Siege of Vienna, 10-13 May 1809

Siege of Vienna, 10-13 May 1809

Siege of Vienna, 10-13 May 1809

The siege of Vienna of 10-13 May 1809 saw the Austrian capital fall to Napoleon for the second time in four years after a very short attempt to defend the city.

Vienna was exposed to French attack as a result of the failure of the Austrian invasion of Bavaria that had opened the Franco-Austrian War of 1809. The main Austrian army, under the command of Archduke Charles, had advanced into Bavaria, but had been split in two by Napoleon at the battle of Abensberg (20 April 1809). After the battle of Eggmuhl (22 April 1809) Charles and the larger part of the army had been forced north of the Danube, leaving Hiller and the Austrian left isolated on the south bank. Over the next two weeks Hiller was forced steadily east, before eventually crossing the Danube on 8 May.

The defenders of Vienna were commanded by Archduke Maximilian, the Emperor Franz's cousin. In theory he commanded 34,400 infantry and cavalry and 1,200 artillerymen by the time the French reached Vienna, but most of his troops were inexperienced, exhausted or unreliable. Around 10,000 men were detached from Hiller's corps when it crossed the Danube, but Hiller made sure that most of these men were either inexperienced Landwehr, or new recruits, mostly from Galicia and thus Poles who were hostile to the Austrian monarchy. This division arrived in Vienna on 9 May. Hiller was also forced to sent six battalions of Vienna Volunteers, much against his will as they had performed well during the battle of Ebelsberg (3 May 1809). These troops reached Vienna on 8 and 9 May. 9 May also saw the arrival of Nordmann's brigade with 500 Grenzers and 200 Hussars. Maximilian also had 8,000 Lower Austrian Landwehr at his disposal, and detained two battalions of regular infantry from Lower Austrian as they passed through the city escorting prisoners.

The mood in the city was variable, swinging from determination to panic on a regular basis. Maximilian's best hope of success was to hold out until 19 May, when Charles and the main army was expected to arrive opposite the city, but this depended on Napoleon delaying his arrival for several days. In fact Napoleon was only delayed while he attempted to locate Hiller's retreating army. When he discovered that Hiller had crossed the Danube and partially destroyed the bridge at Krems Napoleon ordered his men to advance towards Vienna, and by the night of 9 May the nearest French troops were at Purkersdorf, only ten miles from the city.

The first French troops to reach Vienna on the morning of 10 May were Colbert's light cavalry. They were followed by Tharreau's infantry from Lannes's corps, and then by Lannes himself. He assumed that the Austrians were not defending the city, and advanced dangerously close to the walls. A burst of Austrian gun fire soon made it clear that the city was still held against the French, while Tharreau was injured by a citizen armed with a wooden plank then had to be rescued from a group of hostile women.

The rest of Lannes's corps, along with Bessières's cavalry, surrounded Vienna during 10 May. Napoleon arrived during the morning, and occupied the Schönbrunn palace (outside the city walls). Late in the day he sent a letter to Maximilian promising to be lenient if the city surrendered, but to destroy it by bombardment if it resisted.

Maximilian didn't respond until the following morning, by which time Hiller had arrived on the opposite bank of the Danube. Kienmayer's II Reserve Corps (just over 4,000 men) was sent into the city before Hiller received an order from Archduke Charles forbidding him from posting men in the city, but these reinforcements encouraged Maximilian, who turned down Napoleon's demand for surrender. Napoleon responded in two ways, first by preparing twenty howitzers to bombard the city, and second by sending Massena's newly arrived 4th Corps to occupy the Prater Island, which sits between Vienna and the main branch of the Danube. That afternoon Massena captured Lusthaus, at the downstream tip of the island, and held it against an Austrian counterattack launched at about 9pm.

This counterattack began at the same time as Napoleon started his bombardment. The twenty howitzers inflicted minimal damage, but caused maximum panic. Chaos enveloped the city. In response Maximilian called a council of war, which met at 1.30am on 12 May. The council decided that the city could not be held, but for the moment Maximilian held out, and instead ordered FML d'Aspre to make a second attempt to dislodge the French troops at Lusthaus. This burst of resolve only lasted for a short time before the Archduke changed his mind and decided to evacuate every regular soldier from the city.

This evacuation took place between 3.30am and 6.30am on the morning of 12 May. FML Andreas Graf O'Reilly was left by default in command of the city, having not received the order to retreat until after the Tabor bridge over the Danube had been destroyed. It was clear that the city would soon be forced to surrender. Once more of Massena's men had reached him, he began to advance up the Prater Island, eventually coming up to the Leopoldstadt suburb, part of the city that had spread onto the island. With the city now totally surrounded O'Reilly began serious surrender negotiations, and the surrender agreement was signed at 2am on 13 May. Later than morning Oudinet's troops entered Vienna, exactly one month after Napoleon had left Paris.

The fall of Vienna didn't bring Napoleon any nearer to victory. The main Austrian army was still intact, and he was faced with the problem of crossing the un-bridged Danube. Napoleon's first serious attempt to cross the river ended with his first serious battlefield defeat, at Aspern-Essling (21-22 May 1809), and even the successful crossing, at Wagram on 5-6 July, didn't produce the sort of crushing victory that he was looking for.

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Wiener Bürger Militär - Vienna militia 1809

Since the siege of Vienna 1683 the Austrians had several regular regiments of Militia in their major towns.

In the time of the Napoleonic wars the town of Vienna had three regiments of Infantry, two of Sharpshooters, a unit of cavalry and artillery.

Our hobbyfriend Manfred asked to get this unit, so we put it in the pipeline and Frank sculpted them for him. The research was a challenge this time as there were minor differences in the uniforms of the units.

Now we have finished the sets which cover the 1st and 2nd infantry and one of the sharpshooters as well as the Grenadiers.

You may recognize the Grenadiers and the sharpshooters. The two line infantry regiments had the same uniform, just the bandoliers of the NCO's was different.

We have all the units in parade formation, to celebrate the entrance of Archduke Carl into Vienna after the battle of Aspern.

For those of you who are interested in Austrian infantry without white uniforms, here are some plates.


World of Tinfigures at Katzelsdorf (Austria)

In 2008, together with my friends John Cunningham, we made a trip through Austria.

I have fond memories of this trip, with a sword-fight in the Roman museum Carnutum, good food, meeting friends in Austria and Hungary, visiting battlefields and museums.

We had the chance to visit the Zinnfigurenwelt Katzelsdorf, south of Vienna. When I was a child, I have seen a documentation of the siege of Vienna 1683. In this documentation I've seen many photos from the flatfigure diorama, which is now on display at Katzelsdorf. So, this stop was a must for me.


Vienna History Facts and Timeline

The city of Vienna has enjoyed a long history, overcoming many conflicts and problems over the centuries, with Duke Henry II of Austria awarding the city its prestigious title of Austrian capital in 1155.

Evidence exists that this part of Austria has seen settlement since at least 500 BC, with Celts being drawn by the River Danube. Just before the dawn of the first century, Romans arrived in Vienna and began to fortify the area, naming it Vindobona. The site was used as a strategic stronghold, protecting the Roman empire from possible Germanic attack. In the 3rd century, the Roman settlement became a 'municipium' (town). Even today, remains of these Roman times can be seen within the Innere Stadt (1st District).

The Migration Period (Volkerwanderung)

By the end of the 4th century, the majority of the Romans had left Vindobona and a more unsettled period in history arrived, along with various immigrants. A small settlement began to establish itself here once more, although fire damage soon after proved to be a major setback.


Medieval Vienna was strongly influenced by its Roman roots and many of the new buildings that were being constructed followed the basic earlier layout of the town, incorporating the old walls and roads. A number of 6th-century coins have been unearthed here, indicating that the settlement was relatively established and trading well at this time in Vienna history.

Rulers of the City

Various different individuals have ruled over Vienna over the centuries, such as the Babenberg family between the 10th and 13th centuries, followed by the House of Habsburg in the 13th century. Keen not to be outdone by the booming city of Prague, the Habsburg royalty commissioned many ambitious building projects, including the expansion of the already grand St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom), previously completed in 1160.

The 14th century saw the instigation of cautious economic policies at the hands of Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, and Vienna enjoyed an era of much affluence. Rudolf was also responsible for the establishment of the University of Vienna (Universitat Wien) in 1365, which is now Austria's biggest and contains a staggering student base approaching 90,000. The Stephansdom was further expanded to incorporate a gothic nave and was finally inaugurated as a cathedral in 1469, gaining its own bishop.

Sieges and Fortifications in the 16th and 17th Centuries

Vienna was victorious when it was attacked by the Ottoman Turks in 1529, thanks in no small part to its substantial medieval walls. Further fortifications were built well into the 17th century, with the city becoming a giant fortress, encircled by a series of bastions and a moat. In 1683, Vienna was once again successful in defending itself during the Second Turkish Siege, which lasted for around two months.

History of the 18th and 19th Centuries

At the very end of the 17th century, Vienna became something of a baroque city, with leading Austrian and Italian architects guiding the expansion plans. Many grand palaces were soon completed, including the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein in 1705 and the Schwarzenberg in 1728, while the already existing Schonbrunn Palace was further embellished. In both 1679 and again in 1713, Vienna suffered great losses when the plague took its toll, although by the 1720s, the population had managed to exceed an impressive 150,000, growing to 200,000 by the end of the 18th century. By now, a sewerage system had been implemented in the city and hygiene was greatly improved.

The Napoleonic Wars resulted in ownership of Vienna passing to France on no less than two occasions, in 1805 and 1809. Following the defeat of Napoleon, the Congress of Vienna was staged between 1814 and 1815, to discuss the politics of Europe and resolve any outstanding issues.

The Great Flood of 1830 saw the banks of the River Danube burst, flooding the entire district of Augarten to a depth of almost 2 metres / 6.5 feet. After this catastrophe, a number of the Danube's branches were stopped and the river partially redirected, away from the centre of the city.

In the middle of the 19th century, Vienna was ruled over by Emperor Franz Joseph I and enjoyed much expansion. The fortifications were replaced with the Ringstrasse boulevard and the character of today's city was born.

Immigration, Population Explosion and the World Wars

Many immigrants were attracted to Vienna and began to arrive in hordes towards the end of the 19th century. In fact, by the first decade of the 20th century, the capital was home to more than two million residents, meaning that further expansion was necessary.

The First World War saw food in scarce supply, while the Second World War saw Vienna briefly lose its capital status to Berlin, during German occupation. Following the end of the war, the city was encircled by the Soviet-occupied zone and divided into a series of four individual sectors, which remained in place until the signing of the Austrian State Treaty in 1955. In the 1970s, the Vienna International Centre was constructed for the United Nations.

Tourists in the 21st-Century City

The historical centre of Vienna is now a deserved Unesco World Heritage Site, with many beautiful old buildings clearly displaying elements of its history. Very much celebrated is the city's rich musical heritage, with numerous famous classical composers staying here over the years, such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The centrally located Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper) dates back to the middle of the 19th century and remains central to the city's rich cultural scene.


The Statute of the Republic of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik got its own Statute as early as 1272 and , among others, codified Roman practice and local customs. The Statute included the town planning and regulations of quarantine (hygienic reasons). The Republic of Dubrovnik was very inventive regarding laws and institutions that were developed very early:

  • - medical service was introduced in 1301.
  • - the first pharmacy (still working) was opened in 1317
  • - a refuge for old people was opened in 1347
  • - the first quarantine hospital (Lazarete) was opened in 1377
  • - slave trading was abolished in 1418
  • - the orphanage was opened in 1432
  • - the water supply system (20 kilometers) was constructed in 1436

Siege of Vienna, 10-13 May 1809 - History

With the end of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, Barbarian invasions reduced the Roman town to ruins. Vindobona diminished in importance until the 8th century, when the Frankish Emperor, Charlemagne, made it part of his Eastern march and part of the holy Roman empire. In 881 the name "Wenia" for Vienna is documented in the annals of the city of Salzburg, the first mention since Roman times.

In the 10th century, the German Babenberg dynasty acquired Vienna, and during their reign of almost three centuries, the city became a major trading centre. In 955 the holy Roman Emperor, Otto I, expelled Hungarian tribes from the Eastern March. After ousting the Hungarians, Emperor Otto I established a border province of the 'empire towards the east' - hence the name "Ostarrichi", modern German Österreich. In 976 he made a gift of Vienna to the Babenbergs, who, despite further incursions by the Hungarians, restored the city's importance as a centre of trade and culture. In about 1155, the Babenbergs moved their court to Vienna. In 1246, border squabbles with the Hungarians flared up into fighting. The Austrians were victorious, but the Babenberg duke Friedrich II was killed in battle without having any male heirs, leaving his family line extinct.

Following his death and the ensuing interregnum, the Habsburgs began centuries of rule over Austria. In 1276, Rudolf I of Habsburg, Holy Roman emperor since 1273, mounted a campaign against Premysl Ottokar II, king of Bohemia, who had taken over the orphaned Babenberg lands, for "insubordination to the Empire." Ottokar was killed in battle in 1278. Four years later, Rudolf I of Habsburg installed his two sons as rulers of Austria. The Habsburgs will reign the country for over 600 years, until 1918.

Under Maximilian I, Vienna was transformed into a centre for the arts. The Habsburgs were invariably elected Holy Roman Emperor, and by the 16th century their mighty empire had expanded into Spain, Holland, Burgundy, Bohemia and Hungary. Under Karl V, the empire was called 'the country were the sun never sets', because the Habsburgs also reigned in Mexico and South America. But it was under constant threat in 1529 the Turks, having conquered the Balkans, laid siege to Vienna for the first time. They were not successful, but they stayed on for the next 150 years as a very dangerous neighbour in control of most of Hungary. Constant inroads into Austria were a scourge at the time. In 1679, a severe epidemic of the black plague ravaged Vienna.

The Turkish threat to Vienna ended in 1683, when Kara Mustapha's forces were repelled. In the following decades, they were pushed out of Hungary and down the Balkan Peninsula. Freed from the Turkish threat and the hub of an expanding empire, Vienna expanded under the reign of Karl VI the Karlskirche, the Belvedere palaces and many other Baroque buildings were constructed, and created what was called "Vienna gloriosa".

From 1740 to 1790, Empress Maria Theresa and her son, Joseph II, reformed Austria. They abolished torture and serfdom, established tolerance for non-Catholic religious denominations, created a totally new administrative structure of the empire, introduced compulsory elementary education for everyone, put the army on a new footing, founded Vienna's General Hospital and opened the Prater gardens and Augarten park to the general public. The vast palace of Schönbrunn was completed by the Empress, who also presided over Vienna's development as the musical capital of Europe. The long reign of Maria Theresia was seen as a time of serenity, wealth and sensible administration, despite a background of frequent wars.

Napoleons defeat of Austria in 1809 was a humiliation for Emperor Franz I. The French conqueror briefly occupied Schönbrunn palace, demolished part of the city walls, and even married Franz I's daughter Marie-Louise.

In 1815, after the defeat of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna, which restored the established order in Europe, Franz I and his minister, Prince Metternich, imposed autocratic rule in Austria. The middle class, excluded from political life, retreated into the artistic and domestic pursuits that characterised the the Biedermeier age. In 1848, revolutionary uprisings drove Metternich from power, but led to a new period of conservative rule under Franz Joseph I. In 1857, he ordered the walls encircling the city to be demolished. During 1858 to 1865, the Ringstrasse was laid out as the show boulevard of the Imperial Capital.

In the second half of the 19th century, Vienna attracted gifted men and women from all over the empire, as well as traders from Eastern Europe. However, the resulting ethnic brew often resulted in overcrowding and social tensions. The turn of the century was a time of intellectual ferment in Vienna this was the age of Freud, of the writers Karl Kraus and Arthur Schnitzler, and of the Secession and Jugendstil. At this time, artists such as Gustav Klimt and the architects Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos created revolutionary new styles. This was all set against a decaying Habsburg empire, which Karl I's abdication in 1918 brought to an end. After World War I, the German speaking remains of the Habsburg empire became a republic.

In 1919, the Social Democrats gained the majority in Vienna's city government and retained it in all free elections.

From 1919 to 1934, Vienna's Social Democrats gained international acclaim for their municipal policies (municipal housing projects, a restructuring of the school system, social advances), despite a worldwide economic crisis and conflicts with the (predominantly Conservative) rest of Austria.

Until 1934, the rift between Austria's Conservatives, many of whom advocated authoritarian rule (similar to the economically prosperous neighbour Germany) and the Social Democrats deepened, and led a to the civil war. The army secured the rule of the Conservative Federal Government. Vienna's mayor was deposed. Two decades of struggle between the left and right political parties ended with the the union of Austria with Nazi-Germany (the Anschluß), in 1938. Thousands of people enthusiastically greeted Hitler when he held his first speech in Austria on Heldenplatz.


I am happy when we celebrate each year the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians on May 24. But I have always wondered why we make so much of this feast, which does not celebrate a great event in the life as Mary as do, for example, the feasts of the Divine Maternity of Mary, the Annunciation, the Assumption or the Immaculate Conception. Could you please explain why this feast is so important?

You ask a very good question, and the answer goes back a long way. I shall endeavour to answer it succinctly.

The title “Help of Christians” is an old one that forms part of the Litany of Loreto, which is often said after the Rosary. The Litany has its origin in Marian litanies in the early Middle Ages. In 1558 it was published as “The Litany of Loreto” by St Peter Canisius, and it was approved by Pope Sixtus V in 1587.

In 1571, Pope St Pius V asked the Church to pray the Rosary to Our Lady, under the title Help of Christians, for success in the battle that the Christian navy, under the command of Don Juan of Austria, was waging in the Mediterranean against the Turkish navy. It should be remembered that Constantinople had fallen to the Turks in 1453 and, with control of the Mediterranean, the Turks were threatening Rome itself. Although heavily outnumbered, the Christian navy defeated the Turks in a hard-fought battle in the Gulf of Lepanto, off Greece, on October 7, 1571. The following year the Pope instituted a feast in honour of Our Lady on October 7, first called “Our Lady of Victories” and later “Our Lady of the Rosary”.

In 1683, when Vienna was besieged by the Ottoman Turks, Pope Innocent XI asked the Church to pray the Rosary to Our Lady, again under the title of Help of Christians. The battle against overwhelming odds began on September 8, when the Church celebrates Our Lady’s birthday, and it ended successfully four days later, on the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Thereafter, the military might of the Turks was no longer a threat to Christendom.

In 1804 Napoleon Bonaparte was proclaimed Emperor of France and began to persecute the Church. Pope Pius VII excommunicated him, but in 1809 Napoleon entered the Vatican, arrested the Pope and carried him off in chains to Fontainebleau where he was held prisoner for five years. The Pope managed to communicate to the Church his request for everyone to pray to Our Lady, Help of Christians for his release, promising Our Lady that he would institute a feast in her honour if the prayers were answered. Once again, with the help of the Rosary, the Pope’s wishes were granted. On the 24 th May 1814, Napoleon abdicated and on that very day the Pope returned to Rome. As his first official act he proclaimed the feast of Mary, Help of Christians, to be celebrated on the 24 th May.

In 1844 the first Provincial Synod of the bishops of Australia, held in Sydney, proclaimed Mary, Help of Christians, the principal patroness of Australia. For that reason the feast has great prominence in this country, and is celebrated as a Solemnity, the highest category of feast.

Australia’s mother church, St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, is dedicated to Mary the Immaculate, Help of Christians.

So there is much history behind the feast and every reason to thank Our Lady, Help of Christians, for her loving and powerful care for the Church, both the universal Church and the Church in Australia.


Napoleonic Wars: Battle of Aspern-Essling

In case the archduke opposed the crossing, it was vital for the French to establish bridgeheads in the two villages on the farther bank. Both had good defensive features, being encircled by earth embankments to keep out floods, and they were connected to each other by a trench. Most of their houses were built of stone. The one, Aspern, had several streets and a cemetery surrounded by a stout wall. The other, Essling, had only one street, but its granary was a three-story structure of brick, 36 meters by 10, proof against cannon shots up to the first story and big enough to house 400 men.

On the evening of May 13, Napoleon told Massena to organize the Ebersdorf bridging operation in liaison with his corps artillery commander, General Pernetti, and the army’s chief engineer, General Henri-Gatien Bertrand. Massena was an old hand at crossing rivers󈝶 years earlier, in a blizzard, he had crossed the Upper Rhine when it was in flood by building a bridge of local timber, personally supervising his sappers as they worked in ice-cold water up to their necks.

The first stage of the operation would be to lay a bridge of boats over the first arm of the Danube to Lobau. As soon as this was done, the advance guard and Lasalle’s light cavalry would pass over into Lobau, together with the material needed to bridge the Stadlau arm to the left bank. The bridging system the French had chosen entailed anchoring a line of flat-bottomed, sheer-sided boats at well-defined intervals and covering them with wooden planks. If the anchoring and spacing were properly done, such a bridge would support the weight of mounted regiments, artillery field pieces and closedup infantry columns marching in fours, at an average rate of passage of 6,000 or 7,000 men per hour.

To throw such a bridge across the Danube at Vienna called for many hours of backbreaking work, but the French pontonniers were used to that in Napoleon’s army the basic bridging unit, the bateau gribeauval, was more than 36 feet long by more than 4 feet high and weighed more than 4,000 pounds.

As the length of bridge covered by each boat was 32 feet, 80 boats would be needed for the section between the Vienna bank and Lobau. Bertrand already had 48 boats in good repair, and another 32 which he thought could be made ready by the following night the work would require a great deal of material, including 3,000 beams, 400 joists and 5,000 to 6,000 fathoms of rope. The second arm of the river, the Stadlau Branch, would be bridged by three trestles and by 15 pontoons captured from the Austrians at Landshut.

By the 17th, 91 boats had been assembled, 70 of which had rigging, oars and accessories. Twelve proved to be too heavy 38 were suitable for floating supports and 20 more could be made so while the bridging was still in progress.

Since he was committing his army to the passage of a great river on a line of hastily assembled boats, rafts, trestles and pontoons, Napoleon was taking a tremendous risk by providing neither cruising vessels nor a boom to protect against enemy fireships. But there was an even greater danger, one which Napoleon may have failed to understand at all.

When the French army had crossed the Danube in 1805, it had been late autumn. The bridges at Vienna were intact. There had been no need to take account of the effect that melting snows might have on the river. In 1809, according to the artillery general, Baston, Comte de Lariboisiere, there was even less cause for concern since the weather was good and there-was no sign of a storm.

But it was precisely the fair weather that made Napoleon’s plan so hazardous. It was no use basing plans or theories on the behavior of the Rhine, which melting snows raised no more than a foot or so. The Danube was very different. Of its 400 tributaries, many came from the Swiss or Tyrolese uplands and the Bavarian Alps. In May and June, the melting snows from these regions could raise the Danube at Vienna by as much as 15 feet- already that spring of 1809, the level had varied from 4 feet above an extreme low-water mark to 13 feet below flood level. When the river reached its maximum height, each of its arms became a miniature sea in which islets and sandbanks disappeared and trees torn from the river banks would sweep downstream on the torrent.

Nevertheless the die was cast. By the third week in May the mass of materials assembled at Ebersdorf included timber, planks, beams, posts, piles, pickets, rails, anchors, chains, ropes, small boats, wherries, pontoons, forges, engines and workmen’s tools. The French now also had the use of an immense chain, captured from the Turks during the Siege of Vienna and preserved ever since in the city’s arsenal, which was long enough to span the river from bank to bank. In the dockyard, screened from Austrian eyes by a small copse, boats were being floated onto a deep, narrow creek that served as a dock, while hundreds of officers and thousands of artisans worked on preparing and cutting up wood.

At night, pontoon detachments and Guard Marines patrolled the river bank, testing the depth of the water and spying out the best anchorage spots. Since only 38 pontoon anchors and grapnels were available, massive cannon from Vienna’s arsenal and open chests full of cannon balls were kept ready to be submerged in the water to hold the mooring cables.

While Bertrand’s men toiled at their tasks, the French infantry took its ease. There was a regular ration issue and plenty of wine, sometimes a liter per man, never less than a demiliter. Much of the wine came from the enormous cellars of the convent at Kloster-Neuburg, carried to the banks of the Danube in convoys of wagons. Life was even more pleasant for the officers quartered in Vienna, where the cafes provided not only music and refreshments but the chance of a romantic encounter as well.

For the senior officers, nothing occasioned greater pleasure than an invitation to dine with General 0. Mouton, hero of the charge across the burning timbers of the Ebelsberg bridge. Mouton was billetted in the mansion lately vacated by Prince Trautmansdorff, grand marshal to the Austrian court, who had generously left his butler and chef behind to look after the new occupant.

There was still no sign of the corps of 25,000 Russians that the czar was supposed to be putting at Napoleon’s disposal. ‘An officer from the Czar arrived every week at our headquarters,’ General AJ. Savary tells us, ‘and a very active correspondence was kept up between Russia and ourselves, but we didn’t want correspondence, we wanted battalions.’

One of the more familiar sights at Ebersdorf in the third week of May was the slight and elegant figure of Colonel de Sainte Croix, Massena’s senior aide de camp. Sainte Croix was an extremely brave and intelligent officer, but with his lack of height, delicate features and hands like a girl’s, he was not the type that Napoleon expected to find serving on the staff of a French marshal. Napoleon had in fact brought pressure on Mass6na to replace him, but without result.

Determined, no doubt, to justify Massena’s faith in him, Sainte Croix had made a dashing start to the campaign after capturing an Austrian standard he had been promoted to colonel at the age of 27.

In case the archduke opposed the crossing, it was vital for the French to establish bridgeheads in the two villages on the farther bank. Both had good defensive features, being encircled by earth embankments to keep out floods, and they were connected to each other by a trench. Most of their houses were built of stone. The one, Aspern, had several streets and a cemetery surrounded by a stout wall. The other, Essling, had only one street, but its granary was a three-story structure of brick, 36 meters by 10, proof against cannon shots up to the first story and big enough to house 400 men.

On the evening of May 13, Napoleon told Massena to organize the Ebersdorf bridging operation in liaison with his corps artillery commander, General Pernetti, and the army’s chief engineer, General Henri-Gatien Bertrand. Massena was an old hand at crossing rivers󈝶 years earlier, in a blizzard, he had crossed the Upper Rhine when it was in flood by building a bridge of local timber, personally supervising his sappers as they worked in ice-cold water up to their necks.

The first stage of the operation would be to lay a bridge of boats over the first arm of the Danube to Lobau. As soon as this was done, the advance guard and Lasalle’s light cavalry would pass over into Lobau, together with the material needed to bridge the Stadlau arm to the left bank. The bridging system the French had chosen entailed anchoring a line of flat-bottomed, sheer-sided boats at well-defined intervals and covering them with wooden planks. If the anchoring and spacing were properly done, such a bridge would support the weight of mounted regiments, artillery field pieces and closedup infantry columns marching in fours, at an average rate of passage of 6,000 or 7,000 men per hour.

To throw such a bridge across the Danube at Vienna called for many hours of backbreaking work, but the French pontonniers were used to that in Napoleon’s army the basic bridging unit, the bateau gribeauval, was more than 36 feet long by more than 4 feet high and weighed more than 4,000 pounds.

As the length of bridge covered by each boat was 32 feet, 80 boats would be needed for the section between the Vienna bank and Lobau. Bertrand already had 48 boats in good repair, and another 32 which he thought could be made ready by the following night the work would require a great deal of material, including 3,000 beams, 400 joists and 5,000 to 6,000 fathoms of rope. The second arm of the river, the Stadlau Branch, would be bridged by three trestles and by 15 pontoons captured from the Austrians at Landshut.

By the 17th, 91 boats had been assembled, 70 of which had rigging, oars and accessories. Twelve proved to be too heavy 38 were suitable for floating supports and 20 more could be made so while the bridging was still in progress.

Since he was committing his army to the passage of a great river on a line of hastily assembled boats, rafts, trestles and pontoons, Napoleon was taking a tremendous risk by providing neither cruising vessels nor a boom to protect against enemy fireships. But there was an even greater danger, one which Napoleon may have failed to understand at all.

When the French army had crossed the Danube in 1805, it had been late autumn. The bridges at Vienna were intact. There had been no need to take account of the effect that melting snows might have on the river. In 1809, according to the artillery general, Baston, Comte de Lariboisiere, there was even less cause for concern since the weather was good and there-was no sign of a storm.

But it was precisely the fair weather that made Napoleon’s plan so hazardous. It was no use basing plans or theories on the behavior of the Rhine, which melting snows raised no more than a foot or so. The Danube was very different. Of its 400 tributaries, many came from the Swiss or Tyrolese uplands and the Bavarian Alps. In May and June, the melting snows from these regions could raise the Danube at Vienna by as much as 15 feet- already that spring of 1809, the level had varied from 4 feet above an extreme low-water mark to 13 feet below flood level. When the river reached its maximum height, each of its arms became a miniature sea in which islets and sandbanks disappeared and trees torn from the river banks would sweep downstream on the torrent.

Nevertheless the die was cast. By the third week in May the mass of materials assembled at Ebersdorf included timber, planks, beams, posts, piles, pickets, rails, anchors, chains, ropes, small boats, wherries, pontoons, forges, engines and workmen’s tools. The French now also had the use of an immense chain, captured from the Turks during the Siege of Vienna and preserved ever since in the city’s arsenal, which was long enough to span the river from bank to bank. In the dockyard, screened from Austrian eyes by a small copse, boats were being floated onto a deep, narrow creek that served as a dock, while hundreds of officers and thousands of artisans worked on preparing and cutting up wood.

At night, pontoon detachments and Guard Marines patrolled the river bank, testing the depth of the water and spying out the best anchorage spots. Since only 38 pontoon anchors and grapnels were available, massive cannon from Vienna’s arsenal and open chests full of cannon balls were kept ready to be submerged in the water to hold the mooring cables.

While Bertrand’s men toiled at their tasks, the French infantry took its ease. There was a regular ration issue and plenty of wine, sometimes a liter per man, never less than a demiliter. Much of the wine came from the enormous cellars of the convent at Kloster-Neuburg, carried to the banks of the Danube in convoys of wagons. Life was even more pleasant for the officers quartered in Vienna, where the cafes provided not only music and refreshments but the chance of a romantic encounter as well.

For the senior officers, nothing occasioned greater pleasure than an invitation to dine with General 0. Mouton, hero of the charge across the burning timbers of the Ebelsberg bridge. Mouton was billetted in the mansion lately vacated by Prince Trautmansdorff, grand marshal to the Austrian court, who had generously left his butler and chef behind to look after the new occupant.

There was still no sign of the corps of 25,000 Russians that the czar was supposed to be putting at Napoleon’s disposal. ‘An officer from the Czar arrived every week at our headquarters,’ General AJ. Savary tells us, ‘and a very active correspondence was kept up between Russia and ourselves, but we didn’t want correspondence, we wanted battalions.’

One of the more familiar sights at Ebersdorf in the third week of May was the slight and elegant figure of Colonel de Sainte Croix, Massena’s senior aide de camp. Sainte Croix was an extremely brave and intelligent officer, but with his lack of height, delicate features and hands like a girl’s, he was not the type that Napoleon expected to find serving on the staff of a French marshal. Napoleon had in fact brought pressure on Mass6na to replace him, but without result.

Determined, no doubt, to justify Massena’s faith in him, Sainte Croix had made a dashing start to the campaign after capturing an Austrian standard he had been promoted to colonel at the age of 27.

On the evening of May 18, having been picked by Massena to lead the advance party to Lobau, Sainte Croix took command of a detachment of infantry, which then crossed over to the island in barques. According to Savary, Napoleon personally supervised the embarkation, arranging to have early barques contain the maximum number of men.

Unlike the force he sent into Schwarze-Laken, the advance party established itself without loss. By next morning more than 80 boats were ready to be put into place on the Vienna bank, together with rafts, baulks and abutments. Boats were being prepared to send Sainte Croix’s party over the Stadlau arm to the left bank several more boats had been tied together to form flying bridges in which workmen would pass to and fro. By 6 p.m. on the 19th, the first arm of the river had been bridged, and the Austrian pontoons for bridging the Stadlau arm were taken in carts to Lobau.

Orders had now gone out for the light cavalry brigades of Pire, Bruyere, Colbert and Marulaz to be at the Ebersdorf bridgehead at 5 o’clock the next morning. Lannes’ corps was to arrive at 9 a.m., followed by the cuirassier divisions of Nansouty, Saint Sulpice and Espagne. These three divisions comprised 14 heavy cavalry regiments with a strength of more than 9,000 men General L.B.J. d’Espagne had 109 officers and 2,670 cuirassiers in four regiments (the 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th).

On the 20th the French troops began to mass in Lobau, complete with artillery trains. The only building on the island was a hunting lodge used by the Austrian royal family, and of the three things essential to the French soldier’s morale, all that Lobau could provide was wood for the bivouac fires dry straw to sleep on was not to be had, and neither was food. ‘My second brigade, which passed over first, has had no rations for two days,’ General Gabriel J.J. Molitor informed Massena on the 20th. ‘There is absolutely nothing in this island these men are really up against it!’

At 3 p.m. on the 20th, Sainte Croix crossed to the left bank with 200 of Molitor’s ‘Voltigeurs:’ They had two tasks: to protect the ‘Pontonniers’ bridging the second arm of the river and to make fast to the left bank a cable which would support the final section of the bridge.

The Stadlau arm of the river was deep and swollen, and the captured Austrian pontoons and trestles just failed to stretch from Lobau to the left bank. Consequently, the final section of the bridge had to be made of tree trunks covered with joists. As soon as this was finished, Molitor’s division and Lasalle’s four light cavalry regiments passed over it to the Marchfeld. Driving off the Austrian outposts on the left bank, Molitor occupied Aspern with companies of the 67th while Lasalle’s horsemen fanned out into the plain. Two more of Massena’s divisions, led by General J. Boudet and Claude J.A. Legrand, were ready to follow from Lobau.

By now the river had begun to rise and was moving so fast that regiments making the crossing found themselves moving over ‘rickety planks washed and shaken by the rushing waters:’ The cavalrymen went on foot leading their horses, the infantry three abreast, while Guard Marines and Pontonniers patrolling the river in boats manfully staved off the tree trunks and other debris that were now being swept downstream. At 5 p.m., a vessel launched by the enemy upstream smashed into the Vienna section of the bridge, causing such damage that the passage of troops onto Lobau was halted-it was clear that repairs would take several hours. At this time Lannes’ corps was still on the right bank of the river so were two of the cuirassier divisions, the artillery parks and Davout’s corps, which was marching for Ebersdorf via Vienna.

The light cavalry division that should have followed Lasalle’s was now split into three parts. One squadron of the 3rd Chasseurs was already on the left bank, the rest of the regiment was in Lobau, and the other four regiments of the division were still on the Vienna bank.

This division was led by a general of brigade, Jacob-Francois Marulaz, one of the toughest sabreurs and finest tacticians in the French cavalry. Since Austria was the traditional enemy, the French army had for many years posted German-speaking troopers in the van of her light cavalry screen and, like many of his compatriots in French service, Marulaz had begun his career in a hussar regiment. A native of the Palatinate, this former colonel of the 8th Hussars still spoke ungrammatical French with a pronounced German accent despite 20 years of service, during which time he had had more than 20 horses killed under him and received 17 wounds, five of them in a single day. It was Marulaz who had captured the Austrian pontoons at Landshut, a useful addition to his service record, which also included the capture of 27 Russian guns at the Battle of Golymin.

According to General Lasalle, the Chasseurs a Cheval of the Guard was the most beautiful regiment in the world. Its troopers were dressed in hussar-style uniforms, the richest in the French army, and in addition to being extremely elegant they were extremely tough. Some of them carried ten or more wound scars under their dolmans the senior NCO’s were equal in experience to captains of the line. When the French Emperor was on campaign a troop of the regiment acted as his mounted escort its horses were kept saddled and bridled throughout its 48-hour tour of duty, its commanding officer followed Napoleon wherever he went.

On the night of May 20, riding with drawn sabers in the moonlight, the troopers of the peloton d’escorte galloped behind Napoleon and Massena as they reconnoitered the legendary Marchfeld.

Since the bridging work had been carried out without serious opposition, Napoleon had decided that Charles’ army was farther away than he had originally thought, and the reports of Lasalle’s light cavalry patrols had done nothing to change his mind. There were no travelers or couriers to be intercepted on the Marchfeld, as there had always been in Prussia and Spain consequently, Lasalle’s officers had had nothing to go on but the evidence of their own eyes and ears.

Unlike Napoleon, Marshal Massena believed that the Austrian army was already within striking distance and that it would attack in a few hours. The man who had saved France by keeping his nerve in front of Zurich was not given to imaginary fears, but there was nothing to be seen that night except the flicker of an advance guard’s fire well off to the northeast-the only sounds were the jingle of French harnesses and the croak of frogs.

Still not convinced that Napoleon was right, still not knowing how long it would take to repair the bridge, Massena returned to Aspern and roused Lasalle from a deep sleep. The advance guard specialist could tell him nothing new.

Seven miles away, Austria’s general-in-chief was in his headquarters on the Bisamberg hill. The Marchfeld was a place of special significance to an Austrian archduke, for it was there that Rudolf had founded the power of the German Hapsburgs in 1278 for Charles, the battle he planned to fight there would be the culmination of the long struggle against the archenemy of what he called ‘Our House,’ the struggle of Hapsburg against Valois, Hapsburg against Bourbon, finally against the revolutionary upheaval out of France that had shaken Europe’s monarchies to their foundations and was now embodied in the person of Napoleon Bonaparte. He had already issued his Order of the Day:

‘Soldiers, we shall fight a battle here tomorrow. On it will depend the existence of the Austrian monarchy, the throne of our good Kaiser Franz, the fate of each one of you. The Fatherland, the Monarchy, your parents and your friends all have their eyes upon you, sure of your courage and your strength!’

There were very few things worth knowing about the Imperial Austrian Army that Andre Massena had failed to learn in his long years of service. He knew that the Marchfeld was Austria’s equivalent to the Champ de Mars, the one place in Europe where Austrian generals could maneuver, if necessary, with their eyes shut and it was on the Marchfeld, his instinct told him, that Charles meant to fight the greatest battle of his career.

Shortly after midnight a vast circle of tiny pinpoints of light appeared on the darkened horizon northwest of Aspern, and the clouds in the direction of Bohemia were suffused by a dull red glow. Marshal Massena saw these phenomena from the belfry of Aspern church, and he knew that they came from the campfires of the Austrian army.

At 3 a.m. on the 21st, repairs to the Vienna bridge were completed and the passage of the army onto Lobau was resumed. By daybreak great masses of men, guns and wagons had assembled on the island.

The three French infantry divisions on the Marchfeld, all belonging to Massena’s corps, were led by three of Napoleon’s toughest divisionnaires. Boudet and Gabriel Molitor were both veterans of Massena’s Zurich campaign, in which Molitor had routed the Russian Alexander Suvorov’s advance guard ‘With three weak battalions of the 84th Demibrigade. Boudet, famous for his division’s march to Marengo with Louis Desaix, had joined a dragoon regiment under the monarchy, and was probably the only Napoleonic infantry general who could claim to have been punished by 50 strokes with the flat of a cavalry blade. Both of them were 40 years old. General Claude Legrand, a tall, impressive-looking man with a stentorian voice, had been a soldier for more than 30 years, having joined the army as a 15-year-old orphan in 1777.

Most of Molitor’s division was posted around the tile works south of Aspern, with a holding force forward in the village Boudet was in Essling, forming the French right, with Legrand in reserve on Molitor’s left rear and acting as bridge guard. Massena’s fourth division, led by Cara St. Cyr, had not yet crossed.

The left was under Massena’s command. To Marshal Lannes, Napoleon had entrusted the right and center, the latter formed by Espagne’s four regiments of cuirassiers and Lasalle’s four regiments of light cavalry, drawn up in the space between the villages and all under the immediate orders of Marshal Jean Baptiste Bessieres. Marulaz with his light cavalry was on the extreme left, covering the space between Aspern and the Danube.

Mounted since 4 a.m., Napoleon had summoned his senior officers to a conference held on horseback and canvassed their opinions. Lannes believed that there was nothing in front of the French positions except a rear guard of 600 to 800 men, while Bessieres said there was nothing for several miles. Berthier, as expected, agreed with Napoleon only Mouton believed that Massena was right and that the Austrian army would soon attack. It was, in fact, forming in two lines on rising ground behind Gerasdorf, between the Bisamberg hill and the Russbach stream. At 9 a.m. the archduke ordered arms to be piled, and the men ate breakfast. At noon, with the sun blazing from a cloudless sky, the advance began.

It resembled the outer edge of a huge fan, with Hiller and Heinrich von Bellegarde on the Austrian right, Hohenzollern in the center, Dedovich and Rosenberg on the left. Between Hohenzollern and Dedovich was the cavalry reserve, formed by more than 8,000 men in 72 squadrons. The total force of cavalry deployed comprised 54 squadrons of cuirassiers and dragoons and 93 squadrons of light cavalry and lancers, the infantry of 93 battalions, plus 17 battalions of grenadiers in their handsome peaked bearskins, with the ends of their moustaches waxed into horns. The artillery consisted of 18 batteries of brigade, 13 of position, and 11 of horsed, with a total of 288 guns.

The bands played Turkish music, and the men cheered and sang as they marched. Three of the five huge columns moved against Aspern two more marched for Essling, supported by a mass of horse.

When General Molitor saw what was advancing on Aspern he immediately reinforced the garrison, which had previously consisted of a few companies of the 67th. His division of 12 battalions now braced itself to receive the 54 battalions and 43 squadrons of the Austrian right. At 3 p.m. the leading columns attacked-and the two days of carnage known as the Battle of Aspern-Essling began.

Meanwhile the Danube had continued to rise. An hour after the battle began, the Vienna bridge ruptured for the second time thus Lannes’ corps, Davout’s corps, the Ist and 2nd heavy cavalry divisions and the artillery park were all unable to reach the left bank, where Massena and Lannes had only 27 battalions and 38 squadrons.

Austrian sources quote the strength of Charles’ army as 75,000 men, but this figure implies a strength of 500 men per battalion and in earlier actions it had been at least double that. French historians prefer a total of 90,000 infantry and 12,000 to 15,000 horse, against which Massena and Lannes had barely 16,000 infantry and just over 6,000 cavalry at the beginning of the battle.

In the next four hours both Aspern and Essling were taken and retaken several times. Led by Bessieres, Espagne and Lasalle, the French cavalry charged repeatedly, now against the Austrian infantry, now against Prince John of Lichtenstein’s cavalry, now against the enemy guns. In Aspern, said an Austrian account: ‘The parties engaged each other in every street, every house and every barn carts, ploughs and harrows had to be removed, during an interrupted fire, in order to get at the enemy every wall was a hindrance to the attack, ers and a rampart for the defenders the steeple, lofty trees, the garrets and the cellars had to be taken before either side could call itself master of the place, and yet the possession was ever of short duration, for no sooner had we taken a street or a house than the French gained another, forcing us to abandon the former. Many houses had been set on fire by the shells of both sides and lit up the whole country around:’

The Marchfeld was beginning to take on a hellish aspect. From the French side, Baron Louis-Francois Lejeune writes of thick black clouds of smoke through which the sun shone like a blood-red globe of fire, bathing the entire landscape in crimson. In Aspern the smoke was so dense that men almost suffocated in it, crossing bayonets with opponents they could not even see. By the time the Austrians had taken the churchyard, all Massena’s horses had been killed. Sword in hand at the head of Molitor’s grenadiers, Massena led them forward on foot and drove out the Austrians from the forward edge of the village, pursuing them for 12 or 14 yards beyond the houses, none of which had been loopholed.

Five times in three hours Massena took and retook the cemetery and church, still keeping Legrand’s division in reserve. As the battle raged, Massena stood under the elms on a green opposite the church, heedless of the branches brought crashing down around him by the Austrian grapeshot.

To the left of the village, Marulaz charged repeatedly against the Austrians trying to work their way round behind it, and though he slowed down their advance he could not stop it. Southwest of the village lay a small plain which was the Achilles’ heel of the French position, and surely the place where Charles should have committed the 17 battalions of grenadiers that he was keeping in reserve. Fortunately for Massena, the only Austrian force to attack in that quarter consisted of four battalions.

Meanwhile, Bessieres was leading Espagne’s cuirassiers against the flank of Rosenberg’s infantry east of Essling. On Bessieres’ orders, Lasalle’s four light cavalry regiments charged the Austrian infantry formed in squares, but volleys of musketry drove them back. Caught between the Riesch Dragoon and the Blankenstein Hussars, the 24th Chasseurs was badly mauled. In Espagne’s division the 7th Cuirassiers alone lost 8 officers, 104 men and 168 horses on this first day of battle. Espagne himself was mortally wounded and three of his four colonels were killed.

By late afternoon the bridge had been repaired and, at 6 p.m., Cara St. Cyr’s division reached the Marchfeld. Massena immediately sent orders for its leading regiment, the 46th Line, to halt just in front of the bridgehead in order to guard it, and called Legrand up to reinforce Molitor in Aspern. There were two things that the defenders of Aspern remembered for a long time after the battle-Massena telling them to step forward so as not to fight on the bodies of the dead, and the tall figure of Legrand, with his hat half shot away by grape and his aide de camp lying dead at his feet.

At 7 p.m. a brigade of Nansouty’s heavy cavalry division reached the field, enabling Bessieres to make a fresh charge against the Austrian guns. By now the sun was setting. At 8 p.m. the fighting began to die down, and the armies bivouacked on the ground a pistol shot apart. Lannes was still master of Essling, but half the buildings in Aspern had been lost.

Several times during the battle Lannes had infuriated Bessieres by sending an aide de camp to tell him to ‘charge right home.’ When the two marshals chanced to meet in camp that night, a bitter argument developed only the intervention of Massena stopped them from drawing their swords.

At 3 o’clock the next morning the Austrian guns opened up a cannonade. An hour later their columns began to form for a new attack.

On the 22nd, the French buildup on the Marchfeld increased, but the unstable bridges still gave trouble and continuous passage was impossible. The cannon sunk in the Danube to act as anchors had settled on gravel and had not sunk deeply enough in it to resist the currents of the flooding river-or the impact of stone-filled barges launched by the Austrians upstream.

There were now so many troops crowded into the French bridgehead that General Boulart of the Guard artillery found it hard to give his guns a decent field of fire. The Austrian guns, presented with so many targets in so confined a space, caused terrible casualties Lannes’ aide, d’Albuquerque, was decapitated and so was a grenadier in the act of shortening Massena’s stirrup. The Austrian gunners were using the same tactics employed by the French against the Russians at Friedland two years earlier-that is, moving right up to the enemy front lines and showering them with case. Witness Captain J. Coignet of the Guard: ‘To the left of Essling the enemy planted 50 pieces of cannon in front of us, and two in front of the chasseurs [Et pied]. When the cannon balls fell on us they cut down three men at a time and knocked the bearskin caps twenty feet in the air. One ball struck a whole file and knocked them down head over heels on top of me!’

On the French left, where the Benkowski Regiment took Aspern churchyard, Field Marshal Hiller ordered the Austrian pioneers to pull down the cemetery walls and set the church and parsonage on fire. In other parts of the field, French soldiers desperate to quit the battle were bandaging their own arms and legs in order to pass as wounded. Some tried to escape to Lobau by carrying the genuinely wounded, and a stretcher borne by three or four men was a common sight.

Napoleon badly needed Davout’s corps to cross the river, but this was prevented by a fresh rupture of the Vienna bridge. The Danube was under flood and whipped by a strong wind that tore from its banks trees, stacks of fodder, rafts and boats, all of which went swirling downstream. The bridges were almost gone. Here and there five or six boats held together, and in one place there were twelve, but there were wide intervening gaps with absolutely nothing to bridge them. The river had risen eight feet and was a third wider, rolling along full of floating objects–where the chains of the anchors had held, they were too short to save the boats. Large boats and rafts were coming downstream at the speed of a galloping horse, falling across-the few portions of the bridges still intact.

The Austrians had put a small observation force on one of the islets, and its commanding officer had noticed, in a backwater where the local peasants were sheltering their livestock, a huge water mill built on two boats, designed to operate while anchored in the middle of the river. This the Austrians now smothered in tar, filled with inflammable materials, set on fire and cut adrift on the current. Although it could have blown up at any moment, the French marines who were patrolling the river in small boats flung anchors, ropes and chains at it and managed to deflect it into an open space where a span of the bridge had already broken away.

Meanwhile, the Danube was now so high that parts of the Prater woods were flooded and it seemed quite possible that Lobau itself would soon be submerged. To support the hardpressed defenders of Aspern, St. Cyr’s division was ordered to advance from the bridgehead. The 24th Light with the 4th and 46th Line attacked the church and drove the Austrians out, capturing 800 men, 11 officers, a general and six cannon. Molitor’s division was now moved back in reserve to rest.

From Austrian prisoners brought to him in the tile works at Essling, Napoleon had learned that a portion of the Austrian center was formed by Landwehr units. This was the point at which he now ordered Marshal Lannes to attack.

For this great stroke Lannes was given the divisions of St. Hilaire, Tharreau and Claparede, which formed up in echelon with the right advanced. To his chief of staff, Lannes explained that he was going to split the Austrian center off from the left and push it over to the enemy right, so that it would come under fire from Massena. General Gauthier voiced fears for the. right flank in event of a counterattack, but Lannes replied, ‘Davout will support me anyway I’m leaving Boudet’s division in Essling.’

Mounted on a fresh horse, wearing his full dress uniform and decorations, Lannes led his 25 battalions in attack column towards Breitenlee. Demont’s division, made up largely of conscripts, was in reserve. The movement began well, and the French center went forward with the cavalry in support as the Austrian line broke between Rosenberg’s right and Hohenzollern’s left, the French cavalry led by Bessieres poured through the intervals of Lannes’ columns and into the gap. Bringing up his last reserve, the archduke seized an Austrian color and personally led its regiment to the charge. Lannes was checked, and in this crucial moment Napoleon learned that the Vienna bridge was now completely out of action. With his army cut off from Vienna and most of its ammunition gone, Napoleon decided on retreat. At 2 p.m. Massena was ordered to take charge of a retirement to Lobau.

As the French line receded, Archduke Charles ordered Baron Dedovich to make the final assault on Essling, which had been taken and lost seven times Dedovich replied that the French must soon abandon it and that a further attack would cause heavy and needless casualties. ‘For the eighth time:’ Charles told him, ‘you will attack with your division, or I will have you shot.’ Dedovich put himself at the head of his regiments and stormed the village.

The curious phrasing with which French accounts describe Napoleon committing the Imperial Guard seem to invest the act with an almost sacramental quality: ‘Sa Majeste voulut donner Sa Garde’ it was an act not lightly undertaken. Toward the Guard, Napoleon’s attitude was that of a jealous proprietor toward his most valued asset, and for one of his aides de camp to amend Napoleon’s orders for the Guard was unthinkable.

The perpetrator of this heresy, General Count Jean Rapp, had been ordered by Napoleon to reinforce Massena in Aspern with two battalions of Guard light infantry at the same time, General Mouton was ordered to recapture Essling with three battalions of Young Guard fusiliers. At this juncture Bessieres’ senior aide de camp, Cesar de Laville, had just returned from one of the French cavalry charges. just as Rapp was setting off for Aspern, Laville galloped up to him, pointed to the Austrian masses advancing from Essling, and told him urgently, ‘If you don’t support General Mouton, he’s going to be crushed:’ As he was drawing up in the rear of Mouton at Essling, Rapp claimed, the whole of Charles’ reserve of grenadiers deployed on his front.

‘Let’s charge them with the bayonet,’ Rapp suggested to Mouton. ‘If it comes off, we’ll both get the credit if it doesn’t, I’ll take the blame.’ Then, said Rapp later, ‘Our five battalions moved forward, charged, repulsed and dispersed the enemy at bayonet point!’ Mouton and General Gros were both wounded in the action. As the prisoners taken in the cemetery were too numerous for either Rapp or Mouton to guard, they were dispatched forthwith among the tombstones.

As the French withdrawal went on, the archduke concentrated on the flank of his enemy’s center, now slowly retiring on the bridges. Only the steadiness of Lannes saved Napoleon from utter disaster at this stage of the battle.

Steadiness was needed, for as the retirement went on, the pontoon bridge to Lobau gave way. Baron Lejeune was sent to organize repairs. By means of ropes trestles, beams and planks laid crosswise: Lejeune managed to have the pontoons connected, keeping contact with Lobau a little longer. When he reported back after completing this mission, Napoleon sent him to find out how much longer Lannes could hold out.

Lannes’ horses had all been killed. Lejeune found him crouching with his staff behind a slight rise in the ground, exposed to enemy fire from the waist up. He had 300 grenadiers left. Soon afterwards a shot struck Lannes as he was sitting cross-legged on a wall, smashing the kneecap of one leg and tearing the sinews of the other.

‘Two or three officers, wounded themselves, with a few grenadiers and dismounted cuirassiers, carried him to a little wood where first aid was given:’ wrote Lejeune later.

Soon afterwards Lannes was delivered into the hands of Surgeon General Dominique-Jean Larrey, who amputated one of the marshal’s legs.

At 7 o’clock that evening Marshal Massena went back to Lobau for a conference at Napoleon’s headquarters, then returned to the left bank to supervise the last stage of the withdrawal. At 11 p.m. General Pernetti told him that he only had 11 cannon shots left.

‘Let them be fired:’ the marshal replied. ‘I’m not taking any back.’

The badly wounded had to be left behind only walking wounded could be taken back into Lobau. Massena was almost the last to cross the pontoon bridge, which was then dismantled. The pontoons which had formed it were put on carts, together with the anchors, cordage, beams and planks. All these were then sent to the Vienna (Ebersdorf) bridge to replace the boats that had been lost. Finally a Voltigeur company crossed the river to Lobau in boats the Austrians made no attempt to stop them.

Napoleon was now able to concentrate on his next move, which had been preoccupying him for some time. ‘I don’t want to hear a word about the state of the bridges,’ he had told Baron Comeau during the retirement. ‘Just get to Davout and tell him I want him to keep his corps and the rest of the Guard in the best possible state and out of Vienna!’

Until well into the small hours of the 23rd, the weary French Pontonniers at Ebersdorf assembled boats and filled them with biscuit, wine and cartridges, which they then took to Lobau, through racing waters that were still full of large objects rushing downstream.

Next morning, as the Austrian soldiers were singing Te Deum on the Marchfeld, nightingales were singing on Lobau above fields strewn with amputated limbs.

Until the Vienna bridge was repaired, the men on Lobau ate horsemeat stew cooked in cuirasses. Drinking water had to be drawn from the Danube, which was tainted with dead bodies.

As the losses were totted up, the scale of the defeat began to emerge. The 18th Line of Legrand’s division, for instance, had lost 600 men in the corpse-choked ruins of Aspern, the 16th had lost its colonel, its adjutant, its eagle-bearer, four subalterns and a captain.

Marshal Lannes died on May 31 General Count Louis V.J. St. Hilaire, on June 3. Ten days after the battle ended, the dead were still unburied on the Marchfeld, which was covered with charred corpses and projectiles󈞔,000 had been fired by the Austrians alone.

The Austrians had captured a huge amount of materiel, including three cannon, seven ammunition wagons and 17,000 muskets. They also claimed to have taken 3,000 cuirasses, a figure no doubt based on the Austrian practice of classifying a breastplate and a backplate as two cuirasses.

According to a contemporary Austrian account, 30,000 wounded were lying in hospitals in Vienna and its suburbs. ‘Many were carried to St. Polten, Enns and as far as Linz,’ wrote an Austrian onlooker. ‘Several hundred corpses floated down the Danube and are still thrown daily on its shores:’

Four years earlier, a French officer had categorized Austrian soldiers morose mercenaries had he been at Aspern-Essling, he would have recognized in them something very like the spirit that the French had shown at Austerlitz. Charles’ infantry, in particular, had fought with the utmost tenacity-in one assault on Essling, his grenadiers had made five rushes against the burning houses, thrusting their bayonets into the loopholes when their ammunition was spent.

No Austrian soldier had fought more tenaciously on the Marchfeld than the general-in-chief himself, but his generalship had not been above reproach. He had delayed the assault on Essling by giving his fifth column too long a flanking march, and he failed to attack Massena’s weakest point southwest of Aspern in sufficient strength. Most serious of all, he made no attempt to turn the defeat of a demoralized enemy into a rout.

Six weeks after Aspern-Essling, Napoleon won the battle of Wagram. On the evening of the battle (in which Lasalle was killed), the wine cellars of the region were ransacked and the French army drank itself into a stupor. ‘If 10,000 Austrians had made a determined attack on us,’ wrote one French officer, ‘it would have been a complete rout:’

By the terms of the peace that followed Napoleon’s victory at Wagram, Austria ceded territory that included most of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slovenia. The Hapsburg Empire lost three and a half million subjects and its army was reduced to 150,000.

If Charles had only harried Napoleon’s stricken army a l’outrance when it was retreating from the Marchfeld, all this could have been avoided-and perhaps a great deal more. For if Napoleon had been decisively defeated on the Danube in th e spring of 1809, Talleyrand and Fouche might well have seen it as giving them their long-awaited chance to bring back the Revolution. It was much more than a battle that Napoleon could have lost on the burned and bloody village grounds of Aspern-Essling. ‘Could have’…but what counts the more is the victory he salvaged in the end at Wagram.

This article was written by David Johnson and originally published in the April 2001 issue of Military History. For more great articles be sure to subscribe to Military History magazine today!


Monday, 12 September 2011

We came, we saw, God conquered: 9/11, the Battle of Vienna, the Holy Name of Mary

Today, 12 September, is the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary.

It is the day that the cavalry of Poland and the Holy Roman Empire saved Christian Europe, aided by the Holy Mass and the Holy Rosary.

It is, perhaps, no accident that the 9/11 terrorists chose the first day of the Battle of Vienna, 11 September, to launch their now world-famous attacks on the World Trade Towers in New York City.

After the loss of the Holy Land, the Eastern Roman Empire and control of the Mediterranean, Christendom was in constant danger of being overwhelmed by the Muslim Ottoman Turks and the Protestant Reformation further weakened the defences.

Moreover, Catholic Christendom was fighting, now, on two fronts against both Muslim and Protestant and might, at any time, be swept away altogether.

Particular determination, tenacity and courage were now needed more than ever from the defenders of Christendom.

Fortunately, courage was not lacking.

In September 1529, after defeating the Hungarians at the Battle of Mohacs , the Ottoman Turks and their allies laid siege to Vienna – the famous Siege of Vienna of 1529.

After a tremendous struggle the Austrians, under the 70-year-old Count Nicholas von Salm , were finally victorious, although Salm himself was killed during the siege.

On 7 October 1571, the Ottoman Turks had seized the opportunity to launch a vast fleet to conquer as much of Christendom as they could conquer.

Almost miraculously, they were defeated at the Battle of Lepanto by the combined Christian fleets under the command of Grand Admiral Don John of Austria , the illegitimate son of the Roman Emperor, Charles V .

To these were added the prayers of Christendom since the pope, St Pius V , had ordered a Christendom-wide Rosary prayer campaign for victory.

Moreover, a copy of the miraculous image of our Lady of Guadalupe sat in the cabin of Don John throughout the battle. The victory of Lepanto was commemorated by a new Feast, that of our Lady of Victory (or Victories) which was later made universal and later still re-named the Feast of our Lady of the Rosary .

In 1716, Clement XI inscribed the Feast of our Lady of the Holy Rosaryon the universal calendar in gratitude for the victory gained by Prince Eugene of Savoy , commander of the Imperial forces of the Habsburg Roman Emperor, on 5 August at Peterwardein in Vojvodina, in Serbia.

Later, however, on 11 September 1683 – 9/11 no less – came the Battle of Vienna of 1683, when King Jan (John) III Sobieski of Poland-Lithuania, also accompanied by Christendom-wide praying of the Rosary, delivered Vienna and Christendom once again from the Muslim Ottoman Turks and protected the Holy Roman Empire of Emperor Leopold I from imminent destruction.

After the victory of Sobieski over the Turks, Blessed Pope Innocent XI, extended the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary to the whole Church to be celebrated on 12 September in memory of the deliverance of Christendom. The feast was extended to the universal Church and assigned to the Sunday after the Nativity of Mary by a Decree of 25 November 1683, or, if that was not possible, then it had to be kept on 12 September.

12 September had also been the day of the Battle of Muret 1213, when Count Simon de Montfort (father of the founder of the English parliament) and 700 knights had defeated the Albigensian army of some 50,000, whilst St Dominic and his friars were praying the Rosary in the church of Muret.

But 9/11 was the day that the battles began in each case.

The Battle of Vienna took place on 11 September and 12 September 12, 1683 after Vienna had been besieged by the Ottoman Empire for two months. The battle broke the advance of the Ottoman Empire into Europe, and marked the political hegemony of the Habsburg dynasty and the beginning of the end of the Ottoman Muslim Empire.The battle was won by Polish-Austrian-German forces led by King Jan III Sobieski against the Ottoman Empire army commanded by Grand Vizier Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha.

King Jan III Sobieski of Poland -Lithuania

The siege itself began on 14 July 1683 with an the Ottoman Empire army of approximately 138,000 men. The decisive battle took place on 12 September, after the united relief army of 70,000 men had arrived, pitted against the Ottoman army.

The battle marked the turning point in the 300-year struggle between Roman Christendom and the Ottoman Empire .

The capture of the city of Vienna had long been a strategic aspiration of the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman Empire had even been providing military assistance to dissident Hungarians and to anti-Catholic minorities in Habsburg-occupied portions of Hungary. There, in the years preceding the siege, Ottoman-fomented unrest had become open rebellion upon Leopold I's pursuit of Catholic Counter-Reformation principles.

King Jan Sobieski salutes the Roman Emperor Leopold I

In 1681, Protestants and other anti-Habsburg forces, led by Imre Thököly , were reinforced with a significant force from the Ottoman Muslims, who recognized Imre as King of "Upper Hungary". This support went so far as explicitly promising the "Kingdom of Vienna" to the disloyal and treacherous Hungarians, if it fell into Ottoman hands.

In 1681 and 1682, clashes between the forces of Imre Thököly and the Habsburgs' military frontier forces intensified, which was used as a casus belli by Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha in convincing the Sultan Mehmet IV and his Divan, to allow the movement of the Ottoman Army. Mehmet IV authorized Kara Mustafa Pasha to operate as far as Győr and Komarom castles, both in northwestern Hungary, and to besiege them. The Ottoman Army was mobilized on 21 January 1682, and war was declared on 6 August 1682.

The wording of this declaration left no room for doubt what would be in store after a Turkish success.

Mehmet IV wrote to Leopold I thus, verbatim:

"We order You to await Us in Your residence city of Vienna so that We can decapitate you. (. ) We will exterminate You and all Your followers. (. ) Children and adults will be equally exposed to the most atrocious tortures before being finished off in the most ignominious way imaginable. "

During the winter, the Habsburgs and Poland concluded a treaty in which Leopold would support Sobieski if the Turks attacked Kraków in return, the Polish Army would come to the relief of Vienna, if attacked.

The King of Poland prepared a relief expedition to Vienna during the summer of 1683, honouring his obligations to the treaty. He went so far as to leave his own nation virtually undefended when departing from Kraków on 15 August, the Feast of the Assumption of our Lady. Sobieski covered this with a stern warning to Imre Thököly , the rebellious Hungarian Protestant leader, whom he threatened with severity if he tried to take advantage of the situation — which, nevertheless, the treacherous Thököly did.

The main Turkish army finally invested Vienna on 14 July.

Count Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg , leader of the remaining 11,000 troops and 5,000 citizens and volunteers, refused to capitulate.

The Turks dug tunnels under the massive city walls to blow them up with explosives, using sapping mines.

The Ottoman siege cut virtually every means of food supply into Vienna, and the garrison and civilian volunteers suffered extreme casualties. Fatigue became such a problem that Count von Starhemberg ordered any soldier found asleep on watch to be shot. Increasingly desperate, the forces holding Vienna were on their last legs when in August, Imperial forces under Charles, Duke of Lorraine , beat Imre Thököly of Hungary at Bisamberg, 5km northeast of Vienna.

On 6 September, the Poles crossed the Danube 30km north west of Vienna at Tulln, to unite with the Imperial forces and additional troops from Saxony, Bavaria, Baden, Franconia and Swabia who had answered the call for a Holy League that was supported by Pope Innocent XI .

The devious King Louis XIV of France declined to help and instead used the opportunity to attack cities in Alsace and other parts of southern Germany. Anyone who thinks Louis XIV a good Catholic king really needs to think again.

During early September, the experienced 5,000 Turkish sappers repeatedly blew up large portions of the walls, the Burg bastion, the Löbel bastion and the Burg ravelin in between, creating gaps of about 12m in width. The Austrians tried to counter by digging their own tunnels, to intercept the depositing of large amounts of gunpowder in subterranean caverns. The Turks finally managed to occupy the Burg ravelin and the Nieder wall in that area on 8 September. Anticipating a breach in the city walls, the remaining Austrians prepared to fight in Vienna itself.

The relief army had to act quickly to save the city from the Turks and to prevent another long siege in case they would take it. Despite the international composition of the Army and the short time of only six days in which to organise, an effective leadership structure was established. This was largely the work of the extraordinary and holy Austrian Chaplain-General, Blessed Marco d'Aviano, Emperor Leopold's privy counsellor.

Blessed Marco d'Aviano, OFMCap, Imperial Chaplain-General

The Holy League forces arrived on the Kahlenberg (bare hill) above Vienna, signalling their arrival with bonfires. In the early morning hours of 12 September, before the battle, King Jan served a Solemn High Mass.

While the Turks hastily finished their mining work and sealed the tunnel to make the explosion more effective, the Austrian "moles" detected the cavern in the afternoon and one brave man entered and defused the mines just in time.

At the same time, the Polish infantry had launched a massive assault upon the Turkish right flank.

After 12 hours of fighting, Sobieski's Polish force held the high ground on the right. At about 5pm, after watching the ongoing infantry battle from the hills for the whole day, four cavalry groups, one of them Austrian-German, and the other three Polish, totalling 20,000 men, charged down the hills - the largest cavalry charge in history.

The attack was led by the Polish king himself in front of a spearhead of 3000 heavily wing-armoured Polish lancer-hussars. This charge thoroughly broke the lines of the Ottoman troops. Seizing the initiative, Starhemberg led the Vienna garrison in sallying out of its defences to join the assault.

In less than three hours after the cavalry attack, the Christian Imperial forces had won the battle, saved Vienna from capture and rescued Christendom from the Turks.

One may recall the decisive charge of the Rohirrim from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, to get a flavour of what it must have been like, King Jan III Sobieski leading his Polish hussars just as King Theoden led his Riders of Rohan.

After the battle, Sobieski paraphrased Julius Caesar's famous quote by saying "venimus, vidimus, Deus vicit" - "We came, we saw, God conquered".


The Battle of Vienna

The Turks lost about 15,000 men in the fighting, compared to approximately 4,000 for the Habsburg-Polish forces. Though routed and in full retreat, the Turkish troops had found time to slaughter all their Austrian prisoners, with the exception of those few of nobility which they took with them for ransoming.

King Jan vividly described events in a letter to his wife a few days after the battle:

“Ours are treasures unheard of . tents, sheep, cattle and no small number of camels . it is victory as nobody ever knew of, the enemy now completely ruined, everything lost for them. They must run for their sheer lives . Commander Starhemberg hugged and kissed me and called me his saviour.”

The victory at Vienna set the stage for Prince Eugene of Savoy's reconquest of Hungary and the Balkans within the following years.

Long before that, the Turkish Sultan had disposed of his defeated commander. On 25 December 1683, Kara Mustafa Pasha was executed in Belgrade.

However, it was the end for the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans fought on for another 16 years but lost control of Hungary and Transylvania and capitulated finally by the Treaty of Karlowitz .

Christendom was once again safe.

Because Sobieski had entrusted his kingdom to the protection of the our Lady of Czestochowa before the battle, Blessed Pope Innocent XI commemorated his victory by extending the feast of the Holy Name of Mary to the universal Church.

Croissants signify the Turkish crescent

The Battle of Vienna was marked by culinary inventions:

1. The croissant was invented in Vienna to celebrate the defeat as a reference to the crescents on the Turkish flags.

2. The bagel was made as a gift to King Jan Sobieski to commemorate the victory, being fashioned in the form of a stirrup, to commemorate the victorious charge by the Polish cavalry.

3. After the battle, the Austrians discovered many bags of coffee in the abandoned Turkish encampment. Using this captured stock, Franciszek Jerzy Kulczycki opened the third coffee house in Europe and the first in Vienna, where, Kulczycki and Marco d'Aviano adding milk and honey to sweeten the bitter coffee, thereby invented the cappuccino, so named after Blessed Marco because of the Capuchin’s brown hood.

Our Lady of Czestochowa, pray for us!
Blessed Marco d'Aviano, pray for us!
Holy Name of Mary, protect us!

11 comments:

The moslem enemy should not have been allowed to capitulate, it should have been exterminated, expelled from Anatolia and the Middle East to cement Christendom's safety. These days Europe is in worst shape than ever, heretics, pagans and atheists are the norm in Europe, Christianity is despised and ridiculised, the moslem enemy has been allowed into our cities, aided and abetted by the heretics pagans and atheists in our governments, it's army is 50 million strong and growing by the day.

The weak and meek Catholic Church has all but abandoned Evangelization, instead of preaching the Gospel to the heathens it opens the doors of the Churches for the moslem invaders to sleep, eat, urinate and defecate before the Altar of Christ, it refuses to condemn the moslem enemy persecuting and killing our Christian brothers, and in some cases as with Caritas they are feeding the invading armies of the enemy while refusing to aid fellow Catholics in need.

Europe is lost. The sacrifices made by our forefathers, they are all lost, it's over. By sheer demography the moslem enemy could overwhelm Europe without firing a single shot, London riots showed that the English are unable and unwilling to defend themselves, there's not gonna be a civil war, it's gonna be a massacre when the moslem enemy decides to assert itself over Christian land.

And what did the Austrians do soon afterwards? Help partition Poland-wipe it off the map.
Some gratitude.

Many thanks for this interesting post, as always.

Well, hungarians were too defending Christendom by fighting the Turks for centuries even before (and of course, after) the conquest which followed the battle of Mohács/the fall of Buda - and we didnt get too much help or support in those wars.

What Thököly did was shameful, though.

To all fanatical nationalists around the world:

THE WORLD DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND YOUR LITTLE NATIONALITIES.

Nationalism is what led to most of the wars of the 19th century and the appalling destruction of World War I and World War II.

Christian Europe and Christendom were one.

Fanatical nationalism - invented chiefly by Protestantism - sundered Europe into fragments and led to the bloody and internecine war, killing millions.

Hungary claimed the right to be free from the Empire whilst crushing and oppressing its own minorities.

The Poles did not distinguish themselves when they sided with the anti-Catholic, Pope-imprisoning and mass-slaughtering Bonaparte - the first of the great modern destroyers of Christian Europe.

Even now, when my post praises the Poles who fought at the Battle of Vienna, Anonymous Pole can do nothing but snipe ungratefully.

But this is typical of the disease of nationalist fanaticism.

In Ireland it led to terrorism, war, and the murder of Irishman by Irishman - a disgusting legacy that achieved nothing good and mountains of evil.

"Blessed are the peace-makers" says Christ.

"Blessed are the terrorists, bomb-throwers, murderers, war-mongers and slaughterers" says the fanatical nationalist.

Fanatical nationalists cannot be called Christian in any meaningful sense of the word.

In fact, I would go further.

Fanatical nationalism was the deceitful tool that Satan used to destroy Christian Europe.

Catholics have no excuse for it. They, of all people, should understand the universality of Christianity and the brotherhood of all mankind.

A Catholic who is a fanatical nationalist is a perfect servant of Satan.

What then do you make of the European Union? Surely from your perspective it is a wonderful thing since it aims to supplant nationalism with a shared European identity.

I must tell you that all of your blog are simply amazing and always prove to be of a high value and quality for the readers. Keep sharing.

"And what did the Austrians do soon afterwards? Help partition Poland-wipe it off the map. Some gratitude."

In reference to your responce to above quote:

Firstly, why do you assume this comment was made by a Pole?

Secondly, if it was made by a Pole (it likely was), why would you assume it was supported by a nationalist viewpoint? I do not know how one can tell. In fact, as a Pole I could positively say the sentiment underlying in that comment is universal among Poles precisely as an expression of our faithfullness to the Holy Mother Church and self-identificaton as Catholics first. We resent the Habsburgs' land grab of Galicia with Lwów and Lesser Poland with Kraków (in your post you mention the agreement between Leopold and John regarding mutual defence of the capital cities - well, less then a hundred years after Poles saved Habsburgs and Vienna from being finished off in the most ignominious way imaginable the Habsburgs were occuping our glorious city of Cracow). But what we resent the most is that after John III, Defender of the Faith, Lion of Lechistan saved the Habsburgs and whole Christendom from Armageddon in 1683, the same Habsburgs, Holy Roman Emperors, in their land grab of 1774 (1th. ) and 1795 (3th partition of Poland) allied themselvs against Kingdom of Poland with P r o t e s t a n t Prussia and S c h i s m a t i c Russia. Against Kingdom of Poland upon which Pope Aleksander VII bestow a title of Regnum Orthodoxum - the Most Orthodox Kingdom (as in case of France - Regnum Christianissimum and Spain - Regnum Catholicissimum). Against Kingdom of Poland - Antemurale Christianitatis.
You call Louis XIV "devious". Louis XIV was a saint when compered to Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor.

Finally, if it was made by a Pole who does not share the above-mentioned Catholic sentiment, why would you assume he is "fanatic nationalist". Can't he just be a Polish patriot. Are you of opinion that a patriot "cannot be called Christian in any meaningful sense of the word"? To that I say: Amor Patriae Nostra Lex (latin proverb that was common inscription on sabres carried by Polish nobility and in turn Hussars that led the way in 1683, sabres that defended Christianitas for centuries).

Concluding, I could go into great detail debating some of the statements you made in your "To all fanatical nationalists . " comment, including the issue of nationalism, Polish involvement in the Napoleonic Wars, Irish conflict. However, before I do that, I would like you to clarify what you mean by "LITTLE NATIONALITIES" and whether you stand by that phrase.

P.S.
1. Despite some minor inaccuracies it is a great post you have written on Battle of Vienna. I would just recomend you add this picture of John III Sobieski
http://pl.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Plik:Jan_III_Sobieski_2.PNG&filetimestamp=20080224210817 picture of John III Sobieski.
2. I am not a native english speaker. I apologize for the possible mistakes. I do not think I misspelled anything but I struggle with english interpunction at times.

What do I make of the European Union?

Surely from my perspective it is a wonderful thing since it aims to supplant nationalism with a shared European identity?

This presumes that every form of internationalism is necessarily good.

If that were so then Communism would be good - AND IT IS NOT.

The EU is little better. It is an attempt to foist a form of Corporate Fascism onto an unwilling peoples of Europe.

It is undemocratic, unrepresentative, unwanted, corrupt and deeply secular fundamentalist.

It is an enemy of Christian Europe.

As for your next post, I shall reply in a separate post since you raise (and defend)a grievous and great error that has not only destroyed Christendom but also your own country of Poland, time and again.


Watch the video: Hero Jan Sobieski and His Winged Hussars attacks the ottoman army at Vienna from the Kahlenberg