Napoleon's Conquest of Europe: The War of the Third Coalition

Napoleon's Conquest of Europe: The War of the Third Coalition

Napoleon's Conquest of Europe: The War of the Third Coalition

Napoleon's Conquest of Europe: The War of the Third Coalition

Synopsis

Exploring the diplomatic, economic, and military aspects of the 1805 campaign, this vivid account details how Napoleon played upon historic relationships, competition, and animosities to lay the foundation for victory over his European rivals.

Excerpt

Much of the fascination offered by Napoleon is that his career was simultaneously a study in failure and an account of success. If this was true of his political career, it was even more the case with his military one. Frederick Schneid's scholarly and accessible study focuses on military and international success, but it also throws light on some of the causes of failure. It is particularly valuable because Schneid seeks to revitalize the study of grand strategy, presenting it as at once military and political. In doing so, he offers an account that reflects current interest in strategic cultures, because Schneid seeks to locate the short-term with reference to the long-term interests and commitments. As a consequence, the book places the strategic, operational, and tactical dimensions of the campaign in their appropriate long-term context. This wide-ranging character of Schneid's study offers not only a broader historical framework, but also a pertinent geographical one.

Napoleon's successful opportunism emerges from an extensive examination of the motives and conduct of the European states in relation to France and to each other. This gives a dynamic character to his assessment of the Third Coalition. The states given particular attention include not only France and Austria, but also Britain, Prussia, Russia, Spain, and Sweden. Furthermore, far from treating these powers simply as players in a system driven by systemic factors, Schneid shows how European events and internal politics affected their response to tensions. In doing so, Schneid devotes appropriate attention to the French alliances formed prior to the campaign of 1805, particularly exploring Franco-Spanish and Franco-German relations.

The campaign itself indicated the superiority of the French corps and divisional structure over the less coherent and less coordinated opposing forces. French staff work at army and corps level was superior to that of both Austria and Russia, and this helped to vitiate the numbers France's opponents . . .

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