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Savoy, Nice and the Rhine[421]

Frederick Engels


It is a year now since the Bonapartist-Piedmontese-Russian conspiracy began to unfold before the public. First the New Year's speech, then the mating of the "Italian Iphigenia", then the cry of distress from Italy, finally Gorchakov's admission that he had entered into written undertakings with Louis Napoleon[422]. And in between, arming, troops marching, threats, attempts at mediation. At that time, in the first moment, an instinctive feeling ran through all of Germany: What is at stake here is not Italy, but our own skin. The beginning is on the Ticino, the end is on the Rhine. The final aim of any Bonapartist war can only be the reconquest of France's "natural frontier", the Rhine frontier.[a]

But that section of the German press that was most furious over the covert French claim to the natural border of the Rhine, that same section, with the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung at its head, defended the Austrian domination in Upper Italy with equally violent fanaticism, on the pretext that the Mincio and the Lower Po formed Germany's natural boundary against Italy[b]. Herr Orges of the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung set all his strategic apparatus in motion to prove that Germany is lost without the Po and the Mincio, that giving up Austrian domination in Italy was a betrayal of Germany.

This turns the matter upside down. Here it was equally evident that the threat concerning the Rhine was only a pretext, that the purpose .was to maintain Austria's despotic rule in Italy. The threat concerning the Rhine was only meant to get Germany to join in the subjection of Upper Italy by Austria. Then too there was the ludicrous contradiction of asserting the same theory on the Po and condemning it on the Rhine.

At that time the author of these lines wrote a work which he published under the title Po and Rhine[c]. In the interest of the national movement itself, this pamphlet protested against the Mincio frontier theory; it tried to show, in terms of military science, that Germany does not need any part of Italy for its defence and that France, if only military considerations counted, would certainly have much stronger claims to the Rhine than Germany to the Mincio. In a word, it tried to make it possible for the Germans to go into the expected struggle with clean hands.

How far the pamphlet succeeded in this is for others to judge. No attempt has been made, to our knowledge, to give a scientific refutation of its theses and their development. The Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung, against which it was directed in the first place, promised to print an article of its own on the subject but instead gave three pieces reprinted from the Ost-Deutsche Post, whose criticism was limited to declaring the author a "Little Germany" man because he wanted to give up Italy. In any case, the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung has not mentioned the theory of the Mincio frontier again since then, so far as we are aware.

In the meantime the attempt to make Germany into a supporter of the domination and the policy of Austria in Italy had given the North German Gothaist philistines a welcome pretext for attacking the national movement[423]. The original movement was really national, much more national than all the Schiller festivals from Archangel to San Francisco[424]; it arose spontaneously, instinctively, directly. Whether Austria was right or wrong in Italy, whether Italy had a claim to independence, whether the Mincio line was needed or not—all of that was a matter of indifference to it at the outset. One of us was attacked, and by a third party who had nothing to do with Italy but had all the more interest in capturing the left bank of the Rhine—and against him, against Louis Napoleon, against the traditions of the first French Empire, we all had to stand together: The people felt this instinctively, and they were right.

But for years the Gotha-liberal philistines had ceased to regard German Austria as any longer "one of us". They welcomed the war because it could weaken Austria and so make possible the final establishment of the Little German or Great Prussian Empire. They were joined by the bulk of the North German vulgar democrats, who speculated on Louis Napoleon's demolishing Austria and then permitting them to unite all of Germany under Prussian domination; they were joined by a small part of the German emigration in France and Switzerland, which was shameless enough to ally itself openly with Bonapartism. The strongest ally, however—let us make no bones about this—was the cowardice of the German petty bourgeoisie, which never dares to face up to danger, which, in order to get a year's reprieve, will leave its faithful allies in the lurch, so that, without them, it will later be all the more certain of being defeated itself. Hand in hand with this cowardice went the notorious super-cunning that always has a thousand excuses for not doing anything, cost what it may, but therefore must do all the more empty talking; that is sceptical about everything except these excuses; the same super-cunning that rejoiced over the Basle peace treaty that ceded the left bank of the Rhine to France; that silently rubbed its hands in glee when the Austrians were defeated at Ulm and Austerlitz; the same super-cunning that never sees its Jena approaching, and whose seat is Berlin.[425]

This alliance triumphed; Germany left Austria in the lurch. But the Austrian army fought on the Lombard plain with a heroism that astonished its enemies and compelled the admiration of the world—only not of the Gothaites and their hangers-on. No parade drill, no garrison spit and polish, no corporal's stick could destroy the inexhaustible combativity of the German in them. Despite their tight clothing and their heavy packs these young troops, wild had never been under fire, held like veterans against the war-tried, lightly clothed and lightly equipped French, and, it was only with the greatest show of incompetence and disunity that the Austrian command managed to have such troops beaten. And beaten how? No trophies, no flags, almost no guns, almost no prisoners—the only flag captured was found on the battlefield under a heap of dead, and the unwounded prisoners were Italian or Hungarian deserters. From m private to major the Austrian army covered itself with glory—and this glory belongs particularly to the German Austrians. The Italians were unusable and were for the most part rejected, the Hungarians defected in crowds or were very unreliable, the Croats fought decidedly worse than usual in this campaign{*}. The German Austrians may claim this glory with full justice; even though it was they in the first place who were to blame for the bad leadership.

This leadership was truly Old Austrian. What Gyulay's incompetence- could not accomplish by itself was achieved by the lack of unity in the command ensured by the camarilla and the presence of Francis Joseph. Gyulay invaded the Lomellina and was brought to a sudden stop when he reached the Casale-Alessandria region; the entire offensive miscarried. The French joined up with the Sardinians unhindered. To show his helplessness completely, Gyulay orders the Montebello reconnaissance, as if he wanted to prove, right from the outset, that the old Austrian spirit of uncertain groping and serious scruples in waging war is still as much alive as in the days of the late Hofkriegsrat[426]. He leaves the initiative entirely to his opponent. He disperses his army from Piacenza to Arona, in order to cover everything immediately, in the manner favoured by the Austrians. The traditions of Radetzky are already forgotten after ten years. When the enemy attacks at Palestro, the Austrian brigades come into battle one after the other so slowly that one is always knocked out of its position before the others arrive. When the enemy now engages in the manoeuvre whose possibility was the only thing that gave meaning to the entire position in the Lomellina—the flanking march from Vercelli to Boffalora—, when finally the opportunity came to parry this hazardous manoeuvre by striking against Novara and thereby take advantage of the unfavourable position the enemy was in—Gyulay loses his head and hurries back across the Ticino in order—by a detour—to place himself diagonally in front of the attacker. In the middle of this withdrawal Hess appears—on June 3, at four in the morning—in the headquarters at Rosate. The resurrected Hofkriegsrat in Verona had apparently come to have its doubts about Gyulay's ability just at the decisive moment. Now, therefore, there were two supreme commanders. At Hess' suggestion all the columns halt until Hess is convinced that the moment for the attack on Novara has passed and that things have to be allowed to run their course. In the meantime, nearly five hours have gone by with all this, during which the troops had broken their march{**} In the course of the 4th they arrived in Magenta separated, hungry and tired; they fight splendidly nevertheless and with excellent results until MacMahon against his orders, which call for a direct march from Turbigo to Milan, turns towards Magenta and falls on the Austrian flank[g]. In the meantime the other French corps arrive, those of the Austrians fail to appear, and the battle is lost. The retreat of the Austrians goes so slowly that at Melegnano one of their divisions is attacked by two whole French army corps. One brigade holds the town for several hours against six French brigades and gives way only after it has lost over half its men. Finally, Gyulay is recalled. The army marches in a great arc from Magenta around Milan and finds time (so far from there being any question of pursuit!) to reach the position of Castiglione and Lonato before the enemy, who marched along the shorter chord. It was said that Francis Joseph personally picked out this position, which the Austrians had been reconnoitering in the greatest detail for years, for his troops. The fact is that it had long been included in the defence system of the quadrilateral of fortresses and provided an excellent position for a defensive battle with an offensive counter-thrust. Here the army joined up at last with the reinforcements that had arrived meanwhile or had been held in reserve; but as soon as the enemy has reached the other bank of the Chiese, the signal for retreat is sounded again, and withdrawal is made across the Mincio. Hardly has this operation been carried out when the Austrian army again goes back over that same Mincio, to take from the enemy that same position which they have just voluntarily left him. Its confidence in the high command considerably weakened by this maze of ordre, contre-ordre, désordre, the Austrian army goes into the battle of Solferino. It is an uncontrollable slaughter on both sides; no question of tactical leadership on the part of either the French or the Austrians; greater incompetence, confusion and fear of responsibility of the Austrian generals, the greater confidence of the French brigade and division commanders, the natural superiority of the French in dispersed and street fighting, developed to its highest point in Algeria, finally drove the Austrians from the field of battle. That concluded the campaign, and who was happier than poor Herr Orges, who had to praise the Austrian high command through thick and thin in the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung and discover rational strategic motives for their actions.

Louis Napoleon too had had enough. The meagre glory of Magenta and Solferino was still more than he had a right to expect, and in among the vexatious four fortresses a time might come when the Austrians would no longer let themselves be defeated by their own generals. Furthermore, Prussia was mobilising, and neither the French army of the Rhine nor the Russians were prepared for war. In short, the idea of an Italy free to the Adriatic Sea was dropped; Louis Napoleon offered peace, and the document of Villafranca[427] was signed. France did not get an inch of land; it magnanimously gave Lombardy, which had been ceded to it, to Piedmont; France had waged war for an idea; how could it have thought of the Rhine border!

Meanwhile Central Italy had provisionally annexed itself to Piedmont, and the kingdom of Upper Italy represented, for the time being, quite a respectable power.

The previous provinces of the mainland and the island of Sardinia represented a population of4,730,500
Lombardy, excluding Mantua, about2,651,700
Parma and Modena1,090,900
Romagna (Bologna, Ferrara, Ravenna and Forli)1,058,800
Total (as of 1848)11,251,800

The area of the state rose from 1,373 to 2,684 German square-miles[h]. Hence, the kingdom of Upper Italy, if it were definitively constituted, would be the foremost power in Italy. Against it there would remain only:

for Venetia2,452,900
for Naples8,517,600
for the rest of the Papal States2,235,600
Total13, 206,100

so that Upper Italy alone would have almost as large a population as all the other Italian territories put together. With its financial and military power and the civilisation of its inhabitants, such a state could claim a place in Europe ahead of Spain, and- directly after Prussia, and would undoubtedly claim it, certain as it would be of the growing sympathy of the rest of Italy.

That, however, was not what the Bonapartist policy had desired. It had openly declared that France never could or would tolerate a unified Italy. What it meant by the independence and freedom of Italy was a kind of Italian Confederation of the Rhine[428] under Bonapartist protection and the, honorary presidency of the Pope, replacement of the Austrian hegemony by French. Along with this went the good-hearted intention of setting up an Etrurian kingdom, an Italian Kingdom of Westphalia, in Central Italy for the heir of Jérôme Bonaparte[429]. All these plans were brought to an end by the consolidation of the Upper, Italian state. Jérôme Bonaparte junior had won nothing for himself on his tour through the duchies, not even a single vote; Bonapartist Etruria was as impossible as the Restoration, and there was nothing left but annexation to Piedmont.[430]

To the same extent that the inevitability of the unification of Northern Italy became evident, the "idea" came to light for which France had waged war this time. This was the idea of annexing Savoy and Nice to France. Even during the war voices had been raised to assert that this was the price of the French intervention in Italy. But they were not heard. And did not the document of Villafranca contradict them? Nonetheless, the world suddenly learned that under the national and constitutional regime of the re galantuomo[i] two provinces were suffering under foreign rule—two French provinces who turned their tearful eyes with longing towards the great fatherland, from which only brute force kept them—and that Louis Napoleon could no longer close his ears to the anguished cry of Savoy and Nice.

It now came to light that Nice and Savoy were the price for which Louis Napoleon had undertaken to unite Lombardy and Venice with Piedmont and that, since Venice was not to be had for the moment, he asked for the two provinces as his price for consenting to the annexation of Central Italy. Now the disgusting manoeuvres of Bonapartist agents began in Savoy and Nice, along with the cries of the paid Paris press that the Piedmontese Government was suppressing the will of the people in those provinces, which were calling out loudly to be joined to France; now at last it was said in Paris, the Alps are France's natural border, France has a right to them.[j]

{*} See the report on Solferino of the Times correspondent in the Austrian camp[d]. At Cavriana, Nugent, the old Master of Ordnance, who was present as an onlooker, tried in vain to bring up several battalions of border troops.[e]

{**} See the report of Captain Blakeley, the first correspondent of The Times in the Austrian camp, in that paper, reporting this fact[f]. The Darmstadt Allgemeine Militär-Zeitung presents a defence of Gyulay giving as the reason for the five-hour halt an event which cannot be revealed owing to official considerations and with which Gyulay had nothing to do, and ascribing the loss of the battle to this event. But Blakeley had already reported on the nature of the event.

Title page of Frederick Engels' pamphlet
Savoy, Nice and the Rhine


When the French press asserts that Savoy is French in language and customs, that is at least as true as if the same were said of French Switzerland, the Walloon part of Belgium and the Anglo-Norman islands in the Channel. The people of Savoy speak a Southern French dialect, and the cultivated and written language is French everywhere. So far from there being any question of an Italian element in Savoy, the French (that is, the Southern French or Provencal) vernacular is spoken on the other side of the Alps deep into Piedmont, as far as the upper valleys of the Dora Riparia and the Dora Baltea. Nevertheless, before the war there was hardly a trace of sympathy for being joined to France; that sort of thought was entertained only by isolated individuals in the lowlands of Savoy, which have commercial relations with France, but was as alien to the mass of the population here as in all the other French-speaking lands bordering on France. It is noteworthy that none of the countries that were incorporated into France from 1792 to 1812 has the slightest desire to come under the wings of the eagle again. People had assimilated the fruits of the first French Revolution, but were sick and tired of the rigid centralisation of the administration, the rule by prefects, the infallibility of the apostles of civilisation sent down from Paris. The sympathies that had been revived by the July and February revolutions were at once suppressed again by Bonapartism. No one has any wish to import Lambessa, Cayenne, the loi des suspects[431]. In addition, there is the Chinese walling-off of France from almost all import trade, which is felt most keenly on the border. The First Republic found, on all its borders, provinces oppressed and sucked dry, peoples that had been dismembered and robbed of all common natural interests, and it brought them emancipation of the peasantry, agriculture, industry and trade. The Second Empire comes up, on all its borders, against greater freedom than it has to offer; in Germany and Italy it comes up against stronger national feeling, and in the smaller countries against consolidated separate interests, which have grown big in forty-five years of unprecedentedly rapid industrial development and are interwoven with world trade on all sides; it brings with it nothing but the despotism of the age of the Roman Caesars, the incarceration of trade and industry in the huge prison of its customs line, and at best, in addition, free passage to the country where pepper grows.

Savoy, separated from Piedmont by the main chain of the Alps, supplies almost all its needs from the north, from Geneva and in part from Lyons, just as on the other hand the canton of Ticino, which lies south of the Alpine passes, draws on Genoa and Venice. If this circumstance is a motive for separation from Piedmont, it is not one for annexation to France, for the commercial metropolis of Savoy is Geneva; that was taken care of, apart from the geographical situation, by the wisdom of the French tariff laws and the chicanery of the French customs.

But despite the language, the blood relationship and the chain of the Alps, the Savoyards do not seem to have the slightest desire to be blessed with the imperialist institutions of the great French motherland. They have the traditional feeling that Italy has not conquered Savoy, but Savoy Piedmont. Starting from little Lower Savoy, the small nation of warlike mountaineers of the entire province concentrated themselves into a state and then descended into the Italian plain and, by conquest and policy, annexed Piedmont, Monferrato, Nice, the Lomellina, Sardinia and Genoa, one after the other. The dynasty settled in Turin and became Italian, but Savoy remained the cradle of the state, and today the cross of Savoy is the coat of arms of North Italy from Nice to Rimini and from Sondrio to Siena. France conquered Savoy in the campaigns of 1792 to 1794, and until 1814 the country was called the Département du Mont-Blanc. But in 1814 it was not at all inclined to remain French; the only question was whether to join Switzerland or to return to the old relationship to Piedmont. Nonetheless, the lowlands remained French until after the Hundred Days[432], at which time they were given back to Piedmont. Naturally, the old historical tradition had faded with time; Savoy was neglected, as the Italian provinces of the state gained too great a predominance; the interests of Piedmontese policy pointed more and more south and east. It is all the more remarkable that precisely that class of the population harboured separatist desires most which professed to be the primary bearer of historical tradition: the old conservative and ultramontane nobility; and these desires aimed at union with Switzerland, so long as the old oligarchical patrician constitutions prevailed there; only since the general introduction of democracy in Switzerland do they seem to have taken a different orientation; under Louis Napoleon France became reactionary and ultramontane enough to be regarded by the nobility of Savoy as a refuge from the revolutionary policy of Piedmont.

The state of affairs seems at present to be as follows: In general there is no desire to separate Savoy from Piedmont. In the uplands, in Maurienne, Tarentaise and Upper Savoy, the population is decidedly for the status quo. In the Genévois, Faucigny and Chablais, union with Switzerland is preferred to anything else, if any change at all is to be made. It is only here and there in Lower Savoy, and then only among the local reactionary nobility, that any desire for union with France can be observed[k]. But these voices are so isolated that even in Chambéry the vast majority of the population is strongly opposed to them and the reactionary nobility (see the statement of Costa de Beauregard[l]) does not dare to admit its sympathies.

So much on the question of nationality and the will of the people.

Now what is the situation as regards the military question? What strategic advantages does possession of Savoy give Piedmont, and what advantages would it give France? And how does a change of mastery in Savoy affect the third contiguous state, Switzerland?

From Basle to Briancon the French border forms a large markedly inward-bending arc; a good bit of Switzerland and all of Savoy project into French territory here. If we draw the chord of this arc, we find that the segment of the circle is almost exactly filled by French Switzerland and Savoy. If France's frontier were pushed forward up to this chord, it would make, by and large, just as straight a line from Lauterburg to Fréjus as from Lauterburg to Dunkirk; but this line would be of much different significance for defence. Whereas the northern frontier is quite open, the northern part of the, eastern frontier would be covered by the Rhine and the southern part by the Alps. Between Basle and Mont Blanc, no section of land would mark the borderline; rather, the "natural frontier" would be formed here by the Jura down to Fort de l'Ecluse and from there on by the branch of the Alps bounding the Arve valley in the south from Mont Blanc onwards and likewise ending at Fort de l'Ecluse. But if the natural frontier forms a concave arc bending inward, it no longer fulfils its purpose and so is no longer a natural frontier. And if it happens that this inward-bending segment of a circle, pressing our frontier so unnaturally back, is inhabited by people, into the bargain, who are French "by language, customs and civilisation"[m], must not the mistake that Nature made here be rectified, must not the theoretically required convexity or at least rectilinearity be restored in practice here, can the French living on the other side of the natural frontier be sacrificed to a lusus naturae?[n]

That this sort of Bonapartist reasoning is not entirely without significance is proved by the First Empire, which went on from annexation to annexation until an end was put to it; the most perfect frontier has its weak points, where it can be improved and given a push; and if one does not have to stand on ceremony, one can go on annexing without end. At any rate, it follows from the foregoing line of argument that what can be said for the annexation of Savoy, either as regards nationality or the military interests of France, holds good for French Switzerland as well.

The Alps, which run north-northwest from the Col di Tenda, turn by and large north-northeast at Mont Thabor, which marks the boundary between Piedmont, Savoy and France, and then bend still more eastward at Mont Géant, the boundary point between Piedmont, Savoy and Switzerland. Accordingly, from Mont Thabor to Mont Géant the Alps can only form the natural frontier of France if this frontier proceeds in a straight line from Mont Géant to Basle. In other words: The demand for the annexation of Savoy to France entails the demand for the annexation of French Switzerland.

Along the entire sector in which the main ridge of the Alps forms the present border of the two states, there is only one paved pass, Mont Genèvre. Besides this, only the Col d'Argentera, which leads from Barcelonnette into the valley of the Stura, is passable by artillery, and it might be possible, with some difficulty, to make Savoy, still more bridle-paths practicable for all arms. But so long as Savoy and Nice each provide two paved passes over the main chain of the Alps, any French attacker, if he is not yet in possession of these provinces, must conquer at least one of them before he crosses the Alps. Now there is the additional factor that for an attack from France, the Mont Genèvre permits only a direct thrust at Turin, whereas the Mont Cenis and still more the Little St. Bernard, the two Savoy passes, have a flanking effect; and that the Mont Genèvre makes a large detour necessary for an attacking Italian army aiming at the heart of France, while the Mont Cenis is the great high road from Turin to Paris. Accordingly, no commander would dream of using the Mont Genèvre except for auxiliary columns; the major operational line will always pass through Savoy.

Possession of Savoy would therefore at once give France a terrain that is essential to it for an aggressive war against Italy, and which it would otherwise have to conquer first. An Italian army on the defensive would of course never defend Savoy by a decisive battle, but it could hold up the attacker to some extent by vigorously conducted mountain warfare and destruction of the roads, even as early as in the upper valleys of the Arc and the Isère (through which the Mont Cenis and St. Bernard roads run), and then hold the northern slope of the main chain of the Alps for some time more, backed up by the forts blocking the passes. Of course, there cannot be any question of an absolute defence here any more than in mountain warfare in general; the decisive battle is reserved for the descent of the enemy into the plain. But time will certainly be won, which can be decisive for concentrating forces for the main battle, and which is particularly important for so elongated a country with so few railways as Italy, as opposed to a compact country like France, covered with an excellent strategic railway network; and this time will certainly be lost if France already possesses Savoy before the war. But Italy will never wage war alone against France; and if it has Allies, there is the possibility that the two armies in Savoy could already keep the balance. The consequence of this would be that the struggle for control of the Alpine chain would be long drawn out; that at the worst the Italians could hold the northern slope of the ridge for some time and, after losing it, fight the French for the southern slope, for only he is master of a ridge who controls both slopes and can cross it. Whether the attacker would then still be strong and decided enough to follow the defender into the plain is very uncertain.

The campaigns in Savoy from 1792 to 1795 provide an example of such an indecisive mountain war, even though the action on both sides was loose, uncertain and fumbling.

On September 21, 1792 General Montesquiou invaded Savoy. The 10,000 Sardinians defending it were so dispersed in a chain of posts, as was the favourite custom of the time, that they could not bring sufficient forces together to resist anywhere. Chambéry and Montmélian were occupied and the French passed through the valleys up to the foot of the main chain of the Alps. The ridge itself remained entirely in the hands of the Sardinians, who, under General Gordon, after some minor engagements, on August 15, 1793 pushed back the French, who had been weakened by sending detachments to the siege of Lyons, and drove them back out of the Arc and Isère valleys to Montmélian. There the beaten columns were joined by their reserves; Kellermann returned from Lyons, went over to the attack immediately (September 11) and threw the Sardinians back again to the Alpine passes without much trouble; but here his strength too was exhausted and he had to come to a standstill at the foot of the range. But in 1794 the army of the Alps was brought up to 75,000 men, to which the Piedmontese could oppose only 40,000, with a possibly available reserve of 10,000 Austrians. Despite this, the first attacks of the French were unsuccessful at both the Little St. Bernard and the Mont Cenis, until finally the St. Bernard was taken on April 23 and the Mont Cenis on May 14, which put the entire ridge into their hands.

Thus, it took three campaigns to wrest entrance into Italy from the Piedmontese on this side. Even though today it would be impossible to conduct such an indecisive war on such a limited terrain, and have it drag out over several campaigns, it still will always be difficult for' the French, given any sort of balance of forces, not only to force the Alpine passes but also to remain strong enough to descend at once into the plain. Savoy does not offer more than that to Italy, but that is already enough.

Now let us assume that Savoy is united with France. How does Italy stand then? The northern slope of the Alpine chain is in the hands of the French, and the Italians can only defend the southern slope, whose strong points and positions are dominated by the high ridge or else can be observed and in most cases turned at a fairly short distance. Defence of the mountains is reduced to its last, weakest and also most costly act. The opportunities for gathering intelligence that mountain warfare in Savoy gives disappear. And that is not all. So long as Savoy had to be conquered, France might under certain circumstances be content with doing that and thereby confining Italy to the passive defensive; one result would already be in hand; the troops might perhaps be better used elsewhere; France would have an interest in not engaging too great forces in that theatre of war. If on the other hand Savoy is definitively a French province, it is worth while to defend it offensively, in the French manner. Passive defence could cost as many losses in a campaign as an attack on Italy; not so very many more troops would be needed for the attack, and what entirely different results would be in prospect!

The day after annexation; French general staff officers will be seen travelling up the valleys of the Arc and Isère, investigating the lateral valleys, climbing the mountain ridges, questioning the best Alpine guides, pacing off distances, measuring gradients and noting everything down carefully; all of this not out of tourists' whims but according to a visible plan, probably already prepared by now. They will soon be followed by engineers and contractors, and it will not be long before roads have been laid and masonry structures built in the highest mountains of which neither the inhabitants nor travellers will be able to say what they are for. They do, not concern either peasants or tourists; their only purpose is to develop the natural strategic capabilities of Savoy.

Both the Mont Cenis pass and that of the Mont Genèvre lead to Susa. If the southern slopes of both are attacked by French columns, the Italian detachments defending them will be completely cornered. They will have no way of knowing which side the main attack will come from; but they will know this much in advance, that if one of the two passes is forced and Susa taken, the troops defending the other pass will be cut off. If the Mont Cenis is forced first, the troops at the Mont Genèvre can at the worst escape by footpaths into the valley of Fenestrelle, leaving behind their artillery, baggage and horses; but if the attackers push to Susa over the Mont Genèvre, the troops at the Mont Cenis have no way of retreat. Under such circumstances, defence of these two passes is reduced to a mere demonstration. Now, into the bargain, the operational lines of the two French forces, the roads from Grenoble to Briancon and from Chambéry to Lans-le-Bourg, run parallel on the whole and are separated only by a mountain ridge which branches from the Mont Thabor and over which there are many foot- and bridle-paths. As soon as the French have cut over this ridge a side road, which need be no more than four German miles in length, they can shift their masses from one road to the other at will, the cornering will be even more effective, and the defence of the line of the Alps against an attack from Italy will become enormously stronger on this side.

Let us go further. Savoy has still another pass over the Alps, the Little St. Bernard. Many French authorities hold that Napoleon would have done better to take this pass for his crossing of the Alps instead of the Great St. Bernard. The pass is lower, and so is free of snow earlier in the spring and is in general easier to negotiate. The columns from Lyons and Besançon converge on Albertville at least as easily as on Lausanne; and both passes lead to Aosta and Ivrea. The mere fact that a polemic could arise as to the advisability of one or the other pass for Napoleon's purposes in the 1800 campaign proves how important this Little St. Bernard is for warfare. Quite special conditions, to be sure, are presupposed before the Little St. Bernard can be used to repeat the strategic outflanking of Marengo. Armies are larger today, and they could never pass through high mountains in a single column; nowadays a flanking manoeuvre with only 30,000 men would in most cases lead to disaster. All this is true for the first and second campaigns. But if, as seems likely, all wars waged pertinaciously by both sides assume a different, protracted character because of modern groups of fortresses and entrenched camps, when a war can really no longer be fought out until the combatants have slowly ground one another down in a number of campaigns, the armies will also get gradually smaller. Let us assume that a war has moved to and fro in the upper Italian plain for several years; that the French, who in the process had taken Casale or Alessandria or both, have been thrown back across the Alps, and the struggle has come to a standstill there with fairly depleted forces on both sides.-Will it then be such a feat, with our railways and with the artillery now lighter in all armies, quickly to throw 30,000 to 40,000 men and even more over the Little St. Bernard to Ivrea? From Ivrea they will be within reach of their permanent depot in the plain, where they will find their essential supplies and can get reinforcements from the garrison; if this should not be possible, their road to Turin and their line of retreat over the two adjoining passes could certainly not be blocked by a stronger force. But at such a time these 30,000 to 40,000 men, with the garrisons, would be a very respectable force, and at the worst, after crushing the nearest corps of the enemy, could carry the war on from their entrenched camp with every prospect of success. It should be recalled how the armies had already shrunk in 1814 and with what slender forces Napoleon accomplished such great things in that year.

The road over the St. Bernard leads, as has been said, into the valley of the Isère, as the one over the Mont Cenis into that of the Arc. Both rivers rise on the Mont Iseran. Above Bourg-Saint-Maurice the St. Bernard road leaves the river and turns straight over the mountain, while the gorge (Val de Tignes) goes to the right southward. Below Lans-le-Bourg, at Termignon, a small lateral valley (Val Saint-Barthélemy) runs into the Arc valley. From the Val de Tignes there are three footpaths over the ridge, between the Mont Iseran and the Mont Chaffequarré, into the Val Saint-Barthelemy. One of these three saddle-shaped passes must certainly be capable of being paved. If a road were built here, then, in conjunction with the previously mentioned side road, the strategic road system of Savoy—as a French border province—would already be fairly well developed. A road would run just behind the main ridge of the Alps linking the three most important passes and making it possible to shift the main bodies of troops from the St. Bernard and the Mont Genèvre to the neighbourhood of the Mont Cenis in two days, and from one flank to the other in four to five days. If the system is further completed by a road from Moutiers over the Pralognan pass to Saint-Barthélemy and Lans-le-Bourg and another one from Moutiers to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, there will hardly be any-thing to add. Then it will only be necessary to set up the fortifications needed for support—not for absolute blocking—and to ensure the security of Moutiers, the principal highway hub, as the central depot before the powerful attack. In this there will be a total of less than twenty-five German miles of new road construction.

If these or similar arrangements are made—and there can be no doubt that the French general staff has already prepared a plan for the total strategic utilisation of Savoy—what happens then to the defence of the southern slope of the Alps? And, in the case of defence, what powerful strokes could not. a new Lecourbe, relying on a secure central depot and small forts, deliver when his mobility was assured by such a network of roads? It should not be argued that mountain warfare cannot occur any longer with the great armies of today. So long as the armies are really large and there is decisive superiority on one side, that is true enough. But the armies will soon be ground down on the modern fortresses, and there will be plenty of cases in which superiority will give way to equilibrium. Naturally, no one will take to the mountains if he can help it, but the way from Paris to Italy and from Italy to Paris will always lead through Savoy or the Valais.

We sum up. Because of its geographical location and especially because of its Alpine passes, Savoy as a French province would allow an only slightly superior French army to take possession of the Italian slope of the Alps, make sweeps into the valleys and take on an importance much greater than its actual military forces would indicate. But if the theatre of war had been prepared to some extent, the French army would be so favourably situated that with otherwise fully equal forces it would have immediate superiority over its adversary; and in addition the Little St. Bernard would force the Italians to send off a detachment to a long distance, while the same pass would under certain circumstances give the French the opportunity to make more decisive offensive thrusts.

Savoy in French hands is, as against Italy, an exclusively offensive tool.

Now what is the situation as regards the interests of Switzerland?

In the present state of affairs Switzerland cannot be attacked by any of its neighbours except frontally. In saying this we count South Germany without Austria as one bordering state and Austria as another, for we have just seen that the two do not always of necessity act together. South Germany can attack only on the Basle-Constance line, Austria only on the Rheineck-Münster line, Italy on the Poschiavo-Geneva line and France on the Geneva-Basle line. Everywhere the Swiss army has its line of retreat perpendicularly behind its front; everywhere neutral border territory more or less covers its flanks. Consequently, strategic outflanking cannot be started before fighting has begun, so long as only one of the countries bordering on Switzerland is attacking. Only Austria has an advantageous position for outflanking the Grisons, but the Swiss would in any case never fight their decisive battle against an Austrian attack in the Grisons, but more to the northwest, in the spurs of the Alps. Austria's cession of Lombardy has greatly reinforced this advantage of the Swiss; up to a year ago Austria certainly had the means for a concentric attack on Southwestern Switzerland that would not be negligible in the high mountains, given superior forces. At the same time the effect of such an attack would be limited to only the Grisons, Ticino, Uri and Glarus, that is, the most thinly populated and poorest part of the country, and would presuppose that the enemy forces were already badly dispersed if they were-to go over the St. Gotthard coming from Italy. The existing favourable distribution of the bordering countries is worth more to Switzerland than the European guarantees of neutrality. It gives it the chance in the event of an attack by only one of its neighbours to prolong the defence as long as possible, and that is after all the only thing that so small a country can count on.

From the moment that Savoy becomes French or even is only occupied by French troops, there is no question any more of defending all of French Switzerland, from the Bernese Jura to the Lower Valais. Even now Geneva can be turned into a French depot within 24 hours; the Jura is turned, as well as the line of the Zihl and the lakes of Neuchâtel and Biel; the French, instead of having to struggle in the defiles and then force the narrow way between the two lakes and through the Grosse Moos, will march at their ease through the rich hilly land of the Vaud, and the first position for serious resistance coincides with the position in which the first main battle will have to be fought, before Berne behind the Saane and the Sense; for a flanking column from Savoy via Villeneuve and Vevey would make any resistance in the Vaud useless.

Up to now Switzerland's first defence line against France has been the Jura, an excellent terrain for raw militiamen who know the country and are supported by the population. It cannot be held effectively, however, if only because of the much-indented frontier which often cuts across its parallel ridges. The second, and more important, line is that of the Zihl, which connects the lakes of Neuchâtel and Biel and flows from of the Lake of Biel into the Aare. On the right the line is continued by the lower course of the Aare, and on the left by the Orbe, which flows into the Lake of Neuchâtel at its upper end, at Yverdon. The Zihl is only a half mile long between the lakes and only a mile from the Lake of Biel to the Aare. The true front of the position lies between the lakes and is further strengthened by the Grosse Moos in the low ground, extending from the Lake of Neuchâtel to near Aarberg and passable only on the main road. A right flanking of this front via Bürglen could be paralysed by the reserve at Aarberg; a flanking manoeuvre with a wider swing presupposes throwing a bridge over the Aare and tends to expose its lines of communication. A left flanking movement can only be carried out through the Vaud and can be held up successively at the Orbe, the Mentue and the Broye. This resistance cannot be undermined by a flanking operation along the Lake of Geneva towards Fribourg because the Swiss drawing back along the Lake of Neuchâtel would always have the shorter road to travel to get there. Thus the position on the Zihl can be used for a major battle only under special conditions, if the enemy makes serious mistakes, but it still does everything that Switzerland could demand of it: It gives an opportunity to hold up the enemy and, in particular, to bring up the contingents from Southwestern Switzerland.

But once Savoy is in the hands of the enemy, a column advancing from Saint-Gingolph via Villeneuve and Châtel-Saint-Denis would make all resistance in the Vaud useless, for even at Vevey the column would be hardly two miles further from Fribourg than the Swiss on the Orbe and could therefore bar their retreat. From Saint-Gingolph to Fribourg is about twelve miles; Fribourg lies a day's march behind the left flank of the position on the Zihl between the lakes and three miles from Peterlingen (Payerne), where the French columns marching through the Vaud could join up with the column from Savoy. Thus, in three or four days the attacker can, if Savoy is at his disposal, cut the line of communication of the Valais through the valley of the Rhône, capture Geneva, the Vaud and Fribourg up to the Saane and emerge with his main forces in the rear of the Zihl position, which would let Basle, Solothurn, the Bernese Jura and Neuchâtel fall into his hands. And these are no barren high mountain districts but the richest and most industrial cantons of Switzerland.

Switzerland felt the strategic pressure Savoy exerts on it so strongly that in 1814 it effected the well-known neutralisation of its northern portion and in 1816 obtained from Sardinia the contractual undertaking never to cede the Chablais, Faucigny and Genévois to another power than Switzerland itself. Louis Napoleon also has the rumour spread about everywhere that he wants only Southern Savoy; the Chablais, Faucigny and a part of the Genévois, up to the Usses brook, are to go to Switzerland. Since one gift deserves another, he uses Herr Vogt, according to The Times, to inquire confidentially of the Swiss National Assembly whether he could not get free use of the Simplon road in exchange. A first hint that the Simplon too is a natural frontier post of France, as in fact it was under the First Empire.

Let us assume that Switzerland is enriched by the new canton of North Savoy. The frontier would be formed by the mountain ridge that separates from the main chain between the Little St. Bernard and the Mont Blanc and extends to the Rhône defile (Fort de l'Ecluse); it would thus appear to be quite "natural". But the following roads run from the valleys of the Isère and Rhône over this ridge: (1) Seyssel to Geneva; (2) Annecy to Geneva; (3) Annecy to Bonneville; (4) Albertville to Sallanches. Roads run from Bonneville and from Sallanches over the north ridge of the Arve valley to Thonon. Thus, the region lies quite open to an offensive directed against Thonon on the south bank of the Lake of Geneva, and since the distances from Seyssel or Albertville to Thonon are not over fifteen miles, possession of North Savoy would only give the Swiss defensive five days more at most. But since it is out of the question that this new canton could be defended by any other troops than the Landsturm, the attacking column could just as well go directly from Geneva to Thonon—five miles—at which place it would be only some four miles from Saint-Gingolph. In this case North Savoy would provide Switzer-land with only three days grace. In addition, it could only have the effect of dividing the Swiss defensive forces. The line of retreat of -a Swiss army attacked from France obviously goes through Berne and the lowlands, where possible along the Aare to Zurich, and where that is not possible, to Lucerne, and from those two places into the Upper Rhine valley. Accordingly, the army cannot take up a position so far to the south that it can be forced out of these lines and up into the high mountains. As we saw, the Vaud can be incorporated to advantage into the Swiss defensive system; North Savoy and the Valais, laid open by the abrogation of the neutrality of Savoy, can certainly not be. We know, however, that in a threatened federative state defended by militias everyone will want to have his own home district defended. We know that the troops will grumble, the national assemblies will cry out, if entire cities and cantons are given up without resistance, and especially in the case of a new canton, which Switzerland will have received only for the sake of its defence! In the general staff itself everyone will do what he can to see that his district is specially protected, and in a militia army, in which the discipline is lax enough at best because of the comfortable tavern atmosphere of peacetime, all these influences will make it hard enough for the commander to hold his troops together. In nine cases out of ten it is a good bet that the commander will let himself be swayed or have to give way, and that North Savoy will be occupied by troops who will be no use at all for its defence but will in any event suffer during the retreat and be thrown in part into the Valais, where they may then try to see how they can get back to the main army over the Gemmi or the Furka.

The only security for Switzerland is that North Savoy belong neither to it nor to France; in that case it would really be neutral in a war between those two states, and really cover Switzerland. However, if it belonged to Switzerland this would not be much better for the Swiss than if it belonged to France. Its value comes to a gain of three, or at most five, days, the greater part of which, however, would be lost again in defending the Vaud. What is that against the security that they could be attacked, under any circumstances, only between Basle and the Lake of Geneva?

North Savoy, is a gift of the Greeks[o] for the Swiss; it is more than that: This gift implies a threat. In the case that has been presumed, France is militarily master of all of French Switzerland and interdicts any even half serious defence of it. Annexation of South Savoy by France immediately raises the demand for incorporation of French Switzerland.


As we know, the county of Nice lies at the foot of the Maritime Alps, and its border towards the district of Genoa drops to the sea a mile east of Oneglia, at Cervo. The western half speaks a Provençal dialect and the eastern half, beyond the Roya, an Italian one. With the exception of some villages on the Var, however, Italian is the written language everywhere; only in the city of Nice, because of the large influx of foreigners, is it counterbalanced by French.

If we are to treat the national question correctly here, we must go into the language relationships of the Western Alps for a moment.

At every point at which 'Italian competes with other languages in the Alps it is proved to be the weaker. There is no point at which it crosses the Alps; the Romance dialects of the Grisons and the Tyrol are entirely independent of Italian. On the other hand, all the bordering languages have won territory from it south of the Alps. Krain-Slovenian is spoken in the western mountain districts of the Venetian province of Udine. In the Tyrol the German element is master of the entire southern slope and all of the Upper Adige valley; further to the south, in the middle of the Italian region, there are the German-language islands of the Sette comuni and the Tredici comuni[433]; at the southern foot of the Gries Pass, as well as in the Val di Cavergno in the Ticino and the Val Formazza in Piedmont, in. the Upper Valdi Vedro at the foot of the Simplon, and finally on the entire southeastern slope of the Monte Rosa, in the Val de Lys, the Upper Val Sesia and Val Anzasca, German is spoken. From the Val de Lys on the French language border begins; it comprises the entire Val d'Aosta and the eastern slope of the Cottian Alps, from the Mont Cenis Pass on, so that the common understanding is that the sources of all the rivers of the Upper Po basin belong to it. It is usually accepted that this border runs from Demonte (on the Stura) somewhat westerly from the Col di Tenda to the Roya and follows that river down to the sea.

There can be no doubt as to the boundaries between Italian and German or Slavic-speaking peoples. It is different, however, where two Romance languages meet, and to be sure not the Italian literary language, il vero toscano[p], nor the cultured North French, but the Piedmontese dialect of Italian and the South French of the troubadours, degenerated into a thousand patois, which we shall designate, for the sake of brevity, with the imprecise but familiar name of Provençal. Anyone who has ever studied, even superficially, the comparative grammar of the Romance languages or Provençal literature, must be struck immediately by the great similarity of the vernacular in Lombardy and Piedmont to Provençal. In Lombard, it is true, this similarity is limited to the external habitus of the dialect; the dropping of the masculine vowel endings, while the feminine ones are kept in the singular, as well as of most of the vowel endings in conjugation, give it a Provençal ring, while on the other hand the nasal n, the pronunciation of the u and oeu are reminiscent of North French. But the word formation and phonology are essentially Italian, and where divergences occur they are often strangely reminiscent, as in Rhaeto-Romanic[434], of Portuguese{*} The Piedmontese dialect agrees fairly well with the Lombard in its basic features, while coming closer to the Provençal and no doubt approaching it so closely in the Cottian and Maritime Alps that it would be hard to draw a definite line{**}. Further, most of the South French patois are not much closer to the North French written language than Piedmontese itself. Here, therefore, the vernacular can hardly be decisive for nationality; the Provençal-speaking Alpine peasant learns Italian as easily as French and uses one as seldom as the other; Piedmontese is perfectly comprehensible to him, and he gets along well enough with it. If some point of support had to be found, it could be only the written language, and this is Italian in all of Piedmont and Nice, the only exception being probably the Val d'Aosta and the Waldensian valleys, where French is the dominant written language here and there.

To try to assert the French nationality of Nice on the basis of a Provençal patois, which covers only half the province at that, is, therefore, nonsense from the start. The assertion becomes still more nonsensical if we recall that the Provençal language extends across the Pyrenees as well, covers Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia, and in these Spanish provinces, despite some Castilian echoes, not only is preserved on the whole in a much purer form than anywhere in France, but also still has an existence as a written language in the popular literature. What would become of Spain if Louis Bonaparte one day claimed these three regions too as being of French nationality?

It seems to be even harder to create French sympathies in the county of Nice than in Savoy. One hears nothing from the country; in the city every attempt falls even flatter than in Chambéry, although it is much easier to concentrate a crowd of Bonapartists in this seaside resort. The idea of making Garibaldi, the man from Nice, into a Frenchman is not at all bad.

If Savoy is of supreme importance for the defence of Piedmont, Nice is still more so. Three roads lead from Nice to Italy: the Corniche road along the coast to Genoa, the road over the Col di Nava from Oneglia to the valley of the Tanaro and Ceva, and the road over the Col di Tenda to Cuneo (Coni). The first one is, to be sure, finally barred by Genoa, but as early as at Albenga and again at Savona gives an advancing column the opportunity of crossing the Apennines on good paved roads, and in addition provides a number of bridle-paths and footpaths over the mountains; in 1796 Napoleon gave an example of how they are to be used in war. The third one, over the Col di Tenda, is for Nice what the Mont Cenis is for Savoy; it leads directly to Turin, but affords few or no flanking advantages. On the other hand, the middle road over the Col di Nava leads straight to Alessandria and so has the same sort of effect in the south that the Little St. Bernard has in the north, only much more directly and with far fewer obstacles. It has the additional advantage that it is near enough to the coast road to get significant support from it in the attack. As early as at Garessio the column advancing on the Nava road can make contact again with the column which has advanced to Albenga on the coast road, since the crossroad from Albenga comes out there; if it has passed Ceva, the road to Alessandria leads through Carcare, where the road from Savona comes out and which is half way between Ceva and Savona. However, there are high mountains between Ceva, Savona and Oneglia, where the defence cannot make a stand. In addition, the north slope of the Col di Nava, with the sources of the Tanaro, lies in the territory of Nice, so that the pass belongs from the outset to whoever has Nice before the war.

A French army that had control of Nice even before war broke out threatens, from there, the flank, rear and lines of communication of any Italian force thrust forward westward from Alessandria. Cession of Nice to France would therefore mean, in war, drawing the assembly point of the Italian forces to Alessandria and abandoning the defence of Piedmont proper, which can only be conducted in Nice and Savoy.

Here too the history of the revolutionary war affords the best example.

On October 1, 1792 General Anselme crossed the Var with a division of 9,000 men, while at the same time the French fleet (12 ships of the line and frigates) cast anchor within 1,000 paces of Nice. The inhabitants, who favoured the revolution, rose in revolt and the weak Piedmontese garrison (2,000 men) retreated in haste to the Col di Tenda, where they took up a position at Saorge. The city of Nice received the French with open arms, but they plundered the entire country, burned the peasants' houses, raped their women and could not be kept within bounds either by Anselme's orders of the day or by the proclamations of the commissaries of the Convention. This was the original core of the later Army of Italy with which General Bonaparte won his first laurels. Bonapartism in its initial stages always seems to have to base itself on riff-raff; without a Society of December 10[435] it cannot get to its feet anywhere.

For a long time the warring parties remained inactive facing one another; the French - held the city and its surroundings; the Piedmontese, reinforced by an Austrian division, remained masters of the mountains and had a strong entrenched position with its centre at Saorge. In June 1793 the French made some attacks, on the whole fruitless; in July they took the Col d'Argentera, which leads into the rear of the enemy position. After the capture of Toulon (December 1793) the army of Italy received consider-able reinforcements and General Bonaparte was attached to it. The following spring he mounted an attack on the camp at Saorge, which was executed with complete success on April 28 and gave the French possession of all the passes in the Maritime Alps. Now Bonaparte proposed to combine the army of the Alps with the army of Italy in the valley of the Stura and to conquer Piedmont; but the plan was not accepted. Soon after Bonaparte lost his most powerful protector, the younger Robespierre, as a result of the ninth Thermidor[436], and with that his influence in the Council of War; he was left a simple divisional general. The army went over to the defensive, and it was only when the Austrian General Colloredo moved against Savona with habitual slowness in order to cut off the very important French line of communication with neutral Genoa that Bonaparte found an opportunity to fall upon and defeat him. Nonetheless, the road to Genoa remained in danger, and the campaign of 1795 began with the expulsion of the French from the entire Genoese Riviera. In the meantime the peace treaty with Spain[437] had made the army of the Eastern Pyrenees available; it was sent to Nice, where it was fully assembled by November. Schérer, who was now in command in the Maritime Alps, went over to the attack immediately under a plan worked out by Masséna. While Sérurier kept the Piedmontese busy at the Col di Tenda, Masséna advanced in the high mountains to flank Loano, which Augereau attacked frontally (November 23). The plan succeeded completely; the Austrians lost 2,000 killed, 5,000 prisoners and 40 guns and were totally separated from the Piedmontese. The line of communication with Genoa was now secure again, and the mountains remained firmly in French hands during the winter. In spring 1796 Bonaparte at last received command of the army of Italy, and now things took a different turn. Supported by possession of Nice and the Riviera di Ponente, he went up into the mountains from Savona, beat the Austrians at Montenotte, Millesimo and Dego[438] and thereby separated them from the Piedmontese, who now, outflanked by superior French forces and isolated, signed a treaty of peace immediately after a couple of rearguard actions. Thus, four successful engagements in the upper valleys of the Bormida and the Tanaro yielded the French military control of all Piedmont, without a direct thrust at Turin being required; the seat of war shifted at once to Lombardy, and Piedmont became a part of the French base of operations.

So during the first three years of the war Italy was completely protected by Nice. Only in the third campaign were the passes of the Maritime Alps lost, and only in the fourth did they come into play—but then in an immediately decisive manner. After the mountain engagements of the first week a strong demonstration against the Piedmontese was enough to make them realise their helpless position and the necessity of capitulation. The thrust itself could have continued almost without interruption in the direction of Milan; all the territory between the Bormida, the Ticino and the Alps fell without a fight into the hands of the French.

If Nice is a French province, Italy is in the same position vis-à-vis France that it was in at the end of the 1794 campaign. Not only is the valley of the Stura open to the French through the Col di Tenda, and the valley of the Tanaro through the Col di Nava; the way to Albenga and Savona cannot be contested to a superior attacking French army, and consequently, three or four days after the beginning of the campaign, it would be back where the campaign of 1796 started. Where should the main body of the Italians stand up against it? In the Genoese Riviera it has no room to deploy; westward of the Belbo and Tanaro its communications with Alessandria, Lombardy and the peninsula are endangered. The only thing it can do is to advance southward from Alessandria and fall, with joint forces, on the individual columns debouching from the mountains. This, however, presupposes that the defence of the Alpine frontier has been abandoned from the outset, since otherwise all the detachments at the Col di Tenda and west and northwest of it would be cut off. In other words, possession of Nice gives France mastery of the Alps, which then will no longer be a protective wall for Italy, and hence military mastery over Piedmont.

Nice gives France the same flank advantages in the south that Savoy gives it in the north, only still more completely and directly. Now if either Nice or Savoy by itself lays Piedmont proper totally open to a French attack, what power would France have over Piedmont if it had both provinces! Piedmont would be in their grip as in pincers; along the entire line from the Little St. Bernard down to the Col di Nava and the mountain roads above Savona, the inexorable game of feinting attacks could be played in endless variations until finally the real attack comes at a point on the flanks and cuts off all the Italian detachments that have dug in too deeply in the mountains. The only course left to an Italian army would be to concentrate at Alessandria and Casale, to leave the Alps only under observation and, as soon as the main direction of the attack was ascertained, to throw all its forces at it. If this is conceded, it means that not only the chain of the Alps but the entire Piedmontese Po basin is given up to the enemy in advance and that the first defensive position of an Italian army against France is behind the ramparts of Alessandria. With Savoy and Nice as advanced bulwarks Piedmont is the first base of operations of the Italian army; without them Piedmont, militarily speaking, belongs to the French offensive and must first be recovered from it by a victory on Piedmontese soil and by capturing the passes of Savoy and Nice.

The annexation of Savoy and Nice is equivalent, if not to the political, to the military annexation of Piedmont to France. When in the future Victor Emmanuel looks out from the Villa della Regina at Turin at the mighty chain of the Alps, not one of whose mountains will belong to him any more, this will be clear enough to him.

But, it will be said, if a powerful military state takes shape in Upper Italy, France needs Nice and Savoy for its own defence.

It is true, as we have seen, that Savoy would significantly strengthen the French defensive system. Nice would reinforce it further only to the extent that this province too would have to be conquered before the present French Alpine departments could be attacked. The question is, however, whether a strong Italian military state could in any way so threaten France that special protection against it would be required.

Italy, even if entirely united, could, with its 26 million inhabitants, never wage an aggressive war against France except in alliance with Germany. In such a war, however, Germany would always provide the bulk of the military forces and Italy would be the subordinate power. This alone would suffice to shift the main stress of -the attack from the Alps to the Rhine and the Meuse. In addition, there is the position of Paris, the decisive point of attack, in North France. The most dangerous attack on France will always be the one from Belgium; if Belgium is neutral, the one from the German left bank of the Rhine and Baden on the Upper Rhine. Any other attack makes a detour and is more or less eccentric, not aimed directly at Paris. And if Clausewitz (Vom Kriege, Book VI, Chap. 23) already made fun of the way in which in 1814 an army of 200,000 men, instead of marching straight on Paris, let a silly theory lead them by the nose on the detour through Switzerland to the plateau of Langres, what would he now say of campaign plans that would aim the main attack on Paris through Upper Italy and Savoy, or even Nice?[q] Any attack through Savoy is far inferior to the attack from the Rhine because of the longer line of communication, going across the Alps into the bargain, because of the greater distance to Paris, and finally because of the attractive power of the big fortified camp of Lyons, which would bring it to a halt in most cases. Accordingly, the corps invading France through Italy in the 1814 campaign played virtually no role.

With such means of defence, France does not in fact need any extension of its terrain on this, the best protected of its frontiers, and against one of its weakest neighbours. If France's present frontiers were everywhere as far removed from Paris—and as strong by nature and art and owing to difficulties in enemy communications—as its frontier with Italy, France would be unassailable. But if Bonapartism seeks out precisely this point to raise the question of the so-called natural borders on the pretext that they are indispensable to France's defence[r]—how much easier will it be to establish its claims to the Rhine!

Nice will always remain Italian, even if it be temporarily ceded to France. Savoy may, and probably will at some future time, desire to be incorporated into France, when the great European nationalities have further consolidated themselves. But it is quite another matter whether Savoy will voluntarily become French when Germany and Italy have realised their national unity politically and militarily as well and thereby considerably strengthened their position as European powers—or whether a ruler like Louis Napoleon, depending on conquest, wrests it from a still divided Italy in order to perpetuate his mastery over Italy and at the same time provide a first precedent for the theory of natural borders.

{*} Lat. clavis, Ital. chiave, Port. chave, Lomb. ciàu (pron. chow =key. The Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung had an account written to it from Verona last summer (see the reports from the Austrian headquarters) to the effect that people in the street greeted each other with "Chow, chow". The wise newspaper, which has a fondness for language errors, was obviously baffled by this Chow, chow. The word is s-ciau (stchow) and is the analogue in Lombard for schiavo =slave, servant, as we too use the greeting: "Your servant, obedient servant", etc.—Only two actual Provençal forms in Lombard occur to us: the feminine past participle in -da (amà, amada) and the first person of the present in -i (ami =I love, saludi =I greet).

{**} Decisive criteria for the Italian and Provençal dialects would be: (1) the Italian vocalisation of I after consonants (fiore, piu, bianco), which does not occur in Provençal; (2) formation of the plural of nouns from the Latin nominative (donne, cappelli). Provençal and Old French did have this formation of the nominative in the Middle Ages, while all the other cases were derived from the Latin accusative (ending -s). All modern Provençal dialects have only the latter form, so far as we know. Nonetheless, it could seem doubtful at the border whether the nominative form that has been handed down comes from the Italian or the Provençal.


In this huckstering over Savoy and Nice, there are three factors that mainly concern us Germans.

In the first place, Louis Napoleon's practical version of Italian independence: Italy divided into at least three states, if possible four, Venice Austrian, and France master of Piedmont by virtue of possessing Savoy and Nice. The Papal lands, after the subtraction of the Romagna, will completely separate Naples from the Upper Italian state and block any expansion of the latter southward, since the Pope is to be "guaranteed" possession of his remaining territories. At the same time Venice is held out as the nearest bait to the Upper Italian state, and in Austria the Italian national movement retains its most immediate and primary adversary; and to make sure that the new kingdom can be set in motion against Austria at the pleasure of Louis Napoleon, the French take over all the positions dominating the Western Alps and shift their advance posts to within nine miles of Turin. This is the position that Bonapartism has got for itself in Italy, and it is worth an army in the event of a war over the Rhine border. It gives Austria the best of excuses to supply at most its federal contingent—if that. In this situation there is only one thing that can help: a complete reversal of German policy with respect to Italy. We believe that we have proved elsewhere that Germany has no need of the territory of Venice up to the Mincio and the Po. Likewise, we have no interest in the continuance of the Papal and Neapolitan rule, but we do have one in the establishment of a strong and unified Italy which can have a policy of its own. Under certain circumstances, we can therefore offer Italy more than Bonapartism can; the time may soon come when it will be important to bear this in mind.

In the second place, the outright proclamation of the theory of France's natural frontiers. No one can have any doubt that this theory has been trumpeted by the French press not only with the permission of the Government but at its direct orders. For the time being the theory is being applied only to the Alps; this is still relatively innocuous; Savoy and Nice are small regions, with only 575,000 and 236,000 inhabitants respectively, so that the population of France would be increased by only 811,000, and their political and military significance is not obvious at first glance. But the fact that with the claim to these two provinces the notion of natural frontiers is again brought to the fore and recalled to the French people, that Europe is to get used to the slogan again, as to other Bonapartist slogans that have been proclaimed and dropped and proclaimed and dropped for ten years—that is what particularly concerns us Germans. In the French language of the First Empire, which the republicans of the National subsequently continued so diligently to speak, the natural frontier par excellence of France was understood to be the Rhine. Even today, when a natural frontier is spoken of, no Frenchman thinks of Savoy or Nice but only of the Rhine. What government, and one at that which is based on the traditions of conquest and the lust for conquest in the nation, would dare to revive the call for the natural frontiers and then expect to satisfy France with Savoy and Nice?

The renewed proclamation of the theory of France's natural frontiers is a direct threat to Germany and a fact which can no longer be misunderstood, one that justifies the national feeling that was expressed in Germany a year ago. Louis Napoleon does not say so, to be sure, but the press he directs is explaining to anyone who will listen that nothing else was and is involved than the Rhine.

In the third place, and most important, Russia's attitude towards the whole intrigue. When the war broke out last year, when Gorchakov himself admitted that Russia had contracted "written obligations" to Louis Napoleon, rumours reached the public as to the content of these obligations. The rumours came from various sources and confirmed each other in essentials. Russia bound itself to mobilise four army corps and station them on the Prussian and Austrian borders in order to help Louis Napoleon's game. For the course of the war itself, it was said, three cases were envisaged:

Either Austria makes peace on the Mincio; in this case it loses Lombardy and, isolated from Prussia and England, will be easy to persuade to enter the Russo-French alliance, whose further aims (partition of Turkey, cession of the left bank of the Rhine to France) can then be pursued in another way.

Or Austria continues to fight for possession of Venetia; in that case it will be driven out of Italy altogether, and an insurrection will be started in Hungary, which under certain circumstances will be given to the Russian Grand Duke Constantine; Lombardy and Venice will go to Piedmont, Savoy and Nice to France.

Or else Austria continues to fight and the German Confederation[439] stands by it; then Russia will enter the war actively, France will get the left bank of the Rhine and Russia will have a free hand in Turkey.

We repeat: These data on the essential content of the Russo-French alliance were already known and published by the time war broke out. A considerable part of them have been confirmed by events. What of the rest?

Documentary proof of them cannot, of course, be provided at present owing to the very nature of the case. Such documents only come to light when the relevant events themselves are history. Only the policy of Russia, as established by facts and documents concerning previous periods of history (e.g., the Russian archives found in Warsaw in 1830[s]), can serve as a guide in this tangle of intrigue; but that it does thoroughly.

Russia has allied itself with France twice during this century, and in each case the alliance had the partition of Germany as its aim or basis.

The first occasion was on the raft at Tilsit[440]. Russia gave Germany over entirely into the hands of the French Emperor, and even took a piece of Prussia as security for it. In exchange it got a free hand in Turkey; it hastened to conquer Bessarabia and Moldavia and send its troops across the Danube. The fact that Napoleon soon after "studied the Turkish question" and-significantly changed his opinion on the matter was one of Russia's main grounds for the war of 1812.

The second occasion was in 1829. Russia entered into a treaty with France according to which France was to get the left bank of the Rhine and in exchange Russia was to get a free hand in Turkey again. This treaty was torn up by the July revolution; Talleyrand found the relevant documents as the case against the Polignac Ministry was being prepared, and threw them into the fire in order to spare French and Russian diplomacy the colossal scandal. Diplomats of all countries constitute a secret league as against the exoteric public and will never compromise one another openly.

In the 1853 war Russia relied on the Holy Alliance, which it had reestablished by the intervention in Hungary and the humiliation of Warsaw and believed to be strengthened by Austria's and Prussia's mistrust of Louis Napoleon. It was mistaken. Austria astonished the world by the extent of its ingratitude (in the meantime it had repaid its debt to Russia with usurious interest in Schleswig-Holstein and Warsaw) and by its consistent resumption of its traditional anti-Russian policy on the Danube[441] The Russian calculations went astray in this sector; in another, they were saved again by treachery in the enemy camp.

This much was clear: The fixed idea of conquering Constantinople could now be put into execution only by an alliance with France. On the other hand there had never yet been a government in France that so badly needed to conquer the frontier on the Rhine as the Government of Louis Napoleon. The situation was even more favourable than in 1829. Russia had the game in hand. Louis Napoleon could do nothing but pull its chestnuts out of the fire.

Above all else the task was to annihilate Austria. With the same tenacity with which Austria resisted the French on the field of battle from. 1792 to 1809, with that same tenacity from 1814 onward it had offered diplomatic resistance to Russian lust for conquest on the Vistula and the Danube—and this is its only, but undeniable merit. In 1848-49, when the revolution in Germany, Italy and Hungary brought Austria to the brink of ruin, Russia saved Austria—it was not to be -ruined by a revolution, for that would have taken control of the liberated parts out of the hands of Russian policy. Nonetheless, the movement of the various nationalities had become independent and from 1848 on made it impossible for Austria to resist Russia any longer, thereby removing the last internal, historical reason for the existence of Austria.

This same anti-Austrian national movement was now to become the lever with which to unhinge Austria. First in Italy; later, if necessary, in Hungary. Russia does not operate as the first Napoleon did, that is, against the West, when it comes up against dense populations of higher civilisation than that of its own people, it proceeds only slowly. The beginnings of the subjection of Poland date from Peter the Great, and the process is only partially completed. Slow but sure successes are just as welcome to Russia as swift decisive blows with great results; but -both possibilities are always kept in view. The Russian hand is plain to see in the use made of the Hungarian insurrection in the 1859 war, in its being put back into reserve for the second act.

But if Russia was satisfied, in one case, with the weakening of Austria by the short campaign of 1859, did it not foresee any other eventualities? Did it mobilise its first four army corps only for the pleasure of it? What if Austria had not yielded? What if military and political combinations had forced Prussia and the rest of Germany to intervene on Austria's side—and if the war had continued this was the only possibility? What then? What obligations could Russia have entered into with France for that event?

The treaties of Tilsit and of 1829 give the answer. France must have its share of the booty too if Russia extends on the Danube and rules directly or indirectly in Constantinople. The only compensation that Russia can offer France is the left bank of the Rhine; the sacrifices must again be borne by Germany. The natural and traditional policy of Russia towards France is: to promise France possession of the left bank of the Rhine or to help it to get it in a given case, in exchange for the consent to and support of Russian conquests on the Vistula and the Danube; and then to support Germany, which in gratitude will recognise the Russian conquests, in its reconquest of the territory lost to France. Execution of this programme will naturally be possible only in great historical crises, but that does not in any way prevent such eventualities from being envisaged in 1859 as they were in 1829.

It would be ridiculous today to try to prove yet again that the conquest of Constantinople is the unchangeable goal of Russian foreign policy and that any means is good towards reaching that goal. We recall only one thing here. Russia can never bring about the partition of Turkey except through an alliance with France or England. When direct offers to England seemed suitable in 1844, the Emperor Nicholas went to England and personally brought a Russian memoir on the partition of Turkey, in which, among other things, the English were promised Egypt. The offers were rejected, but Lord Aberdeen put the memoir into a box, which he handed over, sealed, to his successor in the Foreign Office; and every successive Foreign Secretary read the document, resealed it and handed it over to his successor in the same manner, until the matter finally came out into the open in the debates in the House of Lords in 1853. At the same time the well-known conversation of the Emperor Nicholas with Sir Hamilton Seymour about the "sick man" came to light, in which England was likewise offered Egypt and Crete, while Russia apparently was willing to be satisfied with small benefits[442]. The Russian promises to England were thus the same in 1853 as in 1844; would the promises to France have been less generous in 1859 than in 1829?

Louis Napoleon's personality and his position both fit him for serving the purposes of Russia. The pretended heir to a great military tradition, he also inherited the consequences of the defeats of 1813 to 1815. The army is his main support and he must satisfy it by new military successes, by punishing the powers that crushed France in those years, by restoring the country's natural frontiers. Only when the French tricolour waves on the entire left bank of the Rhine, only then will the disgrace of the two captures of Paris[443] be wiped out. And in order to achieve all this, a strong ally is needed; the choice is only between England and Russia. England, with its frequent changes of Ministries, cannot be relied on, to say the least, even if an English Minister were to lend himself to such projects. But Russia? Already twice it had, for a reasonable equivalent, proved its readiness for an alliance on such a basis.

Never was a man more suitable to Russian policy than Louis Napoleon; never was a situation more favourable to it than his. A ruler on the French throne who must wage war, who must make conquests, just to survive, who needs an alliance and for this alliance must rely on Russia alone—this was something Russia had never been offered before. Since the meeting in Stuttgart[444], the mainsprings of French policy are to be found no longer in Paris, in Louis Napoleon's head, but in St. Petersburg, in the cabinet of Prince Gorchakov. The "mysterious" man, who produces such awe in the German philistine, is reduced to a tool with which Russian diplomacy plays and which it allows to be plastered over with all the appearance of a great man, while contenting itself with the real advantages. Russia, which never sacrifices a kopeck or a soldier unless it is absolutely necessary, but lets the other European powers mangle and weaken one another as far as possible, Russia had to give its permission through Gorchakov's treaty before Louis Napoleon could give himself airs as the liberator of Italy[445]. And when the reports on the mood in Russian Poland sounded too bad to allow any armed rising in Hungary nearby; when the attempted mobilisation of the first four Russian army corps proved that the exhaustion of the country had not yet been overcome; when the peasant movement as well as the resistance of the nobility assumed dimensions that could be dangerous in a foreign war—an adjutant general[t] of the Russian Emperor[u] appeared in the French headquarters and the Treaty of Villafranca was concluded. For the time being Russia had achieved enough. Austria had been severely punished for its "ingratitude" in 1854, more severely than Russia could ever have expected. Its finances, which before the war had been on the point of being put in order, ruined for decades, its entire internal system of government hopelessly collapsed, its domination in Italy wiped out, its territory diminished, its army discouraged, deprived of confidence in its leaders; the Hungarians, Slays and Venetians so heightened in their national movement that secession from Austria was now openly expressed as their aim; from now on Russia could entirely disregard Austria's resistance and count on gradually converting it into a tool. These were the successes for Russia; Louis Napoleon brought home nothing but very meagre glory for his army, very dubious glory for himself and a very precarious claim to Savoy and Nice—two provinces that are at best gifts of the Greeks and chain him still more firmly to Russia.

The broader plans are put off for the moment, not given up. For how long, will depend on the development of international relations in Europe, on how long Louis Napoleon will be able to keep his praetorian army quiet, and on the greater or lesser interest Russia has in a new war.

What kind of role Russia intends to play in relation to us Germans is clear enough from the well-known circular that Prince Gorchakov sent to the smaller German states last year[v]. Such language has never been used to Germany before. Let us hope that the Germans will never forget that Russia dared to try to forbid them to come to the aid of a German state that was being attacked.

Let us hope that the Germans will not forget many other things in connection with Russia.

In the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807 Russia had a bit of the territory of its ally, Prussia—the Bialystok district—ceded to it and abandoned Germany to Napoleon.

In 1814, when even Austria (see Castlereagh's memoirs[w]) upheld the necessity of an independent Poland, Russia incorporated into itself almost the entire Grand Duchy of Warsaw (i.e., former Austrian and Prussian provinces[446]) and thereby took up an offensive position against Germany that will be a threat to us until we have driven Russia out of it. The fortress group of Modlin, Warsaw and Ivangorod, built since 1831, is conceded even by the Russophile Haxthausen to be a direct threat to Germany.

In 1814 and 1815 Russia did everything it could to achieve the constitution of the German Confederation[447] in its present form and thereby perpetuate Germany's external impotence.

From 1815 to 1848 Germany was under the direct hegemony of Russia, Austria may have opposed it on the Danube, but at the congresses of Laibach, Troppau and Verona[448] it carried out every wish of Russia's in Western Europe. This Russian hegemony was the direct result of the constitution of the German Confederation. When Prussia tried for a moment to break away in 1841 and 1842, it was at once forced back into its previous status. The result was that at the outbreak of the 1848 revolution Russia issued a circular in which the movement in Germany was treated as a revolt in the nursery.[x]

In 1829 Russia concluded with the Polignac ministry a treaty that had been prepared from 1823 by Chateaubriand (and openly admitted by him) and that bartered the left bank of the Rhine away to France.

In 1849 Russia supported Austria in Hungary only on condition that Austria reestablished the Federal Diet and crushed the resistance of Schleswig-Holstein; the London Protocol[449] assured Russia of the succession to the entire Danish monarchy in the near future and gave it the prospect of realising the plan it had nurtured since Peter the Great of entering the German Confederation (formerly the Empire).

In 1850 Prussia and Austria were summoned to Warsaw by the Tsar, who sat in judgment on them. The humiliation was no less for Austria than for Prussia, although in the eyes of the café politicians Prussia alone bore it.

In 1853 the Emperor Nicholas, in his conversation with Sir Hamilton Seymour, disposed of Germany as though it was his hereditary property. Austria, he said, he was sure of. Prussia he did not even mention.[y]

And finally, in 1859, when the Holy Alliance seemed to have been altogether dissolved, the .treaty with Louis Napoleon, the French attack on Austria with Russian consent and support, and Gorchakov's circular forbidding the Germans to give any help to Austria, in the most shameless manner.

This is what we have to thank the Russians for since the beginning of this century and what, we hope, we Germans will never forget.

At this moment the Russo-French alliance still threatens us. France itself can endanger us only at special conjunctures, and even then only through the alliance with Russia. But Russia threatens and insults us at all times, and if Germany rises against that, Russia sets the French gendarme in motion with the prospect of the left bank of the Rhine.

Should we allow this game to be played with us any longer? Should the forty-five million of us tolerate any longer that one of our fairest, richest and most industrial provinces should serve as a lure held out by Russia to the praetorian rule in France? Does the Rhineland have no other function than to be overrun in war so that Russia may have a free hand on the Danube and Vistula?

That is the question. We hope that Germany will soon answer it sword in hand. If we stand together, we shall soon send the French praetorians and the Russian kapustniki[z] about their business.

In the meantime we have obtained an ally in the form of the Russian serfs. The contest that has now broken out in Russia between the ruling and the oppressed classes of the rural population is already undermining the entire system of Russian foreign policy. That system was only possible so long as Russia had no internal political development. But that time is past. Industrial and agricultural development fostered in every way by the government And the nobility, has reached a point where the existing social conditions can no longer be endured. Elimination of these conditions is a necessity, on the one hand, but an impossibility without violent change, on the other. With the Russia that existed from Peter the Great to Nicholas, the foreign policy of that Russia collapses as well.

As it would seem, it is reserved for Germany to make this fact clear to the Russians not only with the pen but with the sword as well. If it comes to that, it will be a rehabilitation of Germany that will outweigh the centuries of political ignominy.

Written in February 1860
First published, as a pamphlet, in early April 1860
Printed according to the pamphlet
Published in English for the first time in MECW.


[a] Review of the French press, Paris, February 2, Allgemeine Zeitung, No. 35, February 4, 1860.—Ed.

[b] Cf. the anonymous article "Die Lage der italienischen Frage und die Interessen Deutschlands (Schluss)", Allgemeine Zeitung (supplement), No. 56, February 25, 1860.—Ed.

[c] See this volume, pp. 211-55.—Ed.

[d] "The Battle of Solferino", The Times, No. 23348, July 2, 1859.—Ed.

[e] Loc. cit.—Ed.

[f] Presumably the reference is to his letter from Novara of June 4, 1859, The Times, No. 23329, June 10, 1859.—Ed.

[g] Comments on Austrian and French reports about the battle of Magenta, The Times, No. 23330, June 11, 1859.—Ed.

[h] The German square mile is equal to 55.063 sq. km.—Ed.

[i] The king-gallant, the appellation given to King Victor Emmanuel II by one of his Ministers and under which the King ordered himself to be listed in the register of Turin's eminent citizens.—Ed.

[j] Review of the French press, Paris, February 2, Allgemeine Zeitung, No. 35, February 4, 1860.—Ed.

[k] The French press on the plans for Savoy's union with France, Allgemeine Zeitung, No. 34, February 3, 1860.—Ed.

[l] The Allgemeine Zeitung, No. 39, February 8, 1860.—Ed.

[m] The French press on the plans for Savoy's union with France, Allgemeine Zeitung, No. 35, February 4, 1860.—Ed.

[n] Freak of nature.—Ed.

[o] Cf. Virgil, Aeneid, II, 49: "Timeo. Danaos et dona ferentes" (I fear the Greeks, even when bringing gifts).—Ed.

[p] True Tuscan.—Ed.

[q] C. Clausewitz, Vom Kriege, Hinterlassenes Werk. Zweiter Theil. Sechstes Buch. Vertheidigung, Kapitel 23. Schlüssel des Landes, Berlin, 1833.—Ed.

[r] This refers to the anonymous article "Das Wachsen der Opposition", Allgemeine Zeitung, No. 58, February 27, 1860.—Ed.

[s] This refers to documents from the Grand Duke Constantine's archives seized by the Polish insurgents during the 1830-31 uprising in Warsaw. Some of them were published by David Urquhart in his series of diplomatic documents The Portfolio; or a Collection of State Papers..., Vol. III, London, 1836, some appeared in Recueil des documents relatifs à la Russie pour la plupart secrets et inédits utiles à consulter dans la crise actuelle, Paris, 1854.—Ed.

[t] P. A. Shuvalov.—Ed.

[u] Alexander II.—Ed.

[v] A. Gortschakow, "Circularschreiben an die russischen Gesandtschaften vom 15. (27.) Mai 1859", Allgemeine Zeitung, No. 167, June 16, 1859.—Ed.

[w] Memoirs and Correspondence of Viscount Castlereagh, Vol. I, London, 1848.—Ed.

[x] Circular of the Russian Foreign Minister K. V. Nesselrode to the Russian representatives in German states, July 6, 1848, Frankfurter Oberpostamts-Zeitung, No. 210 (second supplement), July 28, 1848 (see also present edition, Vol. 7, pp. 307-13).—Ed.

[y] "Communications Respecting Turkey Made to Her Majesty's Government by the Emperor of Russia, with the Answers Returned to Them. January to April 1853", Correspondence Respecting the Rights and Privileges of the Latin and Greek Churches in Turkey, London, 1854.—Ed.

[z] Cabbage-eaters, from the Russian word kapusta (cabbage).—Ed.

[421] Savoy, Nice and the Rhine was written by Engels in February 1860 and was a continuation of his Po and Rhine (see this volume, pp. 211-55). Engels was prompted to write it by Napoleon III's declaration about France's claims to Savoy and Nice. Engels' article "Savoy and Nice" (this volume, pp. 557-60) deals with the same subject. Engels used his excellent knowledge of military science, history and linguistics to lay bare the groundlessness of Bonaparte's claims to Savoy and Nice and to the left bank of the Rhine. He also wanted to prove, by analysing the course and results of the Austro-Italian French war, the correctness of the revolutionary proletarian positions on foreign policy questions which Marx and he advocated.

The Berlin publisher Duncker, who had printed Engels' pamphlet Po and Rhine anonymously, agreed to publish this new work only on condition that the author's name appeared on the title-page, as he disagreed this time with Engels' assessment of the positions of the German political parties. But Engels considered it necessary merely to point out that the new pamphlet belonged to the author of Po and Rhine: he did not want to reveal his authorship before it was necessary and thereby admit to military readers that both pamphlets had been written by a civilian. The pamphlet was published anonymously in Berlin by G. Behrend in April 1860.

[422] The reference is to Napoleon III's New Year's statement to the Austrian ambassador (see Note 122↓); the marriage of Napoleon III's cousin, Prince Napoleon (Plon-Plon), to Princess Clotilde (see this volume, p. 168) whom Marx ironically calls Iphigenia, the name of the daughter of King Agamemnon, who according to Greek mythology, sacrificed her to the Gods before the Greeks' Trojan campaign; the Russo-French treaty of 1859 (see Note 445↓).

[423] On June 26, 1849 the liberal deputies of the Frankfurt National Assembly, who had walked out after the Prussian King's refusal to accept the Imperial Crown, met in Gotha for a three-day conference which resulted in the formation of the so-called Gotha party. This party expressed the interests of the pro-Prussian German bourgeoisie and supported the policy of the Prussian ruling circles aimed at uniting Germany under the hegemony of Hohenzollern Prussia (see present edition, Vol. 11, p. 22).

[424] These festivals were arranged in 1859 on the occasion of the centenary of Schiller's birth.

[425] On the Basle Peace Treaty see Note 160↓.
At Ulm on October 17, 1805 the Austrians capitulated to Napoleon On the battle of Austerlitz see Note 130↓.
On the battle of Jena see Note 160↓.

[426] Hofkriegsrat—the Court military council of Austria (1556-1848) controlling the military department and exercising the supreme leadership of military operations during the war. It remained far from the theatres of war and hindered the commanders-in-chief by its constant interference.

[427] On July 8, 1859 the emperors of France and Austria held a separate meeting—without the King of Piedmont—in Villafranca, at which they reached an agreement on an armistice. The meeting was initiated by Napoleon III, who feared that the protracted war might give a fresh impulse to the revolutionary and national liberation movements in Italy and other European states. On July 11 France and Austria signed a preliminary peace under which Austria was to cede to France its rights to Lombardy and France was to transfer this territory to Piedmont. Venice was to remain under the supreme power of Austria and the rulers of the states of Central Italy were to be restored to their thrones. It was intended to create a confederation of Italian states under the honorary chairmanship of the Pope.

The Villafranca preliminaries formed the basis of the peace treaty concluded in Zurich on November 10, 1859 between France, Austria and Piedmont.

[428] The Confederation of the Rhine (Rheinbund)—an association of sixteen states in Southern and Western Germany established in July 1806 under the protectorate of Napoleon I, after the latter had defeated Austria in 1805. Later twenty other states in Western, Central and Northern Germany joined the Confederation. It fell apart in 1813, after the defeat of Napoleon's army in Germany.

[429] The Kingdom of Westphalia was set up by Napoleon I on the territory of Central Germany in 1807 and existed until 1813. The Westphalian throne was given to Napoleon I's youngest brother Jérôme Bonaparte, the father of Prince Napoleon (Plon-Plon).

[430] The treaties of Villafranca and Zurich provided for the restoration of the dukes of Modena, Parma and Tuscany who had been deposed as a result of the insurrections in these duchies in 1859 (see Note 266↓). However, the growing popular movement there for the incorporation in Piedmont made the restoration of the former sovereigns impossible, and in 1860 Modena, Parma and Tuscany were annexed to Piedmont.

[431] The reference is to the "Loi relatif à des mesures de sûreté générale" (Law on Public Security Measures) adopted by the Corps législatif on February 19, 1858. It gave the Emperor and his government unlimited power to exile to different parts of France or Algeria or to banish from French territory in general anyone suspected of hostility to the Second Empire.
On Lambessa and Cayenne see Note 227↓.

[432] The Hundred Days—the period of the short-lived restoration of Napoleon I's empire, which lasted from the moment of his arrival in Paris from Elbe on March 20, 1815 to his second deposition on June 22 of the same year, following his defeat at Waterloo.

[433] Sette comuni (Seven Communes) and Tredici comuni (Thirteen Communes)—the names of small mountain areas with a German population in the southern spurs of the Alps in Northern Italy. German settlements appeared there in the second half of the thirteenth century. Their dialects have been preserved only in a few villages.

[434] The Rhaeto-Romanic language (from Rhaetia, a province of the Roman Empire) belongs to the Romance group of languages and is spoken in the high-mountain regions of South-Eastern Switzerland and North-Eastern Italy.

[435] The Society of December 10—a secret Bonapartist organisation founded in 1849 and consisting mainly of declassed elements. For a detailed account of this society see Marx's work The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (present edition, Vol. 11).

[436] The Ninth Thermidor (July 27-28, 1794)—counter-revolutionary coup d'état which overthrew the Jacobin government and established the rule of the big bourgeoisie.

[437] This treaty was concluded in Basle on July 22, 1795 between France and Spain, a member of the first anti-French coalition.

[438] These are battles in the initial stage of Bonaparte's Italian campaign of 1796-97 against the first anti-French coalition. The Austrians lost the battles of Montenotta (April 12, 1796), Millesimo (April 13-14), Dego (April 14-15) and Mondovi (April 22).

[439] The German Confederation (der Deutsche Bund)—a short-lived confederation of German states founded in 1815 by decision of the Congress of Vienna.

[440] The reference is to the Treaty of Tilsit of 1807. The first meeting between Napoleon I and Alexander I took place on a raft moored in the middle of the Niemen.

[441] Engels is referring here to conferences in Warsaw in May and October 1850 in which Russia, Austria and Prussia took part. See also Note 198↓.
On the Schleswig-Holstein question see Note 228↓.
On Austria's anti-Russian policy see Notes 125↓ and 228↓.

[442] On the negotiations between the British Ambassador in St. Petersburg Lord Seymour and the Russian Emperor Nicholas I on the Turkish question which took place in early 1853 see Marx's articles "The Documents on the Partition of Turkey" and "The Secret Diplomatic Correspondence" (present edition, Vol. 13)

[443] Paris was twice captured by the forces of the anti-Napoleonic coalition: on March 30-31, 1814 and July 6-8, 1815.

[444] The Stuttgart meeting of the Emperors, Alexander II and Napoleon III, took place on September 25, 1857. It was a sign of rapprochement between France and Russia after the Crimean war.

[445] The Russo-French treaty of 1859—the secret Paris treaty of February 19 (March 3), 1859 concluded between France and Russia. Russia undertook to adopt a "political and military stand which most easily proves its favourable neutrality towards France" (Article I) and not to object to the enlargement of the Kingdom of Sardinia in the event of a war between France and Sardinia on the one hand and Austria on the other. Information about this secret treaty leaked into the press but the Russian Foreign Minister Gorchakov officially denied the existence of any written obligations to France. As was proved later, Denmark did not take part in the negotiations.

[446] The Duchy of Warsaw—a vassal state formed by Napoleon I in 1807, under the Treaty of Tilsit, on a small Polish territory formerly annexed to Prussia. After the defeat of Austria in 1809 some of the Polish lands belonging to Austria were added to the Duchy. By decision of the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15 the territory of the Duchy of Warsaw was divided between Prussia, Austria and Russia.

[447] The Bundesakte (Federal Act) adopted by the Congress of Vienna on June 8, 1815 proclaimed the formation of a German Confederation (see Note 439↑).

[448] Congress of Laibach—the reference is to the Laibach Congress of the Holy Alliance held in 1821. It proclaimed the principle of intervention by the powers of the Holy Alliance in the internal affairs of other states in support of feudal-monarchist regimes there. Accordingly, the Laibach Congress decided to send Austrian troops to Italy to crush the revolutionary and national liberation movement there. Representatives of the monarchist circles in the Italian states attended the congress in accordance with the restrictive clause inserted in the 1818 protocol of Aix-la-Chapelle on the insistence of the British Foreign Secretary Castlereagh. It stipulated that intervention in the home affairs of other states should be practised only "on the wish" of those states, which were also to be given the right to take part in the talks.

At the Congress of Troppau—the second congress of the reactionary Holy Alliance (October-December 1820)—Russia, Austria and Prussia, in connection with the revolution in the Kingdom of Naples, signed a protocol proclaiming the right of armed interference in the internal affairs of other states. In particular, Austria was allowed to send troops to the Kingdom of Naples.

The Congress of Verona—the last congress of the Holy Alliance—was held from October to December 1822. It adopted a decision on French intervention in Spain, prolonged Austria's occupation of Italy and condemned the Greek insurgents.

The efforts of all these congresses were aimed at suppressing bourgeois revolutions and national liberation movements in Europe.

[449] On May 8, 1852, representatives of Russia, Austria, Britain, France, Prussia and Sweden jointly with representatives of Denmark signed the London protocol on the integrity of the Danish monarchy. It was based on a protocol establishing the principle of the indivisibility of the domains of the King of Denmark, including the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein and which was adopted on July 4, 1850 and finally signed on August 2, 1850 by the above-mentioned participants in the London Conference (with the exception of Prussia). In the London protocol the Tsar of Russia, being a descendant of the Duke Karl Peter Ulrich of Holstein-Gottorp who reigned in Russia under the name of Peter III, was referred to as one of the lawful pretendants to the throne of Denmark, who had renounced their right in favour of Duke Christian of Glücksburg, proclaimed successor to King Frederick VII. This created a precedent for the Russian Tsar to lay claim to the Danish throne in the event of the extinction of the Glücksburg dynasty.

[122] At a reception of the diplomatic corps in the Tuileries on January 1, 1859, Napoleon III said to the Austrian Ambassador J. A. Hübner: "I regret that our relations with your Government are not as good as formerly." This statement led to a diplomatic conflict with Austria, war against which had long ago been decided on: in July 1858, in Plombières, a secret agreement had been reached between France and Piedmont, under which France was promised Savoy and Nice in exchange for participation in the forthcoming war against Austria.

[125] Marx alludes to Austria's "gratitude" to Tsarist Russia for its help in suppressing the Hungarian revolution of 1848-49. With the aggravation of the Eastern Question in the early 1850s, Austrian foreign policy took an anti-Russian turn which was reflected in the following words ascribed to the Austrian Prime Minister Schwarzenberg: "We will astonish the world by the greatness of our ingratitude."

[130] This refers to Napoleon III, the son of Napoleon I's brother Louis Bonaparte who was King of the Netherlands from 1806 to 1810. In calling Napoleon III the "Dutch cousin to the battle of Austerlitz" Marx alludes to the fact that the coup d'état of December 2, 1851 took place on the anniversary of the battle of Austerlitz (December 2, 1805) in which Napoleon I routed the allied armies of Russia and Austria.

In his speech at the opening of the Sardinian Parliament on January 10, 1859 Victor Emmanuel 11 said that "Sardinia respects treaties, but is not insensible to Italy's cry of anguish".

[160] The peace of Basle was concluded on April 5, 1795 separately between France and Prussia, the latter being a member of the first anti-French coalition. The treaty was the consequence of the French victories as well as of the differences between the members of the coalition, in particular between Prussia and Austria.

At the battle of Jena on October 14, 1806 the Prussians were routed by Napoleon I and this led to the capitulation of Prussia.

The battle of Austerlitz on December 2 (November 20), 1805 between the Russian and Austrian forces (the third coalition) and the French ended in a victory for Napoleon I.

At the battle of Wagram on July 5-6, 1809 Napoleon I won a decisive victory over the Austrians.

[198] By the autumn of 1808, when Napoleon I arrived in Erfurt to negotiate with the Russian Tsar Alexander I, almost the whole of Germany had been subjected to France. The German Princes assembled in Erfurt confirmed their loyalty to Napoleon.

In May and October 1850 Warsaw was the scene of conferences in which representatives of Russia, Austria and Prussia took part. They were convened on the initiative of the Russian Tsar in view of the intensification of the struggle between Austria and Prussia for mastery in Germany. The Russian Tsar acted as arbiter in the dispute between Austria and Prussia and used his influence to make Prussia abandon its attempts to form a political confederation of German states under its own aegis.

The battle of Bronzell was an unimportant skirmish between Prussian and Austrian detachments on November 8, 1850, during an uprising in Kurhessen. Prussia and Austria a contended for the right to interfere in the internal affairs of Kurhessen to suppress the uprising. In this conflict with Prussia Austria again received diplomatic support from Russia and Prussia had to yield.

[227] Lambessa (Lambèse)—a French penal colony founded on the ruins of the ancient Roman town of Lambessa in Northern Africa; from 1851 to 1860 it was a place of exile for political prisoners.

Cayenne—the reference is to French Guiana where political prisoners were sent for penal servitude.

[228] On the Warsaw Conferences and the battle of Bronzell see Note 198↑.
The Schleswig-Holstein question was one of the causes that aggravated Austro-Prussian relations in 1848-50. From March 1848 these duchies were the scene of a national liberation struggle against Denmark with Prussia taking part on the side of the insurgents. Austria and other European powers supported the Danish monarchy and brought pressure to bear upon Prussia by compelling it to sign a treaty with Denmark in July 1850. In the winter of 1851 the forces of the German Confederation, which included Austrian units, undertook a punitive expedition against the insurgents and forced them to surrender.

During the Crimean war (1853-56) Prussia, manoeuvring between Russia and the Western powers, was forced, in 1854, by Austria, Britain and France to join Austria in demanding the evacuation of the Danubian Principalities by the Russians. At the end of the war Prussia was also to support the Austrian ultimatum to Russia which impelled the Tsarist Government to accept the Allies' terms as the basis for peace negotiations.

[266] In the spring and summer of 1859 popular insurrections flared up in Tuscany, Modena and Parma. The members of the ruling dynasties fled from their duchies to seek the protection of the Austrian army. The national assemblies set up as the result of the insurrections declared that the population of the duchies wished to be incorporated in Piedmont. This question was settled in March 1860 by a plebiscite.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 16 (pp.[569-578][579-592][593-600][601-610]), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
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