The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until it was overthrown by the short-lived February Revolution in 1917. One of the largest empires in history, stretching over three continents, the Russian Empire was surpassed in landmass only by the British and Mongol empires. The rise of the Russian Empire happened in association with the decline of neighboring powers, the Swedish Empire, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Persia. It played a role in 1812–14 in defeating Napoleons ambitions to control Europe. The House of Romanov ruled the Russian Empire from 1721 until 1762, and its German-descended cadet branch, with 125.6 million subjects registered by the 1897 census, it had the third-largest population in the world at the time, after Qing China and India. Like all empires, it included a large disparity in terms of economics, there were numerous dissident elements, who launched numerous rebellions and assassination attempts, they were closely watched by the secret police, with thousands exiled to Siberia.
Economically, the empire had an agricultural base, with low productivity on large estates worked by serfs. The economy slowly industrialized with the help of foreign investments in railways, the land was ruled by a nobility from the 10th through the 17th centuries, and subsequently by an emperor. Tsar Ivan III laid the groundwork for the empire that emerged and he tripled the territory of his state, ended the dominance of the Golden Horde, renovated the Moscow Kremlin, and laid the foundations of the Russian state. Tsar Peter the Great fought numerous wars and expanded an already huge empire into a major European power, Catherine the Great presided over a golden age. She expanded the state by conquest and diplomacy, continuing Peter the Greats policy of modernisation along West European lines, Tsar Alexander II promoted numerous reforms, most dramatically the emancipation of all 23 million serfs in 1861. His policy in Eastern Europe involved protecting the Orthodox Christians under the rule of the Ottoman Empire and that connection by 1914 led to Russias entry into the First World War on the side of France and Serbia, against the German and Ottoman empires.
The Russian Empire functioned as a monarchy until the Revolution of 1905. The empire collapsed during the February Revolution of 1917, largely as a result of failures in its participation in the First World War. Perhaps the latter was done to make Europe recognize Russia as more of a European country, Poland was divided in the 1790-1815 era, with much of the land and population going to Russia. Most of the 19th century growth came from adding territory in Asia, Peter I the Great introduced autocracy in Russia and played a major role in introducing his country to the European state system. However, this vast land had a population of 14 million, grain yields trailed behind those of agriculture in the West, compelling nearly the entire population to farm. Only a small percentage lived in towns, the class of kholops, close to the one of slavery, remained a major institution in Russia until 1723, when Peter I converted household kholops into house serfs, thus including them in poll taxation
Battle of Dennewitz
The Battle of Dennewitz took place on 6 September 1813 between the forces of the First French Empire and an army of Prussians and Russians of the Sixth Coalition. It occurred in Dennewitz, a village in the Prussian province of Brandenburg, in late August 1813, Napoleon decided to order a general offensive to take Berlin, the Prussian capital, with the overall goal of knocking the Prussians out of the war. Marshal Oudinots corps advanced towards this objective along three separate roads, the fighting that took place on 23 August was essentially three isolated actions at Blankenfield and Sputendorf. In each case the Allies prevailed and Oudinot retreated to Wittenberg, at this point Napoleon appointed Marshal Michel Ney to command. Ney, with around 58,000 men, renewed the advance on Berlin on 6 September and this was because he mistakenly expected Napoleon, away to the southeast near Dresden, to support him from this direction. He encountered mixed elements of Prussian and Swedish troops under the command of Crown Prince Charles John of Sweden at Dennewitz.
Ney had decided to move his army down a single road and was shadowed to the north by Bülows III Corps. While this allowed Ney to maintain communications with his entire army, as a result, the battle swayed back and forth with the arrival of fresh French and Allied reinforcements throughout its course. The Prussian General Tauentzien was at Juterbog, blocking Neys route to Berlin, Neys troops reached Dennewitz as Bülow was approaching Juterbog along an eastward route to their north. To keep Tuentzien and Bülow from uniting, the French occupied the north of Dennewitz now known as the Denkmalsberg. Despite early damage done to Tauentziens Corps, Bülow saved the situation by taking the hill and this was followed by a charge of the Brandenburg Dragoons down the hill. This gave time for the Prussian units which had earlier wavered to regroup, there were signs that all was not well in the French army at this time. The French empire was short of cavalry troops and mounts since the 1812 Russian campaign.
As a result, there was a lack of screening and reconnaissance, the French command situation was strained, as Oudinot was angered at being placed under Neys command. Marshal Ney was determined to advance with all haste to Berlin, initially forced back, the Prussian elements of Bernadottes army were reinforced by General Bülow and recovered the lost ground. Bülow would now assume command of the side for most of the remainder of the day. A see-sawing battle now developed, but just as the French appeared on the verge of a victory, not helped by a lack of support from Oudinot, made a mistake that swung the battle. Having joined in the fighting personally and being unaware of the situation due to a rainstorm on the battlefield
German Campaign of 1813
The German Campaign was fought in 1813. This was the factor in the outbreak of the German Campaign the following year. The Spring Campaign between members of the Sixth Coalition and the First French Empire ended inconclusively with a summer truce. Via the Trachenberg Plan, developed during a period of ceasefire in the summer of 1813, in the following Autumn Campaign, Austria eventually sided with the coalition, thwarting Napoleons hopes of reaching a separate agreement with the major powers Austria and Russia. The Coalition allies now had a numerical superiority, which they eventually brought to bear on Napoleons main forces. The high point of allied strategy was the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813 and this completely broke Napoleons power to the east of the river Rhine. Napoleon was forced to abdicate and Louis XVIII regained the French Throne, the war came to a formal end with the Treaty of Paris in November 1814. They advocated limitations to the princes of Germany and a joint effort by all Germans to eject the French.
From 1810 Arndt and Jahn asked high-ranking figures in Prussian society again and again to prepare such an uprising, Jahn himself organised the German League and made a major contribution to the founding of the Lützow Free Corps. These forerunners took part in the outbreak of hostilities in Germany, even before the German Campaign, there had been uprisings against the French troops occupying Germany – these had broken out from 1806 onwards in Hesse and in 1809 in the Tyrolean Rebellion. These uprisings intensified in the year under Wilhelm von Dörnberg, the initiator and commander-in-chief of the Hessian uprising. This was the factor in the outbreak of the German Campaign the following year. On 17 March 1813 – the day Alexander I of Russia arrived in the Hoflager of Frederick William III of Prussia – Prussia declared war on France. On 20 March 1813 the Schlesische privilegierte Zeitung newspaper published Fredericks speech entitled An Mein Volk, delivered on 17 March and calling for a war of liberation.
Already busy with maintaining naval supremacy and fighting the Peninsular War, Great Britain did not take any part in the German campaign. The Convention of Tauroggen became the starting-point of Prussias regeneration, meanwhile Napoleon in Paris had been organizing a fresh army for the reconquest of Prussia. Levies were made with rigorous severity in the states of the Rhine Confederation, on 25 April Napoleon reached Erfurt and assumed the chief command. On this day his troops stood in the following positions, meanwhile the Russians and Prussians had concentrated all available men and were moving on an almost parallel line, but somewhat to the south of the direction taken by the French
Battle of Hanau
The Battle of Hanau was fought on between Karl Philipp von Wrede’s Austro-Bavarian corps and Napoleons retreating French during the War of the Sixth Coalition. Following Napoleons defeat at the Battle of Leipzig earlier in October, Napoleon began to retreat from Germany into France, Wrede attempted to block Napoleon’s line of retreat at Hanau on 30 October. Napoleon arrived at Hanau with reinforcements and defeated Wrede’s forces, on 31 October Hanau was in French control, opening Napoleon’s line of retreat. The Battle of Hanau was a battle, but an important tactical victory allowing Napoleon’s army to retreat onto French soil to recover. The Battle of Leipzig, the largest and bloodiest encounter of the Napoleonic Wars, began on 16 October 1813, Napoleon was forced to abandon central Germany to the coalition and hastily retreated westwards. His strategy was to all his available forces on the shores of the Rhine. The Emperors concern was that his battered army might be forced to fight against superior forces again.
With military action confined to secondary rearguard actions, Napoleon was able to install his headquarters at Erfurt on 23 October, on 26 October, he sent orders to the various corps, directing them to Frankfurt via Eisenach and Fulda. Their assigned destination was the city of Mainz, by the Rhine river, the coalition was buoyed by the news that Bavaria, a former French ally, agreed to join the Sixth Coalition according to the Treaty of Ried concluded just before the Battle of Leipzig. From Würzburg, Wrede moved towards the city of Hanau. Wrede’s advance guard reached Hanau on 28 October and took possession of the city and they were under the overall command of Bavarian General Karl Philipp von Wrede. The Austrian Corps, under the command of Field-Marshal-Lieutenant Baron Fresnet and these men were organised in three divisions, the 1st division under General Bach, the 2nd division under General Trautenberg, and the 3rd division under General Spleny. The Bavarian Corps, under Wredes direct command, numbered 18,000 men,15,000 infantrymen,3,000 cavalrymen, the French Grande Armée had suffered horrendous casualties at the battle of Leipzig, which left the French Corps at a fraction of its prior strength.
Emperor Napoleon I was in command of the French forces in the battle. Guard units aside, many of the French battalions at Hanau were only 100-man strong, and the cavalry squadrons were much smaller. Of these men, only one division of Marshal Claude Victor-Perrins IInd Corps, Cavalry support came from Sébastianis IInd Cavalry Corps, some 3,000 sabres, and Nansoutys Imperial Guard cavalry, some 4,000 sabres. The entirety of the Imperial Guard infantry and artillery, some 6,000 men and 52 cannons, were committed, Napoleon thus commanded a total of about 20,000 men at the battle of Hanau. On 29 October, having correctly reckoned that his force was enough to block the retreat of a disorganised enemy army
War of the Sixth Coalition
After the disastrous French invasion of Russia of 1812, the continental powers joined Russia, the United Kingdom and the rebels in Spain who were already at war with France. The War of the Sixth Coalition saw major battles at Lützen, the even larger Battle of Leipzig was the largest battle in European history before World War I. Ultimately, Napoleons earlier setbacks in Russia and Germany proved to be the seeds of his undoing, with their armies reorganized, the allies drove Napoleon out of Germany in 1813 and invaded France in 1814. The Allies defeated the remaining French armies, occupied Paris, and forced Napoleon to abdicate, the French monarchy was revived by the allies, who handed rule to the heir of the House of Bourbon in the Bourbon Restoration. This was not however the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon subsequently escaped from his captivity and returned to power in France, sparking the War of the Seventh Coalition in 1815. In 1812 Napoleon invaded Russia to compel Emperor Alexander I to remain in the Continental System, the Grande Armée, consisting of as many as 650,000 men, crossed the Neman River on 23 June 1812.
Russia proclaimed a Patriotic War, while Napoleon proclaimed a Second Polish War, but against the expectations of the Poles, who supplied almost 100,000 troops for the invasion force, and having in mind further negotiations with Russia, he avoided any concessions toward Poland. Russian forces fell back, destroying everything potentially of use to the invaders until giving battle at Borodino where the two armies fought a devastating but inconclusive battle. Following the battle the Russians withdrew, thus opening the road to Moscow, by 14 September the French had occupied Moscow but found the city practically empty. Alexander I refused to capitulate, leaving the French in the city of Moscow with little food or shelter and winter approaching. In these circumstances, and with no path to victory. Total losses of the Grand Army were at least 370,000 casualties as a result of fighting and the weather conditions. By November, only 27,000 fit soldiers re-crossed the Berezina River, Napoleon now left his army to return to Paris and prepare a defence of Poland against the advancing Russians.
The situation was not as dire as it might at first have seemed, on 9 January 1812, French troops occupied Swedish Pomerania to end the illegal trade with the United Kingdom from Sweden, which was in violation of the Continental System. Swedish estates were confiscated and Swedish officers and soldiers were taken as prisoners, in response, Sweden declared neutrality and signed the secret Treaty of Saint Petersburg with Russia against France and Denmark–Norway on 5 April. On 18 July, the Treaty of Örebro formally ended the wars between Britain and Sweden and Britain and Russia, forming an alliance between Russia and Sweden. However, when Napoleon marched on Moscow, neither Britain nor Sweden would give any support to Russia. The alliance existed only on paper, according to the Treaty of Tilsit, Prussia had to support Napoleons invasion of Russia
Bombing of Dresden in World War II
The bombing and the resulting firestorm destroyed over 1,600 acres of the city centre. An estimated 22,700 to 25,000 people were killed, three more USAAF air raids followed, two occurring on 2 March aimed at the citys railroad marshaling yard and one small raid on 17 April aimed at industrial areas. Immediate German propaganda claims following the attacks and post-war discussions on whether the attacks were justified has led to the bombing becoming one of the moral causes célèbres of the war. Several researchers have asserted that not all of the infrastructure, such as the bridges, was targeted. Large variations in the death toll have fueled the controversy. In March 1945, the German government ordered its press to publish a falsified casualty figure of 200,000 for the Dresden raids, and death toll estimates as high as 500,000 have been given. The city authorities at the time estimated no more than 25,000 victims, the Red Army had launched their Silesian Offensives into pre-war German territory.
The German army was retreating on all fronts, but still resisting strongly, on 8 February 1945, the Red Army crossed the Oder River, with positions just 70 km from Berlin. Alternatively, the report warned that the Germans might hold out until November if they could prevent the Soviets from taking Silesia, any assistance provided to the Soviets on the Eastern Front could shorten the war. At the time of bombing, the Soviets were conducting their Lower Silesian Offensive, plans for a large and intense aerial bombing of Berlin and the other eastern cities had been discussed under the code name Operation Thunderclap in mid-1944, but had been shelved on 16 August. These were now re-examined, and the decision was made to draw up a limited operation. That evening Churchill asked the Secretary of State for Air, Sir Archibald Sinclair and he mentioned that aircraft diverted to such raids should not be taken away from the current primary tasks of destroying oil production facilities, jet aircraft factories, and submarine yards.
Pray report to me tomorrow what is going to be done, attacks there, where main railway junctions, telephone systems, city administration and utilities were located, would result in chaos. Ostensibly, Britain had learned this after the Coventry Blitz, when loss of this crucial infrastructure had supposedly longer-lasting effects than attacks on war plants. In response, Chief of the British Air Staff Portal, who was in Yalta, bottomleys list included oil plants and aircraft factories and the cities of Berlin and Dresden. Dresden was Germanys seventh-largest city and, according to the RAF at the time, according to some historians, the contribution of Dresden to the German war effort may not have been as significant as the planners thought. The US Air Force Historical Division wrote a report in response to the concern about the bombing - the report remained classified until December 1978. This said that there were 110 factories and 50,000 workers in the city supporting the German war effort at the time of the raid and it said there were barracks, hutted camps, and a munitions storage depot
Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg
Karl Philipp, Fürst zu Schwarzenberg was an Austrian field marshal. Karl Philipp was born 18/19 April 1771 in Vienna, the son of Johann Nepomuk Anton of Schwarzenberg and he was one of thirteen siblings, seven of whom did not reach adulthood. Karl Philipp entered the cavalry in 1788, fought in 1789 under Lacy and Loudon against the Turks, distinguished himself by his bravery. He was immediately decorated with the Knights Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa, at the Battle of Hohenlinden, he led a division in the right wing. In 1804, Prince Karl Philipp was created Fürst zu Schwarzenberg in an identical to, but separate from. In the same year, he received the Commanders Cross of the Order of Maria Theresa, in 1806–1809, Schwarzenberg served as the Austrian ambassador to Russia. Schwarzenburg returned to Austria in time to part in the Battle of Wagram. After the peace of Vienna, he was sent to Paris to negotiate the marriage between Napoleon and the Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria. The prince gave a ball in honour of the bride on 1 July 1810, Napoleon held Schwarzenberg in great esteem, and it was at his request that the prince took command of the Austrian auxiliary corps in the Russian campaign of 1812.
The Austrian general won some victories against the Russians at Gorodetschna. Afterwards, under instructions from Napoleon, he remained for some months inactive at Pultusk, as such, he was the senior of the allied generals who conducted the campaign of 1813–1814. Under his command, the army was mauled by Napoleon at the Battle of Dresden on 26–27 August. However, his army defeated pursuing French forces at the Second Battle of Kulm, returning to the fray, he led the Allied army north again and played a major role in Napoleons decisive defeat at the Battle of Leipzig on 16–18 October. During the invasion of France in 1814, he beat a French force at the Battle of Bar-sur-Aube in late February. He repelled an attack by Napoleon in the Battle of Arcis-sur-Aube on 20–21 March and his capture of the French capital on 31 March after the Battle of Paris resulted in the overthrow of Napoleon. The next year, during the Hundred Days when Napoleon escaped from Elba and regained the French throne, but shortly afterwards, having lost his sister Caroline, to whom he was deeply attached, he fell ill.
A stroke disabled him in 1817, and in 1820, when revisiting Leipzig and he died there on 15 October. The Prince married the Countess Maria Anna von Hohenfeld, who was the widow of Prince Anton Esterhazy and he became a major-general in the Austrian army in 1849, and died after many years of well-filled leisure in 1870