November 7, 2006 cameron

#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)


Comments (20)

  1. Freddie

    Napoleon for Dummies, indeed…

    Very sad!

    The Age of Enlightenment started in England in the early 18th century Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, et. al

    I suggest you read: Letters on England – by Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire before you judge France as the leader of the enlightenment.

    You must really think your average listener rather stupid to continue with this blatant propaganda.

  2. Freddie, thanks for participating, but I’m not sure what point you are trying to make. I don’t remember either David or I suggesting that France was the leader of the Age of Enlightenment. I do recall us saying that continual war in Europe probably held it back and that England was responsible for funding that war. If you have evidence to refute that point, then please let us know.

    By the way, propaganda is a specific type of message presentation directly aimed at influencing the opinions or behaviour of people, rather than impartially providing information. What makes you think this show is designed to influence anyone’s opinion? Where just calling it as we see it. What benefit do you think either David or I have to gain if we convince you of anything? We’re not on Napoleon’s payroll.

  3. David Markham

    Hi, Freddie,

    I’m glad you are listening to the show and hope you continue to hear what we have to say. But I do second what Cameron says regarding propaganda. We are two historians who love this period of history and are fascinated by Napoleon’s career. It is not possible to talk of this period without pointing out that Great Britain was largely responsible for the continued wars against Napoleon. At the very least, she financed them, and she certainly promoted them as well.

    You might find my comments in the introduction to one of my earlier books, Napoleon’s Road to Glory, informative as to my thoughts on Great Britain at this time. I point out that Britain demonized Napoleon, harbored emigres, conspired against his life and broke the Peace of Amiens.

    I then point out that, after Napoleonic France, Britain was the second most enlightened nation in Europe, with its history of the Magna Carta, the Glorious Revolution, etc. I then close with this short paragraph:

    “The story of this conflict is without doubt the story of how perceived economic and military self-interest gained the ascendancy over ideology and the benefits of peace. That the story of the wars of this period is largely the story of conflict between the two most enlightened nations of Europe is an irony of the highest magnitude.”

    I have said many times on this show that I greatly admire the UK today and respect and admire much of its enlightened history. But when it comes to their relations with Napoleon, they were simply flat out wrong, and they were the underlying reason for the wars of that period.

    I would ask you, do you really feel that the dozen years or so of war after Amiens was good for the people of Europe, and that the restoration of the Bourbons was good for the people of France?

    As to Napoleon for Dummies, I suspect if you read the book you will find it to be a balanced and well-researched book written for all people to understand, and not an effort at propaganda.



  4. jesper larsson

    hello , I just have to say that I love your show , It have started a great intrest about Napoleon. Sweden thanks you both for the wonderfull job you are doing whit this podcast!

  5. Terry

    David and Cameron,

    The British made quite a tidy sum during the American Revolution seizing French and Dutch colonies. Sugar was the oil of the day and the Caribean islands were the primary producers of sugar. Indeed the American economy was secondary to the wealth produced in the sugar colonies. During the Napoleonic wars the British continued to reap huge rewards from colonies seized all over the world. They not only snatched colonies from the French, but from the Dutch and, their allies, the Spanish and Portuguese. Britain had a trade based economy and continuing the wars allowed Britain to expand its trade at everyone else’s expense. The War of 1812 was a direct result of the British policies and indeed Europe’s reliance on trade with Britain led directly to the Continental System and to the disastrous war with Russia. France, herself, also benefited from the wars because their continental trade increased during the wars. So, yes, the wars were all about money and also about France and Britain obtaining hegemony over its trading partners.


  6. John G

    Still enjoying your show, greatly. Coming from Australia, I’m just very glad to be able to obtain this perspective of Napoleon from you guys.

    With regard to propaganda, the real propaganda on Napoleon has come from the British. It is tragic that they have demonised and denigrated a person who was such a powerful and positive influence on the world. But what can you say about a country that still, in the year 2006, believes that birth right (and blood line) give you the right to rule?

  7. J. David Markham


    Thanks for the email! You are quite right about the British propaganda that demonised and denigrated Napoleon. If you read what was said and look at the caricatures of the period, its hard to believe its the same person. Many of our (incorrect) images come from those sources, such as his supposed shortness.

    As to the UK today, well, I must admit I’ve always been a fan of the Queen, at least on a personal level. But I see her as a symbol of unity, not a real ruler. I do think that she and Napoleon have one thing in common, anyway, namely a family that could perhaps have been a bit less of a problem!

    Anyway, our focus is on the Napoleonic era and thus it shall remain, but with the understanding that history is only an amusement unless we attempt to tie its lessons to our modern situation. That’s why we sometimes mention modern leadership and military adventures like Iraq. And we are not alone: Napoleonic tactics are still taught at Sandhurst and West Point!

    On a personal note, the chance to meet Cameron in person was really a great experience. If you get the feeling from listening to him on the podcast that he is personable, humorous, outgoing and friendly, well, you are right! He’s a delight to be around, and I look forward to my next opportunity. I hope that soon we will do a podcast “live from the David Markham library in Olympia!”

    As always, I send my warmest regards to all of our listeners. There are legions of you, which is very gratifying.


  8. Julian

    I’m really enjoying the series. It’s interesting and a little sad to see someone attack an Historical perspective, we are all entitled to our opinion as long as you can back it up, and your doing so time and time again shows why this is such a popular pod cast. As you said your not on Napoleons pay roll, these are events of the past that can be very interesting to discuss but they ARE in the past and an opinion of history should not be taken personally.

    Also as a bit of a side note, for those history buffs out there another Pod cast well worth checking out in Lars Brownworth’s 12 rulers of the Byzantine Empire,

    Keep up the good work David and Cameron its great to see too people devoting there time and energies to a project like this.


  9. Mike

    On the subject of the false impression of Napoleon as short, I read that this comes from a number of factors only one of which was British caricatures. Others causes were his affectionate nickname ‘petit corporal’ & confusion between Imperial & French measurements. The use of ‘Napoleon complex’ to indicate a small person who overcompensates e.g. by being more aggresive was popularised by the psychologist Alfred Adler who was an Austrian.

  10. J. David Markham


    You are quite correct about the different causes of the false impression regarding Napoleon’s height. But I’d suggest that the caricatures were the single most important cause, just by no means the only one.


  11. Mike


    Many thanks for the response. Just wanted to add that I’m hugely enjoying the podcast. Thanks to you & Cameron.

  12. Marcus

    Cam, I get the feeling you,re a Mel Gibson fan, is this so?

    Napoleon’s height. LOL.

    Give me a banker over a dictator, anyday. Regardless of his religion.

  13. Marcus, as an Aussie, I’ve always felt it was my duty to be a Mel Gibson fan, but are you inferring that I’m anti-Semitic? Not at all. I am anti-religion generally speaking, but I dislike all religions equally. 🙂

    Wasn’t it Earl Warren who said something like “Bankers do nothing but take care of themselves”?

  14. Nicholas Stark

    Good sirs, another great episode, I mus say! It’s interesting to hear you guys touch on so many topics in a single episode. I look forward to all of your future podcasts!

    Monsieur Stark

  15. Tim Van Dyck

    Dear Cameron and David,

    Again a great and interesting episode!

    I would like to wish you both (and all the other listeners) a merry christmas and a verry happy newyear! I hope 2007 will be full of Napoleon episodes, without a doubt it will be;)

    Best Regards,

    Tim Van Dyck (Belgium)

  16. michele destarac

    if not too late, “le petit caporal” …..”petit” in these case doen’t mean short , petit should be taken as a term of some kind of “endearment or affection” “petit”,means also young.

  17. Jim

    Loved it! I’m a fan now that I’m a student of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. Studies are focused on the Art and Science of War and I truly appreciate this cast. With respect!

  18. Savanna

    I realize that I’m SEVERAL years late to the podcast, but I just wanted to thank you so much for keeping it available here. Have been a most devoted NB fan all my life, but even having read quite a bit, you guys teach me something new each time! I’ve been listening to the recordings while at work and had to recover myself when I burst out laughing near the end of this one. Highlight of my day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We Love To Hear From Our Listeners.

Get in touch with us!