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The transalpine exploits of Napoleon Bonaparte were admired by idle young Prussian officers, who had nothing but drill and drudgery to fill their days. The treaty of Campo Formio was signed on October 17.1797, exactly one month before Frederick William came to the throne. Within a year, a new coalition against France was formed. The new Prussian King was determined to remain neutral. When the attack on French positions in Italy, Holland and along the upper Rhine began in 1799, the Allies were successful. Bonaparte was in Egypt, intending to block England's route to India. The policy of Prussian neutrality began to weaken. The Duke of Braunschweig-Bevern, who seldom gave advice, tried to persuade the new King to join the coalition. Reluctantly he was persuaded. The Russian Tsar Paul I, who had succeeded his mother Catherine the Great in 1796, was of unstable temperament, a creature of good intent, but of sudden inexplicable cruelties and folly, became disgusted with his Allies and withdrew his support. At almost the same time General Bonaparte landed in the South of France. His Egyptian campaign had been futile and the French fleet had been destroyed by Admiral Nelson in the harbor of Aboukir. The people of France knew little about these far away calamities. Bonaparte, the hero of the battle of the pyramids, was greeted as the savior of every ill, domestic or foreign.


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