Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen

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Archduke Charles of Austria, Duke of Teschen (de: Erzherzog Karl von Österreich, Herzog von Teschen, also known as Karl von Österreich-Teschen) (Full name: Karl Ludwig Johann Josef Lorenz of Austria) (5 September 1771 – 30 April 1847) was an Austrian field-marshal, the third son of emperor Leopold II and his wife Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain. He was also the younger brother of Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor. Despite being epileptic, Charles achieved respect both as a commander and as a reformer of the Austrian army. He was considered one of Napoleon's most formidable opponents.

He began his career fighting the revolutionary armies of France. Early in the wars of the First Coalition, he saw victory at Neerwinden in 1793, before tasting defeat at Wattignies 1793 and Fleurus 1794. In 1796, as chief of all Austrian forces on the Rhine, Charles out-generaled Jean-Baptiste Jourdan at Amberg and Würzburg, and forced Jean Victor Marie Moreau to withdraw across the Rhine, and followed these victories with others at Zürich, Ostrach, Stockach, and Messkirch in 1799. He reformed Austria's armies to adopt the nation at arms principle; in 1809, he went into the War of the Fifth Coalition with confidence and inflicted Napoleon's first major setback at Aspern-Essling, before suffering a massive defeat at the Battle of Wagram. Following Wagram, Charles saw no more significant action in the Napoleonic Wars.

As a military strategist, historians compare him to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, conservative, cautious, and competent. Charles was a study in contrasts. As a practitioner, he was flawless in executing complex and risky maneuvers of troops in the heat of battle, achieving brilliant victories in the face of almost certain defeat. Yet, as a theoretician, his devotion to ground and caution led his contemporary, Carl von Clausewitz, to criticize his rigidity and adherence to geographic strategy. Regardless, he remains among Austria's pantheon of heroes of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.


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