#26 – The Invasion Of Russia (Part III)

Recorded on Napoleon’s 238th birthday, we celebrate by making this our LONGEST show yet! 93 minutes of Napoleonic fun! Well, actually, as the subject is the Russian campaign, perhaps not so much fun for Napoleon and his troops, but fun for us to discuss nonetheless.

In this episode we find Napoleon marching into Moscow, the Russians (yes, the Russians!) setting fire to their ancient city, Napoleon waiting for Alexander to make peace, finally realizing that isn’t going to happen, and then marching (what remains of) the Grand Armee back to France. Of course, this “retreat” (or “strategic withdrawal”, as David insists on calling it) is perhaps one of the most tragic stories in military history.

Some objects from David’s personal collections:

Borodino

General Frost

For further reading, I recommend:

 

#25 – The Invasion Of Russia (Part II)

In this episode, David talks us through The Battle of Borodino, which took place on September 7, 1812, and was the largest and bloodiest single-day battle of the Napoleonic Wars, involving more than a quarter of a million soldiers and resulting in at least 70,000 casualties. Next stop – MOSCOW.

The Battle of Borodino

For further reading, I recommend:

 

#24 – The Invasion Of Russia (Part I)

On June 24, 1812, the Grande Armée of approximately 600,000 men, the largest army assembled up to that point in European history, crossed the river Neman and headed towards Moscow. In this episode, we focus on the first few months, and follow Napoleon as he captures Vilna, Vitebsk and Smolensk.

We examine why Napoleon was so confident that the campaign would be a short one and why he was so very, very wrong. We also discuss what was happening in the Russian camp and look at the political implications of their retreat.

 

#23 – The Road To Moscow

In this episode we explore the political events that resulted in Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, the tragedy that formed the central events of Tolstoy’s War and Peace and which saw Napoleon raise the largest army in history up until that time, 500,000 – 700,000 men (historians vary on exactly how many there were).

Napoleon is often accused of being the instigator of this war (something Tolstoy, a Russian, was happy to suggest) but David and I examine the facts behind this perspective.

While this is a tragic and deeply moving period of Napoleonic history, it is also one of the most fascinating, both from a military and a humanist perspective.

Perhaps the best graphical representation of this unfortunate episode (or, in fact, one of the greatest use of informational graphics ever) is this image by French engineer Charles Minard.

Edward Tufte called it “the best statistical graphic ever drawn” and uses it as a prime example in The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. (source)

 

#22 – Au Revoir Josphine, Bonjour Marie-Louise and the King of Rome!

Welcome back! It’s been a long time between episodes. To celebrate our return, we have a very special guest co-host – Prof. Bob Packett from “History According To Bob”! Bob is the Godfather of History podcasting. It was his show that gave me the idea to start our little Napoleon podcast and we’re very excited about having him join us. If you have never listened to his show, we highly recommend it.

In this episode we cover some of the events that happened in Napoleon’s private life during the peace that lasted from Wagram in 1809 until The Sixth Coalition in 1812, including:

  • Napoleon’s divorce from Josephine
  • His attempts to wed Tsar Alexander’s sister Anna
  • His eventual marriage to Marie-Louise of Austria
  • The birth of his first legitimate son known as the King of Rome aka Napoleon II

At the end of the show we have provided a suggested bibliography for this period, thanks to a suggestion from listener Jackm over on the forums.

 

#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)

 

I have a favour to ask – it would really help the continued success of the show if each of you would go into iTunes and vote for the show and leave a comment about how much you enjoy it. CLICK HERE to open up our page in the iTunes store.

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!

#20 – The Peninsula War (Part Two)

Welcome to the dramatic conclusion to the Peninsular War! It’s a long episode, possibly our longest, but we were determined to conclude this affair today!

In episode #19 we gave you some background on how Napoleon ended up in the Iberian peninsula. Today we pick it up from about the time Joseph was made the King of Spain.

Of course, in discussing Spain we also introduce someone whose story is forever associated with Napoleon’s – Sir Arthur Wellesley, aka the Duke of Wellington. It was during the Peninsula War that their fates first became entwined.


Napoleon's victories in Spain'

Additional Resources:

The Peninsula War
Map of the Iberian Peninsula
The Continental System
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington


I have a favour to ask
– it would really help the continued success of the show if each of you would go into iTunes and vote for the show and leave a comment about how much you enjoy it. CLICK HERE to open up our page in the iTunes store.

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!

#19 – The Peninsula War (Part One)

After the Battle Of Trafalgar (1805), the relationship between Spain (which had previously declared war on France in 1793 and then an alliance in 1795) and France soured.

In 1807, Spain was in turmoil, due to infighting between their disinterested Bourbon king Charles IV, his son Ferdinand and the Spanish Prime Minister (also the not-so-secret lover of Queen Marie Louisa), Manuel de Godoy. They turned to Napoleon for assistance to sort out their affairs. Already having occupied Portugal (because they refused to join the Continental System) Napoleon moved his forces into Madrid.

He didn’t count on one thing – the Spanish peasants. The resulting war is where the term “guerrilla” warfare was invented (guerra in Spanish means war and -illa means small – i.e. guerrilla warfare is fought with small, insurgent troops instead of large traditional armies).


The Second of May, 1808: The Charge of the Mamelukes, by Francisco de Goya (1814).

The Peninsular War saw an alliance of Spain, Portugal, and Britain battle the French Empire for control of the Iberian Peninsula. It lasted from 1808 until Napoleon’s first abdication in 1814. In this episode we provide an introduction and some background to the war.

Additional Resources:

The Peninsula War
Map of the Iberian Peninsula
The Continental System

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!

#18 – The Battle Of Trafalgar

Welcome to the tragic Episode 18 of the Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast here on The Podcast Network.

Once again, David and I would like to thank everyone for the wonderful feedback and comments we have received since the last episode. We both really appreciate it and it’s added motivation to keep producing the show although, as you know, we have so much fun being Napoleon geeks together that the entire British navy couldn’t keep us away!

Speaking of the British navy…. this episode is about the Battle Of Trafalgar.


Battle Of Trafalgar by JWM Turner

On 21 October 1805, the French navy under the command of Villeneuve met disaster against the British navy under the command of Horatio Nelson at Cape Trafalgar, off the coast of Spain, in what is known as The Battle Of Trafalgar

To get a good idea of what naval battles in the early 19th century must have been like, we both recommend watching the 2003 film by Australian director Peter Weir,
Master And Commander
.

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!

#17 – The Battle of Friedland and the Treaty of Tilsit

On this marvelous 17th episode, recorded almost 200 years after the actual events occurred, we examine the final months of the “Fourth Coalition” leading up to the “Treaty of Tilsit”.

Russian forces, lead by Count von Bennigsen, were crushed by Napoleon’s army at Friedland on June 14, 1807.

Friedland

Three days later Russia asked for a truce. By the Treaties of Tilsit in July 1807, France made peace with Russia and forced Prussia to give up half of its territory to France, Jerome Bonaparte‘s Kingdom of Westphalia, and the new Duchy of Warsaw.


Tilsit snuffbox

Napoleon was virtually in control of western and central Europe. Some historians consider Tilsit to represent the pinnacle of Napoleon’s career. He had conquered all of mainland Europe and secured peace for France. Unfortunately, it was to prove short-lived.

We also talk briefly about Talleyrand‘s resignation from his position of Minster of Foreign Affairs after Tilsit and hint at his role as a traitor to France (or was it just to Napoleon?) in the years to come.

Next episode – The Battle of Trafalgar!

The theme music is La Marseillaise.

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