Sister Republics: Power and Law in Revolutionary Europe
16 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2009
Date Written: November 5, 2009
The French Revolution provoked the revival of Franco-Austrian and gave a new boost to Franco-British rivalry. Both conflicts encouraged the French Republic to bring the second and third rank powers of Western Europe within its sphere of influence. This paper sets out to address the implications of this strategy for interstate legal relations. One of the answers to no longer being able to balance Austria and Russia in the east was for France to set out for hegemony in the west by annexing the Austrian Netherlands and the Rhineland, and by creating a chain of ‘sister republics’ along its borders, that is, in the Low Countries, Switzerland, and Italy. This paper addresses whether the principles and rules of a legal order of independence and equality were upheld. What role did law and legal arguments play in the relations between France and its sister republics? How did the French exercise their hegemony? The paper elaborates on one specific case - negotiations on the 1795 Treaty of The Hague between France and the Batavian Republic, with particular attention being paid to French territorial demands.
Keywords: France, Revolutionary Wars, Hegemony, Power, International Law, Factionalism
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