Second Congress of Rastatt
Map shows Central Europe 1797
|Context||Failed congress to compensate the German princes dispossessed by the War of the First Coalition.|
The Second Congress of Rastatt, which was opened in December 1797, was intended to rearrange the map of Germany by providing compensation for those princes whose lands on the left bank of the Rhine had been seized by France in the War of the First Coalition. The major negotiating parties were Republican France and Habsburg Austria. The congress was interrupted by the start of the War of the Second Coalition which rendered the proceedings moot. As the French delegates attempted to return home they were attacked by Austrian cavalrymen or possibly French royalists masquerading as such. Two diplomats were killed and a third seriously injured. The congress was held at Rastatt, now located in the modern state of Baden-Württemberg, Germany, a distance 161 kilometres (100 mi) south of Frankfurt.
The Second Congress of Rastatt had no result, however, as it was ended by the outbreak of the War of the Second Coalition, but it had a sequel of some interest. As the three French representatives were leaving the town in April 1799 they were waylaid, and two of them were assassinated by some Hungarian soldiers. The origin of this outrage remains shrouded in mystery, but the balance of evidence seems to show that the Austrian authorities had commanded their men to seize the papers of the French plenipotentiaries in order to avoid damaging disclosures about Austria's designs on Bavaria, and that the soldiers had exceeded their instructions. On the other hand, some authorities think that the deed was the work of French emigrants, or of the party in France in favour of war.
Although indecisive from a diplomatic point of view the Congress brought high society to the area of Baden and was responsible for resurgence of interest in the spa town of Baden Baden.
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