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Austerlitz, Battle of

AUSTERLITZ, BATTLE OF

The Battle of Austerlitz, which occurred on December 2, 1805, was the climactic battle of the War of the Third Coalition (AugustDecember 1805). Having forced an Austrian army to surrender at Ulm in September, Napoleon then chased the Russian army of Mikhail Ilarionovich Kutuzov from the Austrian border on the River Inn to Moravia. There Kutuzov's army linked up with reinforcements from Russia and Tsar Alexander I joined his troops. Also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, because Napoleon, Emperor Franz of Austria, and Alexander I were all present on the field, Austerlitz was a crushing French victory that sealed the fate of the Third Coalition (Russia, Austria, Great Britain, Naples, and Sweden).

Napoleon's forces were inferior to those of the coalition, so the French emperor developed a ruse. Having initially seized the dominant Pratzen Heights in the middle of the battlefield, he withdrew from that position, feigning weakness, in order to entice the allies to attack his right flank. When they did so, Napoleon's forces retook the Pratzen Heights, where Kutuzov and Alexander himself urged their troops to resist, and then surrounded the remnants of the allied army, inflicting approximately 30 percent casualties on the Russian and Austrian troops.

The victory was so one-sided that Alexander withdrew his army from the campaign altogether, retreating rapidly back to Russian Poland. His departure compelled Emperor Franz to sue for peace, resulting in the lopsided Treaty of Pressburg (1806), that formally ended the war and dissolved the coalition. Although little studied by Russians and Austrians (for reasons of national pride), Austerlitz elsewhere became the paradigm of decisive battles in the nineteenth century, and generals across the continent and even in the United States sought to emulate Napoleon's accomplishment.

See also: alexander i; kutuzov, mikhail ilarionovich; napoleon i

bibliography

Bowden, Scott. (1997). Napoleon and Austerlitz : An Unprecedentedly Detailed Combat Study of Napoleon's Epic Ulm-Austerlitz campaigns of 1805. Chicago: Emperor's Press.

Duffy, Christopher. (1999). Austerlitz, 1805. London: Cassell.

Frederick W. Kagan

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Austerlitz

Austerlitz (ô´stərlĬts, Ger. ou´–), Czech Slavkov u Brna, town, S Czech Republic, in Moravia. An agricultural center, the town has sugar refineries and cotton mills. It became a seat of the Anabaptists in 1528. At Austerlitz, in the "battle of the three emperors," Napoleon I won (Dec. 2, 1805) his most brilliant victory by defeating the Russian and Austrian armies under Czar Alexander I and Emperor Francis II. The "sun of Austerlitz" (it was a cloudless day) became synonymous with the peak of Napoleon's fortunes. An armistice with Austria, concluded (Dec. 4) at Nikolsburg (now Mikulov), was followed by the Treaty of Pressburg. Russia continued the war but had to withdraw all troops from Austria. There is a famous description of the battle in Tolstoy's War and Peace. The town has an 18th-century castle, a 13th-century church, the Renaissance Church of the Resurrection, and the Monument of Peace (built 1910–11).

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Austerlitz, Battle of

Austerlitz, Battle of (December 2, 1805) French victory, led by Napoleon I, over the Austrians and Russians under Mikhail Kutuzov in Bohemia. One of Napoleon's greatest victories, it was also called the Battle of the Three Emperors.

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Battle of Austerlitz

Battle of Austerlitz a battle in 1805 near the town of Austerlitz (now in the Czech Republic), in which Napoleon defeated the Austrians and Russians.

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Austerlitz

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