The Confederation of the Rhine

The end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806

In July 1806, sixteen west German and south German princes formed the Confederation of the Rhine, a military alliance under the protection of Napoleon.

Just days after these states left the empire, the Roman-German emperor Franz II abdicated the throne. As a result, a centuries-long history of the empire came to an end. In the following two years, 23 further states joined the Confederation of the Rhine. They formed a counter-balance to the Austrian Empire (yellow) and the Kingdom of Prussia (turquoise).

The Confederation of the Rhine was a military alliance predominantly dependent on France. This collapsed after the Battle of Leipzig in 1813. In one of the largest battles in world history, involving 500,000 soldiers, Napoleon was defeated by a coalition of Prussia, Austria and Russia. After this, most of the Confederation of the Rhine’s member states sided with this coalition.