Context

1797 – Napoleon seizes Lucca

1801 – Alexander becomes tsar after Paul (A thought N was trying to deprive Austria of its influence in Northern Italy, shown by seizure of Genoa)

1801 – Treaty of Luneville

Dec. 1804 – N names himself Emperor of France in Cathedral of Notre-Dame

Novel set in July 1805

1805 – Napoleon seizes Genoa (Demonstrated N’s plans to deprive Austria of influence in North Italy, against Treaty of Luneville, 1801)

April 1805 – Anglo-Russian coalition effected after N’s proposed invasion of England (Austria joined at a later date)

May 1805 – N crowns himself King of Italy in Milan

N marched La Grande Armee into the Rhineland to destroy the coalition.

Sept. 1805 – Army had reached Bavaria, ready to strike Grand Duchy of Austria.

Austria had too many troops in Italy and only around 60,000 in Austria, needed help from allies.

Alexander sent Russian troops, but N was able to dictate terms of combat and fought the Austrians before reinforcements arrived.

Oct. 20th 1805 – Austrians anticipated attack from the Black Forest but N executed a flanking movement and attacked the Austrians from behind.

However, Russo-Austrian forces under Kutuzov escaped and attempted delaying actions.

N entered Vienna, replenished resources and left to attack Austro-Russian forces in Brunn.

Beginning of Dec. 1805 – N was camped 5 miles west of Austerlitz with Russo-Austrians on his eastern flank.

Kutuzov wanted caution and all of the Russian troops at his disposal (despite having 87,000 troops to N’s 73,000)

Alex and Francis II (Emperor of Austria) wanted to engage in battle with the French (at Council of War in Ostralitz allies decided to  advance on N)

2nd Dec. (20th Nov. Gregorian) 1805 – Battle of Austerlitz (Battle of Three Emperors) 

N roused the troops by; calling enemies “hirelings of England”, honour of French infantry and nation. 

Defeated army in little over 12 hours – 12,000 allied soldiers killed or wounded and 15,000 taken prisoner. French lost 8,000.

Austerlitz – N’s supreme achievement as commander.

Austria sued for peace, Anglo-Russian coalition and Austrian wing collapsed. Was N invincible now?

N granted an Armistice on the following conditions;

Russia must withdraw from Poland 

At Treaty of Pressburg Austria was deprived of possessions in Italy and Germany.

Austria had been subdued, so N moved to the North.

August 1806 – Prussian army mobilised in anticipation of further war with the French.

Prussia gave ultimatum = French army must withdraw to positions west of the Rhine by 7th Oct.

This was ignored by N who marched LGA into Saxony (One of Prussia’s allies)

14th Oct. 1806 – French fought Prussia at Jena and Auerstadt and decimated Frederick William II (of Prussia)’s army.

Duke of Brunswick (Prussian commander-in-chief) was killed, French marched North East towards Konigsberg.

Jan. 1807 – Russians launched winter offensive against N.

Feb. 8th 1807 – Army of 80,000 under General Bennigsen faced smaller French force at Preussisch-Eylau in East Prussia.

(One of the most terrible modern battles; 1/3 of N’s soldiers killed or wounded and Russians still had massive losses.)

Neither side won, both claimed victory, Bennigsen’s offensive had, however, been beaten back.

14th June 1807 – 2 armies met again at Friedland, East Prussia, but Russians more decisively defeated and N was, as he saw it, now fit to impose his terms on Alexander.

25th June 1807 – N and A1 met at Tilsit. The ensuing Treaty deprived Russia of all territories west of the River Elbe, a puppet Grand Duchy of Warsaw was created and Russian powers over Finland, Sweden and Turkey extended. King of Prussia not allowed to attend.

Secretly – – – A1 promised to go to war with Great Britain if she refused peace with France.

Treaty of Tilsit was never likely to survive and when N seized the Duchy of Oldenburg (Duke of Oldenburg was A1 brother-in-law) in 1810, it violated the agreements.

A1 protested, but N was irritated with him for allowing neutral shipping to enter Russian ports in defiance of the Continental System. (N hoped to starve GB of its access to foreign markets)

Maintaining the CS was difficult as it generated hostility and resentment and many Europeans saw it as proof of N’s despotism.

Both GB and Prussia actively supported A1’s actions, and so prompted N to seek ways in which he could isolate Russia diplomatically.

Nov. 1811 – A1 had basically freed himself from France and N had decided that the only way to deal with him was with force.

French troops were withdrawn from Spain and sent to Germany, by the spring of 1812 a huge army (under 1/2 native born French) faced Russia across her Western frontier.

23rd June 1812 (10pm) – N’s forces crossed River Niemen into Russia. Kovno taken quickly, but resistance was met at Smolensk in August.

French eventually overwhelmed Russia but not without losing 10,000 men.

Smolensk was taken but reduced to rubble by French shells and Russian fire.

Loss of Smolensk  blamed on General Barclay de Tolly, who was removed, by A1, and replaced, by Kutuzov.

French army won a technical victory at Borodino, but Kutuzov withdrew 90,000 men from battle, so Borodino was essentially an empty triumph.

French entry into Moscow was open but Rostophchin (civilian governor general of Moscow) ordered complete evacuation and torching of the city.

Much of Moscow was destroyed, but what was left was adequate lodgings of N’s army of little under 100,000 men.

Even with the fall of Moscow, A1 refused to make peace and by Oct. 1812 N was beginning preparations for retreat.

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