The Italian campaign was not over, however: the Austrians came back with 60,000 reinforcements to attack the now-weary French army. Yet the French, under Napoleon's leadership, still managed to win, at the Battle of Arcole (November 15-17, 1796) and at the Battle of Rivoli (January 14, 1797). Napoleon then marched to Vienna, the Austrian capital, and forced Emperor Francis II to sign the Treaty of Campo Formio on October 17, 1797.


The Italian Campaign had numerous important results. First, it created a growing sense of French pride in its military capability as a nation. Second, it fanned the flames of Napoleon's personal lifelong ambition for world conquest and greatly increased his power and popularity in France. Third, the campaign toppled numerous old Italian governments, replacing them with a "Cisalpine Republic". Fourth, Napoleon's conquests in this period, as always, did bring a small degree of peace to Europe, if only for a short while. It was not long, however, before the fighting would begin again. Fifth, the end of the campaign marked Napoleon's first clear acts of political autonomy and power over and against the Directory. He negotiated the Treaty of Campo Formio with the Austrians without the Directory's consent; he again took the political initiative when the Directory couldn't afford to pay the Campaign's troops, and Napoleon appropriated their pay from the territories they occupied. (This also increased Napoleon's popularity among the masses.) Napoleon's most flagrant defiance of the Directory, however, was in his refusal to respect the original purpose of the Italian Campaign itself: the French government's plan behind the campaign had been not to keep the Italian territories it won, but rather to hold them temporarily hostage, giving them back to Austria only in return for control of Belgium; Napoleon, however, countermanded the Directory yet again by demanding Belgium without giving back the Italian territory.

Napoleon was getting out of the Directory's control, and the Directory knew that as well as anyone. However, they had no choice but to welcome him home as a hero, even as he disobeyed their orders and radically undermined their authority. The force of Napoleon's popularity was already apparent.

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