enforcing a rigid observance to the continental system, Napoleon annexed the whole of that country to France. Under the same pretext, and in the face of his own repeated declaration that he wished the Rhine to be the boundary of his dominions, the Emperor incorporated into the French empire the maritime provinces of northern Germany, a great part of the kingdom of Westphalia, the Hanse Towns, the grand duchy of Berg, Oldenburg, and East Friesland: as he had already annexed Tuscany, the States of the Church, and the Canton of Vallais in Switzerland. The empire at this time numbered 130 departments, and extended along the coast of western and southern Europe, from the mouth of the Elbe to the Trieste and Corfu. The imperial government now became every day more absolute: the sittings of the legislative body, which had long since been a mere farce, were suspended: the duties of the senate were confined to the appearance of its members on great occasions in the suite of the Emperor, and the passing of acts confirmatory of his decrees for the annexation of fresh territory.