The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Charles (Archduke)

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CHARLES, archduke of Austria, third son of the emperor Leopold II., younger brother of Francis I., and uncle of Ferdinand I., born in Florence, Sept. 5, 1771, died April 30, 1847. Of weak constitution and sickly, he seemed to promise little, but was soon attracted by military subjects, and became fond of geometry and other serious studies. He was 20 years old at the time of the first war of the emperor, his brother, against France (1792). Under Hohenlohe he took part in the battle of Jemmapes against Dumouriez, and afterward commanded the van of the prince of Coburg, distinguishing himself in the engagements of Aldenhoven and Neerwinden, in which the French were defeated. Belgium having been reconquered, he was appointed its governor general, March 25, 1793. In 1794 he had a part of the Austrian command in the battles of Landrecy, Tournay, Courtray, and Fleurus, against the victorious army of Pichegru. When the Netherlands were lost, he retired for some time to Vienna to restore his impaired health. In 1796 he took the field again as field marshal of the empire, and commander-in-chief of the Austrian army on the Rhine; and his victories over Jourdan at Neumarkt, Teining, and Amberg soon compelled Moreau, who had advanced as far as Munich, to undertake his famous retreat; the French were driven over the Rhine, and only maintained in their possession the bridges of Hüningen and Kehl. Both these positions Charles attacked and took in the following winter. But while things were going on successfully in Germany under his command, the French under Bonaparte were everywhere victorious in Italy, and were rapidly advancing toward the heart of Austria; and when Charles was sent there to check their progress, the victorious young general, imitating the words of Cæsar, could say, “Hitherto I have had to combat armies without a commander; now I have to combat a commander without an army.” Charles was compelled to conclude the preliminary treaty of Leoben, April 18, 1797, which was soon followed by the peace of Campo Formio. Having lived for some time in Bohemia as governor of that kingdom, he was again called to arms after the violent breaking off of the congress of Rastadt (1799), and again defeated the French under Jourdan, who had crossed the Rhine, in the battles of Ostrach and Stockach. Dissensions between him and the commanders of the allied Russian troops checked his successful operations, and after the defeat of Korsakoff by Masséna at Zürich, he had again to guard the Rhine. Bad health compelled him in March, 1800, to resign his command to Kray, and to retire to Bohemia. He was not yet restored when he had to hasten again to the defence of the empire of his brother, which, by the admirable marches of Napoleon over the Alps and of Moreau through Germany, was brought to the brink of ruin. The armistice of Steier concluded by him with the latter was the preliminary of the peace of Lunéville (1801). His great services were now recognized by his appointment as president of the aulic council of war at Vienna, as well as by a proposition made at the diet of the German empire to reward him with a statue and the title of savior of Germany; which honors, however, he refused to accept. In 1805 he commanded the Austrian army in Italy against Masséna, but his victory at Caldiero (Oct. 29-31) was of little avail, as Napoleon after the surrender of Ulm was rapidly advancing toward Vienna. The hasty retreat of the archduke Ferdinand to Bohemia, and the battle of Austerlitz, compelled Francis to the peace of Presburg (Dec. 25). Charles was now made generalissimo of all the Austrian armies, and minister of war, with unlimited power, which he used for the reorganization of the forces of the empire and the creation of a strong reserve and militia. In 1808, after the abdication of Charles IV., king of Spain, the provinces of Catalonia and Aragon called him to the throne of Spain and India, and an English frigate was sent to carry him from Trieste, but was sent back with his thanks. In the war of 1809 he commanded in Bavaria, while his brothers John and Ferdinand led the armies in Italy and Poland; he advanced as far as Ratisbon, but Napoleon's victories at Thann, Abensberg, Landshut, Eckmühl, and Ratisbon (April 19-23) compelled him to retreat. Having, however, received new reënforcements, he checked Napoleon, who had taken Vienna, in the battle of Aspern and Essling (May 21, 22). This advantage brought little more than glory, and he was defeated at the battle of Wagram, July 5, 6, and retreated continually fighting to Znaym. An armistice, and soon after the peace of Schönbrunn, put an end to the campaign. Charles was wounded, and feeling at the same time personally mortified, he resigned on July 30 his military command and all his offices, and retired to Teschen, whence he afterward went to Vienna. After the return of Napoleon from Elba, he again served for a short time as governor of Mentz; but this was the last act of his public life. He married in 1815 Henrietta, princess of Nassau-Weilburg, and became the father of a numerous family, among whom he lived in quiet retirement. An equestrian statue of him was erected in Vienna in 1860. He is known in military literature especially by his Grundsätze der Strategie, erläutert durch die Darstellung des Feldzugs von 1796 in Deutschland (3 vols., Vienna, 1814), and Geschichte des Feldzugs von 1799 in Deutschland und der Schweiz (2 vols., 1819). In 1862 a collection of his military writings was published in Vienna.