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Adam Zamoyski's Napoleon: A Life

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  • jf42
    replied
    It is certainly easier not to let mere detail obstruct opinions. The observations you make are now so vague and reductive as to make further discussion fruitless but, on my way to the exit, I feel it is worth pointing out that at this juncture in history, the national units you refer to did not exist: Italy was not Austrian but neither was it Italian, Germany was not German and France was barely French. Austria was, by contrast, a good deal more than Austrian. You perspective seems to be that of the "Risk' game board. The situation was somewhat more complex and nuanced.

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  • Cambronnne
    replied
    Originally posted by jf42 View Post

    Your use of 'exactly' is interesting when deployed in an argument that is seems to me to be far from precise.

    We can discuss Napolon grabbing land if you like, but it was not my intention to make such comparisons. You made a comment in relation to the Hapsburgs or 'Austria' grabbing territories, and I questioned the accuracy of such a statement, especially given the vagueness of that generalised remark.

    As it is, your comparisons are greatly oversimplified. One fact you continue to overlook is that the Hapsburg-led armies were in the process of recovering lands conquered by the Ottoman emperors (without, I suspect, the courtesy of declaring war); lands to which, in great part, the Hapsburgs had legitimate title. So, this was hardly the aquisition of "one nation's land...by conquest" (In any case, at that date very few territorial boundaries were defined by 'national' identity and certainly not in the Danube plains, or Italy for that matter).

    So your comparison does not bear out at all. I should be interested if you can find any thing close to an exact parallel in Napoleon's aquisitions, annexations, or what-have-you.

    Legitimacy in these matters was fairly clear. The consequences may not have been universally popular, happy or of longstanding, but aquisition of land by treaty or through dynastic connection was an entirely legitimate process in international relations, although of course, as we know, there could be challenges and disputes.

    As far as the views of residents were concerned, that was for a later age.

    My entire point has been to make comparisons. Napoleon grabbed land, but so did all of the other European powers. There was nothing unique about Napoleon doing so, he was just better at it.

    The legitimacy of the "recovery" is entirely a subjective conclusion.
    In either case, the victorious nation took ("grabbed" ) land. Calling it legitimate or a recovery isn't really relevant and seems to be an effort to justify the act rather than admit that it remains "exactly" the same thing.
    Italy was not Austrian and yet, the Austrians happily "grabbed" or "recovered" Italian lands.

    Napoleon also acquired land by treaty. He always had a treaty. Why would his doing so following a successful war be illegitimate, but legitimate when the Austrians do it?
    They are both the same thing.

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  • jf42
    replied
    Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post



    So the Ottomans declared war on Austria and the Austrians win.
    As a result, the Austrians take territory from the Ottomans and that is legitimate.
    But Napoleon does exactly the same thing and it is not?
    Again, I am not being critical of Austria's actions, just pointing out it is the same behavior that Napoleon engaged in.

    The "legitimacy" of taking land is always a matter of perspective.
    In this situation, I don't think we can say one nation's land acquisition by conquest is "legitimate" while another's is not given that the residents of those lands were never involved in the decision.
    Your use of 'exactly' is interesting when deployed in an argument that is seems to me to be far from precise.

    We can discuss Napolon grabbing land if you like, but it was not my intention to make such comparisons. You made a comment in relation to the Hapsburgs or 'Austria' grabbing territories, and I questioned the accuracy of such a statement, especially given the vagueness of that generalised remark.

    As it is, your comparisons are greatly oversimplified. One fact you continue to overlook is that the Hapsburg-led armies were in the process of recovering lands conquered by the Ottoman emperors (without, I suspect, the courtesy of declaring war); lands to which, in great part, the Hapsburgs had legitimate title. So, this was hardly the aquisition of "one nation's land...by conquest" (In any case, at that date very few territorial boundaries were defined by 'national' identity and certainly not in the Danube plains, or Italy for that matter).

    So your comparison does not bear out at all. I should be interested if you can find any thing close to an exact parallel in Napoleon's aquisitions, annexations, or what-have-you.

    Legitimacy in these matters was fairly clear. The consequences may not have been universally popular, happy or of longstanding, but aquisition of land by treaty or through dynastic connection was an entirely legitimate process in international relations, although of course, as we know, there could be challenges and disputes.

    As far as the views of residents were concerned, that was for a later age.

    Leave a comment:


  • Cambronnne
    replied
    Originally posted by jf42 View Post

    Simply repeating what is, I think you'll agree, an imprecise term, doesnt help answer my question. By 'grab, ' do you mean illegitimately and by force?

    Gooner is quite right in saying that in general the Hapsburgs had aquired their lands by treaty and dynastic marriage, and their authority in Germany, fading as it might have been, was by virtue of the title of 'Holy Roman Emperor.' My understanding is that the Hapsburg possessions in north Italy were acquired legitimately in the C18th. As far as the Ottomans were concerned, they had been the aggressors since the late C15th and, following their conquest of Hungary in 1526 Hapsburg princes, as successors to the Crown of Hungary, led the fight against Ottoman expansion in the Danube borderlands throughout the C16th & C17th and spearheaded the push to recover Ottoman-held lands at the start ot the C18th. The Turks repeatedly attempted to regain territory and usually ended up losing more. I don't think this can be presented as Hapsburgs 'grabbing' Ottoman territory, in the way you suggest.


    So the Ottomans declared war on Austria and the Austrians win.
    As a result, the Austrians take territory from the Ottomans and that is legitimate.
    But Napoleon does exactly the same thing and it is not?
    Again, I am not being critical of Austria's actions, just pointing out it is the same behavior that Napoleon engaged in.

    The "legitimacy" of taking land is always a matter of perspective.
    In this situation, I don't think we can say one nation's land acquisition by conquest is "legitimate" while another's is not given that the residents of those lands were never involved in the decision.

    Leave a comment:


  • jf42
    replied
    Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post




    Austria "grabbed" much of northern Italy.
    Austria sought to grab more german land, but that was more difficult.
    It also took some territory from the Ottoman Empire in 1790. Austria also "grabbed" back Italy after Napoleon's fall.

    All of the major powers (save perhaps England) were always looking to expand their borders.
    I am not being critical of Austria, just pointing out that they were not innocent bystanders
    Simply repeating what is, I think you'll agree, an imprecise term, doesnt help answer my question. By 'grab, ' do you mean illegitimately and by force?

    Gooner is quite right in saying that in general the Hapsburgs had aquired their lands by treaty and dynastic marriage, and their authority in Germany, fading as it might have been, was by virtue of the title of 'Holy Roman Emperor.' My understanding is that the Hapsburg possessions in north Italy were acquired legitimately in the C18th. As far as the Ottomans were concerned, they had been the aggressors since the late C15th and, following their conquest of Hungary in 1526 Hapsburg princes, as successors to the Crown of Hungary, led the fight against Ottoman expansion in the Danube borderlands throughout the C16th & C17th and spearheaded the push to recover Ottoman-held lands at the start ot the C18th. The Turks repeatedly attempted to regain territory and usually ended up losing more. I don't think this can be presented as Hapsburgs 'grabbing' Ottoman territory, in the way you suggest.
    Last edited by jf42; 25 Oct 18, 12:50.

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  • Cambronnne
    replied
    Originally posted by Gooner View Post

    Austria was more sinned against than a sinner when it came to State land grabbing in the 18th Century I think.
    France was the usual suspect from the middle of the 17th Century as regards expansion, especially of Imperial lands. In that respect the Kings of France were actually more successful than Napoleon.
    France wasn't innocent of expansionist desires at any time. I would never make that claim.
    And you could be right that Austria was more sinned against, but it was still a "sinner" just like Napoleonic France.

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  • Cambronnne
    replied
    Originally posted by jf42 View Post
    I am curious. How would you define 'grab'; we know about the tripartite partiton of Poland; but elsewhere?



    Austria "grabbed" much of northern Italy.
    Austria sought to grab more german land, but that was more difficult.
    It also took some territory from the Ottoman Empire in 1790. Austria also "grabbed" back Italy after Napoleon's fall.

    All of the major powers (save perhaps England) were always looking to expand their borders.
    I am not being critical of Austria, just pointing out that they were not innocent bystanders

    Leave a comment:


  • Gooner
    replied
    Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post

    I agree with your point, but Austria would still grab land by conquest when it could get away with it. (See Poland, Italy and the Balkans)

    I am not complaining about the aggression of the coalition, just contending that the threat Napoleon posed wasn't that he was uniquely greedy and expansionist, just that he was uniquely good at achieving his goals. His success upset the balance of power, not his goals or his methods.
    In the end, he overreached, but that is a different issue.
    Austria was more sinned against than a sinner when it came to State land grabbing in the 18th Century I think.
    France was the usual suspect from the middle of the 17th Century as regards expansion, especially of Imperial lands. In that respect the Kings of France were actually more successful than Napoleon.

    Leave a comment:


  • jf42
    replied
    I am curious. How would you define 'grab'; we know about the tripartite partiton of Poland; but elsewhere?
    Last edited by jf42; 25 Oct 18, 10:44.

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  • Cambronnne
    replied
    Originally posted by Gooner View Post

    Traditionally the Habsburgs expanded their territory through marriage rather than conquest. Austrian attempts to expand their territory at the expense of the other states of the HRE would entail upsetting the balance with Prussia and cause a coalition to form against them as was the case with the War of Bavarian Succession. The same would be true vice Prussian attempts to expand their territory in the HRE.
    Revolutionary France and then Napoleon upset the balance of power so it seems a bit choice to complain about the aggression of others when a coalition inevitably formed against France.
    I agree with your point, but Austria would still grab land by conquest when it could get away with it. (See Poland, Italy and the Balkans)

    I am not complaining about the aggression of the coalition, just contending that the threat Napoleon posed wasn't that he was uniquely greedy and expansionist, just that he was uniquely good at achieving his goals. His success upset the balance of power, not his goals or his methods.
    In the end, he overreached, but that is a different issue.

    Leave a comment:


  • Cambronnne
    replied
    Originally posted by Gooner View Post

    To defend their lands the in the west the Austrians could not but cross the lands of others - notably Bavaria.

    osterrike1797.gif

    I believe the Holy Roman Emperor did have the rights to cross Imperial lands with an army in defence of the HRE?
    I don't know much about the HRE, but have little doubt that from the Austrian perspective they had the right to make any demands they wanted from the smaller members of the HRE.

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  • Gooner
    replied
    Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post
    Austria was as territorial minded as any other European nation.
    It wanted Italy and Germany for itself and would not accept French control of those regions.
    That doesn't make Austria evil, it is just a recognition that the problem was that their interests clashed with Napoleon's. The Austrians were not innocent victims. (Nor were the Russians)
    Traditionally the Habsburgs expanded their territory through marriage rather than conquest. Austrian attempts to expand their territory at the expense of the other states of the HRE would entail upsetting the balance with Prussia and cause a coalition to form against them as was the case with the War of Bavarian Succession. The same would be true vice Prussian attempts to expand their territory in the HRE.
    Revolutionary France and then Napoleon upset the balance of power so it seems a bit choice to complain about the aggression of others when a coalition inevitably formed against France.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gooner
    replied
    Originally posted by jf42 View Post
    Did the Austrians invade Bavaria in 1805 or were they exercising customary rights of passage in preparation for a confrontation with France?
    To defend their lands the in the west the Austrians could not but cross the lands of others - notably Bavaria.

    osterrike1797.gif

    I believe the Holy Roman Emperor did have the rights to cross Imperial lands with an army in defence of the HRE?

    Leave a comment:


  • Massena
    replied
    Originally posted by jf42 View Post
    Benign? Probably not. There was a war on
    Only when Great Britain 'encouraged' Austria to move west in order to take pressure off the Channel.

    As to Metternich, he cannot be trusted as a source.

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  • Cambronnne
    replied
    Originally posted by jf42 View Post

    I think that's what the French propaganda machine broadcast.

    Bonaparte later shared with Metternich: "Never would I have been such a fool as to make a descent upon England, unless indeed a revolution had taken place within that country. The army assembled at Boulogne was always an army against Austria. I could not place it anywhere else without giving offence, and, being obliged to form it somewhere, I did so at Boulogne, where I could while collecting it also disquiet England." q. in Esdaile Napoleon's Wars

    Austria. finally provoked by Napoleon creating himself King of italy and the subsequent annexation of Genoa, Parma & Piacenza, was the last reluctantly to join the Third Coalition, following Britain and Russia's earlier lead. The march into Bavaria was not to acquire territory but to pre-empt a French advance across the Rhine, while Russian troops marched west.


    The fact that Napoleon annexed territory that the Austrians wanted for themselves isn't the same thing as Napoleon declaring war on Austria or even threatening them..

    That one alleged quote by Napoleon saying he didn't intend to invade England is countered by the extensive preparations, the building of ships the training for embarkation and landing, the numerous orders sent to Admiral Villaneuve and the fact that he concentrated his army on the coast.
    As an aside, I doubt Metternich is a very reliable source, but will accept the claim for purposes of this discussion. I also question some of Napoleon's versions of his discussions with Metternich.

    Austria was as territorial minded as any other European nation.
    It wanted Italy and Germany for itself and would not accept French control of those regions.
    That doesn't make Austria evil, it is just a recognition that the problem was that their interests clashed with Napoleon's. The Austrians were not innocent victims. (Nor were the Russians)

    Leave a comment:

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