Battle of Austerlitz
Overview
 
The Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was one of Napoleon's
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 greatest victories, where the French Empire
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

 effectively crushed the Third Coalition
Third Coalition
The War of the Third Coalition was a conflict which spanned from 1803 to 1806. It saw the defeat of an alliance of Austria, Portugal, Russia, and others by France and its client states under Napoleon I...

. On 2 December 1805 (20 November Old Style
Old Style and New Style dates
Old Style and New Style are used in English language historical studies either to indicate that the start of the Julian year has been adjusted to start on 1 January even though documents written at the time use a different start of year ; or to indicate that a date conforms to the Julian...

, 11 Frimaire An XIV, in the French Republican Calendar
French Republican Calendar
The French Republican Calendar or French Revolutionary Calendar was a calendar created and implemented during the French Revolution, and used by the French government for about 12 years from late 1793 to 1805, and for 18 days by the Paris Commune in 1871...

), a French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 army, commanded by Emperor Napoleon I
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

, decisively defeated a Russo
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

-Austrian
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

 army, commanded by Tsar Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

 and Francis II of Holy Roman Empire
Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor
Francis II was the last Holy Roman Emperor, ruling from 1792 until 6 August 1806, when he dissolved the Empire after the disastrous defeat of the Third Coalition by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz...

, after nearly nine hours of difficult fighting. The battle
Battle
Generally, a battle is a conceptual component in the hierarchy of combat in warfare between two or more armed forces, or combatants. In a battle, each combatant will seek to defeat the others, with defeat determined by the conditions of a military campaign...

 took place near Austerlitz (Slavkov u Brna)
Slavkov u Brna
Slavkov u Brna is a country town east of Brno in the South Moravian Region of the Czech Republic. Population: 5,900. The town is widely known for giving its name to the Battle of Austerlitz which actually took place several kilometres to the west of the town....

 about 10 km (6.2 mi) south-east of Brno
Brno
Brno by population and area is the second largest city in the Czech Republic, the largest Moravian city, and the historical capital city of the Margraviate of Moravia. Brno is the administrative centre of the South Moravian Region where it forms a separate district Brno-City District...

 in Moravia
Moravia
Moravia is a historical region in Central Europe in the east of the Czech Republic, and one of the former Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Silesia. It takes its name from the Morava River which rises in the northwest of the region...

, at that time in the Austrian Empire
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

 (present day Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

).
Encyclopedia
The Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was one of Napoleon's
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 greatest victories, where the French Empire
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

 effectively crushed the Third Coalition
Third Coalition
The War of the Third Coalition was a conflict which spanned from 1803 to 1806. It saw the defeat of an alliance of Austria, Portugal, Russia, and others by France and its client states under Napoleon I...

. On 2 December 1805 (20 November Old Style
Old Style and New Style dates
Old Style and New Style are used in English language historical studies either to indicate that the start of the Julian year has been adjusted to start on 1 January even though documents written at the time use a different start of year ; or to indicate that a date conforms to the Julian...

, 11 Frimaire An XIV, in the French Republican Calendar
French Republican Calendar
The French Republican Calendar or French Revolutionary Calendar was a calendar created and implemented during the French Revolution, and used by the French government for about 12 years from late 1793 to 1805, and for 18 days by the Paris Commune in 1871...

), a French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 army, commanded by Emperor Napoleon I
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

, decisively defeated a Russo
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

-Austrian
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

 army, commanded by Tsar Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

 and Francis II of Holy Roman Empire
Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor
Francis II was the last Holy Roman Emperor, ruling from 1792 until 6 August 1806, when he dissolved the Empire after the disastrous defeat of the Third Coalition by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz...

, after nearly nine hours of difficult fighting. The battle
Battle
Generally, a battle is a conceptual component in the hierarchy of combat in warfare between two or more armed forces, or combatants. In a battle, each combatant will seek to defeat the others, with defeat determined by the conditions of a military campaign...

 took place near Austerlitz (Slavkov u Brna)
Slavkov u Brna
Slavkov u Brna is a country town east of Brno in the South Moravian Region of the Czech Republic. Population: 5,900. The town is widely known for giving its name to the Battle of Austerlitz which actually took place several kilometres to the west of the town....

 about 10 km (6.2 mi) south-east of Brno
Brno
Brno by population and area is the second largest city in the Czech Republic, the largest Moravian city, and the historical capital city of the Margraviate of Moravia. Brno is the administrative centre of the South Moravian Region where it forms a separate district Brno-City District...

 in Moravia
Moravia
Moravia is a historical region in Central Europe in the east of the Czech Republic, and one of the former Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Silesia. It takes its name from the Morava River which rises in the northwest of the region...

, at that time in the Austrian Empire
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

 (present day Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

). The battle is often regarded as a tactical masterpiece.

The French victory at Austerlitz effectively brought the Third Coalition to an end. On 26 December 1805, Austria and France signed the Treaty of Pressburg, which took Austria out of the war, reinforced the earlier treaties of Campo Formio
Treaty of Campo Formio
The Treaty of Campo Formio was signed on 18 October 1797 by Napoleon Bonaparte and Count Philipp von Cobenzl as representatives of revolutionary France and the Austrian monarchy...

 and Lunéville
Treaty of Lunéville
The Treaty of Lunéville was signed on 9 February 1801 between the French Republic and the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, negotiating both on behalf of his own domains and of the Holy Roman Empire...

, made Austria cede land to Napoleon's German allies, and imposed an indemnity
Indemnity
An indemnity is a sum paid by A to B by way of compensation for a particular loss suffered by B. The indemnitor may or may not be responsible for the loss suffered by the indemnitee...

 of 40 million franc
Franc
The franc is the name of several currency units, most notably the Swiss franc, still a major world currency today due to the prominence of Swiss financial institutions and the former currency of France, the French franc until the Euro was adopted in 1999...

s on the defeated Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

s. Russian troops were allowed to head back to home soil. Victory at Austerlitz also permitted the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine
Confederation of the Rhine
The Confederation of the Rhine was a confederation of client states of the First French Empire. It was formed initially from 16 German states by Napoleon after he defeated Austria's Francis II and Russia's Alexander I in the Battle of Austerlitz. The Treaty of Pressburg, in effect, led to the...

, a collection of German states intended as a buffer zone between France and central Europe. In 1806, the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 ceased to exist when Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 Francis II
Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor
Francis II was the last Holy Roman Emperor, ruling from 1792 until 6 August 1806, when he dissolved the Empire after the disastrous defeat of the Third Coalition by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz...

 kept Francis I of Austria as his only official title. These achievements, however, did not establish a lasting peace on the continent. Prussian
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

 worries about growing French influence in Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

 sparked the War of the Fourth Coalition
War of the Fourth Coalition
The Fourth Coalition against Napoleon's French Empire was defeated in a war spanning 1806–1807. Coalition partners included Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and the United Kingdom....

 in 1806.

Prologue

Europe had been in turmoil since the start of the French Revolutionary Wars
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of major conflicts, from 1792 until 1802, fought between the French Revolutionary government and several European states...

 in 1792. In 1797, after five years of war, the French Republic
French First Republic
The French First Republic was founded on 22 September 1792, by the newly established National Convention. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First French Empire in 1804 under Napoleon I...

 subdued the First Coalition
First Coalition
The War of the First Coalition was the first major effort of multiple European monarchies to contain Revolutionary France. France declared war on the Habsburg monarchy of Austria on 20 April 1792, and the Kingdom of Prussia joined the Austrian side a few weeks later.These powers initiated a series...

. A Second Coalition was formed in 1798, but by 1801, this too was defeated, leaving Britain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 the only opponent of the new French Consulate
French Consulate
The Consulate was the government of France between the fall of the Directory in the coup of 18 Brumaire in 1799 until the start of the Napoleonic Empire in 1804...

. In March 1802, France and Britain agreed to end hostilities under the Treaty of Amiens
Treaty of Amiens
The Treaty of Amiens temporarily ended hostilities between the French Republic and the United Kingdom during the French Revolutionary Wars. It was signed in the city of Amiens on 25 March 1802 , by Joseph Bonaparte and the Marquess Cornwallis as a "Definitive Treaty of Peace"...

. For the first time in ten years, all of Europe was at peace. However, many problems persisted between the two sides, making implementation of the treaty increasingly difficult. The British government resented having to turn over most of the colonial conquests it had made since 1793. Napoleon was angry that British troops had not evacuated the island of Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

. The tense situation only worsened when Napoleon sent an expeditionary force to crush the Haitian Revolution
Haitian Revolution
The Haitian Revolution was a period of conflict in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which culminated in the elimination of slavery there and the founding of the Haitian republic...

. In May 1803, Britain declared war on France.

The Third Coalition

In December 1804, an Anglo-Swedish agreement led to the creation of the Third Coalition. British Prime Minister William Pitt
William Pitt the Younger
William Pitt the Younger was a British politician of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He became the youngest Prime Minister in 1783 at the age of 24 . He left office in 1801, but was Prime Minister again from 1804 until his death in 1806...

 spent 1804 and 1805 in a flurry of diplomatic activity geared towards forming a new coalition against France, and by April 1805, Britain and Russia had signed an alliance. Having been defeated twice in recent memory by France, and being keen on revenge, Austria joined the coalition a few months later.

La Grande Armée

Prior to the formation of the Third Coalition, Napoleon had assembled an invasion force called the Army of England around six camps at Boulogne
Boulogne-sur-Mer
-Road:* Metropolitan bus services are operated by the TCRB* Coach services to Calais and Dunkerque* A16 motorway-Rail:* The main railway station is Gare de Boulogne-Ville and located in the south of the city....

 in Northern France. He intended to use this invasion force to strike at England, and was so confident of success that he had commemorative medals struck to celebrate the conquest of the English. Although they never set foot on British soil, Napoleon's troops received careful and invaluable training for any possible military operation. Boredom among the troops occasionally set in, but Napoleon paid many visits and conducted lavish parades in order to boost morale.

The men at Boulogne formed the core for what Napoleon would later call La Grande Armée
La Grande Armée
The Grande Armée first entered the annals of history when, in 1805, Napoleon I renamed the army that he had assembled on the French coast of the English Channel for the proposed invasion of Britain...

. At the start, this French army had about 200,000 men organized into seven corps
Corps
A corps is either a large formation, or an administrative grouping of troops within an armed force with a common function such as Artillery or Signals representing an arm of service...

, which were large field units that contained 36 to 40 cannon
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

 each and were capable of independent action until other corps could come to the rescue. A single corps (properly situated in a strong defensive position) could survive at least a day without support, giving the Grande Armée countless strategic and tactical options on every campaign. On top of these forces, Napoleon created a cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 reserve of 22,000 organized into two cuirassier
Cuirassier
Cuirassiers were mounted cavalry soldiers equipped with armour and firearms, first appearing in late 15th-century Europe. They were the successors of the medieval armoured knights...

 divisions
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

, four mounted dragoon
Dragoon
The word dragoon originally meant mounted infantry, who were trained in horse riding as well as infantry fighting skills. However, usage altered over time and during the 18th century, dragoons evolved into conventional light cavalry units and personnel...

 divisions, one division of dismounted dragoons and one of light cavalry, all supported by 24 artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 pieces. By 1805, the Grande Armée had grown to a force of 350,000 men, who were well equipped, well trained, and led by competent officers.

Russian army

The Russian army in 1805 had many characteristics of Ancien Régime organization; there was no permanent formation above the regiment
Regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

al level, senior officers were largely recruited from aristocratic circles (and commissions were generally sold to the highest bidder, regardless of competence), and the Russian soldier, in line with 18th-century practice, was regularly beaten and punished "to instill discipline". Furthermore, many lower-level officers were poorly trained and had difficulty getting their men to perform the sometimes complex maneuvers required in a battle. However, the Russians did have a fine artillery arm, manned by soldiers who regularly fought hard to prevent their pieces from falling into enemy hands.

The supply system of the Russian Imperial Army depended on the local population and Russia's Austrian allies, with seventy percent of Russian supplies being provided by Austria. Without a sturdy and organized supply system and with overextended supply lines, Russian soldiers found it difficult to maintain combat readiness and good health.

Austrian army

Archduke Charles
Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen
Archduke Charles of Austria, Duke of Teschen was an Austrian field-marshal, the third son of emperor Leopold II and his wife Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain...

, brother of the Austrian Emperor, had started to reform the Austrian army in 1801 by taking away power from the Hofkriegsrat
Hofkriegsrat
The Hofkriegsrat was the Court Council of War of the Habsburg Monarchy. Founded in 1556 in the reign of Emperor Ferdinand I, it was a council of men with military experience who could take charge of the army and its needs, in both war and peacetime...

, the military/political council responsible for decision-making in the Austrian armed forces. Charles was Austria's best field commander, but he was unpopular with the royal court and lost much influence when, against his advice, Austria decided to go to war with France. Karl Mack became the new main commander in Austria's army, instituting infantry reforms on the eve of the war that called for a regiment to be composed of four battalion
Battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

s of four companies
Company (military unit)
A company is a military unit, typically consisting of 80–225 soldiers and usually commanded by a Captain, Major or Commandant. Most companies are formed of three to five platoons although the exact number may vary by country, unit type, and structure...

, rather than the older three battalions of six companies. The sudden change came with no corresponding officer training, and as a result these new units were not led so well as they could have been. The Austrian cavalry was regarded as the best cavalry in Europe, but the detachment of many cavalry units to various infantry formations reduced its effectiveness against its massed French counterpart.

Preliminary moves

In August 1805, Napoleon, Emperor of the French since December of the previous year, turned his army's sights from the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 to the Rhine in order to deal with the new Austrian and Russian threats. On 25 September after great secrecy and feverish marching, 200,000 French troops began to cross the Rhine on a front of 260 km (161.6 mi). Mack had gathered the greater part of the Austrian army at the fortress of Ulm
Ulm
Ulm is a city in the federal German state of Baden-Württemberg, situated on the River Danube. The city, whose population is estimated at 120,000 , forms an urban district of its own and is the administrative seat of the Alb-Donau district. Ulm, founded around 850, is rich in history and...

 in Swabia (modern day southern Germany). Napoleon swung his forces northward and performed a wheeling movement that put the French at the Austrian rear. The Ulm Maneuver
Ulm Campaign
The Ulm Campaign consisted of a series of French and Bavarian military maneuvers and battles to outflank and capture an Austrian army in 1805 during the War of the Third Coalition. It took place in the vicinity of and inside the Swabian city of Ulm...

 was well-executed and on 20 October Mack and 23,000 Austrian troops surrendered at Ulm, bringing the total number of Austrian prisoners in the campaign to 60,000. Although the spectacular victory was soured by the defeat of the Franco-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar was a sea battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French Navy and Spanish Navy, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars ....

 the following day, French success on land continued as Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 fell in November, replete with 100,000 muskets, 500 cannon, and the intact bridges across the Danube.

Meanwhile, the lateness of the arrival of Russian troops prevented them from saving the Austrian field armies, so the Russians withdrew to the northeast to await reinforcements and to link up with surviving Austrian units. Tsar Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

 then appointed general Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov
Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov
Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov was a Field Marshal of the Russian Empire. He served as one of the finest military officers and diplomats of Russia under the reign of three Romanov Tsars: Catherine II, Paul I and Alexander I...

 to the commander-in-chief of the Russian and Austrian troops. On 9 September 1805, M. I. Kutuzov arrived at the battlefield to gather information. He quickly contacted the Austrian Emperor and his courtiers to discuss planning and logistical matters. Under pressure from Kutuzov, the Austrians agreed to supply munitions and weapons in a timely and sufficient manner. Kutuzov also spotted shortcomings in the Austrian defense plan, which he called "very dogmatic". Furthermore he objected to the annexation of the land recently under Napoleon's control because this would make the local people distrust the allied force. However many of Kutuzov's proposals were rejected.

The French followed, but soon found themselves in an unenviable disposition: Prussian intentions were unknown and could be hostile, the Russian and Austrian armies now converged, and to add to Napoleon's challenges, the French lines of communication were extremely long and required strong garrisons to keep them open. Napoleon realized that the only meaningful way to capitalize on the success at Ulm was to force the Allies to battle and defeat them. On the Russian side, Commander-in-chief Kutuzov also realized that; so instead of clinging to the "suicidal" Austrian defense plan, Kutuzov decided to retreat. He ordered P. I. Bagration
Pyotr Bagration
Prince Pyotr Ivanovich Bagration was a general of the Russian army. He was a descendant of the Georgian royal family of the Bagrations.- Life :...

 to command 600 troops to contain the French at Vienna, and instructed the Allied Army to accept Murat
Murat
Murat is a male Turkish name, spelled as Murad during the Ottoman period. Its meaning can be translated roughly into Reached Desire or Accomplished Goal...

's ceasefire proposal so that the allied army could have more time to retreat. Napoleon soon realized Murat's mistakes and ordered him to pursue quickly, however at that time the allied army had already retreated to Olmutz. According to Kutuzov's plan, the Allies would retreat further to the Carpathian
Carpathian
Carpathian may refer to:*Carpathian Mountains of Central and Eastern Europe*Carpathian Convention on sustainable development in that region*Carpathian Shepherd Dog, a Romanian sheep dog*Subcarpathian Voivodeship, an administrative division of Poland...

 region and "at Galicia, I will bury the French.".

However, Napoleon did not stay still. The French Emperor decided to make a psychological trap in order to lure the Allies out. Days before any actual fighting, Napoleon had given the impression to the Allies that his army was in a weak state and that he desired a negotiated peace. About only 53,000 French troops - including Soult, Lannes and Murat's forces - would take possession of Austerlitz
Austerlitz
- People :* Austerlitz * Fred Astaire, born Frederick Austerlitz* Robert Austerlitz , linguist, specialist in the Proto-Finno-Ugric language- Places :...

 and the Olmutz road, occupying the enemy's attention. The Allied forces, with the number about 89,000, seemed to be far superior in number and would be tempted to attack an outnumbered French Army. However, the Allies didn't know that the reinforcements of Bernadotte, Mortier and Davout had already been within the supported distance, and could be called in need by forced marches from Iglau and Vienna respectively, raising the French forces to 75,000 troops, thus sharply reducing the inferiority in number.

The luring plan did not stop at that. On November 25, general Savary
Anne Jean Marie René Savary
Anne Jean Marie René Savary, 1st Duc de Rovigo , French general and diplomat, was born at Marcq in the Ardennes.-Biography:...

 was sent to the Allied headquarters at Olmutz in order to secretly examine the Allied forces' situation and deliver Napoleon's message expressing Napoleon’s desire to avoid a battle. As expected, that expression was seen as a sure sign of weakness. When Francis I offered an armistice on the 27th, Napoleon expressed great enthusiasm in accepting it. On the same day, Napoleon ordered Soult to abandon both Austerlitz and the Pratzen Heights and also create an image of chaos during the retreat; that would make the enemies occupy the Heights. The next day (November 28), the French Emperor requested a personal interview with Alexander I and received a visit from the Tsar's most impetuous aide, Count Dolgorouki. The meeting was another part of the trap as Napoleon intentionally expressed anxiousness and hesitation to his opponents, and Dolgorouki reported all of this to the Tsar as an additional indication of French weakness.

The plan was successful. Many of the Allied officers, including the Tsar's aides and the Austrian Chieff of Staff Franz von Weyrother
Franz von Weyrother
Franz von Weyrother was an Austrian staff officer and general who fought during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars...

, strongly supported the idea of attacking immediately and appeared to be swaying Tsar Alexander’s opinion. Kutuzov's idea was rejected, and the Allied forces would soon fall into the trap that Napoleon had set.

Battle


Napoleon could muster some 72,000 men and 157 guns for the impending battle, although about 7,000 troops under Davout
Louis Nicolas Davout
Louis-Nicolas d'Avout , better known as Davout, 1st Duke of Auerstaedt, 1st Prince of Eckmühl, was a Marshal of France during the Napoleonic Era. His prodigious talent for war along with his reputation as a stern disciplinarian, earned him the title "The Iron Marshal"...

 were still far to the south in the direction of Vienna. The Allies had about 85,000 soldiers, seventy percent of them Russian, and 318 guns. So, The French Army was inferior in number.

At first, Napoleon was not totally confident of his victory. In a letter written to Minister of Foreign Affairs Talleyrand, Napoleon requested Talleyrand not tell anyone about the upcoming battle because he did not want to disturb Empress Joséphine
Joséphine de Beauharnais
Joséphine de Beauharnais was the first wife of Napoléon Bonaparte, and thus the first Empress of the French. Her first husband Alexandre de Beauharnais had been guillotined during the Reign of Terror, and she had been imprisoned in the Carmes prison until her release five days after Alexandre's...

. According to Frederick C. Schneid, the main concern of Napoleon was not the tranquility of Joséphine; the French Emperor worried more about how he could explain to Joséphine if the French Army was defeated.

Battlefield

The battle took place six miles (9.7 km) southeast of the town of Brno
Brno
Brno by population and area is the second largest city in the Czech Republic, the largest Moravian city, and the historical capital city of the Margraviate of Moravia. Brno is the administrative centre of the South Moravian Region where it forms a separate district Brno-City District...

, between that town and Austerlitz in what is now the Czech Republic. The northern part of the battlefield was dominated by the 700-foot (210 m) Santon hill and the 850-foot (260 m) Zuran (Žuráň)
Žuráň
Žuráň is a small hill near the village of Podolí in the Czech Republic. The hill became famous because 2 December 1805 Napoleon Bonaparte led his famous battle of Austerlitz from its peak. Therefore, peak of Žuráň was proclaimed to be extraterritoriality of France...

 hill, both overlooking the vital Olomouc
Olomouc
Olomouc is a city in Moravia, in the east of the Czech Republic. The city is located on the Morava river and is the ecclesiastical metropolis and historical capital city of Moravia. Nowadays, it is an administrative centre of the Olomouc Region and sixth largest city in the Czech Republic...

/Brno road, which was on an east/west axis. To the west of these two hills was the village of Bellowitz (Bedřichovice)
Bedřichovice
Bedřichovice is a village in the South Moravian Region of the Czech Republic, about 3 kilometres to the East of Brno, an administrative part of Šlapanice . There are 308 inhabitants living at 122 permanent addresses...

, and between them the Bosenitz (Roketnice) Stream went south to link up with the Goldbach (Říčka) Stream, the latter flowing astride the villages of Kobelnitz (Kobylnice)
Kobylnice (Brno-Country District)
Kobylnice is a village and municipality in Brno-Country District in the South Moravian Region of the Czech Republic.The municipality covers an area of , and has a population of 892 ....

, Sokolnitz (Sokolnice)
Sokolnice
Sokolnice is a village and municipality in Brno-Country District in the South Moravian Region of the Czech Republic.The municipality covers an area of , and has a population of 1,881 ....

, and Telnitz (Telnice)
Telnice (Brno-Country District)
Telnice is a village and municipality in Brno-Country District in the South Moravian Region of the Czech Republic.The municipality covers an area of , and has a population of 1,339 ....

. The centerpiece of the entire area was the Pratzen (Prace)
Prace
Prace is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Płoniawy-Bramura, within Maków County, Masovian Voivodeship, in east-central Poland.-References:...

 Heights, a gently sloping hill about 35 to 40 feet (11–12 m) in height. An aide noted that Napoleon repeatedly told his Marshals, "Gentlemen, examine this ground carefully, it is going to be a battlefield; you will have a part to play upon it."

Allied plans and dispositions

An Allied council met on 1 December to discuss proposals for the battle. Most of the Allied strategists had two fundamental ideas in mind: making contact with the enemy and securing the southern flank that held the communication line to Vienna. Although the Tsar and his immediate entourage pushed hard for a battle, Emperor Francis of Austria was in a more cautious mood and, as mentioned, he was seconded by Kutuzov, the Commander-in-chief of the Russians and the Allied troop. The pressure to fight from the Russian nobles and the Austrian commanders however was too strong, and the Allies adopted Austrian Chief of Staff Franz von Weyrother
Franz von Weyrother
Franz von Weyrother was an Austrian staff officer and general who fought during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars...

's plan. This called for a main drive against the French right flank, which the Allies noticed was lightly guarded, and diversionary attacks against the French left. The Allies deployed most of their troops into four columns that would attack the French right. The Russian Imperial Guard
Russian Imperial Guard
The Russian Imperial Guard, officially known as the Leib Guard were military units serving as personal guards of the Emperor of Russia. Peter the Great founded the first such units following the Prussian practice in the 1690s, to replace the politically-motivated Streltsy.- Organization :The final...

 was held in reserve while Russian troops under Bagration
Pyotr Bagration
Prince Pyotr Ivanovich Bagration was a general of the Russian army. He was a descendant of the Georgian royal family of the Bagrations.- Life :...

 guarded the Allied right. Furthermore, the Russian Tsar rudely stripped the authority of Commander-in-chief M. I. Kutuzov and gave it to Franz von Weyrother. In the battle Kutuzov could only command the IV Corp of the Allied army, although he was still the de jure commander because the Tsar himself was afraid of responsibility in case his favored plan failed.

French plans and dispositions

Napoleon was hoping that the Allied forces would attack, and to encourage them on this mission he deliberately weakened his right flank. On 28 November Napoleon met with his marshals at Imperial Headquarters who informed him of their qualms about the forthcoming battle. They even suggested a retreat, but he shrugged off their complaints.

Napoleon's plan envisioned that the Allies would throw so many troops to envelop his right flank in order to cut the French's communication line from Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

. As a result, the Allies' center and left flank would be exposed and become vulnerable. In order to encourage them to do so, Napoleon even abandoned the strategic position on the Pratzen Heights, further faking the weakness of his forces and his own nervousness. Meanwhile, Napoleon's main force was to be concealed in a dead ground opposite the Heights. According to the plan, the French troops would attack and recapture the Pratzen Heights, then from the Heights they would launch a decisive assault to the center of the Allied army, cripple them and then encircle them from the rear.
The massive thrust through the Allied center was conducted by 16,000 troops of Soult's
Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult
Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult, 1st Duke of Dalmatia , the Hand of Iron, was a French general and statesman, named Marshal of the Empire in 1804. He was one of only six officers in French history to receive the distinction of Marshal General of France...

 IV Corps. IV Corps' position was cloaked by dense mist during the early stage of the battle; in fact how long the mist lasted was vital to Napoleon's plan: Soult's troops would become uncovered if the mist dissipated too soon, but if it lingered too long, Napoleon would be unable to determine when the Allied troops had evacuated Pratzen Heights, preventing him from timing his attack properly.

Meanwhile, to support his weak right flank, Napoleon ordered Davout's III Corps
III Corps (Grande Armée)
The III Corps of the Grande Armée were few military units during the Napoleonic Wars. The III Corps came to prominence between 1805 and 1809 under the command of Marshal Louis Nicolas Davout, when it repeatedly scored impressive victories single-handedly or in conjunction with other French forces...

 to force march all the way from Vienna and join General Legrand's men, who held the extreme southern flank that would bear the heaviest part of the Allied attack. Davout's soldiers had 48 hours to march 110 km (68.4 mi). Their arrival was crucial in determining the success of the French plan. Indeed, the arrangement of Napoleon on the right flank was very risky as the French only had minimal troops garrisoning there. However, the reason why Napoleon could use such a risky plan was because Davout - the commander of III Corps - was one of Napoleon's best Marshals; because the right flank's position was protected by a complicated system of streams and lakes; and because the French had already settled upon a secondary line of retreat through Brunn
Brunn
Brunn or Brünn may refer to:Places* Brünn, the German form of the Czech city Brno* Brunn, Upper Palatinate, a town in Bavaria, Germany* Brunn, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, a municipality in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany...

. The Imperial Guard and Bernadotte's
Charles XIV John of Sweden
Charles XIV & III John, also Carl John, Swedish and Norwegian: Karl Johan was King of Sweden and King of Norway from 1818 until his death...

 I Corps were held in reserve while the V Corps under Lannes
Jean Lannes
Jean Lannes, 1st Duc de Montebello, was a Marshal of France. He was one of Napoleon's most daring and talented generals. Napoleon once commented on Lannes: "I found him a pygmy and left him a giant"...

 guarded the northern sector of the battlefield, where the new communication line was located.

By 1 December 1805, the French troops had been shifted in accordance with the Allied movement southward, as Napoleon expected.

Battle is joined

The battle began at about 8 a.m. with the first allied column attacking the village of Telnitz, which was defended by the 3rd Line Regiment. This sector of the battlefield witnessed heavy action in the following moments as several ferocious Allied charges evicted the French from the town and forced them onto the other side of the Goldbach. The first men of Davout's corps arrived at this time and threw the Allies out of Telnitz before they too were attacked by hussar
Hussar
Hussar refers to a number of types of light cavalry which originated in Hungary in the 14th century, tracing its roots from Serbian medieval cavalry tradition, brought to Hungary in the course of the Serb migrations, which began in the late 14th century....

s and re-abandoned the town. Additional Allied attacks out of Telnitz were checked by French artillery.

Allied columns started pouring against the French right, but not at the desired speed, so the French were mostly successful in curbing the attacks. Actually, the Allied deployments were mistaken and poorly timed: cavalry detachments under Liechtenstein
Johann I Josef, Prince of Liechtenstein
Johann I Joseph, Prince of Liechtenstein, born Johann Baptist Joseph Adam Johann Nepomuk Aloys Franz de Paula was the Prince of Liechtenstein between 1805 and 1806 and again from 1814 until 1836...

 on the Allied left flank had to be placed in the right flank and in the process they ran into and slowed down part of the second column of infantry that was advancing towards the French right. At the time, the planners thought this was a disaster, but later on it helped the Allies. Meanwhile, the leading elements of the second column were attacking the village of Sokolnitz, which was defended by the 26th Light Regiment and the Tirailleur
Tirailleur
Tirailleur literally means a shooting skirmisher in French from tir—shot. The term dates back to the Napoleonic period where it was used to designate light infantry trained to skirmish ahead of the main columns...

s
, French skirmisher
Skirmisher
Skirmishers are infantry or cavalry soldiers stationed ahead or alongside a larger body of friendly troops. They are usually placed in a skirmish line to harass the enemy.-Pre-modern:...

s. Initial Allied assaults proved unsuccessful and General Langeron
Louis Alexandre Andrault de Langeron
Count Louis Alexandre Andrault de Langéron , born in Paris, was a French general in the service of the Imperial Russian Army during the Napoleonic Wars.-Early life:...

 ordered the bombardment of the village. This deadly barrage forced the French out, and at about the same time, the third column attacked the castle of Sokolnitz. The French, however, counterattacked and regained the village, only to be thrown out again. Conflict in this area ended temporarily when Friant's
Louis Friant
Louis Friant was born in the village of Morlancourt, 8 km south of Albert near the river Somme. The village would later suffer the misfortune of lying along the Western Front trench-lines of World War I....

 division (part of III Corps) retook the village. Sokolnitz was perhaps the most fought over area in the battlefield and would change hands several times as the day progressed.

While the allied troops attacked the French's right flank, Kutuzov's IV Corp stopped at Pratzen height and stayed still. Just like Napoleon, Kutuzov realized the importance of Pratzen and decided to protect the position. But the young Tsar did not, so he expelled the IV Corp from Pratzen height and, so, this act quickly pushed the Allied army into her grave.

"One sharp blow and the war is over"

At about 8:45 a.m., satisfied at the weakness in the enemy center, Napoleon asked Soult how long it would take for his men to reach the Pratzen Heights, to which the Marshal replied, "Less than twenty minutes sire." About 15 minutes later, Napoleon ordered the attack, adding, "One sharp blow and the war is over."

A dense fog helped to cloud the advance of St. Hilaire's division, but as they went up the slope the legendary ‘Sun of Austerlitz' ripped the mist apart and encouraged them forward. Russian soldiers and commanders on top of the heights were stunned to see so many French troops coming towards them. Allied commanders were now able to feed some of the delayed detachments of the fourth column into this bitter struggle. Over an hour of fighting destroyed much of this unit. The other men from the second column, mostly inexperienced Austrians, also participated in the struggle and swung the numbers against one of the best fighting forces in the French army, eventually forcing them to withdraw down the slopes. However, gripped by desperation, St. Hilaire's men struck hard once more and bayoneted the Allies out of the heights. To the north, General Vandamme's
Dominique Vandamme
General Dominique-Joseph René Vandamme, Count of Unseburg was a French military officer, who fought in the Napoleonic Wars....

 division attacked an area called Staré Vinohrady ("Old Vineyards") and through talented skirmishing and deadly volleys broke several Allied battalions.

The battle had firmly turned in France's favour, but it was far from over. Napoleon ordered Bernadotte's I Corps to support Vandamme's left and moved his own command center from Zuran Hill to St. Anthony's Chapel on the Pratzen Heights. The difficult position of the Allies was confirmed by the decision to send in the Russian Imperial Guard
Russian Imperial Guard
The Russian Imperial Guard, officially known as the Leib Guard were military units serving as personal guards of the Emperor of Russia. Peter the Great founded the first such units following the Prussian practice in the 1690s, to replace the politically-motivated Streltsy.- Organization :The final...

; Grand Duke Constantine
Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich of Russia
Constantine Pavlovich was a grand duke of Russia and the second son of Emperor Paul I. He was the Tsesarevich of Russia throughout the reign of his elder brother Alexander I, but had secretly renounced his claim to the throne in 1823...

, Tsar Alexander's brother, commanded the Guard and counterattacked in Vandamme's section of the field, forcing a bloody effort and the only loss of a French standard in the battle (the unfortunate victim was a battalion of the 4th Line Regiment). Sensing trouble, Napoleon ordered his own heavy Guard cavalry forward. These men pulverized their Russian counterparts, but with both sides pouring in large masses of cavalry no victory was clear yet. The Russians had a numerical advantage here but fairly soon the tide swung as Drouet's
Jean-Baptiste Drouet, Comte d'Erlon
Jean-Baptiste Drouet, comte d'Erlon was a marshal of France and a soldier in Napoleon's Army. D'Erlon notably commanded the I Corps of the Armée du Nord at the battle of Waterloo....

 Division, the 2nd of Bernadotte's I Corps, deployed on the flank of the action and allowed French cavalry to seek refuge behind their lines. The horse artillery
Horse artillery
Horse artillery was a type of light, fast-moving and fast-firing artillery which provided highly mobile fire support to European and American armies from the 17th to the early 20th century...

 of the Guard also inflicted heavy casualties on the Russian cavalry and fusiliers. The Russians broke and many died as they were pursued by the reinvigorated French cavalry for about a quarter of a mile. The casualties of the Russians in Pratzen included Kutuzov (severely wounded) and his son-in-law Ferdinand von Tiesenhausen
Ferdinand von Tiesenhausen
The Count Berend Gregor Ferdinand von Tiesenhausen was a Russian noble and military officer from German Baltic origin.- Biography :...

 (KIA).

Endgame

Meanwhile, the northernmost part of the battlefield was also witnessing heavy fighting. Prince Liechtenstein's
Johann I Josef, Prince of Liechtenstein
Johann I Joseph, Prince of Liechtenstein, born Johann Baptist Joseph Adam Johann Nepomuk Aloys Franz de Paula was the Prince of Liechtenstein between 1805 and 1806 and again from 1814 until 1836...

 heavy cavalry began to assault Kellerman's
François Étienne de Kellermann
Francois Étienne de Kellermann, 2nd Duc de Valmy was a French cavalry general noted for his daring and skillful exploits during the Napoleonic Wars...

 lighter cavalry forces after eventually arriving at the correct position in the field. The fighting initially went well for the French, but Kellerman's forces took cover behind General Caffarelli's infantry division once it became clear Russian numbers were too great. Caffarelli's men halted the Russian assaults and permitted Murat
Joachim Murat
Joachim-Napoléon Murat , Marshal of France and Grand Admiral or Admiral of France, 1st Prince Murat, was Grand Duke of Berg from 1806 to 1808 and then King of Naples from 1808 to 1815...

 to send two cuirassier divisions (one commanded by d'Hautpoul
Jean-Joseph Ange d'Hautpoul
Jean-Joseph Ange d'Hautpoul was a French cavalry general of the Napoleonic wars. He came from an old noble family of France whose military tradition extended for several centuries....

 and the other one by Nansouty
Étienne Marie Antoine Champion de Nansouty
Count Étienne-Marie-Antoine-Champion de Nansouty was a French cavalry commander during the French Revolutionary Wars who rose to the rank of General of Division in 1803 and subsequently held important military commands during the Napoleonic Wars. Of noble Burgundian descent, he was a student at...

) into the fray to finish off the Russian cavalry for good. The ensuing melee was bitter and long, but the French ultimately prevailed. Lannes then led his V Corps against Bagration's
Pyotr Bagration
Prince Pyotr Ivanovich Bagration was a general of the Russian army. He was a descendant of the Georgian royal family of the Bagrations.- Life :...

 men and after hard fighting managed to drive the skilled Russian commander off the field. He wanted to pursue, but Murat, who was in control of this sector in the battlefield, was against the idea.

Napoleon's focus now shifted towards the southern end of the battlefield where the French and the Allies were still fighting over Sokolnitz and Telnitz. In an effective double-pronged assault, St. Hilaire's division and part of Davout's III Corps smashed through the enemy at Sokolnitz and persuaded the commanders of the first two columns, Generals Kienmayer
Michael von Kienmayer
Michael von Kienmayer was an Austrian general who was active during the Napoleonic Wars.von Kienmayer joined the army of Habsburg Austria and fought against the Kingdom of Prussia and Ottoman Turkey. During the French Revolutionary Wars, he continued to make his reputation in the cavalry and...

 and Langeron
Louis Alexandre Andrault de Langeron
Count Louis Alexandre Andrault de Langéron , born in Paris, was a French general in the service of the Imperial Russian Army during the Napoleonic Wars.-Early life:...

, to flee as fast as they could. Buxhowden
Friedrich Wilhelm von Buxhoeveden
Friedrich Wilhelm Count von Buxhoevden was a Russian Infantry General and a government official. Buxhoeveden commanded the Russian armies during the Finnish War....

, the commander of the Allied left and the man responsible for leading the attack, was completely drunk and fled as well. Kienmayer covered his withdrawal with the O'Reilly light cavalry, who gallantly managed to defeat five of six French cavalry regiments before they too had to retreat.

General panic now seized the Allied army and it abandoned the field in any and all possible directions. A frightful and famous episode occurred during this retreat: Russian forces that had been defeated by the French right withdrew south towards Vienna via the Satschan frozen ponds. French artillery pounded towards the men, and the ice was broken due to the bombardment. The men drowned in the viciously cold ponds, dozens of Russian artillery pieces going down along with them. Estimates of how many guns were captured differ; there may have been as few as 38 or more than 100. Sources also differ about casualties, with figures ranging from as few as 200 to as many as 2,000 dead. Because Napoleon exaggerated this incident in his report of the battle, and the Tsar tacitly accepted the account as an excuse for the catastrophic defeat, the low numbers may be more accurate. Many drowning Russians were saved by their victorious foes. However local evidence, only later made public, suggests that Napoleon's account of the catastrophe may have been totally invented; on the emperor's instructions the lakes were drained a few days after the battle and the corpses of only two or three men, with some 150 horses, were found.

Aftermath

Austerlitz and the preceding campaign profoundly altered the nature of European politics. In three months, the French had occupied Vienna, destroyed two armies, and humbled the Austrian Empire. These events sharply contrast with the rigid power structures of the 18th century. Austerlitz set the stage for a near-decade of French domination of the European continent, but one of its more immediate effects was to goad Prussia into war in 1806.

Military and political results

Overall, Allied casualties stood at about 27,000 out of an army of 73,000, which was 37% of their effectives. The French expended around 9,000 out of a force of 67,000, or about 13% of effectives. The Allies also lost 180 guns and 50 standards. The great victory was met by sheer amazement and delirium in Paris, where just days earlier the nation was teetering on financial collapse. Napoleon wrote to Josephine, "I have beaten the Austro-Russian army commanded by the two emperors. I am a little weary....I embrace you." Tsar Alexander perhaps best summed up the harsh times for the Allies by stating, "We are babies in the hands of a giant."

France and Austria signed a truce on 4 December and the Treaty of Pressburg 22 days later took the latter out of the war. Austria agreed to recognize French territory captured by the treaties of Campo Formio
Treaty of Campo Formio
The Treaty of Campo Formio was signed on 18 October 1797 by Napoleon Bonaparte and Count Philipp von Cobenzl as representatives of revolutionary France and the Austrian monarchy...

 (1797) and Lunéville
Treaty of Lunéville
The Treaty of Lunéville was signed on 9 February 1801 between the French Republic and the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, negotiating both on behalf of his own domains and of the Holy Roman Empire...

 (1801), cede land to Bavaria, Wurttemberg, and Baden
History of Baden
The history of Baden as a state began in the 12th century, as a fief of the Holy Roman Empire. A fairly inconsequential margraviate that was divided between various branches of its ruling family for much of its history, it gained both status and territory during the Napoleonic era, when it was...

, which were Napoleon's German allies, and pay 40 million francs in war indemnities, and Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 was given to the Kingdom of Italy
Kingdom of Italy (Napoleonic)
The Kingdom of Italy was a state founded in Northern Italy by Napoleon, fully influenced by revolutionary France, that ended with his defeat and fall.-Constitutional statutes:...

. It was a harsh end for Austria, but certainly not a catastrophic peace. The Russian army was allowed to withdraw to home territory and the French encamped themselves in Southern Germany. The Holy Roman Empire was effectively wiped out, 1806 being seen as its final year. Napoleon created the Confederation of the Rhine
Confederation of the Rhine
The Confederation of the Rhine was a confederation of client states of the First French Empire. It was formed initially from 16 German states by Napoleon after he defeated Austria's Francis II and Russia's Alexander I in the Battle of Austerlitz. The Treaty of Pressburg, in effect, led to the...

, a string of German states meant to serve as a buffer between France and Prussia. Prussia saw these and other moves as an affront to its status as the main power of Central Europe and it went to war with France in 1806.

Rewards

Napoleon's words to his troops after the battle were full of praise: Soldats! Je suis content de vous (Soldiers! I am pleased with you). The Emperor provided two million golden francs to the higher officers and 200 francs to each soldier, with large pensions for the widows of the fallen. Orphaned children were adopted by Napoleon personally and were allowed to add "Napoleon" to their baptismal and family names. Napoleon never gave a title of nobility to any of his commanders, as was customary following a great victory. It is probable that he considered Austerlitz too much of a personal triumph to elevate anyone else significantly.

Mythology

There are many stories and legends regarding events before or during the battle. In the night before the day of battle, Napoleon set out with his entourage to review the forward positions. During this tour, he was recognized by the soldiers of Vandamme's division, and fairly soon the entire army lit candles to celebrate the anniversary of his coronation. Allied soldiers and commanders looking at this believed that the French were preparing to retreat. Another story features an unfortunate French soldier running from Cossack
Cossack
Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in what is today Ukraine and Southern Russia inhabiting sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper and Don basins and who played an important role in the...

s; apparently, the soldier climbed through a chimney trying to hide, but the Cossacks found and killed him anyway. A more humorous episode occurred between some Russian troopers looking for horse fodder from a local peasant woman. The soldiers kept yelling, Babo, ovsa ("Granny, give us oats") but the woman, who was old and probably had difficulty hearing, thought they were saying Hopsa ("Jump"), so she repeatedly jumped, to the very great frustration of the Russian soldiers. Eventually, the soldiers realized she did not understand them, pointed to the horses outside, and even started chewing to give her a clue, which she finally got, giving the soldiers the oats they wanted. Yet another story tells of French artillerymen throwing a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary into a fire for warmth and discovering that it would not burn.

War and Peace

The Battle of Austerlitz is a major event in Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

's novel War and Peace
War and Peace
War and Peace is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published in 1869. The work is epic in scale and is regarded as one of the most important works of world literature...

. The battle serves as an episode to exalt Russian values and traditions of spirituality and modesty above the alleged crude logic and arrogance of the French. As the battle is about to start, Prince Andrei, one of the main characters, thinks that the approaching "day [will] be his Toulon
Siege of Toulon
The Siege of Toulon was an early Republican victory over a Royalist rebellion in the Southern French city of Toulon. It is also often known as the Fall of Toulon.-Context:...

, or his Arcola
Battle of the Bridge of Arcole
The Battle of Arcole, or Battle of Arcola saw a bold manœuvre by Napoleon Bonaparte's French Army of Italy to outflank the Austrian army under József Alvinczi and cut its line of retreat...

," references to Napoleon's early victories. Andrei hopes for glory, even thinking to himself, "I shall march forward and sweep everything before me." Later in the battle, however, Andrei falls into enemy hands and even meets his hero, Napoleon. But the previous enthusiasm has been shattered; he no longer thinks much of Napoleon, "so petty did his hero with his paltry vanity and delight in victory appear, compared to that lofty, righteous and kindly sky which he had seen and comprehended." Tolstoy portrays Austerlitz as an early test for Russia, one which ended badly because the soldiers fought for irrelevant things like glory or renown rather than the higher virtues which would produce, according to Tolstoy, a victory at Borodino
Battle of Borodino
The Battle of Borodino , fought on September 7, 1812, was the largest and bloodiest single-day action of the French invasion of Russia and all Napoleonic Wars, involving more than 250,000 troops and resulting in at least 70,000 casualties...

 during the 1812 invasion.

Historical views

Napoleon did not succeed in defeating the Allied army as thoroughly as he wanted, but historians and enthusiasts alike recognize that the original plan provided a significant victory. For that reason, Austerlitz is sometimes compared to other great tactical battles like Cannae
Battle of Cannae
The Battle of Cannae was a major battle of the Second Punic War, which took place on August 2, 216 BC near the town of Cannae in Apulia in southeast Italy. The army of Carthage under Hannibal decisively defeated a numerically superior army of the Roman Republic under command of the consuls Lucius...

 or Blenheim
Battle of Blenheim
The Battle of Blenheim , fought on 13 August 1704, was a major battle of the War of the Spanish Succession. Louis XIV of France sought to knock Emperor Leopold out of the war by seizing Vienna, the Habsburg capital, and gain a favourable peace settlement...

. Some historians suggest that Napoleon was so successful at Austerlitz that he lost touch with reality, and what used to be French foreign policy became a "personal Napoleonic one" after the battle. In French history
History of France
The history of France goes back to the arrival of the earliest human being in what is now France. Members of the genus Homo entered the area hundreds of thousands years ago, while the first modern Homo sapiens, the Cro-Magnons, arrived around 40,000 years ago...

, Austerlitz is acknowledged as an impressive military victory, and in the 19th century, when fascination with the First Empire was at its height, the battle was revered by the likes of Victor Hugo, who "in the depth of [his] thoughts" was hearing the "noise of the heavy cannon rolling towards Austerlitz". In the recent bicentennial, however, controversy erupted when neither French president Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac
Jacques René Chirac is a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988 , and as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.After completing his studies of the DEA's degree at the...

 nor prime minister Dominique de Villepin
Dominique de Villepin
Dominique Marie François René Galouzeau de Villepin is a French politician who served as the Prime Minister of France from 31 May 2005 to 17 May 2007....

 attended any functions commemorating the battle. On the other hand, some residents of France's overseas departments protested against what they viewed as the "official commemoration of Napoleon", arguing that Austerlitz should not be celebrated since they believed Napoleon committed genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

against colonial people.

Another historical views including M. I. Kutuzov, Commander-in-chief of the Allied Army. After the battle, Tsar Alexander I laid all the blame on Kutuzov, however it is clear that Kutuzov's plan was to retreat deeper to the rear where the Allied army had sharp advantage in logistics. In that case the Allied troops might have been reinforced by Archduke Karl's troops at Italy, and the Prussians might have joined the Coalition against Napoleon. A French army at the end of her supply lines, in a place which had no food supplies, would have faced a very different ending from the real battle of Austerlitz.

External links

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