Napoleonic Wars Before the Events in South Moravia

In June 1791, during the French Revolution, King Louis XVI of France attempted to escape in disguise with his family from France to the so-called Austrian Netherlands. He was apprehended in the town of Varennes, brought back to Paris, and placed under house arrest.

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In September, while under “house arrest,” he signed a new constitution based on the well-known Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. France officially became a constitutional monarchy...

In response, on 7 February, 1792, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Leopold II of Habsburg, along with Prussian King Frederick William II, formed an alliance against revolutionary France. Under pressure, Louis XVI declared war on the Holy Roman Emperor and Prussia. The French army invaded the Austrian Netherlands and... suffered a defeat. However, after the victorious Battle of Valmy in September, the situation turned around, and the French occupied a significant portion of present-day Belgium and the Netherlands.

After another coup in Paris in September 1792, the Girondists came to power. King Louis XVI was accused, put on trial, and publicly executed on 21 January, 1793. The rest of Europe was in shock! German and Italian states, Spain, and Great Britain promptly joined the anti-French coalition. These allies once again occupied the Netherlands, while France experienced widespread royalist uprisings.

Desperate France and the Triumphant Napoleon

Amidst its desperation, France declared a general mobilization, undertook military reforms, and once again took control of the Netherlands, establishing the Batavian Republic. By the end of 1794, French forces had occupied Savoy, parts of Piedmont, and posed a threat to Milan and Turin. It was in these battles that Brigadier General Napoleon Bonaparte truly shone. In 1795, Prussia was forced into a separate peace, although French military activities on Italian soil came to a halt...

In March 1796, the young General Bonaparte assumed command of the so-called Italian Army in southern France. He crossed the borders and launched the Italian Campaign, defeating the forces of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia and the allied Austrian army. By April 1797, the French had occupied Nice, Savoy, Milan, Parma, Modena, Tuscany, Veneto, and Genoa. Even mighty Vienna was under threat. Under the auspices of France, they established the Cisalpine and Ligurian Republics in northern Italy. Subsequently, Emperor Francis I requested peace from Napoleon. After its conclusion, Napoleon returned to Paris hailed as a hero, only to embark on the famous Egyptian Campaign.

The Series of French Defeats and Russia’s Withdrawal from the Coalition

Another anti-French coalition formed just a few months after the peace agreement – Great Britain allied Austria, Russia, and the Kingdom of Naples against France. The coalition's supreme commander, General Suvorov, proved to be a capable leader. In April 1799, he defeated the French and occupied Turin. Over the following months, the French suffered several more defeats. They reluctantly evacuated Piedmont... but their rescue came in the form of autumnal discord among the allies. The uncooperative Russian and Austrian armies were defeated by General Masséna, and French troops took control of Switzerland. At the beginning of 1800, a pivotal player exited the anti-French coalition – Russia.

Napoleon as the First Consul and Subsequently Emperor

In the meantime, another coup took place in France. In November 1799, soldiers under Bonaparte's command (who had hastily returned from the collapsing Egyptian campaign) occupied the parliament chamber. The government of the so-called Directory came to an end, and a regime of three consuls was introduced. However, Napoleon soon took center stage. As the First Consul of France, he launched an unrestricted rule, and on 1 December, 1804, he had himself crowned as the Emperor of France.

In May 1800, he took command of military operations in Italy and personally came to the aid of the French forces there with a smaller army. He made a daring Alpine crossing and infiltrated the rear of the Austrian armies. The victorious battles at Marengo and Hohenlinden resulted in a decisive defeat for the Austrians. The peace treaty of February 1801 secured Tuscany, Modena, and Parma for France. Austria accepted the existence of the Cisalpine Republic, which transformed into the Italian Republic within a year, with Napoleon as its president. Piedmont became part of France.

The war between Great Britain and France Reignited

During 1802, Napoleon managed to mend relations with Great Britain, and France regained its overseas colonies (previously occupied by British forces). Additionally, he proclaimed himself as Consul for Life, Switzerland elected him as the protector of the Helvetic Republic under pressure. However, when France and Great Britain declared war again in May 1803, Napoleon realized that the American colonies were unsustainable for France. Therefore, he sold French territories in North America to the United States (for 15 million dollars).

At the same time, he began preparing for an invasion across the English Channel into Great Britain. On the Atlantic coast of France, the so-called English army was formed. Despite its name, in two years, it embarked on a campaign not against Britain, but  the third anti-French coalition, towards Vienna and Austerlitz...

another fatal event

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