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. (March 2018)
The War of the Second Coalition started well for the coalition, with successes in Egypt, Italy and Germany. After France's victories at the Battles of Marengo and Hohenlinden, Austria, Russia and Naples sued for peace, with Austria eventually signing the Treaty of Lunéville. Horatio Nelson's victory at the Battle of Copenhagen on 2 April 1801 halted the creation of the League of Armed Neutrality and led to a negotiated ceasefire.
The French First Consul, Napoleon Bonaparte, first made truce proposals to British foreign secretary Lord Grenville as early as 1799. Because of the hardline stance of Grenville and Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, their distrust of Bonaparte and obvious defects in the proposals, they were rejected out of hand. However, Pitt resigned in February 1801 over domestic issues and was replaced by the more accommodating Henry Addington. At that point, according to Schroeder, Britain was motivated by the danger of a war with Russia.
Addington's foreign secretary, Robert Jenkinson, Lord Hawkesbury, immediately opened communications with Louis Guillaume Otto, the French commissary for prisoners of war in London through whom Bonaparte had made his earlier proposals. Hawkesbury stated that he wanted to open discussions on terms for a peace agreement. Otto, generally under detailed instructions from Bonaparte, engaged in negotiations with Hawkesbury in mid-1801. Unhappy with the dialogue with Otto, Hawkesbury sent diplomat Anthony Merry to Paris, who opened a second line of communications with the French foreign minister, Talleyrand. By mid-September, written negotiations had progressed to the point that Hawkesbury and Otto met to draft a preliminary agreement. On 30 September, they signed the preliminary agreement in London, which was published the next day.
The terms of the preliminary agreement required Britain to restore most of the French colonial possessions that it had captured since 1794, to evacuate Malta and to withdraw from other occupied Mediterranean ports. Malta was to be restored to the Order of St. John, whose sovereignty was to be guaranteed by one or more powers, to be determined at the final peace. France was to restore Egypt to Ottoman control, to withdraw from most of the Italian peninsula and to agree to preserve Portuguese sovereignty. Ceylon, previously a Dutch territory, was to remain with the British, and Newfoundland fishery rights were to be restored to their prewar status. Britain was also to recognise the Seven Islands Republic, established by France on islands in the Ionian Sea that are now part of Greece. Both sides were to be allowed access to the outposts on the Cape of Good Hope.
In a blow to Spain, the preliminary agreement included a secret clause in which Trinidad was to remain with Britain.
News of the preliminary peace was greeted in Britain with illuminations and fireworks. Peace, it was thought in Britain, would lead to the withdrawal of the income tax imposed by Pitt, a reduction of grain prices and a revival of markets.