Austerlitz and the War of the 3rd Coalition

From our friends at Wiki, for those, like me who are not familiar in any in depth or way with all of the various alliances, coalitions, machinations and back stabbing that went on during Napoleons tumultuous time at the helm:

The War of the Third Coalition was a conflict which spanned from 1803 to 1806. It saw the defeat of an alliance of AustriaPortugalRussia, and others by France and its client statesunder Napoleon IGreat Britain had already been at war with France following the resumption of hostilities resulting from the breakdown of the Peace of Amiens, and Britain would be the only country still at war with France after the Treaty of Pressburg.

For two years (1803–1805) Britain stood under constant threat of a French invasion. The Royal Navy, however, secured mastery of the seas by decisively destroying a Franco-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805 [insert by the way is there a good consim on this?].

The Third Coalition itself came to full fruition that summer as Napoleon’s provocative actions in Italy (crowning himself King) and Germany spurred Austria into joining Britain and Russia against France. The war would be decided on the continent, and the major land operations that sealed the swift French victory involved the Ulm Campaign, a large wheeling manoeuvre by the Grande Armée lasting from late August to mid-October that captured an entire Austrian army, and the decisive French victory over a combined Russo-Austrian force under Tsar Alexander I at the Battle of Austerlitz in early December.

Austerlitz effectively brought the Third Coalition to an end, although later there was a small side campaign against Naples, which also resulted in a decisive French victory at the Battle of Campo Tenese.

insert [Now what is not mentioned here is the strategy. From what I understand the Coalition deigned to create powerful armies, combined that would overwhelm any ‘brilliant’ tactics of Napoleon.

At the grand strategy level…hmm maybe Operational level Napoleon out maneuvered the combined forces. Managing to move forces large distances, and presenting various feints and fronts to confuse delay and obfuscate the enemy.  

His ability to do so meant that even though he arrived at Austlerlitz undermanned, by the time the battle took place and due to his correct interpretation of the reaction of the enemy leadership to his subterfuge (feigning retreat from the Pratzen Heights) he was able to strike such a telling blow that the coalition was fractured.]

On 26 December 1805, Austria and France signed the Treaty of Pressburg, which took Austria out of both the war and the Coalition, while it reinforced the earlier treaties between the two powers of Campo Formio and of Lunéville. The treaty confirmed the Austrian cession of lands in Italy and Bavaria to France and in Germany to Napoleon’s German allies, imposed an indemnity of 40 million francs on the defeated Habsburgs, and allowed the defeated Russian troops free passage, with their arms and equipment, through hostile territories and back to their home soil [big mistake]

Victory at Austerlitz also permitted the creation of theConfederation of the Rhine, a collection of German states intended as a buffer zone between France and central Europe. As a direct consequence of these events, the Holy Roman Empireceased to exist when, in 1806, Holy Roman Emperor Francis II abdicated the Imperial throne, keeping Francis I of Austria as his only official title.

These achievements, however, did not establish a lasting peace on the continent. Austerlitz had driven neither Russia nor Britain, whose armies protected Sicily from a French invasion, to settle. Meanwhile, Prussian worries about growing French influence in Central Europe sparked the War of the Fourth Coalition in 1806. [What a freaking surprise!]

4 thoughts on “Austerlitz and the War of the 3rd Coalition

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