Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Treaty of Amiens - Yes, you do care.

The first kiss in ten years - between
Britain and France
 On May 18, 1803, the United Kingdom revoked the Treaty of Amiens that had temporarily ended hostilities between the French Republic and the United Kingdom during the French Revolutionary Wars. Who cares, you ask? If you are a reader of Jane Austen Fan Fiction, then you care, and I shall explain.

The treaty was signed in the city of Amiens on 25 March 1802 by Joseph Bonaparte and the Marquis Cornwallis as a Definitive Treaty of Peace. Unfortunately, the “definitive treaty of peace” lasted a little more than a year. Those fourteen months provided the only period of peace between the two nations between 1793 and 1815, and that is what makes this treaty so important.

With all that fighting going on in Europe, our favorite Austen characters are all cooped up in Britain with few places to go, except Ireland (too poor) and Scandinavia (too cold.). But with the Treaty of Amiens, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Tilney have an opportunity to visit the Continent without fear of harm or internment. Using this window of opportunity, in my novels, I have been able to provide Darcy with the Grand Tour experience, albeit an abbreviated one, that would have been an important coming-of-age event for someone of Darcy’s rank.
Grand Tour - Late 18th Century

Once the treaty was revoked, Darcy would have had to scoot back to England rather quickly or risk internment in France as an enemy alien. This happened to several prominent Britons, including Fanny Burney’s husband, General Alexandre D'Arblay, an artillery officer who had been adjutant-general to Marquis de Lafayette, who should have known better, and Lord Elgin (he of the Elgin Marbles), who should have guessed.

So to answer your question: Why should we care about the Treaty of Amiens? Without this break in the action, Darcy would never have gone to Paris or traveled across France on his way to the Italian Peninsula, and “a man of sense and education, who has lived in the world” should not be denied those experiences.


  1. Clever! You are always so clever in your novels when you add in the history.

  2. Interesting! Thnaks for the information Mary :)

  3. I enjoyed the bit of history.