5 September 2011

Grand Duchy of Berg


map of a state created during the Napoleonic Era

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Grand Duchy of Berg, 1808-1810

Grand Duchy of Berg, 1808-1810

Source: Adapted from Herbert Albert Laurens Fisher, Studies in Napoleonic Statesmanship: Germany (Oxford, U.K.: Clarendon Press, 1903), facing page 174. Color added.

The village of Ladbergen, in County Tecklenburg (German: Grafschaft Tecklenburg ), would be about where the letter "M" is in the word EMS on this map, the furthest north département of the Grand Duchy of Berg (French: Grand-duché de Berg; German: Großherzogtum Berg ). Ladbergen was located in Canton Lengerich, Arrondissement Münster, département Ems (German: Gemeinde Ladbergen, Kanton Lengerich; Distrikt Münster; Departement Ems).


In 1806, Maximilian Joseph ceded the Duchy of Berg to Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French. Napoleon placed the Duchy (including territories of the former Prussian Duchy of Cleves east of the Rhine river) under the rule of his brother-in-law, Joachim Murat.

On 12 July 1806, upon signing the Treaty of the Confederation of the Rhine (German: Rheinbundakte ), 16 states in present-day Germany formally left the Holy Roman Empire and joined together in the Confederation of the Rhine, a largely military alliance. The Confederation was a French satellite; Napoleon was its "protector."

Joachim Murat joined the Confederation of the Rhine and assumed the title of a Grand Duke (the Duchy of Berg was elevated to a Grand Duchy ). His lands were further enlarged by the annexation of the County of Mark, the Prince-Bishopric of Münster, the Imperial city of Dortmund and numerous minor territories of the Lower Rhenish-Westphalian Circle.

On 6 August 1806, following an ultimatum by Napoleon, the last Holy Roman Emperor, Francis II, abdicated and declared the Holy Roman Empire dissolved.


After the Treaties of Tilsit in 1807, the Kingdom of Prussia lost about half of its territory, including the land gained from the Second and Third Partitions of Poland (which now fell to the Duchy of Warsaw) and all land west of the Elbe River. France recaptured Prussian-occupied Hanover, including Bremen-Verden. The remainder of the Kingdom of Prussia was occupied by French troops (at Prussia’s expense) and the King, Frederick Wilhelm III, was obliged to make an alliance with France and join the Continental System.


Upon Joachim Murat's promotion to the King of Naples in 1808, Grand Duchy of Berg came under the rule of Napoleon "in personal union."

The area of Grafschaft Tecklenburg, the location of Ladbergen, was absorbed into the Grand Duchy of Berg.


In 1809, the Emperor Napoleon appointed his infant nephew, Prince Napoleon Louis Bonaparte (1804–1831), the Grand Duke of Berg. French bureaucrats under Pierre Louis Roederer administered the territory in Prince Napoleon's name.


In 1810, large parts of northwest Germany were incorporated into the First French Empire in order to better monitor the Continental System, Napoleon's trade embargo with Great Britain.


Grafschaft Tecklenburg became part of the newly-formed Département Ems-Supérieur (German: Departement der Oberen Ems or, Ober-Ems ), one of the Hanseatic Departments of the Empire (compare the area of the Grand Duchy of Berg on that map with the one above).