18.04.

1771: Field Marshal Prince Schwarzenberg – Leader of the Austrian Forces during Napoleon’s Campaign in Russia

1771: Field Marshal Prince Schwarzenberg – Leader of the Austrian Forces during Napoleon’s Campaign in Russia
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons / Napoleonic Wars

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 18 April 1771
  • The Austrian troops were helping Napoleon during the attack on Russia (the so-called Great Army i.e. Grande Armée). Apparently, Bonaparte wanted Prince Schwarzenberg to lead the Austrian contingent during the attack on the Russian Empire.

Prince Karl Philipp Schwarzenberg, an important military leader during the period of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, was born in Vienna on this day in 1771.

He was a member of the  Schwarzenberg family, one of the richest families in the Habsburg Empire. Namely, this family owned immense estates in Bohemia and Austria, including the Krumau Castle near the Austrian-Czech border.

Karl Philipp Schwarzenberg reached the rank of Field Marshal (the highest rank) when he was a member of the Austrian Army.

He was only two years younger than Napoleon Bonaparte, and a year younger than Ludwig van Beethoven.

Napoleon apparently appreciated Schwarzenberg, and when Austria formed an alliance with France, Napoleon wanted Schwarzenberg to lead the Austrian contingent during the attack on the Russian Empire.

Therefore, the Austrian troops were helping Napoleon during the attack (the so-called Great Army i.e. Grande Armée). Of course, this was more an obligation of allies because they were practically forced to do so.

Schwarzenberg and his troops in Russia achieved some military results, and it is interesting to note that almost the entire Austrian contingent managed to come back from Russia (on the contrary, the French suffered catastrophic losses).

After Napoleon’s disastrous invasion of Russia, Austria turned against him. Field Marshal Schwarzenberg was the leader of the Austrian forces that attacked the French.

He defeated Marshal Marmont near Paris, and his forces were able to enter the French capital. He was riding a horse (together with the Russian Emperor Alexander and King of Prussia) while their forces triumphantly entered Paris.

Schwarzenberg was greatly rewarded for his results during the Napoleonic Wars. He became president of the Court War Council (Hofkriegsrat), which was the highest position in the army of the Habsburg Monarchy.

He also received an unusually rare privilege – he could put the coat-of-arms of the Austrian imperial dynasty on his coat of arms.

It is interesting that today’s Czech politician Karel Schwarzenberg (who was a Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, and a presidential candidate) is a descendant of the Field Marshal Karl Philipp Schwarzenberg.

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