#14 – The Sun of Austerlitz

The Battle of Austerlitz (also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors) was a major engagement in the Napoleonic Wars during the War of the Third Coalition. It was fought on December 2, 1805 about four miles (6.4 km) east of the modern Czech town of Brno, then part of the Austrian Empire. The conflict involved forces of the recently formed First French Empire against the armies of the Russian Empire and the Austrian Empire. After nearly nine hours of fighting, the French troops, commanded by Emperor Napoleon I, managed to score a decisive victory over the Russo-Austrian army, commanded by Czar Alexander I. Despite difficult fighting in many sectors, the battle is often regarded as a tactical masterpiece.

Austerlitz effectively brought the Third Coalition to an end.

Read more about the Battle of Austerlitz on Wikipedia

Here’s the entire text of the famous Bulletin issues by Napoleon Bonaparte on the day after the battle, which you can find in David’s book “Imperial Glory” (link below):

Headquarters at Austerlitz
3 December 1805

Soldiers! I am pleased with you. On the day of Austerlitz, you have justified what I expected from your intrepidity. You have decorated your eagles with an immortal glory. In less than four hours an army of 100,000 men, commanded by the Emperors of Russia and Austria, has been cut down or dispersed. Those who escaped your iron have drowned in the lakes. Forty flags, the standards of the Russian Imperial Guard, 120 pieces of cannon, twenty generals and more than 30,000 prisoners are the results of this day, to be celebrated forever. That infantry, so vaunted, and superior to you in numbers, could not resist your impact, and henceforth you have no rivals to fear. Thus, in two months the third coalition is conquered and dissolved. Peace can no longer be at a great distance; but, as I promised to my people before crossing the Rhine, I will only make a peace that gives you some guarantees and assures some recompenses to our allies. Soldiers! When the French people placed the Imperial Crown on my head, I entrusted you to keep it always in a high state of glory, which alone could give it value in my eyes; but at that moment our enemies thought to destroy and demean it; and that Iron crown, which was gained by the blood of so many Frenchmen, they would have compelled me to place on the head of our cruelest enemies; an extravagant and foolish proposal, which you have ruined and confounded the very day of the anniversary of your Emperor’s coronation. You have taught them that it is easier for them to defy us and to threaten us than to vanquish us. Soldiers! When everything necessary to the happiness and prosperity of our country will have been achieved, I will lead you back to France. There you will be the objects of my most tender solicitudes. My people will see you again with joy, and it will be enough for you to say: “I was at the battle of Austerlitz,” for them to reply, “There is a brave man!”

Napoleon Bonaparte

David asked me bring to your attention a History Channel DVD that has a segment on Austerlitz. He was one of the featured historians. It also has Caesar’s campaign in Gaul, and he was one of the featured historians on that segment as well.

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The Rothschild Family and the Napoleonic Wars

On the last show I briefly mentioned that I had read about various banking families of Europe who profited from the Napoleonic Wars. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the Rothschild Family:

The basis for the Rothschild fortune was laid during the latter stages of the Napoleonic Wars. From 1813 to 1815, the Rothschild family was instrumental in the financing of the British war effort, handling the shipment of bullion to the Duke of Wellington’s army in Portugal and Spain, as well as arranging the payment of British financial subsidies to their Continental allies. Through the commissions earned on these transactions, the Rothschild fortune grew enormously.

In the early 19th century Rothschild set up a Europe-wide network of messengers and carrier pigeon stations, gathering information that could affect his investments. He soon garnered a reputation for being first with the news.

According to popular legend, when the Battle of Waterloo was being fought in June 1815, other speculators watched Rothschild’s stocks in an attempt to guess who would win. Shortly after the battle ended, and long before anyone else knew who was the victor, he began selling stocks. Everyone assumed this meant Napoleon had won and Europe was lost. Panic selling ensued. When prices crashed, Rothschild bought everything in sight and made a profit.

#13 – The War of the Third Coalition

This episode is pretty special – David and I recorded it sitting together, in the same hotel room, same city, same country and, as David likes to point out, on the same day (usually we’re in completely different timezones). As we were both in a strange city (San Francisco) and didn’t have access to our usual reference materials, we did a short show (for us that’s under an hour!) looking at the Third Coalition and the build up to Austerlitz. We cut the show before we covered Austerlitz though because we want to spend some time on it and have all of our books around us! It was Napoleon’s favourite victory and possibly the peak of his military achievments.

In the Napoleonic Wars, the Third Coalition against the French Empire emerged in 1805 and consisted of an alliance of the United Kingdom, Austria, Russia, Naples, and Sweden.

In this episode we discuss:

  • the motivation for the creation of the Third Coalition
  • the creation of La Grande Armee and Marshals Of The Empire
  • “the unfortunate General Mack and the taking of Ulm
  • the capture of Vienna

(photo of Arc de Triomphe detail by zakw845)

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