May 10, 2007 cameron

#21 – The War Of The Fifth Coalition

In 1809, Austria decided to break the peace treaty they had signed after Austerlitz in 1807 and this lead to The War Of The Fifth Coalition. In this episode we discuss the events leading up to Austria’s attack and Napoleon’s response. The war ended with the Battle of Wagram, Napoleonic France’s last decisive military victory.

The War Of The Fifth Coalition (with lots of campaign maps)


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Thanks to everyone for your continued support and for all of the terrific comments we get every week!

The theme music is La Marseillaise. Yes, we know it isn’t necessarily relevant to Napoleon but it’s hard to beat when it comes to French themes!


Comments (40)

  1. Basically I have only good things to say about your show Napoleon 101, but something really bad has totaly spoiled the two last releases, and now this one to.

    There is a squeaky noise every time it’s over to Mr.Markham. And as he is speaking, at least once ore twice every dam..*#¤ minute. And it is driving me nuts. It has the same impact on me, as it would have, when someone scrape their nails across a blackboard, even though the noise ain’t all the same, but in some way similar. It does so that I loose all my concentration, and I don’t get a word he is saying.

    The only thing I can think of, that could make that sound, are sneakers on a linoleum floor. So if Mr. Markham has bought him self new sneakers, for Gods, mine and everybody else’s sake, take them off while podcasting.
    I reckon there is nothing you could do to fix the spoiled recordings (ore what?), but at least make the coming ones without that horrible noise.
    It is very sad that I can’t listen to ALL the episodes, because I just LOVE history, and this show to. It is a brilliant and very informative program. You know I,m convinced, history is the key to the future. And all my life (now 46) I have collected and cherished history in all forms and shapes, and learned to differ between information, theory, thesis ore down right bullshit if I may use such an expression. And seen in the light of this, your show is simply brilliant, invaluable and first class. Keep it up, and when your done with Napoleon, pleeeeease come up with a new topic. I would love Julius Cesare for starters.

    P.S. Anyone that can clean up those recordings, will get a poster from my picture collection (free choice in motive). You can find motives here in my portfolio gallery:

    By the way there is a drawing of Napoleon I did here. And it was directly inspired by Mr. Markham and his lecturing. Check it out..

  2. Cameron

    Per (and everyone else) – yes, very sorry about the beeping. It was there is our earlier shows as well and we couldn’t figure out what it was. Then it went away for a while. And now it’s back. David told me after the last show that he thought it was a smoke alarm in the house with a flat battery. As it is beeping WHILE he is speaking, it’s next to impossible for me to edit it out without removing his voice as well.

    By the way, amazing artwork!

  3. Kaboth

    Whoa Napoleon looks bad ass in the art. I can see him in a Frank Miller comic 🙂

  4. Hmm smoke alarm eh!. Bummer. Well not very much one can do about that(ore is it). My offer stand, in case anyone of your billions of listeners, are capable of some sort of sound wizardry, and can clean those recordings for us/me/everybody.
    And Cameron please, ask if Mr. Markham could be so kind, and get him self a new battery for his smoke alarm. Before I loose my mind. Ore worse, Mr. Markham’s house burns down. You know those alarms are there for a reason (is he living in this house?. He must be both deaf and super calm). Just imagine having Mr. and Mrs. Markham on the street, without accommodation? I mean that would be a major setback for the Napoleon community, wouldn’t it?
    So for everybody’s sake get a battery.

    Peace and love to you all (also Mrs. Markham).
    The Pos

  5. Cameron

    Wow Kaboth, I think you’re onto something! Imagine a comic about Napoleon done like Miller’s 300. Brilliant.

    Per, if you want to make ink it, I’ll do the storyline. Could be HUGE.

  6. Ok, OK, I get the idea. I’ll get a battery and crawl up to fix the problem. But when I listen to the podcast the beep seems awfully faint. You should here it in the library! It is a pain, but I generally ignore it. But I’ll get the job done this weekend, I promise!!

    Remember, I teach, so hearing obnoxious sounds is second nature to me!! 🙂

    Nice artwork, Per. But you say my lecturing inspired the image. He is so dour looking; I have clearly failed! But you have real talent and the portrait is quite stunning.

    Best to all,


  7. Could be a funny experiment, we could start with a little part of his life, just to see how it would be received. I’m basically positive to the idea, just hit me with a script draft, and we’ll take it from there.
    I also wanted to mention the job you are doing Cameron, you have managed to pull together quit a remarkable show. And your function as a narrator and sound man, are second to no one else in the world of podcasting.
    Specially considering you being on two different continents, I’m impressed.
    And Mr. Markham you are an inspiration to us all, you are number one, no less.

    P.S. OK I have a confession to bring forth: After you told me what the sound on the recordings where, I have absolutely no problem listening to it. As soon as I knew it wasn’t Mr. Markham’s shoes (sneakers), everything was just cool bananas. Weirdest thing hmmm. It is incredible how your imagination can get you going.
    But I still think it is a good idea to replace the battery he he.

    Peace and love
    The Pos

  8. Kaboth

    Yeah we wouldn’t want to see all those nice snuff boxes, books, paintings and other random Napoleonic memorabilia go up in flames 🙂

    I never noticed the sound in the previous podcasts and I probably wouldn’t have noticed it this time unless Per pointed it out. I’m quite in the habit of ignoring my own beeping fire alarm. I figure someone else will fix it. They really should make those things more annoying so us lazy buggers get up and put new batteries in them, how about a voice shouting various expletives and brims and mortar prophecies. You’d probably fix it quick then 🙂

    I think 19th century Paris would look awesome given the Frank Miller touch. Imagine how graphics the guillotine would be 🙂

  9. ROB (perth - Australia)

    firstly, another great podcast and i must say i reallly enjoy the ramblings of Mr Markham and the tangents that both he and cam go on. That is one of the best things about the podcast is the little tangents that break up the information about Napoleon.

    Cam i would love to hear more quotes from Napoleon is there a book with his quotes and some of those hardcore letters he sends to his brothers?

    Mr Markham i have just bought your book Napoleon Road to Victory and am looking forward to getting into it. Keep up the good work.

  10. Cameron

    Tangents!!?? I’ll have you know, Rob, that each of those little “tangents” is the result of hours and hours of planning and forethought!

    And if you believe that…

    I’ve got a number of collections of Napoleon’s letters, but this is the one I use mostly in the podcast:

  11. mike brown

    just listened to the friedland cast, and to say i am annoyed is the least, the comment about waterloo station really is stupid, don’t forget AUSTERLITZ STATION in paris or don’t the french victories bother the austrians or russians unlike some touchy frenchmen.
    A few years ago there was a call to change the name of waterloo station as it may offend some frenchmen, so perhaps they will change the name of austerlitz station.

  12. Mike

    I had been listening to Podcast #6, refreshing myself on Napoleon’s Italian campaign, and while reading the comments sections found these next couple posts (from almost a year ago!) I thought it was rather amusing, considering the hard time David is getting right now! 🙂

    Amanda Says:

    June 14th, 2006 at 3:26 am
    David and Cameron,
    What an amazing idea! I don’t know what I would be doing without my Napoleon podcasts which I listen to while running at the gym or in the car for long periods of time……
    P.S What is that noise in the back ground of the first few episodes? It sounds like a dying battery in a smoke detector. It’s rather funny!

    cameron Says:

    June 14th, 2006 at 9:47 am
    Amanda, thanks for the feedback! You’ve totally made my day. My ambition for this show was to help people discover a passion for Napolonic history. I’m sure David will be pleased to know someone thought his book would make a great Christmas present!

    As for the pinging sound in the background of the show… we know it’s on David’s side but we haven’t been able to figure out what it is! Drives me crazy!

  13. Mike

    Concerning the 1809 Campaign – one of my favorite books is “The Emperor’s Last Victory” by Gunther Rothenberg. Has anyone else read it/have opinions on it?

  14. I discovered your Napoleon series a month or two ago, and recently finished #20; glad to find #21.

    I often listen to “The Teaching Company” recorded lectures. While yours are very different in the relaxed tone (which I like just as well as TTC formality), they are just as entertaining.

    While I have a Ph.D. in history, I’m not a practicing historian (computers got me). I do design historical boardgames, but usually pre-gunpowder. Maybe someday I’ll try one from Napoleon’s era.


    Today at shortly after 1:00 PM (13:00) Pacific Standard Time, David Markham bowed to the Inevitable by responding to a growing and increasingly hostile groundswell of opinion demanding action on his part. Yes, that’s right folks, he finally roused himself into action and performed a battery transplant in the smoke alarm! “I was using a faulty ladder and taking extreme personal risk of major injury, but no sacriface is too great for my loyal listeners,” Markham said. Teardrop, Markham’s British Shorthair cat, supervised the entire operation. Cameron Reilly, the chief button-pusher of the podcast, commented, “I am really glad that this issue has finally been resolved. I was afraid I’d have to spring for additional hard drive space just to keep all of the complaints we’ve been getting on the subject. Now, perhaps we can move on to more important topics, like whether or not Waterloo Station is an insult to the French.” Markham added, “I’m not really sure the problem is solved, as I still hear the beeping ringing in my ears, and it may be some time before I’ll be able to differentiate between the real and imagined beeps.” The next podcast is scheduled for 21 May. Listners to Napoleon 101 will then be able to hear for themselves whether or not the battery transplant was successful.

  16. Mike Brown (we have more than one Mike now),

    I don’t think my comment on Waterloo station was stupid. I think you took it far too seriously. Of course the British are entitled to a station by that name (as well as Trafalgar Square, etc), just like the French are entitled to a Gare d’Austerlitz. My only point was that it was ironic, and perhaps a slight dig, that the new connection between France and England terminated at that station. And, as I understand it, now that the British have (or soon will have) upgraded the quality of their rail lines to allow for higher speeds, the Eurostar will actually terminate in a different and more central station.

    Amanda, are you still listening? I don’t think I ever sent your high school a copy of one of my books. If I didn’t, let me know the address and I’ll do so.

    Mike (the other one), the book you mention is quite good from what I can see (though I’ve not yet had time to read it yet).

    Rob from Perth, there are lots of books of Napoleon’s letters. Send me an email and I’ll be happy to send you a list.

    Best to one and all,


  17. Mike G

    I guess since there are two Mikes I can be Mike G from now on? 🙂

    Sorry David, I couldn’t resist posting those year old comments for you!
    By the way, does Teardrop have any opinions on Waterloo station?? My chihuahua Keesa (not kidding my wife and I really have one :), gets offended each and every ‘Cinco de Mayo’ when I remind her that even though the Mexicans won the Battle of Puebla, Napoleon III’s forces were ultimately victorious. She’s not speaking to either one of us right now (in English or Spanish!)

    As far as the book goes, I actually meant to mention Robert M. Epstein’s “Napoleon’s Last Victory and the Emergence of Modern War” – probably one of my very favorite Napoleonic books. I do have a copy of the Gunther Rothenberg book, although I haven’t read it yet.

    I used to do quite a bit of 15mm Napoleonic wargaming (using Napoleon’s Battles rules), and as at the time I had a sizeable Austrian force (the French were already taken). Gaming the 1809 War was always my favorite because of the fact that the French didn’t seem so invincible and the Austrians had improved much of their command structure/tactics since the 1805 debacle. Not to mention the sheer size and scale of battles such as Wagram.


  18. Mr Markham’s bravery and will to put his own health at risk for his fans, is rather impressive. Go Mr. Markham Go Go!!

    Peace and love
    The Pos

  19. Antonio

    I submit to you a new quote: “Listeners, from the height of this ladder a long time expired battery looks down on us!”


  20. I travelled back from Paris on the Eurostar a couple of weeks back. The very first thing you see on the station concourse as you emerge from the platform is a pub called Bonaparte’s bar with a picture of a very young Napoleon prominently displayed. I hesitate to speak on my French friends’ behalf, but I think that would allay any offence at the name of the station.

    A lot of water has flowed under the bridges of Europe since 1815. I think we can all look back on that era with a fair amount of detachment nowadays. To be honest places like Waterloo in London and Austerlitz in Paris now have long histories of their own which probably spring to mind more quickly to the locals than the historic events after which they were originally named. Waterloo station is certainly a lot more associated in my mind with a song by the Kinks than the battle.

  21. Artem B

    Hey Cameron and Markham, I have to say I really love the show. I have listened for about half a year now and this if my first comment. I’m Artem from Toronto, Canada.

    What got me started on the show was reading Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky for my English ISP. Raskolnikov commits his crime and when pushed for an explanation one of his answers (which at first I dismissed because I didn’t really understand it) was that he wanted to test if he was a louse or a man of greatness such as Napoleon. After listening to the podcast I understand what Raskolnikov means and I understand the breadth of Napoleon’s character. It should be a level we all aim to achieve in our lives. The point I am trying to make is that the Napoleonic Legacy has had a very large impact on not only history, but on art and the potential of the human spirit. I suggest that after the history of Napoleon is done an episode be done on his Legacy, his impact on arts and sciences, on those he inspired and continues to inspire today. Also the juxtapose position should also be shown for merit; the belief that Napoleon fabricated his legacy on St. Helena which I know in part aided the longevity of his story.

    P.S I am agonizingly waiting for the podcast on Julies Caesar. You guys should just go through all the truly great leaders in history.

  22. Cameron

    Thanks Artem! I’m looking forward to doing Caesar and Alexander as well but I’ll be sad to finish Napoleon. That’s why I’m thinking David and I should re-visit Napoleon in a year or two to do the video edition while we travel around Europe.

  23. Ben

    Hey Guys, great show on my favourie part of Napoleonic history, the 1809 Danube campaign!

    Just a note regarding Bernadotte’s ‘retirement’ at Wagram. He not only performed poorly, which Napoleon may have been able to overlook as he had before (let’s face it, Bernadotte had never been in the same game, let alone same league as the likes of Davout, Massena, Lannes and Ney). After his corps abysmal performance, he issued a bulletin praising their – and his own – bravery. This was what finally pushed Napoleon to get rid of Bernadotte.
    Also, Cameron, Lannes was given the title of ‘Duc de Montebello’ in recognition of his performance at the Battle of Montebello in 1800, right before Marengo. Zaragoza was later, but his performance was no less amazing. I particularly like the story that when his troops refused to storm the heavily defended breach in the city’s walls, he grabbed a ladder himself and ran out to attack on his own, followed by his staff, who then grabbed the other end of the ladder and tried to pull him back to safety. They eventually did, but by then the troops had rallied to save their beloved Lannes and stormed the city.
    Thanks again guys for putting so much effort into this great show.
    After the Napoelon Podcast, and the Alexander one, and the Caesar one, perhaps you could keep the theme going by covering all of Napoleon’s seven captains of History – “Read over and over again the campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus, Turenne, Eugene and Frederic. Make them your models. This is the only way to become a great general and to master the secrets of the art of war. With your own genius enlightened by this study, you will reject all maxims opposed to those of these great commanders.” -Napoleon

  24. Cameron

    Thanks for correcting my bad information Ben! What would I do without you! That’s my 8 cents a day at hard work, right there. 🙂

  25. Ben

    Haha, I wouldn’t presume to correct! Just adding to =P. Lannes was named Duc de Montebello because of his preformance at Zaragoza, but the title was in honour of the battle of Montebello in 1800. Nice and confusing, huh!

  26. Austin

    Hello everyone,

    Just last week I was assigned a project in my american history class. It was suppossed to be about the American civil war, but I mannaged to twist the project from tactics of the civil war to napolionic tactics in the civil war to napoleons influence on the American civil war. I really enjoied doing it and was wondering if cameron and david are going to say anything about that in the episode in the distant future about napololeons legacy (considering you were suppost to only do 15 episodes and you have done 21, i figure it will be a while). I don’t mean to jump ahead (or way ahead), but i figured i better ask now before i forget.

  27. Trevor Hardcastle

    Are you sure that the word Tsar originated from Ceaser? I believe it came to Russia from Mongol-Tatar empire and there is very unlikely that these folks were aware of the Roman history.

  28. Cameron

    Trevor, according to Wikipedia:

    The word tsar (царь, car’ ) is a contraction of the earlier tsesar (цѣсарь, cÄ›sar’ ), derived from the Roman title Caesar.

    The term “tsar” was used once by Church officials of Kievan Rus in the naming of Yaroslav the Wise of Kiev. This may be connected to Yaroslav’s war against Byzantium and to his efforts to distance himself from Constantinople. However, other princes of Kievan Rus never called themselves as “tsars”[9] After the fall of Constantinople to the Crusaders and the Mongol invasion of Rus, the term “tsar” was applied by some people of Kievan Rus to the Mongol (Tatar) overlords of the Rus’ principalities. Yet the first Russian ruler to openly break with the khan, Mikhail of Tver, assumed the title of “Basileus of Rus” and “tsar”.[10]

    Following his assertion of independence from the Golden Horde and perhaps also his marriage to an heiress of the Byzantine Empire, “Veliki Kniaz” Ivan III of Muscovy started to use the title of tsar regularly in diplomatic relations with the West. From about 1480, he is designated as “imperator” in his Latin correspondence, as “keyser” in his correspondence with the Swedish regent, as “kejser” in his correspondence with the Danish king, Teutonic Knights, and the Hansa. Ivan’s son Vasily III continued using these titles, as his Latin letters to Clement VII testify: “Magnus Dux Basilius, Dei gratia Imperator et Dominator totius Russiae, nec non Magnus Dux Woldomeriae”, etc. (In the Russian version of the letter, “imperator” corresponds to “tsar”). Herberstein correctly observed that the titles of “kaiser” and “imperator” were attempts to render the Russian term “tsar” into German and Latin, respectively.


  29. Nick

    Hi Cameron, Mr. Markham, and fellow Napoleon fans,

    I discovered the podcast about a month ago, loved it, and so decided to the episodes one at a time during my daily commute, so now I am finally (and sadly) caught up and will have to wait for the next episode like everyone else. 🙁
    on the plus side, I can finally post some comments of my own!

    Most on point is something really neat I discovered about Marshal Lannes before I had begun listening to the Napoleon podcast.
    I had listened to several podcasts narrated by the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in NY. The Director of the Met is named Philippe de Montebello. I could never quite place his accent – it sounded semi-British to me, but his last name seemed Italian and his first name was French. Well, I guess you can see where I’m going with this. The Director of one of the finest museum’s in the world is a direct descendent of Marshal Lannes! I’ve been waiting all month to post that information. 🙂

    On another note, for those who would like an alternative to the Sharpe novels, some Napoleonic fiction from the “French perspective,” I’d like to recommend a series of short stories written by, of all people, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! They can be found in one volume under the title: “The Adventures (or The Exploits) of Brigadier Gerard.” They’re exciting, funny stories, and Conan Doyle seems to enjoy mocking British eccentricities as they would be seen from a French point of view. Cameron, I think you’d especially get a kick out of that. 🙂

    Last, and also least, the book Cameron recommended on the letters of Napoleon is published by: “Trafalgar Square Publishing.” oh the irony!

    ok that’s it for now.
    can’t wait for the next episode.

    – Nick

  30. Nick,

    Thanks for the post. Lots of irony in Napoleon v. Britain. My first trip to his tomb, 22 years ago or so, I bought a mug with a crowned N on it. On the bottom? Made in Great Britain!

    Never read the Doyle stories, but will try to get around to that someday.



  31. Hans Grüner

    Thanks for an interesting programme. I am facinated by Napoleon and this part of history and enjoy educating myself on the subject. So far I have listened to two podcasts, Jena and fifth coalition. One comment I would like too make to both these are regarding your “crushing” of Bernadotte in general. From what I have read about Bernadotte Jena and Wagram are probably the low points in his carrier, but when digging into the details the story is not black and white; e.g. prior to Wagram Bernadotte pointed out that his Saxxon army was incapable of acting as independent corps. Quote of letter from Bernadotte to Berthier 28th May 1809: “..the Saxxons, I repeat, are quite incompentent to act as independent corps,…I repeat with the Saxxons I can undertake nothing.”

    Bernadotte is in fact is a very facinating characther from the Napoleonic period. He started his carrier 17 yr old as a private in the French royal army, got promoted to General during the revolutionary wars and ended up as king of Sweden until he died in 1844. During his ruling periode Sweden enjoyed tremendous economic growth and have had peace since 1812.

    Another achievent not well known is his march from Coblenz across the alps in the depth of the winter to Nortern Italy in command of a corps from the army of the Rhine early 1997 to assist Napoleon then commanding the army of Italy. Some experts state that this was a more difficult achievment than Napoleon`s crossing of the alps a few years later. Historians seems to either glorify or crusify Bernadotte, and I think that he sometimes was his own enemy because he (as Napoleon wrote on St. Helena), he was prone to boasting, apparantly common for people from Gascogne. He is portrayed as a traitor by many. At St. Helena Napoleon eventually wrote that he could not blame Bernadotte for not keeping his word, but he blamed him for being ungrateful. OK, the note got a lot longer than first intended, but it is all so interesting that one gets carried away.

    I highly recommend three books by Sir Plunket Baron Dunbar on Bernadotte;

    1) Bernadotte- The first phase 1763-1799
    2) Bernadotte and Napoleon, 1799-1810
    3) Bernadotte, Prince and King 1810-1844

    Best regards
    Hans Grüner Norway (a country indepedent of the Bernodotte Dynasty since 1905!)

  32. Charlie

    I know this is a bit late, but was I the only one to change their smoke alarm battery because of this? At one point I turned off my iPod and stood under my smoke alarm for about 5 minutes. After hearing nothing I turned the iPod back on and then it started again. I figured it was recorded on the show at about the 50 minute mark, now confirmed. Who has the best time so far?

  33. Cameron

    well it took David and I 18 months to work out that’s what it was charlie, so I think you win!

  34. Burk

    Dear Napoleon 101-
    I am thoroughly enjoying the archived podcasts, trolling slowly through the story as my wife and I read war and peace at the same time(!). But one comment caught my attention in this episode, which was JDM’s judgment about Napoleon versus Lincoln… that Napoleon was the greater man by all measures, greater intellect, historical scope, military acumen, etc. I would regard the moral and philosophical dimensions as salient as well, and note that Lincoln never crowned himself emperor, did not make his brothers, children, and other relations into royalty, did not try to re-subjugate enslaved peoples such as in Haiti, did not discard his wife for imperial liaisons, did not spread war to other countries, or re-ignite wars and resentment after a final defeat, and did not subvert the system of laws he had helped to create. The continental system was a very complex and different environment, but that is no excuse for personal megalomania, which did so much to undo all the good Napoleon created.

    Sincerely -Burk

  35. Cameron

    Burk, glad you are enjoying the show! I don’t remember David’s exact comment, but I’m sure he has as much respect for Lincoln as you obviously do (as do I!). However, I’m not sure I agree with your list of faults you accuse Napoleon of.

    For example, I don’t think he “reignited wars” before or after his final defeat. The majority of the wars against France during Napoleon’s reign were started by the rest of Europe (with, perhaps, the exception of Portugal).

    Making himself and his siblings rulers of Europe was a political decision to try to stop put him on an equal footing with the other European rulers who called him “the usurper” and to try to crush the benefits of repeated attempts at his assassination. Perhaps if Lincoln had done the same thing, he might have lived longer as well?

    His divorce from Josephine was also a political decision, because he needed an heir.

    As for Haiti… I’ll admit this is a subject which is brought up a lot by listeners of the show and, despite several attempts, i haven’t been able to get many facts on the episode. I know Napoleon sent troops to Haiti after Toussaint L’Ouverture declared himself “Governor For Life” and that the French did apparently attempt to re-instate slavery. However I cant’ find any information in my library to verify that. It seem very out of character for Napoleon, who defended the rights of all men (if not women) during his career. Do you have more information on the episode that can shed some light on the facts?

  36. Eric Thorn

    So THAT’S what that incessant beeping is! I had started to think that I was entirely insane.

  37. Robert from Boston

    I came here to comment on the beeping as well! I knew right away that it was a smoke alarm low battery signal, and it had me going around my house standing under each of my smoke alarms! It’s so funny to see other folks commenting on it and I am overjoyed that Mr. Markham was able to get up courage to see that the sound was put to rest. Now, we need to get an audio engineer to remove the offending sound from all the episodes that it permeates through. I will have a crack at it in Audacity, and let you know if I am able to rectify this perturbing aural anomaly. I will report back mes amis!

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