Battle of Austerlitz summary causes Consequences development

Battle of Austerlitz

Warlike confrontation that took place on December 2, 1805 in Austerlitz. In this article we will provide you the information about the Battle of Austerlitz.

Date  December 2, 1805.
Place Austerlitz.
Belligerents French Army vs. Russian-Austrian Army.
Outcome French army victory.

The Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the 3 Emperors, was a warlike confrontation that took place on December 2, 1805 in Austerlitz (now Slavkov u Brna), in what is now the territory of the Czech Republic. 

This battle took place in the context of the Napoleonic wars and the following sides faced each other:

  • French Army : made up of about 72,000 men commanded by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte .
  • Russian-Austrian Army : made up of about 85,000 men, led by Russian Tsar Alexander I and Austrian Emperor Francis I. 70% of the troops were Russian and 30% Austrian.

After 9 hours of fighting, the victory was obtained by the French , who put the Russians to flight and forced the Austrians to request an armistice.

In this way, Austerlitz marked the end of the Third Coalition and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire . It also increased the fame of Napoleon Bonaparte and allowed the consolidation of the Napoleonic Empire .

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Development of the Battle of Austerlitz

Napoleon wanted to avoid head-on combat because he was outnumbered: he had fewer men and fewer guns than his enemies. For this reason, he began the battle with a brief assault and a mock retreat , purposely weakening his right flank. Thus he incited the Russians and Austrians to attack him there. When these were displaced, Napoleon used troops he had in reserve to advance towards the positions abandoned by the allies, surround and destroy the enemy center . Then he attacked the left flank. Only the allied right wing was saved, which undertook a chaotic retreat.

After the battle, the French counted about 1,300 dead and 7 thousand wounded, while the Allies had 15 thousand casualties between dead and wounded, in addition to 12 thousand prisoners.

Causes and consequences


The causes of the Battle of Austerlitz were the following:

  • The formation of the Third Coalition , made up of Great Britain, the Austrian Empire, the Russian Empire, and the kingdoms of Naples and Sweden. This political and military alliance was formed in December 1804 with the aim of displacing Napoleon Bonaparte , who had just proclaimed himself Emperor of the French, from power. The promoter of the coalition was the British Prime Minister, William Pitt.
  • The defeat of the Franco-Spanish navy at the naval battle of Cape Finisterre in July 1805. This unexpected result forced Napoleon to abandon his plans to invade Great Britain and focus his attention on continental enemies. This change in priorities resulted in a forced march of the French armies, which from the shores of the English Channel headed east to cross the River Rhine.
  • The French victory at the Battle of Ulm in October 1805 allowed Napoleon to occupy the city of Vienna. The surviving Austrian forces fled northeast awaiting the arrival of their Russian allies.
  • The destruction of the Franco-Spanish armada at the Battle of Trafalgar , which occurred the day after Ulm. This naval disaster, which gave Great Britain the undisputed dominion of the seas, convinced Napoleon that he must obtain a decisive victory over the Russians and Austrians in order not to lose the war.

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The consequences of the Battle of Austerlitz were as follows:

  • The end of the Third Coalition , which fell apart after Napoleon‘s victory.
  • The signing of the Treaty of Pressburg , on December 26, 1805, which established the end of hostilities between France and Austria, their departure from the Third Coalition, the loss of all their territories in Italy and the payment of compensation to the French .
  • The dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire , after the abdication of the Austrian Francis I to the imperial throne, in 1806. The Holy Empire, which had existed since 962, was replaced by the Confederation of the Rhine , made up of 16 German states allied to Napoleon.
  • The occupation of the kingdom of Naples, in southern Italy, by French forces commanded by Marshal André Masséna. The Neapolitan king Ferdinand IV took refuge on the island of Sicily, which the French could not reach due to the presence of British ships.
  • The consolidation of the Napoleonic Empire , which for the next 8 years would dominate the European continent.
  • The defeat of the Russian Empire, which despite having lost more than 10,000 men, continued the war against Napoleon.
  • The formation of the Fourth Coalition (1806) encouraged by Frederick William III, King of Prussia. The leaders of this German kingdom were alarmed by the French victories and wanted to put an end to the influence of the Napoleonic Empire in Central Europe. This coalition, also made up of Russia, Saxony, Sweden and Great Britain, was also defeated by Napoleon.

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