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Eylau: Precis Des Travaux de la Grande Armée

Decree Ordering the Continental Blockade

Extract of the Minutes of the Chancery of State.

In our imperial camp of Berlin, November 21, 1806.

NAPOLÉON, EMPEROR OF THE FRENCH AND KING OF ITALY, considering: 

Io. That England does not admit to the law of nations followed universally by all the organized people; 

2o.  That it considers enemy any individual belonging to the State of an enemy, and makes them, in consequence, prisoners of war, not only the crews of the vessels armed for war, but also the crews of trading vessels and the trading vessels, and even the articles of trade and the negotiators which travel for businesses of their trade;

3o.  That it extends to the commercial vessels and goods and the properties of the private individuals, the right of conquest, which can apply only to what belongs to the enemy State;

4o.  That it extends to cities and unfortified commercial ports, to the harbors and the mouths of the rivers, the right of blockade, which, according to reason and the use of all the organized people, is applicable only to the fortified towns;  that it declares blockaded places in front of which there is not even one building of war, though a place should only be blockaded when to approach cause an imminent danger;  that it declares even a state blockade on the places that all its joined forces together would be unable to blockade, even the whole coasts and a whole Empire;

5o.  That this monstrous abuse of the right of blockade has another goal only to prevent the communications between the people, and to raise the trade and the industry of England and on the ruin of the industry and the trade of the Continent;

6o.  That such being the obvious goal of England, whoever trades on the Continent in English goods, supports therefore its intentions and becomes an accomplice from that point; 

7o.  That this control of England, worthy in all of the first ages of cruelty, benefited this power to the detriment from all the others;

8o.  That it is a natural right to oppose the enemy with weapons of which it is useful, and to fight it in the same manner as it fights, when it ignores all the ideas of justice and all the liberal sentiments, deriving from civilization among the men;  we resolved to apply to England the practices in its maritime law.  The provisions of this decree will constantly be regarded as fundamental principle of the Empire, until England recognizes that the right of the war is one and the same one on ground as on sea;  that it cannot extend to anybody from the foreign individuals to the profession of the weapons and that the right of blockade must be restricted to fortified towns really invested with sufficient forces. 

We have in consequence decreed and issue what follows:

Art. Ist.  The British Isles are declared in a state of blockade.

II.  Any trade and any correspondence with the British Isles are prohibited. Consequently, the letters or packages addressed or in England or to an English, or

written in English language, not having left on course to their stations, and will be seized. 

III.  Any individual subject of England, of whatever capacity or condition, that is found in the countries occupied by our troops or those of our allies, will be made prisoner of war. 

IV.  Any store, any goods, any property, of whatever nature, pertaining to a subject of England, will be declared fair game for seizure.

V.  Trade of English goods and those prohibited;  and any goods belonging to England, or coming from its factories and from its colonies, are declared of fair game for seizure. 

VI.  Half of the proceeds from the confiscation of the goods and properties declared fair game by the preceding articles, will be employed to compensate the traders for the losses which they prove by the seizure of their trading vessels were removed by English cruising fleet. 

VII.  No vessels coming directly from England or the English colonies, or any having been since the publication of this decree, will be received in port.

VIII.  Any vessel that, by means of a misrepresentation, will contravene the provision above will be seized, and the ship and the cargo will be confiscated as if they were English property.

IX.  Our court of the seizures Paris is in charge of the final judgment of all the disputes that are said to occur in our Empire or the countries occupied by the French Army, relative to the execution of this decree.  Our court of the seizures in Milan will be in charge of the final judgment of the aforesaid disputes that are said to occur in the realm of our kingdom of Italy. 

X.  Communications of this decree will be given, by our Minister of foreign relations, with the kings of Spain, of Naples, of Holland and Etruria, and with our others allied whose subjects are victims, like ours, of the injustice and the cruelty of the English marine legislation. 

XI. Our Ministers of foreign relations, of war, of maritime, of finances, of the police force, and our director-Generals of the stations are charged, each one as this relates to them, with the execution of this decree. 

Signed, NAPOLÉON. 

For the Emperor.

The Minister Secretary of State, signed, H. B. MAREET.

 

 

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