8

Austerlitz and the Defeat of the Third Coalition

NELSON HAD WRITTEN to the Queen of the Two Sicilies in the early summer of 1805 that `Never perhaps was Europe more critically situated than at this moment, and never was the probability of universal monarchy more nearly being realized than in the person of the Corsican. Would to God these great powers reflected that the boldest measures are the safest.' Much was to happen before the Continental Powers were forced to adopt Nelson's clear-cut attitude. Between 1802 and 1807 they were suspicious as much of each other as of Napoleon, and it was only Napoleon's repeated encroachments that galvanized them into some semblance of concerted action.

Under Frederick William III Prussia, spineless and selfish, persisted in the neutrality which she had pin-sued since the Peace of Basle in 1795. Napoleon was able to keep her in play with the bait of acquiring Hanover, and a hegemony in north Germany. Austria's exhaustion after her long struggle against revolutionary France showed itself in the form of a dangerous currency inflation. She was in no mood for further struggle, and preoccupied with the consolidation of the Habsburg dynastic territories amid the debris of the Holy Roman Empire; in 1804 Francis assumed the title of Emperor of Austria. In Vienna there was suspicion of Russia's

-120-

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Napoleon
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Corsican Background 15
  • 2 - The Turn of the Wheel 24
  • 3 - Victory in Italy 34
  • 4 - The Eastern Adventure 55
  • 5 - Brumaire and Marengo 68
  • 6 - First Consul 88
  • 7 - The New Charlemagne 103
  • 8 - Austerlitz and the Defeat of the Third Coalition 120
  • 9 - The Napoleonic Empire 131
  • 10 - The Continental System 155
  • 11 - The Spanish Ulcer 164
  • 12 - Wagram and the Awakening of Europe 173
  • 13 - Catastrophe in Russia 185
  • 14 - Leipzig and Abdication 200
  • 15 - The Hundred Days and Waterloo 217
  • 16 - St. Helena 236
  • 17 - The Napoleonic Legend 255
  • Appendix I - The Diagnosis of Napoleon''s Illness 267
  • Appendix II - The Death-Mask of Napoleon 269
  • Select Bibliography 271
  • Index 291
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