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Britain's Continental Connection and the Peace of Amiens: a Reassessment

Callister, Graeme (2021) Britain's Continental Connection and the Peace of Amiens: a Reassessment. International History Review.

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Abstract

The Treaty of Amiens, which brought an end to almost a decade of Franco-British warfare in March 1802, has long been understood as a flawed attempt at peace making. The British government’s surrender of most of its wartime colonial acquisitions, combined with a failure to push for guarantees on the Continent, has been interpreted as a meek acquiescence in France’s domination over Western Europe. The recommencement of war in May 1803 simply seems to confirm the supposition that the treaty was fundamentally inadequate. This article questions that interpretation by examining Britain’s relations with and policies towards Europe, and above all towards the Netherlands, during the period of negotiation and subsequent peace, 1800-3. It suggests that the British government did not conceive Amiens as the surrender of key interests, but as a base from which British influence could be reasserted. By looking at the context of Britain’s historical connections to the Netherlands, their experience of previous periods of relative diplomatic isolation, and the wider framework of European treaties, it is shown that British ministers had every reason to believe that the Treaty of Amiens left Britain in a reasonably strong position to limit French dominance.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2021.1972027
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DC France
D History General and Old World > DJ Netherlands (Holland)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
School/Department: School of Humanities
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/5342

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