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Of Other People, their countries and manners

Smaller Nations and States involved in the Napoleonic Wars.

Hugh R. Martyr.

In Napoleonic times what we know as Germany consisted of many different Duchies, Archdukedoms and Principalities, some owing elegance to the larger Prussia and others forming alliances with other non Germanic States and amongst themselves.. Their history is interesting diverse and complicated in the extreme, however I will endeavour to concentrate on their involvement within the period of the Napoleonic wars. Each played some role; politically or militarily, usually both and their involvement with the various warring ‘superpowers’ laid the foundation of what we now call Germany.


The Duchy and what was later to become the Electorate of Hanover was formed in the Fifteenth Century, and grew in area until it comprised a large area of what is now Northern Germany with its Principle City as Gottingen. When in 1705 it became the Electorate of Hanover it was ruled by George Louis who became King of England in 1714. This gave Hanover a unique position amongst the German States yet Britain and the Electorate remained two separate entities with a common throne.

Troops raised in Hanover fought with the British in the campaigns of the mid 18th Century as they had with Marlborough’s Army in the Low Countries prior to the Hanoverian succession. In political terms the position of the Electorate played an important part in British foreign policy; in 1757 France had invaded Hanover during the Seven Years War forcing the British/Hanoverian forces to the North Sea Coast. The resulting Convention of Klosterzeven was a humiliation and the British Parliament pressured King George II to renounce it and resume hostilities. Within a year the resurrected German Army was, with British finance and help able to drive the French troops out of Hanoverian territory. As the Napoleonic Wars developed Hanoverian troops served with the Allied Forces; but with Prussia’s withdrawal after the Treaty of Basel it was forced to accept a state of neutrality to prevent it being overrun by the French. This led to the Electorate being used as a pawn in the various bargaining moves made by France to other States, Napoleon offered Hanover to Prussia in return for their neutrality but after the Prussian Army’s defeat in 1806, France forced Hanover into the newly created Kingdom of Westphalia and then in 1810 she annexed the northern section of the Kingdom adding it to French territory. This prompted a huge resentment within the population and many people moved away to continue to fight for the return of their independence. Thus the elite King’s German Legion was formed.

Following Napoleon’s defeat in Russia, French occupation ended, and the State claimed back independence, formed its Army and helped in the final overthrow of Napoleon. At the Congress of Vienna there was a dilemma facing the British delegates concerning the influence of Hanover over the British Parliament’s policy towards European interests. The solution was to raise the status from that of an Electorate to a Kingdom, however it wasn’t until 1819 that full powers were granted. The death of King William IV and accession of Queen Victoria in 1837 ended all connection between Britain and Hanover. Under Hanoverian law the throne had to be occupied by a male, the crown of Hanover passed to Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, George III’s fifth and unstable son. The Hanoverian Army’s uniform and equipment both prior to 1803 (when it was reformed) and after, resembled that of the British Army save for the Officer’s sashes being yellow. It was however a completely separate Force having its own administration. The Infantry wore British style red coats with coloured facings and adopted the ‘stovepipe’ shako; Grenadiers wore fur caps, whilst some Light Infantry and Jäger regiments wore the Austrian- Style Korséhuts. The jägers wore green uniforms with bluff trousers and black leather equipment. The cockade of the Hanoverians was Black.

The Cavalry had excellent Hanoverian horses and their uniforms comprised blue coats with coloured facings similar to those of British. However, whereas the re-formed infantry acquitted themselves with credit at Waterloo, the cavalry was certainly less distinguished and brought shame on the Army as a whole. One of three hussar regiments, The Duke of Cumberland’s declined to obey the order to advance and retreated all the way back to Brussels, spreading false news of Wellington’s defeat.

There were two foot batteries present at Waterloo in uniforms practically identical to those of the Royal Artillery save for their red-over-white plumes and the Officer’s yellow sahes. References.

Haythornwaite, Philip J. The Napoleonic Source Book. London 1990. Hofschröer,P. The Hanoverian Army of the Napoleonic Wars, London 1989.


Swift on Handel.
''Ah a German and a genius ! a prodigy, admit him.''

C.J Fox on Madame Recamier.
''What a charming creature ! She really is the work of the diety on a holiday ! How sweet she is ! What a smile ! What a glance ! And the sound of her voice !....And how happy her expression, so calm and it portrays the self-content of a sweet soul.''

Napoleon on Queen Maria Carolina of Naples.
"The only man in Naples."

Wellington on Madame de Stael.
''She was a most agreeable woman if you only kept her light and away from politics.


''They,[The Americians] are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for any thing we allow them short of hanging.'
Dr Johnson.

''An unhappy, misled, deluded multitude.''
George III.

[The War in Americia]...''was accursed, wicked, barbarous, cruel, unnatural, unjust and diabolical.''
William Pitt.

The state of manners and morals in France is described by English tourists, to be totally unhinged and disguesting; the insults constantly offered to our countrymen, and even to Englishwomen, are gross and vulgar in the extreme. One writer says 'in short I am persuaded , that a single monster [Bonaparte] has done more to demoralize this country, than a century can repair.

''The French are a gross, ill-bred, untaught people; a lady there will spit on the floor, and rub it in with her foot. What I gained by being in France was, learning to be better satisfied with my own country.''
Dr Johnson.

''Like all the rest of the world, we went to walk in the gardens of Thuilleriesm without having as idea what a figure we should cut in history. This was our first walk in public; and the moment we entered the gardens, the scene became truely ludicrous - the hum of voices gradually raised to the cry 'Les Anglaises!' and the whole crowd followed us whereever we went. As many as could, got up on chairs and in trees, to take a peep at these wonderful animals just imported from England.''
A Lady.

''You may, if you please, purchase everything at at least a third cheaper than it is charged...When I first arrived in Paris I could not bear the idea of cheapening anything, as one never dreams of it in England; yet when I left it, I began to find I had as much impudence in that way as any Parisians; and very coolly offered half or a third less than they demanded, with which they were well satisfied; and this is one of the reasons why I should not like any part of France as my residence. I could not endure this continual battle; neither could I respect a people who gain their bread by such a dishonest means.''
A Lady.

"How grateful should I not be to the Almighty, for not having made me a Frenchman."

''My countrymen [in satirical prints], never fail to be represented as dimunitive, starved beings, of monkey mein, strutting about in huge hats, narrow coats, and great sabres.''

''The ascendancy of the French manners has, prehaps prepared forign nations to look on the French as invincible. There is but one mode of combating that ascendancy - it is by maintaining national habits and manners with unbending firmness.''
Madame De Stael.

''Everyone seems to belong to some other man and no man to himself.''
Mrs Thrale.

''The great in France live very magnificirntly, but the rest miserably. There is no happy middle state as there is in England. The shops in Paris are mean; the meat in the markets is such as would be sent to a gaol in England.
Dr Johnson.

Calais...''A purgatory for half condemned souls.
Lady Granville.

''Lord Eglington said that the women of Italy were worhty of a man's fixing his affections on them, because they can intrigue and yet have principle, as is the custom of the country. But in this country, a woman must be quite abandoned.
James Boswell.

"A country of fiddlers and poets, whores and scounderals."
Horatio Nelson.

"Naples is a dangerous place......We must keep clear of it."
Horatio Nelson.

Requests tourists...''that they will take off their hats to the clergy...that they will kneel at the Elevation of the Host; that they will in no way insult the cross, wherever set up, by making water, but however urgent their necessities may be, will retain the same till a proper and lawful distance.''

''I belive the noblest prospect that a Scotsman ever sees is the road which leads him to England.''
Dr Johnson.

''The Scotch are said to make the best stockings of any people in Europe, and they sell at enormously high prices, from thirty shillings to £4 or £6 a pair.''
Book of Trades.


''We have at length seen the terms of the decree issued by Ferdinand VII. for the re-establishment of the Inquisition. Perhaps in no age or time is there a more pregnant sample of devoted bigotry to be found. Among other superstitious reasons for adopting so tyranical a course, he mentions the late residence of forign, [British] troops of different sects, who were infected with sentiments of hatred against the Catholic religion - then which is more illiberal or unjustifiable insinuation has never been uttered. Such is the grateful return made by the Spanish monarch to the British army which preserved the existance of Spain.''

''No Spaniard ever could learn anything.''

To William Wellesly...''The people of Salamanca swear that my mother is a saint and the daughter of a saint to which circumstances I owe all my good fortune!! Prey tell her this.''