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Treaty of Paris of 1815, was signed on 20 November 1815 following the defeat and second abdication of Napoleon Bonaparte. In February, Napoleon had escaped from his exile on Elbamarker; he entered Paris on 20 March, beginning the Hundred Days of his restored rule. Four days after France's defeat in the Battle of Waterloomarker, Napoleon was persuaded to abdicate again, on 22 June. King Louis XVIII, who had fled the country when Napoleon arrived in Paris, took the throne for a second time on 8 July.

In addition to the definitive peace treaty between Great Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia, and France, signed in Paris 20 November 1815, there were four additional conventions and the act confirming the neutrality of Switzerland signed on the same day. These were listed by the British Foreign office as:British and Foreign State Papers, p. 280

Definitive Treaty

The 1815 peace treaties, were drawn up entirely in French, the lingua franca of contemporary diplomacy. There were four treaties one between France and each of the four major Seventh Coalition powers—Austria, Great Britain, Prussia and Russia. All four treaties were signed on the same day (20 November 1815), had verbatim stipulations, and were styled the same way (for example the "Definitive Treaty between Great Britain and France").

The treaty was harsher toward France than the Treaty of 1814, which had been negotiated through the manoeuvre of Talleyrand, because of reservations raised by the recent widespread support for Napoleon in France. France lost the territorial gains of the Revolutionary armies in 1790-92, which the previous treaty had allowed France to keep; the nation was reduced to its 1790 boundaries, most notably relinquishing control over Saarbrückenmarker, a future bone of contention. France was now also ordered to pay 700 million francs in indemnities, in five yearly instalments, and to maintain at its own expense an Coalition army of occupation of 150,000 soldiersin the eastern border territories of France, from the English Channelmarker to the border with Switzerland, for a maximum of five years. The two-fold purpose of the military occupation was rendered self-evident by the convention annexed to the treaty outlining the incremental terms by which France would issue negotiable bonds covering the indemnity: in addition to safeguarding the neighboring states from a revival of revolution in France, it guaranteed fulfilment of the treaty's financial clauses.

Although some of the Allies, notably Prussiamarker, initially demanded that France cede significant territory in the east, rivalry among the powers and the general desire to secure the Bourbon restoration made the peace settlement less onerous than it might have been . The treaty was signed for Great Britainmarker by Lord Castlereagh and the Duke of Wellington and by the duc de Richelieu for France; parallel treaties with France were signed by Austriamarker, Russiamarker, and Prussia, forming in effect the first confederation of Europe. The Quadruple Alliance was reinstated in a separate treaty also signed 20 November 1815, introducing a new concept in European diplomacy, the peacetime congress "for the maintenance of peace in Europe"British and Foreign State Papers, p.281 on the pattern of the Congress of Vienna, which had concluded 9 June..

The treaty is brief. In addition to having "preserved France and Europe from the convulsions with which they were menaced by the late enterprise of Napoleon Bonaparte," the signers of the Treaty also repudiated "the revolutionary system reproduced in France."

The treaty is presented "in the desire to consolidate, by maintaining inviolate the Royal authority, and by restoring the operation of the Constitutional Charter, the order of things which had been happily re-established in France." The Constitutional Charter that is referred to so hopefully, was the Constitution of 1791, promulgated under the Ancien régime at the outset of the Revolution. Its provisions for the government of France would rapidly fall by the wayside, "notwithstanding the paternal intentions of her King" as the treaty remarks. The first Treaty of Paris, of 30 May 1814, and the Final Act of the Congress of Vienna, of 9 June 1815, were confirmed. On the same day, in a separate document, Great Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia renewed the Quadruple Alliance. The princes and free towns who were not signatories were invited to accede to its terms, whereby the treaty became a part of the public law by which Europe, with the exclusion of Ottoman Turkey, established "relations from which a system of real and permanent balance of power in Europe is to be derived."

Additional article on the slave trade

An additional article appended to the Definitive Peace Treaty, addressed the issue of slavery. It reaffirmed the Declaration of the Powers, on the Abolition of the Slave Trade, of 8th of February 1815 (Which also formed ACT, No. XV. of the Final Act of the Congress of Vienna) and added that the governments of the contracting parties should "without loss of time, ... [find] the most effectual measures for the entire and definitive abolition of a Commerce so odious, and so strongly condemned by the laws of religion and of nature."

Convention on pecuniary indemnity

The convention on pecuniary indemnity regulated the mode of liquidating the indemnity of 700 millions francs to be paid by France, in conformity to the fourth article of the treaty. The sum was to be paid, day by day, in equal portions, in the space of five years, from 1 December 1815.Staff. The European Magazine, and London Review, Philological Society (Great Britain), January 1918 pp. 159,160

Thus France had to pay on account of this convention 383,251 francs every day during five years; equal to about 16,000 pounds sterling at the exchange rate of the day. For this daily quota the French government had to give assignations on the French treasury, payable to bearer, day by day. In the first instance, however, the Coalition commissioners was to receive the whole of the 700 millions in fifteen bonds of 46⅔ millions each; the first of which was payable on 31 March 1816, the second on 21 July 1816, and so on every fourth month. In the month preceding the commencement of each of these four monthly periods, France was to redeem successively one of these bonds for 46⅔ millions, by exchanging it against the first-mentioned daily assignations payable to bearer, which assignations, for the purpose of convenience and negotiability, were again subdivided into coupures, or sets of smaller sums. As a guarantee for the regular payment of these assignations, and to provide for deficiencies, France assigned, moreover, to the allies, a fund of interest, to be inscribed in the Grand Livre of her public debt, of seven millions francs on a capital of 140 millions. A liquidation was to take place every six months, when the assignations duly discharged by the French treasury were be received as payments to their amount, and the deficiency arising from assignations not honoured would be made good, with interest, at five percent from the fund of interest inscribed in the Grand Livre, in a manner specified in this convention.

The distribution of the sum among the Coalition powers agreed to be paid by France in this convention was regulated by a separate convention, (the Protocol for the pecuniary indemnity to be furnished by France and the Table of allotment):
State Francs Total
Austria 100,000,000
Russia 100,000,000
Great Britain 100,000,000
Prussia 100,000,000
Subtotal 400,000,000
The German States, together with the Netherlands and Sardinia, a like ram of 100 millions, to be shared at the rate of 425 francs 89 centimes and a fraction for each man furnished by them respectively; viz.
State Men Francs
Bavaria 60,000 25,517,798
Netherlands 50,000 21,264,832
Wurtemberg 20,000 8,505,932
Badenmarker 16,000 6,804,746
Saxonymarker 16,000 6,804,746
Sardinia 15,000 6,379,419
Hesse Cassel 12,000 5,103,559
Hanover 10,000 4,252,966
Hesse Darmstadtmarker 8,000 3,408,373
Mecklenburg Schwerin 3,200 1,616,127
Nassau 3,000 1,275,889
Brunswick 3,000 1,275,889
Hanse-Towns 3,000 1,275,889
Saxe-Gotha 2,200 935,632
Saxe-Weimar 1,600 680,474
Anhalt 1,600 680,474
Oldenburg 1,600 680,474
Schwarzburgh 1,300 552,885
Lippemarker 1,300 552,885
Reuss 900 382,766
Mecklenburg-Strelitz 800 340,837
Saxe Coburg 800 340,837
Waldeckmarker 800 340,837
Frankfurtmarker 750 318,972
Saxe-Meinungen 600 255,177
Saxe-Hilburghausen 400 170,118
Hohenzollern-Sigmaringenmarker 386 164,164
Hohenzollern-Hechingenmarker 194 82,507
Hohenzollern-Lichtensteinmarker 100 42,529
Subtotal 234,530 100,000,000
State Francs
Spain 5,000,000
Portugal 2,000,000
Denmark 2,500,000
Switzerland 3,000,000
Subtotal 12,500,000
Gratuity to the British and Prussian armies under Wellington and Blücher, for their exertions at Waterloo and their conquest of Paris, 25 millions each 50,000,000
For the erection of fortresses against France; viz.
State Francs
Netherlands 60,000,000
Prussia (besides Saar-louis, valued at 50 mill.) 20,000,000
Bavaria 15,000,000
Spain 7,500,000
Sardinia 10,000,000
To strengthen Ments 5,000,000
To erect new fortress of the German Confederacymarker on the Upper Rhine 20,000,000
Subotal 137,500,000
Total in francs 700,000,000

Convention on the military line

The convention on the military line regulated all matters concerning the temporary occupation of the frontiers of France by an Coalition army of 150,000 men, conformably to article 5 of the definitive treaty. The military line to be occupied would extend along the frontiers which separate the departments of the Pas de Calais, of the North of the Ardennes, of the Meuse, of the Moselle, of the Lower Rhine, and of the Upper Rhine, from the interior of France.Staff. The European Magazine, and London Review, Philological Society (Great Britain), January 1918 p. 161

It was also agreed, that neither the Coalition nor the French troops would occupy (unless for particular reasons and by mutual agreement), the following territories and districts:

Within the line occupied by the Coalition army, 26 fortresses are allowed to have garrisons, but without any materiel or equipment of artillery and engineer stores, as follows:
Name Men
Calaismarker 1000
Gravelinesmarker 500
Berguesmarker 500
Saint-Omermarker 1500
Béthunemarker 500
Montreuilmarker 500
Hesdinmarker 250
Ardresmarker 150
Airemarker 500
Arrasmarker 1000
Boulognemarker 300
Saint-Venantmarker 300
Lillemarker 3000
Dunkirkmarker and its forts 1000
Douaimarker and Fort de Scarpe 1000
Verdunmarker 500
Metzmarker 3000
Lauterbourgmarker 150
Wissembourgmarker 150
Lichtenbergmarker 150
Petite Pierremarker 100
Phalsbourgmarker 600
Strasbourgmarker 3000
Sélestatmarker 1000
Neuf-Brisachmarker and Fort Mortier 1000
Befort 1000

France was to supply all the wants of the 150,000 allies who remain in the country. Lodging, fuel, light, provisions, and forage, were to be furnished in kind, to an, extent not exceeding 200,000 daily rations for men, and 50,000 daily rations for horses; and for pay, equipment, clothing, &c.

France was to pay to the allies 50 millions franks per annum during the five years occupancy: the allies, however, being contented with only 30 millions on account for the first year. The territories and fortresses definitively ceded by France, as well as the fortresses to be provisionally occupied by the Coalition troops for five years, were to be given up to them within ten days from the signature of the principal treaty, and all the Coalition forces, except 150,000 which were to remain, were to evacuate France within 21 days from that date.

The direct expense entailed upon France by this convention greatly exceed the amount of the indemnity of 700 million. Estimating the value of the soldier's portion and allowances at 1½ francs, and the cavalry ration at 2 francs, the annual cost of the deliveries in kind for 200,000 portions and 50,000 rations would have been 146 millions if francs, which, with the addition of 50 millions of money per annum, formed a total of 196 millions per annum, equal to 22,370 sterling per day at the exchange rate of the time.

Convention on private claims upon France

The convention on private claims upon France assured the payment of money due by France to the subjects of the Coalition powers, in conformity with the treaty of 1814 and to the 8th article of the 1815 peace treaty. There were twenty-six articles in the convention which:Staff. The European Magazine, and London Review, Philological Society (Great Britain), January 1918 p. 161
  • provided for the liquidation of all claims arising from articles furnished by individuals, and partnerships, by virtue of contracts and other arrangements with French administrative authorities;
  • arrears of pay to military persons or employees no longer subjects of France;
  • deliveries to French hospitals;
  • loans contracted by French military or civil authorities;
  • losses of money confided to the French post-office. &c.
  • The third article stipulated the restitution of the funds of the Hamburg bank, seized by Marshal Davout, to be regulated by a separate convention between commissioners from that city and those of Louis XVIII. This issue was already contentious and had been subject to secret articles in both of the 1814 Convention for a suspension of hostilities with France and the 1814 Paris Peace Treaty. The matter was settled when the French government agreed to pay compensation in a special convention signed by the parties on 27 October 1816.
  • An additional article to the third convention covers the payment of a claim of upwards of forty million francs to the Counts of Bentheim and Steinfurt, was agreed upon.
All these claims were to be sent in within a year after the ratification of the treaty or they would be voided (Article 16), and committees for their liquidation were to he appointed.

Articles 17, 18, and 19, related to the payment of the claims and their inscription in the Grand Livre (general ledger). The claims under this convention were immense, so it is totally impossible when the convention was signed for the parties to have a clear idea of the amount. As a guarantee of payment, the 20th article provided that a capital, bearing 3½ millions of francs in interest, be inscribed in the Grand Livre, the interest of which is to be received half yearly by joint-commissioners.

Convention on claims of British subjects

The fourth convention related exclusively to the liquidation of the claims of British subjects on the government of France, in conformity with the Paris peace treaty of 1814, and the Article eight of the Paris peace treaty of 1815. All British subjects who, since the 1 January, 1791, had suffered losses of property in France, by sequestrations or confiscations of the government were to be indemnified. The amount of permanent stock lost was to be inscribed in the Grand Livre, and to bear interest from 22 March 1816; excepting, however, such holders as had, since 1797, voluntarily submitted to receive their dividends at a third. The same was to be the case in regard to former life annuities from the French government.Staff. The European Magazine, and London Review, Philological Society (Great Britain), January 1918 pp. 161-162

Indemnification was further granted for the loss of immovable property by sequestration, confiscation, or sale; and particular regulations were laid down for ascertaining its value in the fairest possible manner. A separate account was to be kept of arrears that had accrued for all types of property, for which arrears were to be calculated at an interest of four percent per annum. Movable properly, lost through the above causes, was also to be paid for by inscriptions according to its value, with interest calculated on it at three percent per annum. From this indemnity, however, were excluded ships, cargoes, and other movable property seized in conformity to the laws of war and the prohibitory decrees. All claims of the above, or any other description, were to be given in, within three months after the date of the signing fourth convention (20 November 1815) from Europe, six months from the western colonies, and twelve months from the East Indies, &c.

The claims were to be examined and decided on by a mixed commission of liquidation: and, if their votes were equal, an arbitrator were be chosen by lot from a mixed commission of arbitration. As a guarantee for the payment of claims sanctioned under this convention, there was to be inscribed in the Grand Livre, before 1 January 1816, a capital bearing 3½ millions francs of interest, in the name of a further mixed commission of English and French officers, who were to receive such interest; without, however, disposing of the same otherwise than by placing it in the public funds, at accumulating interest for the benefit of the creditors. As soon as the inscription was have been effected, Britain would restore the French colonies as agreed in the treaty of 1814, including the islands of Martiniquemarker and Guadeloupemarker, provisionally re-occupied by the British troops.

Act on the neutrality of Switzerland

The Swiss Confederation had been internationally recognisedas an independent neutral state at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. During the Napoleonic Wars Switzerland failed to remain neutral as some cantons had been annexed into other states and, under French influence, the Act of Mediation was signed and the Swiss Confederation was replaced by the more centralised Helvetic Republic which was allied to France. With the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1814, the Cantons of Switzerland started the process of constructing a new less centralised constitution. Lassa Oppenheim, Ronald Roxburgh (2005). International Law,The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. ISBN 978-1-58477-609-3. p. 173

On 20 March 1815 at the Congress of Vienna European powers (Austria, France, Great Britain, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, Spain and Sweden) agreed to permanently recognise an independent Switzerland's neutrality, and on 27 May Switzerland acceded to this declaration which was confirmed with the Article 84 of the Final Act of the Congress of Vienna dated 20 November 1815.

However during Napoleon Bonaparte's Hundred Days the Seventh Coalition suspended the signing of the Act of Acknowledgement and Guarantee of the perpetual Neutrality of Switzerland until after Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated — this allowed Coalition forces to pass through Swiss territory. So with this act, signed on 20 November, the four major coalition powers (Austria, Great Britain, Prussia and Russia) and Francegave their formal and authentic acknowledgement of the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland.

See also


  1. Also known as the Second Treaty of Paris
  2. Michael G. Fry, Erik Goldstein and Richard Langhorne, Guide to International Relations and Diplomacy, "The Congress and Concert of Europe, 1814-1830" p, 118.
  3. Article 9; the 1814 treaty had required only that France honour public and private debts incurred by the Napoleonic regime; see André Nicolle, "The Problem of Reparations after the Hundred Days" The Journal of Modern History 25.4 (December 1953:343-354)
  4. Articles 4 and 5.
  5. The army of occupation and the Duke of Wellington's moderating transformation from soldier to statesman are discussed in Thomas Dwight Veve, The Duke of Wellington and the British Army of Occupation in France, 1815-1818 (Westport CT:Greenwood Press) 1992.
  6. A point made by Nicolle 1953:344.
  7. Act of the Congress of Vienna, Article 119.
  8. Turkey had been excluded from the Congress of Vienna by the express wish of Russia (Strupp, Wörterbuch des Völkerrechts, s.v. "Wiener Kongress").
  9. The wording is from the 20 May 1814 treaty, quoted in Hugh McKinnon Wood, "The Treaty of Paris and Turkey's Status in International Law" The American Journal of International Law 37.2 (April 1943:262-274) p 263 and note 6; Wood's main subject is the Treaty of Paris , terminating the Crimean War.
  10. The Parliamentary Debates from the Year 1803 to the Present Time, Published by s.n., 1816 Volume 32. p. 200
  11. British and Foreign State Papers, p. 292
  12. The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 84, Part 2, F. Jefferies, 1814. p. 175
  13. Arthur Wellesley 2nd Duke of Wellington, John Gurwood. The Dispatches of Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington, K.G.: During His Various Campaigns in India, Denmark, Portugal, Spain, the Low Countries, and France, J. Murray, 1838 pp. 159-161
  14. Joseph Blunt . The American Annual Register, G. & C. Carvill, 1835. p. 208
  15. Executive Documents: 13th Congress, 2d Session-49th Congress, 1st Session, United States Congress, 1832. p. 73
  16. The Parliamentary Debates from the Year 1803 to the Present Time, Volume 32 (1 February to 6 March 1816), Hansard, p. 308


  • Great Britain Foreign Office. British and Foreign State Papers, Volume 3 (1815-1816), Great Britain Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1838.
  • This article incorporates text from The European Magazine, and London Review, a publication now in the public domain. (Staff. The European Magazine, and London Review, Volume 69 (January – June 1816), Philological Society of London, 1816. pp. 159-161

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