With his failure to invade the Russian lands in 1812, the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte tended to retreat to return, coinciding with the loss of a large number of his forces due to cold weather and diseases. In addition, the Russian forces continued their advance, reclaiming the lands previously dominated by the French. Meanwhile, the Sixth Coalition was formed, which included countries hostile to Napoleon Bonaparte, such as Russia, Britain, Portugal, Spain, Austria and Prussia.
Despite their success in achieving some victories in German lands, the French were forced to retreat after their defeat in the Battle of Leipzig during the fall of 1813. As a result, the coalition forces crossed the Rhine, declaring the beginning of the intervention in French lands.
Battles in Paris
The forces of the Sixth Coalition reached the outskirts of Paris on March 29, 1814, and camped in the area, in preparation for the attack on the French capital the next day. The battles began with heavy shelling by the coalition artillery on the positions of the French forces in Paris. In addition, the Russians succeeded in repelling a counter-attack launched by the French forces in the Belleville region of the French capital.
Before the arrival of the Prussian forces, the French-Russians suffered heavy losses at Romainville, where Napoleon Bonaparte’s Imperial Guard was severely defeated, coinciding with the death of many of its members. With the help of the Austrians, the Württemberg forces subjugated the strategically located Saint-Maur Church.
Later, fierce battles broke out between the Russian Imperial Guard and the French over the strategic Montmartre heights, which overlook most of Paris. Although they suffered heavy losses, the Russians managed to dominate these heights. Thanks to this, Paris was in the range of Russian artillery fire.
Faced with the inevitability of the defeat of the French forces, Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, charged with the defense of Paris, fled from the region. Meanwhile, French General Auguste de Marmont turned to surrender with his forces.
The entry of the Russians into Paris
With his forces dominating most of the areas overlooking Paris and preparing to invade the rest of the capital, the Russian Emperor Alexander I took advantage of the absence of Napoleon Bonaparte in the region to write to French officials in the capital, Paris, offering them non-humiliating conditions in exchange for surrender. Although he had previously spoken of his desire to destroy the French capital in retaliation for Moscow, Alexander I abandoned this idea, preferring to gain the confidence and friendliness of the French rather than humiliate them.
On March 31, 1814, former French Foreign Minister Talleyrand handed over the keys to the capital to the Russian Tsar Alexander I. On the same day, the coalition forces, accompanied by the Russian Tsar and the King of Prussia, entered the capital, Paris. About two days later, the French Senate passed a resolution to remove Napoleon Bonaparte from office.
In Fontainebleau, Napoleon Bonaparte was furious after hearing the news of the surrender of Paris. Based on this, the latter tried to gather the remaining forces to launch an attack on the coalition forces with the aim of recapturing Paris. In addition, the French army marshals refused to continue fighting and went to pressure Napoleon in order to force him to surrender.
On April 4, 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte abdicated the throne of France in favor of his son. With the Allies’ rejection of this decision, Napoleon Bonaparte proceeded two days later to abdicate the throne without conditions, before he was later exiled to Elba Island.
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