Europe 1810: Annexation of the Hanse
To crack down on increasing British trade in the Baltic, Napoleon annexed the ports of northern Germany to the French Empire in December 1810. This action greatly antagonized the Russian imperial family, which was linked to the rulers of Oldenburg—one of the annexed states—by marriage.
21–23 Jul 1810 Capture of Sukhumi▲
In early 1810 Russia recognized Sefer Ali-Bey Shervashidze, youngest son of the former ruler Kelesh Ahmed-Bey Shervashidze, as ruler of the Principality of Abkhazia, an Ottoman vassal state. That July a squadron of the Russian Black Sea Fleet attacked Sukhumi, Abkhazia’s capital and main port, in support of Sefer Ali-Bey and expelled the Ottoman garrison. The Russian then established a protectorate over Abkhazia, thereby cementing their control over all Georgia.
21 Aug 1810 Charles XIV John▲
As the successor of King Charles XIII of Sweden was already 61, sickly, and childless, the Swedes sought a new successor, preferably someone favored by Napoleon. In August 1810 the Swedish government and Napoleon both agreed that the French general Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte should be the Crown Prince of Sweden and in November he was formally adopted by the king under the name Charles John (Karl Johan). The new Crown Prince immediately placed his loyalty to his new homeland over that of France and quickly became the most popular and powerful person in Sweden.
17–18 Sep 1810 Murat’s invasion of Sicily▲
In September 1810—exploiting winds that had driven patrolling British warships into port—Joachim Murat, Napoleon’s King of Naples, ordered 3,500 Neapolitan troops to cross the Strait of Messina and land in Sicily. However, General Grenier refused to support this expedition with his 8,000 French troops, stating that he would not act without direct imperial orders. The invasion almost immediately turned into a fiasco when the British 21st Foot arrived on the scene and captured 843 of the landing troops, forcing the remaining Neapolitans to re-embark and return home.
27 Sep 1810 Battle of Bussaco▲
In July–August 1810 Marshal André Masséna’s French army besieged and captured Almeida, opening up the road for the third French invasion of Portugal. To delay the 65,000-strong invading force while work was being completed on the Lines of Torres Vedras, Wellington blocked them in the heights of Bussaco with 50,000 Anglo-Portuguese troops. On 27 September Wellington successfully repulsed Masséna—inflicting 4,500 casualties for just 1,250—but the French outflanked the Allies the following day, forcing them to withdraw towards Lisbon.
11 Oct 1810–6 Mar 1811 Lines of Torres Vedras▲
By late 1809 Arthur Wellesley, Viscount of Wellington, realized that the French now heavily outnumbered his Anglo-Portuguese Army in the Iberian Peninsula and in November began the construction of a series of three progressively more powerful fortified lines—the Lines of Torres Vedras—to defend Lisbon (with a fourth line guarding the city via the mouth of the Tagus). Marshal Masséna’s advancing 61,000-strong French army reached these fortifications, now completed, in October 1810 and seized control of the fort of Sobral de Mote Agraço, part of the first of the three lines. When Masséna’s next assault on the lines was repelled at the Battle of Sobral, he decided that further efforts were pointless and, after attempting to wait the Allies out for almost four months, withdrew.
12 Nov 1810 Annexation of Rhodanic Republic▲
The Rhodanic Republic (Valais) in the Swiss Alps contained the vital Simplon Pass between France and Italy, but was riven by corruption as well as agitation between conservative and revolutionary factions. Fed up with the situation, Napoleon annexed the republic to the French Empire in November 1810.
17 Nov 1810–18 Jul 1812 Anglo-Swedish War▲
Despite joining the Continental System in January 1810, the Swedish government did little to stop the smuggling of British goods into its country. By November, Napoleon had had enough and demanded that Sweden declare war on Britain or face war with the French Empire. Sweden complied and until July 1812 was officially at war with Britain, although in this time it would take no serious military measures against Britain and would even allow the British to occupy the island of Hanö to facilitate continued trade.
13 Dec 1810 Annexation of the Hanse▲
In December 1810, in response to increasing British maritime trade in the Baltic in defiance of the Continental System, the French Senate ordered the annexation of the northern German ports, including the Hanseatic cities of Hamburg, Bremen, and Lübeck, as well as large parts of the Grand Duchy of Berg and the Kingdom of Westphalia. Also annexed was the Duchy of Oldenburg, connected to the Russian monarchy by the marriage of Duke George to the Tsar’s sister. This greatly antagonized the Russians, who retaliated by beginning to favor British imports over their continental rivals.