Letter 416a

416a. Karl Schelling an Schelling in Munich: Murrhardt, 19 May 1806 [*]

Murrhardt, 19 May 1806

Dearest brother!

Yesterday, to our considerable delight, we received your letter and saw from it that you are well. We are especially pleased with the news that you have some hope of being able to remain in Munich for good. I myself believe nothing but that this town is presently the most gracious in Germany for a scholar. . . .

For the past 8 weeks here, and especially in our own house, things have been quite unsettled. We still have French billeting, including 3 and often 8 officers at meals daily. [1] Father is doing well, as is mother. . . .

We hope with all our hearts that your dear wife arrived safely in Munich, and send regards to her and you from all of us. [2]

Stay very well,



[*] Source: Fuhrmans 3:339–20. Back.

[1] Geopolitical developments in Germany become an increasingly frequent and immediate topic in the correspondence of Caroline and those involved in her and Schelling’s life.

At the time Karl Schelling is here writing, Napoleon did not entirely trust Friedrich Wilhelm III and the Prussians, and French troops had continued to be stationed in Germany; see Caroline’s letter to Schelling on 12 May 1806 (letter 410), note 11, and her letter to Julie Gotter on 12 March 1806 (letter 401), note 9.

In her letter to Schelling on 15 May 1806 (letter 413), however, Caroline had now wondered about French troop movements toward Bayreuth (Central Europe Wars of the Third Coalition 1805–7, from The Cambridge Modern History Atlas [London 1912], map 92):


Back in December 1805, Prussia had agreed to cede Ansbach and Bayreuth in Franconia to Bavaria, and Neufchâtel and Valengin in Switzerland and Cleves in Westphalia to France, receiving in exchange Hannover (Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, ed. T. Molls [Vienna 1805]):


Napoleon’s mistrust of Prussia prompted him in the meantime to have several French army corps take up quarters in southern Germany. Protests from the King of Württemberg accomplished nothing to ease the hardship this invariably onerous billeting caused among residents.

It is to these troop movements that Karl Schelling is here referring, which seem to have been affecting the Schelling household in Murrhardt since mid-March 1806. Here an illustration of the commencement of such billeting in a village (Hippolyte Bellangé, Le Billet de Logement [Paris 1823]; Rijksmuseum):


It may be remembered that although Baden, Württemberg, and Bavaria were French allies, Würzburg was now a territory of Ferdinand III, brother of Franz II (Central Europe Wars of the Third Coalition 1805–7, map 92 in the Cambridge Modern History Atlas [1912], Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas Libraries):


In his complicated negotiations with England, however, Napoleon was insisting that Naples be handed over to Sicily and that French troops be tolerated in Holland. In return, England was to be allowed to retain Malta and, much to Prussia’s dismay and vexation, now recover Hannover, a plan the Prussian ambassador in France learned inadvertently from a drunken representative of the British crown.

Despite Napoleon’s diminishing concern with the Prussian threat during the spring of 1806, things changed over the summer and especially during the early autumn of 1806, and it was Friedrich Wilhelm III’s actions during September and October that, as evident in coming letters, resulted in the fateful and disastrous French retaliation in Jena and Auerstedt during mid-October 1806.

Concerning the Prussian reaction in Berlin to Napoleon’s plans for Hannover, see Michael Glover, The Napoleonic Wars: An Illustrated History 1792–1815 (New York 1979), 116 (Central Europe 1803: After the Peace of Lunéville 1801 and the Secularisations 1803, from The Cambridge Modern History Atlas, ed. Sir Adolphus William Ward et al.[London 1913]):


The continued neutrality of Prussia [toward France in connection especially with the Third Coalition and the Treaty of Pressburg, August–December 1805] was far from popular in Berlin, and an influential party, headed by the queen, had for some years been pressing for war against France. The news that Napoleon was prepared to rob him of newly gained Hanover was sufficient to stir even King Frederick William to action. On 9 August he agreed to mobilise his army but then relapsed into his habitual timidity. Napoleon meanwhile was convinced that he had nothing to fear from Berlin. In mid-August he was telling Berthier to make arrangements to reduce the army’s strength in Germany: “Halt all warlike preparations and stop troop movements across the Rhine. Everyone must be ready to return to France.” It was not until 5 September that he began to concern himself with Prussian troop movements southward and ordered some preparatory countermoves. Back.

[2] Caroline departed Würzburg the following day, 20 May 1806, and arrived in Munich (Dachau) on 24 May 1806. See her letter to Schelling on 19 May 1806 (letter 416), note 2. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott