The French Wars

Napoleon’s Footprint In Vienna

The French Wars. Why on earth does Schonbrunn Palace have a Napoleon room? And why did a Habsburg princess marry the French warlord when he had just defeated her Empire? Before you visit the Austrian capital, get the story about Napoleon in Vienna.

Napoleon And The Habsburgs

The French Wars: painting by Georges RougetFrench Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte defeated Vienna and the Habsburg Empire twice during his expansion across Europe. In 1805, Austrian Emperor Franz II, who later became Franz I, lost against Napoleon in the Battle of Austerlitz in Moravia (in the South of what is today the Czech Republic), together with his ally Tsar Alexander I of Russia. Even though Archduke Charles had reformed the Austrian army in 1801 and the Austrian cavalry enjoyed an unrivalled reputation in Europe, the Austrian infantery and cavalry operated in a fragmented way and were not as effective.

Napoleon In Vienna

The French Wars: Napoleon room, Schonbrunn PalaceDuring the French Wars, Napoleon stayed several times at Schonbrunn Palace in 1805 and 1809, which he chose as his headquarters. The room where he was reported to have slept is now called Napoleon room. (You will see it when you book the Grand Tour at the palace.)

Apart from loosing territories such as the Tyrol, Venetia and Fore Austria, and paying 40 million francs of indemnity, Emperor Franz abdicated from the Crown of the Holy Roman Empire, which ended in 1806 after almost 900 years (962-1806).

In 1809 Austria again declared war on France and was defeated, this time losing Salzburg and parts of Upper Austria to Bavaria. France received Triest, parts of Carinthia and Eastern Tyrol.

To pacify Napoleon, Emperor Franz’ daughter Archduchess Marie Louise of Habsburg had to marry Napoleon in the same year. The painting by Georges Rouget on top shows Napoleon marrying Marie Louise (1810).

The House Of Schwarzenberg In The French Wars

The French Wars: Prince Karl Philipp SchwarzenbergFour years after the French Wars, in 1813, Franz finally triumphed against Napoleon in the Battle of Leipzig, supported by Russia, Prussia and Sweden, in the biggest battle of Europe prior to World War I. The Battle is also known as the Battle of Nations.

Austrian military officer Feldmarschall Karl Philipp Prince zu Schwarzenberg, was commander in chief of the Allied Forces. The House of Schwarzenberg owns the baroque Palais Schwarzenberg in Vienna, and a palais of the same name in Prague, among a series of other castles mainly in Bohemia. Today, his last descendant Karel VII is serving as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, having previously served as the President of the Council of the European Union.