Novels set during the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars and The Regency are very popular, so I am sharing my research with this group.
Those Englishmen, who considered the French Revolution was a disaster, regarded the massacres in September not only as a vindication of their predictions but as a prelude to war. However, the Prime Minister, William Pitt, dreaded war and preferred the path of appeasement.
The influx of thousands of penniless refugees, each with a tragic tale about the cruelty of the French Revolution, touched the hearts of kind-natured English men and women. The horror of events in
brought to mind the massacre of St. Bartholomew and the persecution of French Huguenots. Almost hereditary hatred of the French swept the country. France
Pitt remained calm in spite of war mongers, and refused to deport representatives of a government which sanctioned the massacre at the Tuileries.
, after the wettest summer anyone could remember the harvest failed. Hunger spread throughout the land and peopled rioted in the north. Those in support of the revolution across the England English Channel were blind to the facts. They envisaged the prospect of the happy, free life that French politicians promised. Pitt faced confrontation from those in favour of revolution who threatened stability at home. He was afraid of hungry men angered by a rise in the price of bread who believed French propaganda.
At this crucial period in English history news that General Custine had captured
Mainz, had terrorised the Rhineland and then marched to Frankfurt arrived. Four days later Dumouriez, with a horde of skirmishers and ragged fanatics chanting ‘the Marseillaise’ swept the Austrians from their northern fortresses, and then marched on to . Brussels
The French politicians were delighted. They issued edicts which gave permission for their generals to follow the fleeing foe into neutral territory, and to flout the international agreements not to invade the Scheldt estuary in
. Soon, French gunboats sailed along the river to attack Holland . Antwerp
It was essential for British trade to retain control of the Dutch coastline and the anchorages in the
Scheldt. The Dutch alliance was one of the keystones of Pitt’s foreign policy which he could not risk. In a friendly conversation with Maret, a French diplomat on a private visit to England, Pitt warned him that an attack on would lead to war. Holland
The revolutionary leaders in
wanted conquest, an instrument of the revolution. They also wanted France ’s international banks and gold reserves. Holland
French criticism of
Britain and her institutions, which the British were proud of, had turned the public opinion against . English men united to preserve their rights and liberties and were determined to:- France
‘Stand by the Church and the King and Laws;
The old Lion still has his teeth and claws.
still rule in the midst of her waves, Britain
And chastise all those foes who dare call her sons slaves.”
Britain would intervene Dumouriez was ordered not to invade . In the British parliament Whigs and Tories united and sanctioned recruiting 17,000 more soldiers and 9,000 sailors. Holland
Pitt’s pursuit of peace failed, but the French were forced to reconsider although they believed
Britain’s strength depended on trade, and that if they could cut it off would collapse. In their opinion, the British people would then revolt and welcome a French invasion, which would “regulate the destiny of nations and found the liberty of the world.” Britain
On January 10th, 1793, the French Executive Council sanctioned the invasion of the United Netherlands. Immediately the British government issued orders to ban grain, which might be used by the invasion.
War was inevitable. After five years on half-pay, Captain Horatio Nelson rejoiced when offered a ship. He wrote: “everything indicates war, one of our ships looking into
has been fired into.” On the 20th of January, Brest Britain negotiated with Austria and Prussia to act against . When news of the French king’s execution reached France the response was hysterical fury. On the 1st of February the London Republic of France declared war on Holland and . Britain
In Parliament Pitt declared: “Unless we wish to stand by, and to suffer State after State to be subverted under the power of France, we must now declare our firm resolution effectually to oppose those principles of ambition and aggrandisement which have for their object the destruction of England, of Europe and the world….whatever may be our wishes for peace, the final issue must be war.”
One can only imagine the Prime Minister’s despair after his strenuous efforts to maintain peace at home and abroad.
Available from museituppublighing.com/bookstore2
New release in October False Pretnces