Posts Tagged ‘19th Century’
As I was staying in Vienna August 2012 I was able to visit the Battlefields of Aspern Essling and Wagram. These were the sites of the clashes between Napoleon and Arch Duke Charles. In the case of Wagram it would be the largest battle ever fought up to that moment. This blog is about the first battle – Napoleon’s first defeat.
In 1809 Napoleon had never been personally defeated. He had over 12 years fought campaigns in turn against Austria, Russia, Prussia and other states and had beaten them each. Austria had been heavily defeated in 1805 at Austerlitz, Prussia in 1806 and Russia in 1807. In 1809 Britain alone was fighting France in distant Spain and Portugal. The terms of the defeat in 1805 were harsh on Austria and so in 1809 Austria decided to invade Bavaria (a French ally) to strike back.
The Austria army in 1809 had been radically reformed after the defeat at Austerlitz in 1805 and at a tactical level could now compete with the French. Its shortcomings were at the strategic level and there were major faults with an over rigid command structure that did not allow for much initiative. This would hurt the Austrians in the long run. Read the rest of this entry »
“I awake full of you. Your image and the memory of last night’s intoxicating pleasures has left no rest to my senses.”
Napoléon Bonaparte will be remembered as one of history’s greatest generals; yet the one victory that seemed always to elude him was the battle for the affections of his own wife.
She was born Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie, the daughter of a wealthy Creole sugar baron in Martinique. But after hurricanes destroyed the family plantation, she was married off to the Vicomte de Beauharnais in Paris in October, 1779, in order to preserve the family fortune. It was an unhappy marriage, but it produced two children, Eugène and Hortense.
During the Reign of Terror, in 1794, her husband was arrested as an aristocratic ‘suspect’ by the Jacobins; Joséphineherself was imprisoned a month later. He was guillotined and she herself was only saved from the same fate by the timely overthrow of Robespierre, just one day before her scheduled execution.
As a widow with two children to support, she chose her lovers with her head rather than her heart. She became mistress to several of France’s political and financial luminaries. But Joséphine was a shopper of the first rank and ran up enormous debts during her life.
In fact, when she met Napoléon it was rumored that her present lover, Paul Barras, was very happy for the other man to take her off his hands. He simply couldn’t afford her. He had met his financial Waterloo. Read the rest of this entry »