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Proclamation after Austerlitz, 12 Frimaire, An XIV (3 December, 1805)

(Article by NAPOLEON I ,  Trans. P.H. )

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Soldiers! I am pleased with you. On the day of Austerlitz, you lived up to all my expectations of your bravery and boldness; you have decked your eagles with a glory that shall never die. In less than four hours, an army of one hundred thousand men, commanded by the emperors of Russia and Austria, has either been cut to pieces or dispersed. Those who escaped your steel drowned in the lakes. Forty standards, the standards of the Russian imperial guard, one hundred and twenty cannon, twenty generals, more than thirty-thousand prisoners… these are the results of this day of eternal renown. This much vaunted infantry – and indeed greater in number – could not withstand your onset; from now on you have no rivals, no one to fear. See how, in two months, this third coalition has been beaten and unstrung; peace cannot be far off. But, as I promised to my people before crossing the Rhine, I shall not agree a peace unless it provides us with guarantees and ensures that our allies are recompensed.

Soldiers, when the French people placed the imperial crown upon my head, I entrusted myself to you so as to keep that crown ever in that high state of glory which alone could give it value for me. However, at the same time, our enemies sought to destroy and dishonour it! And they wanted to force me to place that iron crown - won by the blood of so many Frenchmen – on the head of one of our cruellest enemies! These were indeed overweening and senseless schemes which, on the very anniversary day of the coronation of your emperor, you have nullified and confounded! You have taught them the lesson that it is easier to challenge and threaten us than to beat us.

Soldiers, when everything required for the happiness and prosperity of our fatherland has been accomplished, I shall bring you back to France; there you will be the object of my tenderest attentions. My people will welcome you back with delight, and all you will have to say is «I was at the Battle of Austerlitz», for them to reply, «There goes a brave man».


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