Former Rectory in the Whirlwind of Events
On 19 November, 1805, during the time when the French had occupied the entire region south of Brno, the main headquarters of the allied army were located in Šlapanice. On that day, the commander of the Austro-Russian cavalry, Jan I. of Liechtenstein, stayed at the rectory. His units were deployed in the fields around Šlapanice. At that time, many Russian soldiers were already in the village. They occupied all the streets, made fires, and prepared food, confiscating supplies from the local residents.
The allies didn't stay in Šlapanice for long; the next day, even before dawn, they left for Vyškov, retreating from the area. However, the locals had no time for rest. The village experienced the rotation of armies, as soon as the advance French patrols appeared, they immediately demanded wine, money, and shoes.
On Saturday, 30 November, the commander of the 4th French Corps, Nicolas-Jean de Dieu Soult, arrived in the village, along with his staff. He also chose the rectory and scholasteria and established his office there. The former scholasteria building now houses the Museum of the Brno Region (point 1 on the map), which is the first stop on our route. In its collection, you can find the legacy of the notable Czech landscape painter Alois Kalvoda. There are also two restored horse-drawn carriages from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum currently hosts short-term thematic exhibitions aimed primarily at children.
Šlapanice's Tribute to Heroic Doctors
The walk around the town continues through places related to the activities of doctors during and after the battle. On the fateful day of the clash near Slavkov, Šlapanice were situated in the French rear, which provided an ideal space for caring for the wounded and for holding prisoners. After the battle, about 400 Russians were held in Šlapanice's church. For the needs of military doctors, two larger buildings were used in the village: the scholasteria and the Blümegen Castle (point 2 on the map), where military field hospitals and dressing stations were established. The history of the castle dates back to the mid-18th century, when it was owned by the then Moravian provincial governor, Jindřich Kajetán von Blümegen. Today, the building houses a gymnasium. During the Battle of Austerlitz, the chief surgeon of the Imperial Guard, Jean Dominique Larrey, was the one who "reigned" here. He introduced several groundbreaking procedures for treating the wounded, such as the requirement for the fastest possible, at least basic care. For this purpose, mobile field hospitals on carriages, called "flying ambulances," were used. Until that time, serious injuries on the battlefield often meant long hours without help. The wounded were treated only after the heaviest fighting had ceased. Despite a severe shortage of medical supplies and inappropriate hygienic conditions, Larrey and his subordinates saved dozens of lives through well-executed interventions.
The thousands of soldiers who lost their lives in the fields near Šlapanice are commemorated by the wayside crosses built into the facade of house no. 139/6 on Jiříkovská Street (point 4 on the map), where the deceased from the castle field hospital were buried. Their remains were later placed in the Šlapanice cemetery, where a monument adorned with the initial "N" (point 5 on the map) and symbolic cannonballs was erected in honor of the fallen in 1965. Surgeon Larrey and other doctors received their own monument (Monument to French Doctors, point 3 on the map) at the intersection of Riegrova and Brněnská Streets in 2005.
The hill Žuráň - A Silent Witness to the Famous Encounter
The walk along the paths of Napoleon's troops can be extended to the strategic Žuráň hill (point 6 on the map). This hill is located on the border of the Šlapanice land register with the neighbouring village of Podolí, about 2.5 km from Šlapanice. Napoleon Bonaparte chose this place as his headquarters and directed the initial phase of the entire Battle of Austerlitz from here. However, it is a much older hill, with several graves from different prehistoric periods and a mausoleum with the tomb of a Langobard noble, perhaps even King Wach.
Upon returning to Šlapanice, visit the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (point 7 on the map), the town's dominant feature. After the day of the Battle of Austerlitz, hundreds of Russian soldiers were held here. Today, it is a dignified place to conclude your journey through the sites where history passed more than 200 years ago.