Napoleon on the Danube
After seven days of brilliant manoeuvring in which he reversed his army's fortunes against those of the Austrians in Germany, Napoleon pursued his foe along the Danube and occupied an open city of Vienna in May 13 1809. His opponents, having destroyed all the bridges over the Danube, waited on the opposite bank watching for Napoleon's next move. A week later at Aspern-Essling, Napoleon received what many historians regard as his first reversal on the battlefield. It was not to be for another six weeks that he was able to successfully cross again after which he again met the Austrians at, what was up to that point, the largest and most bloody battle of the Napoleonic Wars, that of Wagram.
This long weekend end tour to the wonderful and captivating city of Vienna combines fascinating battlefield tours with visits to some of the finest military collections in the world. We spend a full day and a half exploring the fields of Aspern-Essling and Wagram, whilst at Schönbrunn Palace we will discuss Vienna under the rule of Napoleon. A sure highlight will be when we drive out to the northern Alps to visit one of the most spectacular castles in Europe; one that so secure that it was not only to serve as an armoury, but as a treasury as well.
"Battle should only be offered when there is no other turn of fortune to be hoped for, as from its nature the fate of a battle is always dubious".
Fly London – Vienna and check in to our central hotel for 4 nights. Orientation tour of Vienna.
We drive out to Forchtenstein Castle, home to the Esterhazy family, where we are treated to a special tour of the castle and its superb weapons collection dating as far back as the 16th century. Of particular interest are the items looted during the Napoleonic Wars. We return to Vienna and visit the Baroque Schönbrunn Palace, home to, amongst others, Napoleon in 1805 and 1809.
Today we look at the 1809 battles around Vienna. Although much of Aspern-Essling has been built over, it is still possible to gain an appreciation of the battle. This afternoon we explore the bloody field of Wagram situated upon the old Austrian Army Marchfeld training fields.
We visit the Heeresgeschictliches Museum, the largest purpose built military history museum in the world. This afternoon we take a walk through the Lobau Island Park selected by the French to cross the Danube by pontoon.
Some free time in Vienna before we catch our return flights to London.