The Histories


The Napoleonic invasion of Russia served as a major turning point in European history as the defeat led to the fall of Napoleon and his French empire in the nineteenth century. After assuming the throne in France, Napoleon Bonaparte sought to pull France out of the revolution and instead expand French territory eastward. Napoleon was successful through many of his initial invasions, but was met with strong resistance as other European nation states grew fearful of France gaining hegemony in Europe and Great Britain led coalitions against France to counter French aggression. Napoleon’s armies marched into Russia in 1812 in an attempt to force Tsar Alexander I to cease trading with Britain. Assuming the encounter would result in an immediate French victory, Napoleon marched his armies into Russian territories only to be met with fierce, unexpected retreats and repeated counterattacks by the Russian Imperial Army that led to a decisive Russian victory. Several critical factors, most significantly the insufficient access to resources, unfamiliar, freezing terrain, and the strategic efforts of the French military leaders, influenced the defeat of Napoleon by the Russians in 1812. The defeat by the Russians marked the beginning of the fall of the French empire leading to the final defeat of the French army at Waterloo in 1815.