#16 – Eylau, Poland and Maria Walewska

After Napoleon completely crushed the Prussians at Jena-Auerstedt, Europe was in shock. Back home in Paris, some were concerned that Napoleon’s continued success might blind him to opportunities for peace. Meanwhile, Russia’s Czar Alexander had his armies advance on Warsaw, forcing Napoleon to march to meet them. Early in 1807, he fought an extremely bloody but inconclusive battle at Eylau. He also spent time in Warsaw with the other great love of his life – the very young Maria Walewska.

By the way, I screwed up the audio on this show yet again. I think my mic was up too high, picking up too much background noise and making it difficult to raise David’s audio without the background buzz coming up as well. I’ll try hard to get improve it before the next episode!


#15 – The Battle of Jena-Auerstedt

The twin battles of Jena and Auerstedt (older name: Auerstädt) were fought on October 14, 1806 on the plateau west of the river Saale in today’s Germany, between the forces of Napoleon I of France and Frederick William III of Prussia. The decisive defeat suffered by the Prussian army resulted in Prussia’s elimination from the anti-French coalition up until the liberation war of 1813.

Some links to topics discussed on this episode:

Battle of Jena-Auerstedt
The Confederation of the Rhine
and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire
Queen Louise of Prussia
Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte

David has provided the following photos of objects from his collection which provide a pictorial dimension to this episode:

Queen Louise of Prussia

The Battle of Jena

Joseph Bonaparte, King of Naples

#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.

Don’t forget – we really value your feedback and comments and would love to have you participate in the conversation.

#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)

#12 – Emperor of the French

Napoleon crowned himself “Emperor Of The French” (as opposed to “Emperor of France”, an important distinction) on 2 December 1804 at Notre Dame de Paris. In this episode, we discuss in detail the events leading up to the Coronation, the reasons for it, the arguments against it, the actual coronation itself, and the reaction to it in France. We also discuss why Napoleon’s mother didn’t attend and why Pope Pius VII left early.

#11 – Peace With Britian

After the signing of The Treaty of Luneville in February 1801, France was at peace with every country in Europe. Only Britian stood in the way of a total peace. Listen in as JDM and I discuss some of the key events of the following period:

  • William Pitt had been replaced briefly by Henry Addington as Prime Minister of Britian
  • The impact of the assassination of Tsar Paul I of Russia in March 1801
  • Nelson’s destruction of the Danish fleet at Copenhagen ends Napoleon’s idea of invading England via Ireland
  • The reasons behind the Treaty of Amiens which was signed in March 1802
  • The terms of Amiens
  • Bonaparte made First Consul For Life, August 1802
  • The “infernal machine” and the trial of the Duc D’Enghien
  • Why Amiens failed
  • Britian declares war on France, May 1803

David and I would like to sincerely thank the thousands of listeners who tuned in since our last episode and a special thanks to those of you who have left us some feedback. Please keep it up! It warms the cockles of our hearts to hear that you are being entertained and even in some cases educated.

#10 – The Battle of Marengo

In this episode we explore First Consul Bonaparte’s failed attempts to make peace with the Kings of England and Austria after he took power in 1799 and the subsequent French campaign into Italy to regain the territory lost to the Austrians since Napoleon’s original Italian campaign.

We also cover:


#9 – Domestic Affairs

In 1799, when Napoleon became First Consul of France, he started a series of important domestic reforms which were revolutionary in Europe, many of which survive to this day. In this episode, we depart from Napoleon’s military triumphs and demonstrate a less-appreciated aspect of his career – his genius for domestic affairs.

We talk about:

  • The Code Napoleon
  • The Legion of Honour
  • The Bank of France and the economy
  • Public education
  • The Amnesty for the Emigres
  • and the Concordat with the Catholic Church

As always, David and I had a lot of fun producing this show and we hope you enjoy it. We would really love it if you’d let us know if you’re enjoying the show by leaving a comment.

#8 – The Coup of 18 Brumaire

When we last left Napoleon he was leaving Egypt in the middle of the night to sail quickly back to a corrupt and floundering Paris. In this episode, we talk about:

  • the corruption of the Directory
  • the various plots to overthrow the Revolutionary Government
  • Napoleon’s failed attempt to legitimately join the Directory to save it
  • Sieyes’ approach to Napoleon to join his plot for a coup
  • Napoleon’s speeches to The Council of Ancients, The Council of Five Hundred, and the eventual coup

And when we leave Napoleon in this episode he is, at the ripe old age of 30, the most powerful man in France.

In our next episode, we’ll talk about the new Constitution of the Year VIII, the Concordat with the Pope, and the drafting of the Civil Code aka the Code Napoleon.

#7 – The Egyptian Campaign

Is it just me or are these shows gradually getting longer? 🙂

When we last left Napoleon, he had concluded the Italian Campaign with the treaty of Campo Formio and was a national hero. In this episode we talk about the Egyptian Campaign of 1798-99:

  • Too soon for his political move in France
  • The invasion of England postponed
  • In the footsteps of Alexander, off to Egypt!
  • Taking and re-making Malta
  • Reading the Qu’ran
  • The Rosetta Stone
  • The Battle of the Pyramids
  • The Battle of the Nile
  • Talleyrand’s Betrayal (the first of many)
  • Into Syria (Israel)
  • The Battles of Acre, Jaffa, Aboukir
  • The execution of prisoners
  • The sudden return to France!

In our next episode, we will watch with bated breath as Napoleon executes the coup of 18 Brumaire and becomes 1st Consul of France!

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