The Emperors of Austerlitz
Patrick Harris -November was a busy month, but we're back
The Battle of Austerlitz (2 Dec. 1805) is unique in history, in that their were three sitting heads of state present at the battle. It was truly a clash of nations. The Emperors there were all titans of history, so here's a little bit about each of them.
The first was Napoleon, who had proclaimed himself emperor of France some months before after a plebiscite in which 93.5% of the French people "voted" to demolish the ideals of the French revolution and establish a hereditary monarchy. The only difference was the ruling house, Bonaparte instead of Bourbon. Prior to his being emperor, Napoleon had been an artillery officer who had managed to curry the favour of the ruling authority of revolutionary France at the time, the Directory. Eventually, he was made commander of the Army of Italy. Soon he became the only public official the French people trusted, so soon his troops surrounded the National Assembly and removed any representative who opposed him. Unsurprisingly, the pro Napoleon side "elected" him to lead France. The rest, they say, is history.
Another emperor at the battle was Czar Alexander I of Russia. He was an interesting character, not the least because of his flip flopping sides (four times) during the chaotic period of the Napoleonic Wars. What is most interesting however, was his death. Though official accounts state that he died of typhus while on a trip to the south of Russia, rumours have circulated since his death that he became a monk, Feodor Kuzmich in a remote Siberian monastery. When his coffin was opened in the 1920's, it was empty.
The last emperor at Austerlitz was Francis II, of the Holy Roman Emperor. He was, in fact, the last Emperor of the H.R.E. Following Austerlitz, he was forced to dismantle the empire of Charlemagne. This was not the end for Francis though. He still retained several positions to which the House of Hapsburg had inherited over the years. He was the Emperor of Austria, and King of Hungary, but the Austrians had a flair for titles, so Francis was king of just about every region in central Europe.