domingo, 1 de febrero de 2015

February 1: France declares war on Britain and the Netherlands in 1793, during the French Revolutionary Wars.

France declares war on Britain. Prime minister William Pit as young, around 1790 (left). The Duke of York (centre). People skating on frozen channel in Holland

The government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain did not like the policy of territorial annexation being taken by the French Revolution, through its leadership of the Convention, much less the trial and execution of Louis XVI.

On January 24, 1793, three days after the execution of the King, the British expelled the French ambassador in London. A week later, on 1 February, the French declared war on Britain.

The revolution was initially popular in Britain, but later its turmoils turned into a cause of alarm, as this 1792 caricature contrasting "British Liberty"

The execution of the French King alarmed most European monarchs who recalled the execution of Charles I of England, beheaded in Whitehall, on January 29, 1649, under the revolution led by Oliver Cromwell. Therefore, a coalition of armies enlisted to face France.

This raises the First Coalition composed of Austria, Sardinia (which was already at war with France since 1792), Spain, Britain, the Netherlands, and Prussia. In practice, Britain, Austria and Prussia faced the coalition.

Map of Europe during the first coalition

Austria and Prussia attacked from the Austrian Netherlands (Holland), while Britain besieged by sea to the port of Toulon in southern France. In the North, the French armies were expelled from Belgium.

A French embargo was imposed on Dutch and British shipping. General Dumouriez was ordered to invade Holland. On 1 February the French Convention declared war on both Holland and Britain and also urged the British people to rise up against their masters. The news of this arrived in London on 7 February, and on 11 February 1793 the British King George III, following the advice of prime minister Pitt declared war on France.