Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 October 2019
Born a year before the French Revolution, Byron grew up in a world ravaged by the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792–1815). The conflict began with Europe’s ancien régime anticipating a swift victory over the fledgling French republic, but what ensued was nearly twenty-two years of war (broken only by the brief peace of Amiens in 1802–3). Dominated by the military genius of Napoleon Bonaparte, who declared himself emperor of France in 1804, the wars profoundly perturbed the existing political order of Europe. Warfare became so desperate and all-consuming for the contending nations that they were forced into unprecedented efforts to mobilize their resources and populations for war. The wars approached the scale and intensity of the total wars of the twentieth century.
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