Robert Ouvrard: 1809. Les Français à Vienne. Chronique d’une occupation (The French in Vienna, Cronicle of an occupation)

2009ouvrardvienneOn 14 May 1809, a couple of years after first capturing the Habsburg capital, Napoleon returned to Vienna. This book by Robert Ouvrard chronicles these long months of French occupation in Austria, and includes French and Austrian eye-witness accounts, taken from correspondence and memoirs from the period. The privations and difficulties experienced in daily life by the poorest inhabitants, both in the cities and in the countryside, are revealed, as are the pillages and demands placed on them by the French occupying forces.

Due to Napoleon’s extended stay in Vienna (six months), the city became the de facto capital of the French Empire. However, the situation was very different to that of 1805: the city had put up a serious resistance and in the end had been bombarded, the population was less ‘welcoming’ this time around and supplies were harder to come by. ‘Nationalist’ opposition was growing, and Napoleon barely escaped with his life after Frédéric Staps’ assassination attempt in October 1809…

Through his understanding of Napoleonic history as well as his familiarity with the city in which he has lived for thirty years, Robert Ouvrard plunges the reader deep into the Austrian mentality and the events of the period. His choice of memoir extracts, recollections, newspapers and other pertinent documents is considered and well-annotated.

Paris: Editions of the Fondation Napoléon – Nouveau Monde Editions, 2009, Series Études, 330 pages. Language: French.

To order visit the website of Nouveau Monde Éditions.