CHAPTER XV. FROM THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE EMPIRE, 1804-1814
This period was remarkable for the new character of the struggle. It began the reaction of Europe against the empire, and announced the alliance of dynasties, people, nations, the priesthood, and commerce. All whose interests were injured made an attempt at resistance, which at first was destined to fail. Napoleon, since the peace of Amiens, had entered on a career that must necessarily terminate in the possession or hostility of all Europe. Carried away by his character and position, he had created against the people a system of administration of unparalleled benefit to power; against Europe, a system of secondary monarchies and grand fiefs, which facilitated his plans of conquest; and, lastly, against England, the blockade which suspended its commerce, and that of the continent. Nothing impeded him in the realization of those immense but insensate designs. Portugal opened a communication with the English: he invaded it. The royal family of Spain, by its quarrels and vacillations, compromised the extremities of the empire: he compelled it to abdicate, that he might reduce the peninsula to a bolder and less wavering policy. The pope kept up relations with the enemy: his patrimony was diminished. He threatened excommunication: the French entered Rome. He realized his threat by a bull: he was dethroned as a temporal sovereign in 1809. Finally, after the battle of Wagram, and the peace of Vienna, Holland became a depot for English merchandise, on account of its commercial wants, and the emperor dispossessed his brother Louis of that kingdom, which, on the 1st of July, 1810, became incorporated with the empire. He shrank from no invasion, because he would not endure opposition or hesitation from any quarter. All were compelled to submit, allies as well as enemies, the chief of the church as well as kings, brothers as well as strangers; but, though conquered this time, all who had joined this new league only waited an opportunity to rise again.
Meantime, after the peace of Vienna, Napoleon still added to the extent and power of the empire. Sweden having undergone an internal revolution, and the king, Gustavus Adolphus IV., having been forced to abdicate, admitted the continental system. Bernadotte, prince of Ponte-Corvo, was elected by the states-general hereditary prince of Sweden, and king Charles XIII. adopted him for his son. The blockade was observed throughout Europe; and the empire, augmented by the Roman States, the Illyrian provinces, Valais, Holland, and the Hanse Towns, had a hundred and thirty departments, and extended from Hamburg and Dantzic to Trieste and Corfu. Napoleon, who seemed to follow a rash but inflexible policy, deviated from his course about this time by a second marriage. He divorced Josephine that he might give an heir to the empire, and married, on the 1st of April, 1810, Marie-Louise, arch-duchess of Austria. This was a decided error. He quitted his position and his post as a parvenu and revolutionary monarch, opposing in Europe the ancient courts as the republic had opposed the ancient governments. He placed himself in a false situation with respect to Austria, which he ought either to have crushed after the victory of Wagram, or to have reinstated in its possessions after his marriage with the arch-duchess. Solid alliances only repose on real interests, and Napoleon could not remove from the cabinet of Vienna the desire or power of renewing hostilities. This marriage also changed the character of his empire, and separated it still further from popular interests; he sought out old families to give lustre to his court, and did all he could to amalgamate together the old and the new nobility as he mingled old and new dynasties. Austerlitz had established the plebeian empire; after Wagram was established the noble empire. The birth, on the 20th of March, 1811, of a son, who received the title of King of Rome, seemed to consolidate the power of Napoleon by securing to him a successor.
The war in Spain was prosecuted with vigour during the years 1810 and 1811. The territory of the peninsula was defended inch by inch, and its was necessary to take several towns by storm. Suchet, Soult, Mortier, Ney, and Sebastiani made themselves masters of several provinces; and the Spanish junta, unable to keep their post at Seville, retired to Cadiz, which the French army began to blockade. The new expedition into Portugal was less fortune. Massena, who directed it, at first obliged Wellington to retreat, and took Oporto and Olivenca; but the English general having entrenched himself in the strong position of Torres-Vedras, Massena, unable to force it, was compelled to evacuate the country.