Did the emperors Francis and Alexander "lead" their armies in 1805 specifically because Napoleon was, and they didn't want to look bad in comparison?

Mar 2016
1,079
Australia
#1
Neither man had any practical military knowledge or experience in any meaningful sense, but still took command of the Austrian and Russian armies respectively, even if only nominally while they left the actual planning and execution of strategy to their generals. Obviously this is in direct contrast to Napoleon who had a hands-on approach to everything with his military and was the one planning every major strategic and tactical movement, and who for the vast majority of major French campaigns was in command of the army for his entire career. I know this is a rather specific and obscure question to ask, but is it possible that Francis and Alexander only "commanded" their armies because they would lose face if they just sat at home while this Corsican upstart military dictator commanded his armies in person like some ancient warrior-king?
 
Likes: Kotromanic

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,783
#2
Neither man had any practical military knowledge or experience in any meaningful sense, but still took command of the Austrian and Russian armies respectively, even if only nominally while they left the actual planning and execution of strategy to their generals. Obviously this is in direct contrast to Napoleon who had a hands-on approach to everything with his military and was the one planning every major strategic and tactical movement, and who for the vast majority of major French campaigns was in command of the army for his entire career. I know this is a rather specific and obscure question to ask, but is it possible that Francis and Alexander only "commanded" their armies because they would lose face if they just sat at home while this Corsican upstart military dictator commanded his armies in person like some ancient warrior-king?
NO,. Neither took atcual command at any piont. I don't think either was influence by Napoleon's example. in 1805 since being dictataor/first/consul/emperor Napolen had commanded only realtively briefly, the Marango camapign whch after shoring up his generalship cred the running of the war was left to the Generals, there was no given that personal command of French armies by Napoleoen was going to the norm going forward,

Alexander was rather wilful and a great desire to be involved, and no one was really in a place to stop him, the combined Generals did get thim away from the army in 1812. His determination to do stuff and interefere would come to the fore with the Congress of Veinna as well.

Francis only really went to the army after the loss of Vienna., not being a much focus for the court or administration once displaced form Vienna.

Napoleon was pretty hands off tactically. Don;t know why people keep saying he was hands on when no he waas not.
 
Likes: Futurist
Feb 2019
331
California
#4
I think that at that point in history whether the Monarch should actually lead his troops in battle was considered very much an open question---that is, unlike more olden days, a king was not necessarily expected to lead his troops into battle yet, unlike more recent times, to do so was not necessarily considered irresponsible. It was kind of "results based" as far as "The People" judging the monarch went.

Side note, apparently George II was the last British monarch to "lead" his troops into battle.

Of course, there has always been a possible distinction between "leading" the troops and "directing the battle," if you catch my drift.
 
Feb 2016
4,294
Japan
#5
I doubt they were motivated by a sense of shame, inferiority or loss of face.
They most likely wanted to be seen by their people and fighting men to be “at the front” and “hands on” if not actually leading the army.

I don’t think anyone viewed Bonerparte as a “ancient warrior king”... he didn’t draw his sword and start hacking away... he was seen as a jumped up artillery officer and tyrant.
 
Feb 2019
441
Serbia
#6
I'm not sure about if Alexander commanded in the field but he did try to take an active approach in the army affairs and wanted to be involved. Francis was around the army in 1805 and was present at the field before Austerlitz but wasn't present, let alone that he commanded at the battlefield proper. After that beside some disputes with Archduke Charles in 1809 he didn't participate in military affairs too much and never commanded an army in the field.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,783
#7
Alexznder did correct some of Schwrtzenberg;s bad deployment at Leipzig movingthe Russians resevres to where they could actually be useful. Napoleon might well have won if teh Russian forces were deployed as Schwartzenberg wanted.,
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,323
Sydney
#8
At Leipzig , the nominal commander Schwarzenberg had some serious political problems
three monarques were present , Alexander I , Frederick William III of Prussia and Francis I of Austria

to show the utmost respect and still get decisions enforced was so arduous that he took the practice of running around the Armies
and make his plans when the leaders were otherwise occupied
he mostly had problem with the czar , who had seen a battle before ( Austerlitz ) and was the nominal head of the coalition
with an experience of one battle ,he fancied himself as competent ,

much to the chagrin of Schwartzenberg , his Russian colleagues were not helping much out of respect for their boss
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,783
#9
At Leipzig , the nominal commander Schwarzenberg had some serious political problems
three monarques were present , Alexander I , Frederick William III of Prussia and Francis I of Austria

to show the utmost respect and still get decisions enforced was so arduous that he took the practice of running around the Armies
and make his plans when the leaders were otherwise occupied
he mostly had problem with the czar , who had seen a battle before ( Austerlitz ) and was the nominal head of the coalition
with an experience of one battle ,he fancied himself as competent ,

much to the chagrin of Schwartzenberg , his Russian colleagues were not helping much out of respect for their boss

Schwarzenberg made repeated large errors though the 1813/14 campaign,. Reapeated. Large. Schwartzenberg's deployment was appaling at Leipzig and witout Alexander just moving the russian reserves to much more reasonable positions , Napoloen could have quite conceivably won the battle.

Yup Alexander was a pain to deal with. But his judgement was better than Schwartzenbergs on this occasion by quite some margin.
 
Likes: sparky

Similar History Discussions