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The Eroica: Beethoven's Falling Out with an Autocrat

It’s exciting when a revolutionary comes along and promotes all the right ideas.  It feels like there’s a real change coming in the world when this person comes along, speaks what feel like simple and self-evident truths, rushing in like a fresh wind.  The French Revolution was a revolution of ideas, coming in on the heels of the American Revolution, which had brought into the world a nation founded on the principles of self-government and fair representation for all.  One such nation was founded, and now another one—The Republic of France—was on the rise. It was a big deal to the French, of course, among those who supported and opposed the Revolution.  But the Revolution was welcomed by many people in other countries, as well.  One admirer of the French Revolution was the German composer Ludwig von Beethoven, whose career was starting to take off at the time.  Beethoven himself had recently gotten over some major humps in his personal life, as well.  He was just starting to lose his h

Napoleon vs the Rabbits

On July 7, 1807, Napoleon Bonaparte signed the first of the Treaties of Tilsit.  This was with Emperor Alexander I of Russia, which established an alliance between the French Empire and Imperial Russia that would endure forever, or for the next five years, whichever came first.  The second Treaty of Tilsit was signed on July 9 on behalf of the King of Prussia.  Prussia had already signed an armistice with France a couple weeks earlier, but the purpose of this treaty was to demand territory from Prussia.  From this territory, Napoleon set up the puppet states of the Kingdom of Westphalia, the Free City of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland), and the Duchy of Warsaw.  Prussia was stripped of about half of its territory, and was forced to reduce its army significantly.  Russia entered into war with Great Britain and Sweden when it aligned itself with France, which was great news for France.  France was shaping up like a military juggernaut in Europe; no continental power seemed strong enough to