On This Day in Napoleonic History – 4 December 1805

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hgm_kupelwieser_portrat_kaiser_franz_iNapoleon meets with Emperor Francis of Austria

After the decisive French victory at Austerlitz, Napoleon and Francis had a 90-minute interview by the fire on the road to Hungary. ‘He wanted to conclude peace immediately,’ Napoleon told Talleyrand. ‘He appealed to my finer feelings.’

Mounting his horse, Napoleon told his staff: ‘Gentlemen, we return to Paris. Peace is made.’ He then rode to Austerlitz, where he visited the wounded. Curious onlookers found it a peculiar sight – an Emperor of Austria humbling himself before the son of a small Corsican family, not so long ago a sub-lieutenant of artillery, who rose to ultimate power through his sheer talent and ability, and who now held the destinies of Europe in his hands.

In the letter to Josephine, Napoleon said about Francis: ‘He showed neither talent, nor bravery.’

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