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Eylau: Precis Des Travaux de la Grande Armee

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Eylau: Precis Des Travaux de la Grande Armée

Report of the Minister of Foreign Relations: January 28, 1807


Russia ceases dissimulating;  it threw off the mask of which it had until now tried to cover itself.  Its troops entered Moldavia[1] and Walachia.[2]  They besieged the fortresses of Choezin and Bender.[3]  The very small garrisons, attacked unexpectedly, and when they trusted in the faith of treaties, had to yield to the superiority of numbers, and the two fortresses were occupied by the Russians.

All that is sacred among men was trampled by feet.  Human blood ran, while the envoy of Russia, whose presence alone was to be the proof and the guarantee of the state of peace, was still in Constantinople, and never stopped to give to it insurances of the friendship of its sovereign to his Highness.  The Door did not know that it was attacked, it did not learn that its provinces were invaded, except by the proclamation of General Michelson, that I have the honor to put under the eyes of Y. M., and what is as revolting as odd, at the time when the Door received this proclamation, the envoy of Russia, whom protested he had received no instruction of his court, and that he did not believe in the war, appeared to repudiate the proclamations of the Generals, and to throw in doubt the entry of the Russian armies on the ottoman territory.

With what a fate would Europe be reserved, if its destinies could depend on the whims of a cabinet which change unceasingly, that various factions divide, and which, according to whether its passions, seems or to be unaware of or ignore the sentiments, processes, the duties which maintain civilizations among the men! 

The Ottoman Door had for a long time been certain that he was betrayed by prince Ipsilanty, hospodar of Walachia.  Prince Moruzzi, hospodar of Moldavia, did not inspire any more full confidence in him.  Using its undeniable right of sovereignty, it deposed them one and the other, and the replaced them by princes Suzzo and Callimachi.  This measure displeased Russia.  Its envoy declared[4] that he would leave Constantinople, if the relieved hospodars were not restored.  At that time, an inconceivable war appeared about to burst between France and Prussia.  Astonished to see in disagreement the two powers most interested in his preservation, the Door felt what an advantage their disunion would give her natural enemy.  An English admiral issued[5] with a squadron, and meant that England would make a common cause with the Russians, if old the hospodars were not restored.  The Door yielded out of necessity, and the conspired storm of which she was threatened while repositioning[6] the hospodars that she had just declared treacherous, and by deposing the men of its choice.  Russia was to be satisfied:  England was beyond its hopes.  The Door had believed and had to believe that for the price of its condescension, it would preserve the peace that it had so dearly, so painfully bought.  But the news of the war declared by Prussia and the first hostilities, did not delay its arrival in Saint-Petersburg.[7]

The court of Russia internally applauding the war which put the two allies against each other nourishing a secret equal resentment of them; two powers which were to agree constantly to be opposed to its projects against the ottoman Empire.  From then it kept no law any more; it dispatched to General Michelson the order to enter  Moldavia, and devoured it in hope, a prey which it coveted for so many years, and which the union of France and Prussia had until there forced it to respect.  Fortunately for Turkey the war with Prussia lasted only one moment, and the French Army, arriving on the Vistula when the Russian troops concentrated on the Dniester, forced to retrogress, and to run to defend their threatened borders. 

The Ottoman Door felt his hope reborn.  It probed all the depth of the abyss that its condescendence had dug under its feet.  It recognized that a miracle had saved it, and all Turkey ran to arms, to be from now on the inseparable ally of France, without the help of which it was in danger to perish.

December 29th the Russian ambassador has left Constantinople with all the people attached to his legation, with all the Russian negotiators and even with the Greek negotiators that were in Constantinople under the protection of Russia.  All were respected, all could be withdrawn freely, while the Russians took along as captive to Russia the consul of Y. M. to Yassy, though they had given him passports to be withdrawn by Austria.

The 30th, the declaration of war of the Door was proclaimed in Constantinople.  The symbols of the supreme command, the sword and the pelisse were sent to the grand-vizier.  The war cry resounded from all the mosques.  All Ottomans showed convincingly unanimous that the way of arms is the only one that remains to them to preserve their Empire from the ambition of his enemies. 

Few nations put in the pursuit of their intentions as much artifice and constancy as Russia.  The tricks and the violence, which it has employed time-and-again during sixty years against Poland, are still the weapons of which it finds useful against the ottoman Empire.  Misusing the influence that since the last wars it had acquired on Moldavia and Walachia, it has, from the interior of these provinces, blown everywhere the spirit of sedition and revolt.  It encouraged Serbian rebels against the Door.  It allowed passage for the weapons; it sent officers to them to direct them.  Benefiting from the wild naturalness of the Montenegrins and their leaning towards plunder, it raised and armed them.  In a like manner and for its future intentions, it secretly armed Morea, after having frightened it with imaginary dangers, which it had skillfully sown in rumor.  It finally, under the more frivolous pretext, continued to occupy Corfu and the other islands of the Ionian Sea, which it had itself recognized independent.  The implementation of its projects being thus prepared by all the means which artifice and intrigue could provide, it skillfully seized the occasion which the war of France and Prussia, offered to him and went openly to its goal with this violence which did not recognize any right or respect of any. 

Such serious circumstances oblige to me to recall to Y. M. control that the old government of France held, to a time for which it is necessary to go to find the cause of the current events.  Of all the faults of this government, the most unforgivable, because it was the most disastrous, was to suffer, as it did it, with an inconceivable improvidence, the first division of Poland, that it could so easily have prevented..  Without this first division, the two others would not have been able to be carried out and would not even have been tried at the time when they were made.  Poland would still exist, Its disappearance would not have left a vacuum, and Europe would have avoided the jolts and agitations which have tormented it without slackening for ten years.

The cabinet of Versailles still worsened this fault, by leaving the Ottoman Door alone within the seizing of the Russians and forced into the most painful sacrifices, when it could save him, when it was so easy for it to him, as in 1783, after the peace which it had just made, that is to say five years later, when this war started which was ended by the deplorable peace of 1791. 

This lapse of memory of the interests of France and the whole of Europe would have still held today for one and the other of the new consequences and much more disastrously; if Y. M. had not made them impossible.

But Y. M. did everything so that its enemies wish peace, and it still did everything to make it easy.  Because one can not suppose only Russia blinds itself to the extent of giving up all benefits of peace, while refusing to take only engagement that Y. M. wish to require of it, that to abstain from now on companies that it has made for thirty years, and that it continues or renews in this moment on the States which border it on the South, and to recognize the independence and the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, which imports so primarily with the policy of France and rest of World.

Warsaw, January 28, 1807. 

Signed, CH. MAUR. TALLEYRAND, prince of Bénévent

This report has annexed six parts written in the Turkish language, and translated into French by order of the Government.  These parts prove that Russia seized the provinces of the Grand-Lord, without declaration of preliminary war, and under appearances of the narrowest friendship.

A courier dispatched on February 6 from Warsaw, by the prince of Bénévent to H. M. the Empress and Queen, arrived the 18th bringing from H. M. the following details, written the 4th on the battle field of Liebstadt by prince of Neufchâtel, Minister for war:

“We joined the enemy at Allenstein, where it was attacked by the Emperor, while another column was turned at Gustadt.  It collapsed all along the line that its advanced guard occupied.  We have many prisoners, some pieces of cannon; the slashed enemy is in full retirement, which it makes in the greatest disorder:  all the army is decamped.  The Emperor commands his advance guard, and never goes better.”

“The Grand-Duke of Berg goes well.”

Fifty-sixth Bulletin of the Grande Army.  Arensdorf, February 5, 1807.

[1] The 23rd of November.

[2] In the first days of December.

[3] From 23 to 29 November.

[4] The 29th of September.

[5] The 12th of October.

[6] The 15th of October.

[7] Towards October the 25th or 26th.



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