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Napoleon slipped contentedly into imperial ways. He began to speak of the French people no longer as citizens, but as "my subjects." After carefulf preparations, in the presence of representatives of the cities of France, from the Army and the Navy, the legislative assemblies, the judiciary, the administrative corps, the Legion of Honor, the Institute, the chambers of commerce, countless civilians and last, but not least, Pope Pius VII, Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of France at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on December 2, 1804.

In spite of certain omens, no one with whom Luise was in daily contact believed that war would come in 1805. Russia, after breaking off relations with France, had signed defense pacts with Austria and with England, where William Pitt, Napoleon's archenemy, was once more Prime Minister. Alexander however, seemed as resolute for peace as Frederick William. He had asked his Prussian friend to get a passport for Count Novossiltov, to visit Paris for further talks.

Luise and her three sisters planned to meet in the autumn in Paretz and to go from there to Mecklenburg to celebrate their father's sixty-fourth birthday. It was ten years since his accession to the dukedom and a special celebration was in order. What had been planned so pleasantly was not to be. Before the autumn great changes would take place in the political climate of Europe. Berlin and Potsdam would be in turmoil.

On August 25th, Napoleon learned that the English fleet could not be decoyed away from the English channel by the French. On the same day troops began to move eastward toward the Rhine. For hours Frederick William and his ministers argued with the French envoy, who had come to Charlottenburg Palace. They were trying to wring from him some guarantee of peace. Alexander had announced the mobilization of 200,000 men and was calling on Prussia to put an equal amount on a wartime footing. On September 6, at an emergency counsil meeting, a partial mobilization was agreed upon, not to aid any of the powers who were clamoring for support, but to ward off a triple threat to Prussia's neutrality. Frederick William announced they would take their customary holiday at Paretz. All his ministers begged the King to stay in Potsdam. He told them he could not face another group of opinionated men gathered around a table to discuss Russian or French demands. He was depressed and fearful and very much aware of his inadequacy. To General von Koekeritz, his only confidant besides Luise, he said "Many a King has fallen because he loved war too well, I may fall because I love peace."

At Paretz the Harvest festival was celebrated as usual. Luise's sister Frederica was on her way there from Ansbach. As it turned out, not a day too soon. On October 3rd, a division of the French Army poured through the province, pushing aside its few defenders. On October 25th, the Russian Tsar rode through the Brandenburg Gate down the Street named "Unter den Linden", leading to the Palace. Thousand's cheered in the streets. Luise had been able to persuade her husband to leave Paretz and go to Berlin. She also had sent a military escort to meet Alexander. At the Palace, Alexander met with the Austrian Ambassador Metternich. In his report to Vienna Metternich wrote "Nearly everyone around Frederick William seems calm, except for General von Koekeritz. The Queen is more courageous than I had hoped."

On the evening of November 3rd, 1805 the treaty was signed in Potsdam. Alexander said he must leave that very night. It was close to midnight when Alexander wanted to visit the tomb of Frederick the Great. He was buried, not as he had requested besides his dogs on the terrace of Sans Souci, but in the crypt of the garrison church. Lights were sent for and the three friends went on foot to the church. After swearing he would never desert his friends, Alexander stooped to kiss his hero's coffin. He silently embraced Luise and Fritz and was off through the night to join his army in Moravia. On December 2nd, the first anniversary of his coronation in Notre Dame, Napoleon, near the town of Austerlitz in Moravia won a victory, which is considered the most brillant of his carreer. Five days later the news reached Potsdam. Luise made no attempt to hold back her tears. The Prussian army was ready and willing to fight, but their King was not. For the past few months General Bluecher had been sending reports to Berlin of the massing of troops in the Rhineland, but writing letters was not the old soldier's forte. He put far greater reliance on the spoken word. Luise was his mouthpiece in Berlin. On August 12 Luise met her cousin the Princess Radzivill, who saw tears in Luise's eyes. "What is wrong?" the Princess asked. "The King has had some bad news. Up to now they all insisted that Napoleon meant no harm to Prussia. Now they say he will be here soon, in the very heart of Germany."

Frederick William had written to Alexander of Napoleon's double dealing. "He intends to crush me.....I beg you to leave your armies at my frontier." The whole of Europe would soon become embroiled in war. The way Napoleon moved his armies had no precedent.

General von Knobelsdorf was rushed off to Paris. "Not a single French unit would be withdrawn from Germany until there was peace with Russia. Prussia must lay down her arms. A southward advance of her army would be considered an aggression. "; So stern spoke Napoleon to Knobelsdorf. Even before he left for France, Berlin and Potsdam regiments had crossed the border into Saxony, Prussia's only effective ally. On September 18th, Luise, superbly mounted, met the Queen's regiment at the Brandenburg Gate. At the Palace was a dinner for the officers who drank a toast to the Queen's health. Frederick William and Luise said their farewells to their children and left Berlin to meet up with the army. When the Emperor of the French left for the front, he was heard to say "So...Mademoiselle of Mecklenburg wants to make war on me, does she? Let her come! I am not afraid of women!"


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