Surrender of Paris
French attempts to attain a cease fire had so far achieved little but on 28 June Grouchy had made direct proposals for his corps alone, which would have taken his force out of the defence of Paris; but Blucher’s demands were too much for the Frenchman to stomach and the negotiations failed. The French negotiators then requested and were granted permission to go to Wellington on 29th. The commissioners were informed by Wellington that the removal of Napoleon was not enough to secure a cease fire, Napoleon’s son was unacceptable as the replacement as head of state and neither were any of the French princes; effectively the return of Louis XVIII was the only acceptable alternative. However, the French commissioners continued a dialogue with Wellington, whereas Blucher declined to discuss matters further and simply threatened to sack Paris if it did not surrender.
On 2 July Wellington wrote to Blucher explaining his position, believing that an attack on the city would be costly and was doubtful of its success. He proposed that the French army would need to draw off beyond the Loire and that the ‘vain triumph’ of entering Paris should be foregone to allow Louis to enter Paris without an escort of foreign troops. Blucher could not agree to these terms, the return of Louis not being a priority for Prussia whilst the capture of Paris was seen as a major point of honour.
Davout was informed on 2 July that the Provisional Government had decided to seek a cease fire by sending the army out of Paris, but the marshal was not going to leave without even a token resistance. All the available French troops remaining were moved overnight to Montrouge and at 3 a.m. on the 3 July a heavy barrage commenced on the Prussians at Issy followed by a strong infantry attack. The Prussians fought stoutly and eventually drove the French columns back, both sides each losing over a thousand men killed and wounded; these were the last shots of the Waterloo campaign fired in anger.
At 7 a.m. that morning, the French artillery fell silent and the French offered to sign an immediate capitulation. Blucher arranged to meet Wellington at St Cloud and later that day the Convention of Paris was signed.
The French army commenced the march out of Paris on the 5th of July, whilst order was maintained at Paris by Marshal Massena with the National Guard. Wellington had occupied the northern and western suburbs of Paris and on 6 July the Prussians placed troops near each of the 11 gates of Paris south of the Seine and began repairing the bridges.
On 7 July the allies occupied Paris and Muffling was appointed Governor of the city, with two commandants, one for each bank of the Seine, British to the north and Prussian to the south.
The campaign of 1815 or of Waterloo is often referred to as ‘The Hundred days’. This was first mentioned by Count Chabrot, Prefect of the Seine, when he made a speech welcoming the return of Louis XVIII to Paris on 8 July 1815 with the words:
One hundred days have elapsed since the fatal moment when your majesty… quitted your capital amidst the tears and consternation of the public.
Within days the larger part of the allied armies began to move to more comfortable cantonments in the villages surrounding Paris; the Prussians around Fontainbleu and westwards as far as Evreux and Chartres; whilst Wellington’s troops remained closer, in the Bois de Boulogne and the nearby villages.
Despite the peace, Blucher still looked to humiliate the French and sought to blow up the Pont de Jena, named to commemorate the famous victory over Prussia in 1806, but was prevented from accomplishing it by Wellington placing British sentries on it. He then sought to destroy the column in the Place de Vendome, modelled on Trajan’s Column in Rome, which was decorated with brass reliefs made from the brass of captured cannon from the wars to commemorate the Battle of Austerlitz. The Prussian king put a stop to this barbarism on his arrival at Paris.
However, the allies did restore many of the art works of Europe to their rightful owners, the French armies having pilfered them during the wars to enhance the collection at the Louvre in Paris. The Parisians were appalled by this act and crowds of surly Parisians silently voiced their disapproval, leading to armed escorts being employed as the items were removed.
The fighting was finally over at Paris but isolated fortresses held out for many months; whilst diplomacy became the order of the day.
2nd Treaty of Paris 1815
The first Treaty of Paris 1814 had been quite lenient on France, it’s borders were restored to those of Jan 1792 keeping the various enclaves captured early in the French Revolution. France was allowed to keep the majority of its overseas territories, also no major indemnities were required. Napoleon himself was allowed to retire to rule the small island of Elba. Many of the major questions about the future of Europe were reserved for the Congress of Vienna, which was ongoing when Napoleon returned from exile.
The second Treaty would be less generous. France had to pay an indemnity of 700,000,000 francs and to support an army of occupation of 150,000 men on its soil for three to five years. France was reduced to her frontiers of 1789. While retaining Avignon and the Venaissin, she ceded Chambery and part of Savoy to Sardinia, some territory to Switzerland and the Saar to Prussia. Napoleon would go from ruler of a pleasant Mediterranean island to imprisonment on a distant windswept island.