The year 1809 saw the invasion of the Austrian Empire by the armies of Napoleonic France. On 13 May, a little over a month after the beginning of the campaign, Vienna was occupied by French troops for the second time since 1805. In the following months two major battles took place near the Habsburg capital: Aspern-Essling (21-22 May) was won by the Austrian army, and Wagram (5-6 July) was won by the French. These were hard-fought battles characterized by the intensive use of artillery and high level of casualties. Rather than the operational history of this conflict, which is well researched, this talk focuses on the experiences of soldiers on both sides, as well as the civilians in Upper Austria and Vienna. What did combat look like for soldiers and officers of the Napoleonic period? What perceptions, fears and beliefs did these men hold? What impact did the war of 1809 have on the civilians living in the area where it was fought and what roles did they play in its conduct? What happened to the soldiers wounded in battle and those who fell ill along the roads of Upper and Lower Austria? How did surgeons organize the care of many sick and wounded men?
Following the campaign trail along the Danube, and drawing on a variety of French and Austrian archival sources and published testimonies, this talk will offer an innovative perspective from below on this otherwise well known campaign.
Dr. Nebiha Guiga studied history at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris and the University of Heidelberg. In 2021, she defended her PhD with distinction on the treatment of wounded soldiers during the Napoleonic wars. She is now a postdoctoral researcher at the Leibniz Centre for Literary and Cultural Research (ZfL) in Berlin, working on the ERC project ‘Archipelagic Imperatives: Shipwreck and Lifesaving in European Societies since 1800’.
To attend please write by 12 February 2022 to ilya.berkovich(at)oeaw.ac.at.
Zoom link will be provided in advance to all registered participants.