Confederation of the Rhine, league of German states formed by Emperor Napoleon I in 1806 after his defeat of the Austrians at Austerlitz. Among its members were the newly created kingdoms of Bavaria and Württenberg (see Pressburg, Treaty of), the grand duchies of Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, and Berg, and a number of other principalities. Eventually nearly all the German states except Austria and Prussia joined the confederation. The members disavowed their allegiance to the Holy Roman Empire, and Francis II, already styled emperor of Austria, relinquished the title Holy Roman emperor in 1806. Napoleon attempted to influence the internal as well as the foreign affairs of the confederation, but recurring international crises diverted his efforts. After Napoleon's retreat from Russia (1812–13), its members, by changing sides in the war, caused the collapse of the confederation.
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