Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg

Karl Philipp, Fürst zu Schwarzenberg (or Charles Philip, Prince of Schwarzenberg; 18/19 April 1771 – 15 October 1820) was an Austrian Generalissimo.[1] He fought in the Battle of Wagram (1809) but the Austrians lost decisively against Napoleon. He had to fight for Napoleon in the Battle of Gorodechno (1812) against the Russians and won. He was in command of the allied army that defeated Napoleon decisively in the Battle of Leipzig (1813). He joined the Battle of Paris (1814) that forced Napoleon to abdicate.

Prince of Schwarzenberg
Karel Filip Schwarzenberg.jpg
Portrait of the prince of Schwarzenberg
Birth nameKarl Philipp
Born(1771-04-18)18 April 1771
Vienna, Habsburg monarchy
Died15 October 1820(1820-10-15) (aged 49)
Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony
AllegianceHabsburg Monarchy Habsburg monarchy
Austrian Empire Austrian Empire
Years of service1789–1820
Battles/warsFrench Revolutionary Wars

War of the Fifth Coalition

French invasion of Russia

War of the Sixth Coalition

AwardsOrder of the Golden Fleece
Military Order of Maria Theresa
Military Order of Max Joseph
Legion of Honour
Order of the Holy Spirit
Order of the Bath
Military William Order
RelationsJohann Nepomuk Anton of Schwarzenberg (father)
Marie Eleonore Countess of Öttingen-Wallerstein (mother)
Selected battles
     1800      1809      1812      1813-1814


Karl Philipp was born 18/19 April 1771 in Vienna,[2] the son of Johann Nepomuk Anton of Schwarzenberg and Marie Eleonore Countess of Öttingen-Wallerstein. He was one of thirteen siblings, seven of whom did not reach adulthood.[3]

Imperial serviceEdit

Portrait in uniform

Karl Philipp entered the imperial cavalry in 1788, fought in 1789 under Lacy and Laudon against the Turks, distinguished himself by his bravery, and became a major in 1792.[2] In the French campaign of 1793 he served in the advanced guard of the army commanded by Prince Josias of Coburg, and at Le Cateau-Cambrésis in 1794 his impetuous charge at the head of his regiment, vigorously supported by twelve British squadrons, broke a whole corps of the French, killed and wounded 3,000 men, and captured 32 of the enemy's guns. He was immediately decorated with the Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa.[4]

After taking part in the battles of Amberg and Würzburg in 1796 during the French Revolutionary Wars, he was raised to the rank of general-major, and, in 1799, he subsequently was promoted to Generalleutnant. At the Battle of Hohenlinden (3 December 1800) he led a division in the right wing.[5] During the retreat, his promptitude and courage saved the right wing of the Austrian army from destruction, and the Archduke Charles of Austria afterwards entrusted him with the command of the rearguard.[4] In 1804 Prince Karl Philipp was created Fürst zu Schwarzenberg in a title identical to, but separate from, that of his brother, Joseph, Prince of Schwarzenberg [de].[3]

In the war of 1805 he held command of a division under Mack, and when Napoleon surrounded Ulm in October, Schwarzenberg was one of the band of cavalry, under the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este, which cut its way through the hostile lines. In the same year he received the Commander's Cross of the Order of Maria Theresa and in 1809 he was awarded the Order of the Golden Fleece.[4]

He took part in the Battle of Wagram (July 1809), leading a cavalry division in the Reserve Corps[6] and was soon afterwards promoted to general of cavalry.

Napoleon held Schwarzenberg in great esteem, and at his request the prince took command of the Austrian auxiliary corps with a new rank as Field Marshal in the Russian campaign of 1812. The Austrian Field Marshal won some minor victories against the Russians at Gorodetschna and Wolkowisk. Napoleon said in his memoirs, that Schwarzenberg instead of supporting Minsk retreated to Warsaw and abandoned the French army thus allowing Tschitschagow to seize Minsk.[7] Afterwards, under instructions from Napoleon, he remained for some months inactive at Pultusk.[8]

In 1813, when Austria, after many hesitations, took the side of the allies against Napoleon, Schwarzenberg, recently promoted to Generalissimo, was appointed commander-in-chief of the allied Grand Army of Bohemia. As such, he was the senior of the allied generals who conducted the campaign of 1813–1814.[9] Under his command, the allied army was mauled by Napoleon at the Battle of Dresden on 26–27 August and driven back into Bohemia. However, his army defeated pursuing French forces at the Second Battle of Kulm (17 September 1813). Returning to the fray, he led the Allied army north again and played a major role in Napoleon's decisive defeat at the Battle of Leipzig on 16–18 October. During the invasion of France in 1814 he attacked through Switzerland and beat a French force at the Battle of Bar-sur-Aube on 27 February 1814. He repelled an attack by Napoleon in the Battle of Arcis-sur-Aube on 20–21 March and overcame the last barrier before Paris by winning the Battle of Fère-Champenoise on 25 March. His capture of the French capital on 31 March after the Battle of Paris resulted in the overthrow of Napoleon.[10]

The next year, during the Hundred Days when Napoleon escaped from Elba and regained the French throne, in the hostilities that followed Schwarzenberg commanded the Army of the Upper Rhine (an Austrian-allied army of about a quarter of a million men).[11] 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, the scene of the "Battle of the Nations" that he had directed seven years before, he suffered a second stroke. He died there on 15 October.[9]


In 1806–1809 Schwarzenberg served as the Austrian ambassador to Russia.[2]

After the signing of Treaty of Schönbrunn (14 October 1809), he was sent to Paris as ambassador to negotiate the 1810 marriage between Napoleon and the Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria.[4] The prince gave a ball in honour of the bride on 1 July 1810, which ended in a fire that killed many of the guests, including his own sister-in-law, wife of his older brother, Joseph.[12]

In 1812, Schwarzenberg signed the Treaty of Paris, making Austria an ally of France. The Austrians were forced by Napoleon to send Schwarzenberg to command a corps to the Grande Armée. He had to show enough commitment to please Napoleon without angering Russia. In the end he just failed to protect the Grande Armé from a flank attack at the Berezina. But in late November his soldiers withdrew into winter quarters at Byalistok under a verbal agreement with the Russians. 7,000 of his soldiers were killed in battle and 4,000 died of disease and exposure of some 30,000 who had entered Russia,[13] in a disastrous campaign where Napoleon lost 500.000 of 600.000 men.

He won against Napoleon although the three monarchs of the Coalition powers were present at the Battle of Leipzig (1813), with Emperor Alexander I of Russia at the head of the three alongside King Frederick William III of Prussia and Emperor Francis I of Austria, and a substantial staff supported the Coalition commanders. Alexander was also the supreme commander of the Coalition forces in the eastern front of the war, while Prince Karl von Schwarzenberg of Austria was the commander-in-chief of all Coalition forces in the German theatre.[14]

Marriage and descendantsEdit

The Prince married the Countess Maria Anna von Hohenfeld (20 May 1767–1848), who was the widow of Prince Anton Esterhazy. They had three sons:[3]

Of Schwarzenberg's nephews, Felix Schwarzenberg, the statesman, was also notable, and Friedrich Johann Josef Coelestin (1809–1885) was a cardinal and a prominent figure in papal and Austrian history.[9]





  1. ^ Regarding personal names: Fürst is a title, translated as Prince, not a first or middle name. The feminine form is Fürstin.
  2. ^ a b c Tucker 2014, p. 673.
  3. ^ a b c d Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich, Band: 33 (1877), ab Seite: 82.
  4. ^ a b c d Chisholm 1911, p. 390.
  5. ^ Arnold 2005, p. 249.
  6. ^ Bowden & Tarbox 1980, p. 167.
  7. ^ Kircheisen 2010, p. 200.
  8. ^ Chisholm 1911, pp. 390–391.
  9. ^ a b c Chisholm 1911, p. 391.
  10. ^ Digby Smith. The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill, 1998. ISBN 978-1853672767 pp. 443–445, 455, 461–465, 512–514, 516–517.
  11. ^ Siborne 1895, p. 767.
  12. ^ Sir Walter Scott, The Edinburgh Annual Register, John Ballantyne and Company, 1812, Volume 1; Volume 3, Part 1, pp. 333–334. The party included some 1200 guests, which was larger than the assembly room could hold, so a temporary building was formed of planks, which were hidden by gauze, muslin and other draperies. The draperies caught fire, and the whole room was enveloped. Princess Pauline Schwarzenburg, although she had initially escaped, ran back into the ball room in search of one of her daughters. Her body was only recognized by the diamonds she wore.
  13. ^ Herold 2021.
  14. ^ Chandler 1966, p. 924.
  15. ^ "Ritter-Orden: Militärischer Maria-Theresien-Orden", Hof- und Staats-Schematismus der Röm. Kais. auch Kais. Königlich- und Erzherzoglichen Haupt-und-Residenzstadt Wien, 1798, p. 398, retrieved 10 December 2020
  16. ^ "Ritter-Orden: Militärischer Maria-Theresien-Orden", Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Kaiserthumes Österreich, 1808, p. 10, retrieved 16 October 2020
  17. ^ a b "Ritter-Orden", Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Kaiserthumes Österreich, 1819, pp. 7, 9, retrieved 16 October 2020
  18. ^ "A Szent István Rend tagjai" Archived 22 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Almanach impérial. Testu. 1811. p. 65.
  20. ^ Teulet, Alexandre (1863). "Liste chronologique des chevaliers de l'ordre du Saint-Esprit depuis son origine jusqu'à son extinction (1578-1830)" [Chronological List of Knights of the Order of the Holy Spirit from its origin to its extinction (1578-1830)]. Annuaire-bulletin de la Société de l'histoire de France (in French) (2): 114. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  21. ^ a b c Almanach de la cour: pour l'année ... 1817. l'Académie Imp. des Sciences. 1817. pp. 66, 86, 89.
  22. ^ Court Calendar for the Year 1815, p. 141
  23. ^ Ruith, Max (1882). Der K. Bayerische Militär-Max-Joseph-Orden. Ingolstadt: Ganghofer'sche Buchdruckerei. p. 85 – via hathitrust.org.
  24. ^ Bayern (1819). Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Königreichs Bayern: 1819. Landesamt. p. 9.
  25. ^ Luigi Cibrario (1869). Notizia storica del nobilissimo ordine supremo della santissima Annunziata. Sunto degli statuti, catalogo dei cavalieri. Eredi Botta. p. 99.
  26. ^ J ..... -H ..... -Fr ..... Berlien (1846). Der Elephanten-Orden und seine Ritter. Berling. pp. 144–145.
  27. ^ Shaw, Wm. A. (1906) The Knights of England, I, London, p. 183
  28. ^ (in Dutch) Military William Order: Schwarzenberg, Karl Phillip Fürst zu. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  29. ^ Hannoverscher und Churfürstlich-Braunschweigisch-Lüneburgischer Staatskalender: 1819. 1819. p. 12.



  •   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Schwarzenberg, Karl Philipp, Prince zu". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 24 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 390–391. Endnotes:
    • Anton von Prokesch-Osten: Denkwürdigkeiten aus dem Leben des Feldmarschalls Fürsten Carl zu Schwarzenberg. Vienna, 1823
    • Adolph Berger: Das Fürstenhaus Schwarzenberg. Vienna, 1866
    • and a memoir by Adolph Berger in Streffleur's Österreichische Militärische Zeitschrift Jhg. 1863.