This day marked the death of Field Marshal Count Leopold Josef Daun, probably the most respected among Empress Maria Theresa’s military commanders.
Some of the others include: Baron Ernst Gideon von Laudon, Count Ludwig Andreas Khevenhüller, Count Ferdinand Traun, Count Franz Moritz Lacy, Count Andreas Hadik, and Count Ferenc Nádasdy.
All of them held the rank of Field Marshal, the highest in the empress’s army. However, Daun was probably the most prominent among them. From 1762 until 1766 he held what was in theory the highest position in the Habsburg army – that of President of the Court Council of War (German: Hofkriegsratspräsident).
Count Leopold Josef Daun was around 12 years older than Empress Maria Theresa. His father was also a field marshal, and also the viceroy of the Kingdom of Naples during the reign of Emperor Charles VI Habsburg, Maria Theresa’s father. In Italy, Daun’s father-viceroy received the high aristocratic title of Prince of Teano (named after a town northwest of Naples). Daun himself inherited this title.
Leopold Josef Daun became particularly famous for his victory over Maria Theresa’s greatest enemy – Prussian king Frederick II the Great. Namely, Daun defeated Frederick the Great near Kolín, which was also Frederick’s first defeat during the Seven Years’ War.
After that victory Maria Theresa founded the well-known Order of Maria Theresa, which became the highest Habsburg military decoration. It was precisely Daun who was awarded the first Grand Cross of that Order. Daun later defeated Frederick the Great again, and was even called the “savior” of the lands of Maria Theresa.