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6 August 2010

On this day in history: Holy Roman Empire ended, 1806

On 6th August 1806, the Austrian Emperor Francis II gave up the title of Holy Roman Emperor effectively disestablishing a political union founded a millennium earlier by the crowning of Charlemagne. The dissolution of the Empire was one of the terms of the Treaty of Pressburg signed in December 1805 following Austria's defeat by Napoleon's armies at the battles of Ulm and Austerlitz. The other terms of the treaty included Austria's withdrawal from the Third Coalition of nations allied against France, and the loss of Austrian territory across Europe.

Two years earlier, Francis established the Austrian Empire in a response to Napoleon's declaration of the First French Empire. Consequently, he maintained his imperial title as Emperor Francis I of Austria. To fill the political vacuum in Germany caused by the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, Napoleon established the Confederation of the Rhine, run by an assembly of German nobles and bishops who allied themselves with France.

The text of the Treaty of Pressburg is available on the Naploeonic Series website.

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