These are actually a set of individual wars that sometimes overlap, succeed, or run parallel to each other. Image: Jacques-Louis David, Napoleon Crossing the Alps (1800), Kunsthistorisches Museum. The work of art depicted in this image and the reproduction thereof are in the public domain worldwide. The reproduction is part of a collection of reproductions compiled by The Yorck Project (DVD-ROM, 2002). The compilation copyright is held by Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH and licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
Historians do not agree on the exact beginning or end of the wars. November 9, 1799 is an early candidate since that is when Napoleon seized power in France. Hoping to ease the difficulty, historians date by isolated wars. They disarticulate the Napoleonic Wars in a linear series:
- War of the Second Coalition 1798-1802
- War of the Third Coalition 1805
- War of the Fourth Coalition 1806-7
- War of the Fifth Coalition 1809
- War of the Sixth Coalition 1812-14
- War of the Seventh Coalition 1815
The successive numerical coordinates for the Coalitions offer regularity, but that regularity is undercut by the shifting make-up of that Coalition (sometimes Prussia was in, sometimes not; sometimes Russia, sometimes not) and by the discontinuity and ambiguity of the dates.