What I'd like to know is if the final outcome of the wars was ultimately beneficial for France. In territorial terms.

Did it manage to keep some territorial gains?

If the question isn't clear be free to comment so I can provide clarification.

  • 1
    I think any answer will be primarily opinion based. The Treaty of Paris was extremely lenient on France, but 25 years of continuous warfare was very costly, both directly and in terms of opportunity costs. French population did not decline in absolute terms, but how much higher would it have been without losing so many young men? During the war many economic reforms were enacted, but how to weigh that against the financial costs of the war & indemnities, which might have delayed industrialisation? It is difficult to conclusively judge the effect of an event that lasted for so long.
    – Semaphore
    Jul 1, 2015 at 10:30
  • I think the right answer could get around it being opinion based - probably - but for me it seems a bit broad at the moment; the wars had a huge effect on internal politics, foreign policy, military thinking, industry, the list goes on. You should try and focus the question down into one particular area or closely related areas.
    – Kobunite
    Jul 1, 2015 at 10:35
  • 2
    @Semaphore I edited it to focus on one aspect of the possible benefits. Thanks for your comments!
    – Jose Luis
    Jul 1, 2015 at 11:30
  • that is a better question.
    – MCW
    Jul 1, 2015 at 11:58

2 Answers 2


I will try to answer your "original" question in a roundabout way by stating that the period after the Napoleonic wars was "healthier" for France in diplomatic terms. This was true even though France lost back essentially all the territory she gained after the French Revolution.

From at least the time of Louis XIV (if not XIII) until the time of Napoleon, France was seen as the aggressor nation that others feared, and "ganged up" against. Napoleon (I) was basically seen as the last of the "aggressive" French rulers. After him, France followed a much more defensive foreign policy that earned her greater sympathy and respect from her neighbors.

After the end of the Napoleonic wars, France joined the Concert of Europe and became a peace-keeping force in Europe for the next few decades.

For instance, France joined Britain and other European countries in helping the Greeks during their war of independence against Turkey in 1830. Later, France was one of the 1839 signatories to the Treaty of London regarding Belgium neutrality.

France joined Britain and Piedmont in defending Turkey against Russia during the Crimean War. Napoleon III was also the "champion" (after a fashion) of an expanding Piedmont, and hence, Italian unification. That's because he preferred a weak but united Italy as a buffer zone against powers further to the east, rather than trying to have France divide Italy with other foreign powers, like his predecessors.

Around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, France joined the Triple Entente with Britain and Russia against a rising German-led aggressive tide that would shortly violate the Belgian neutrality of 1839.


For the most part, France lost all of her Napoleanic territorial gains at the end.

By the terms of the Treaty of Paris, concluded after the Hundred Days, France was reduced to her pre-revolution 1790 borders, with the exception of a couple of tiny enclaves surrounded by French territory that they were still allowed to keep.

They had been allowed to keep a bit more prior to the 100 Days, but the rest was removed as punishment for allowing Napoleon back into leadership.

  • So, DID they keep territorial gains or not? If they did, which were they?
    – Jose Luis
    Jul 1, 2015 at 13:38
  • Added a summary sentence at the top to clarify.
    – T.E.D.
    Jul 1, 2015 at 22:22

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