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Russian army led by Emperor Alexander I triumphantly marched into Paris

31 March 1814

19 (31) March 1814 Russian troops led by Emperor Alexander I triumphantly entered Paris. The capture of the French capital was the final battle of the Napoleonic campaign of 1814, after which the French Emperor Napoleon I Bonaparte abdicated.

Defeated near Leipzig in October 1813, Napoleon's army was no longer able to offer serious resistance. In early 1814 the Allied troops, consisting of Russian, Austrian, Prussian and German corps, invaded France to overthrow the French emperor. Russian guards, headed by Emperor Alexander I, came to France from Switzerland, near Basel. The Allies were advancing in two separate armies: the Russian-Prussian Silesian army led by the Prussian Field Marshal G. L. von Blucher, and the Russian-German-Austrian army which was given over under the command of Austrian Field Marshal K. F. zu Schwarzenberg.

In battles held in the territory of France, Napoleon gained victories more often than allies, but none of them had become a decisive one because of the numerical superiority of the enemy. At the end of March 1814 the French emperor decided to go to the north-eastern strongholds on the border of France, where he hoped to break the blockade of French garrisons, and reinforcing his army, force the Allies to retreat, threatening their rear communications. However, the allied sovereigns, contrary to expectations of Napoleon, 12 (24) March 1814 approved a plan of attack on Paris.

17 (29) March the Allied armies approached the first line of defense of Paris. The city at that time numbered 500 000 people and was well fortified. Defense of the French capital was led by marshals E. A. K. Mortier, B. A. J. de Moncey and A. F. L. V. de Marmont. Supreme Commander of the city's defense was the elder brother of Napoleon, Joseph Bonaparte. Allied forces consisted of three main columns: the right (the Russian-Prussian) army was led by Field Marshal Blucher, the central – by Russian General Mikhail B. Barclay de Tolly, the left column was headed by Crown Prince of Württemberg. The battle for Paris was one of the bloodiest battles for the Allied troops who had lost in one day over 8 000 soldiers, 6 000 of which being the soldiers of the Russian army.

The offensive began 18 (30) March 6 a. m. At 11 a. m. Prussian troops with the M. Vorontsov’s corps approached the fortified village of Lavilet, while the Russian corps of General A. F. Langeron launched an attack on Montmartre. Seeing from Montmartre gigantic proportions of advancing troops, the commander of the French defense Joseph Bonaparte left the battlefield, leaving to Marmont and Mortier the authority to surrender Paris.

Over 18 (30) March, all suburbs of the capital were occupied by the Allies. Realizing that the fall of the city was inevitable and trying to reduce losses, Marshal Marmont sent a truce to the Russian Emperor. However, Alexander I presented a tough ultimatum to surrender the city under threat of destruction.

19 (31) March at 2 a. m. the capitulation of Paris was signed. By 7 a. m., according to the agreement, the French regular army was to leave Paris. At midday, Russian Guard, headed by Emperor Alexander I, ceremonially entered the French capital.

Lit.: Лобанов М. Е. Песнь на взятие Парижа. 19 марта 1814 года: Посвящается высокому имени государя императора (продается в пользу инвалидов). СПб., 1816; Медаль «За взятие Парижа 14 марта 1814 г.» [Электронный ресурс] // Ордена и медали России. 2006-2018. URL: http://www.rusorden.ru/?nr=ri&nt=m7.

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