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European History | History | Military History


During the long, on-again-off-again wars generated by the events of the French Revolution, the Habsburg monarchy would contribute the largest single contingent of troops to the fight.1 For the Austrians, the wars fought over this nine-year period were a long-term disaster. Entering the war with a small, professional army, the monarchy would constantly be at loose ends to find the financing and manpower to carry out the demands of a European-wide war. Worse yet, and critical to remember, was that the disparate Habsburg lands were incapable of the political revolution that had allowed a homogenous France to mobilize so many men and such vast resources. There could be no real appeal to nationalism, like in France, in a state that had over a dozen national and linguistic groups. Not only was Austria poor by French or English standards, but it was a thoroughly early modern state, incapable of internal, liberal political reform. The history of Austria’s army and its leaders in these wars is, then, one of reaction and, when it occurred, temporary, superficial change. This said, and while the monarchy often saw defeat on the battlefield, its army’s ability to outlast its opponent allowed for its survival and eventual recovery.


European Armies of the French Revolution, 1789-1802, edited by Frederick C. Schneid, University of Oklahoma Press, 2015

Copyright © 2015 University of Oklahoma Press. All rights reserved. Permission to include in repository granted by the University of Oklahoma Press.




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