- This page is about the Kingdom of Westphalia. See also: Westphalia (disambiguation)
The Kingdom of Westphalia was a short-lived state which existed from 1807 until 1813 in northern Germany. It was created by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte of France for his brother Jerome. The Kingdom of Westphalia, despite its' name, included only Angria, Eastphalia and Hesse, and comprised of neither the Duchy of Westphalia or the historical region of Westphalia.
Kingdom of WestphaliaEdit
After the Peace of Tilsit in 1807, Napoleon Bonaparte created the Kingdom of Westphalia by merging the lands ceded by Prussia to France with the lands of the German states Hesse-Cassel, Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, Kaunitz-Rietberg, Stolberg-Wernigerode, and the former lands of the Electorate of Hannover. Also included in the Kingdom was the city of Magdeburg. The Kingdom was a member state of the Confederation of the Rhine. The capital of the Kingdom was Cassel and King Jerome held his court in Wilhelmshöhe which he renamed "Napoleonshöhe". The Kingdom was divided into "départements" in line with the system in France. The départements were: Weser, Harz, Elbe, Fulda, Aller, Saale, Oker, and Welle.
The Kingdom was created as a "model state" which had modern administration and law. It had the first written constitution of all the German states. Serfdom was abolished, the metric system was adopted, and the Code Napoleon was introduced which allowed the right of free enterprise and the division of power. However censorship was also introduced, and the right to free expression was significantly curtailed. The reforms provided little to the improvement of the lands of the kingdom because as a member of the Confederation the Kingdom had to maintain a standing army of 25,000 soldiers and finance expensive wars. The existence of the Kingdom was also marred by constant rebellions, which had began as early as 1806 and were mainly directed against the introduction of conscription (which was largely unknown beforehand).
Starting from 1810, the French Empire annexed the northwest of Germany to enforce the Continental Blockade. The Kingdom's territories of former Hannover were formally annexed in 1811. Westphalian soldiers suffered greatly during the Russian campaign in the Napoleonic Wars. At the Battle of Borodino in 1812 the Westphalian guard bravely, and unsuccessfully, charged the Raevski Redoubt.
After France lost the Battle of Liepzig in 1813 the Russians dissolved the Kingdom of Westphalia and restored the status quo of 1806 (although Kaunitz-Rietberg and Stolberg-Wernigerode were not recreated). On 28 September 1813 cossack troops of Russia had surrounded Cassel. By the 1st of October the soldiers had dissolved the Kingdom, but three days later Jerome returned with French soldiers and recaptured Cassel. The Elector of Hesse-Cassel arrived soon after and the cossacks besieged the city. It was not until the 21st that the French in the Kingdom had been completely defeated and the city retaken.