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Was 1812 An Economic War?The Motives For Napoleon’s Russia Campaign Reconsidered

Crosby-Arnold Margaret

   Until nowadays scholars have paid little attention to the place of Europe’s inland waterways in either economic history or international conflict. As this paper will suggest in the years when France was embroiled in Revolutionary Wars, Russia engaged in a series of military engagements with the Ottoman Empire that resulted in Russian control of key Black Sea trading routes. The progressive successes of the Russian Army, the direction of the Ukrainian grain trade shifted from a northern trade up the Vistula toward the Baltic to the south toward the Black Sea. Not only did this shift trade away from France and Britain, but also because it was the back-up grain supply for France, it posed a fundamental threat to political stability in a time with food riots had often given way to regime change in France. Increased Russian hegemony in the Black Sea Basin created access, not only for Russia, but Central Europe, generally, alternative inland trade routes with East that in fact posed a further threat to French economic power, especially after the loss Saint Domingue (Haiti) in 1805. Finally, this paper suggest that Napoleon’s 1812 Russian Campaign was an economic warfare, where he sought not only to occupy the major markets for the re-trade in colonial commodities, but also to prevent the development of alternative inland supply and trading routes that would compete with the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Baltic Sea trades.

Keywords: Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812, Continental system, economic history, European trade.
Link: Crosby-Arnold M. Was 1812 An Economic War?The Motives For Napoleon’s Russia Campaign Reconsidered // Annuaire d'études françaises 2013: "La campagne russe" de Napoléon : événements, images, mémoire / Annual of French Studies 2013, The Russian campaign of Napoleon : events, images, memory.М. P. 33-60.