The Illusion of Greatness. Austria and the "Sortie de la Guerre" 1812–1815

Ilúzia veľkosti. Rakúsko a "sortie de la guerre" 1812 - 1815

The article deals with the process of exiting of Austria from the war with Napoleon. Up to 1813, Austria lost one battle after another, probably experiencing the greatest humiliation in its history at the Battles of Austerlitz and Wagram. It had to abandon the so-called Holy Roman Empire; and eventually, if unwillingly, became an ally of Napoleon's France; Francis II had to marry his own daughter to Napoleon. As the ally of Bonaparte, he was threatened by unpleasant defeat in the war with Russia. Finally, however, Austria and its new Emperor (Francis I, as the emperor of the new Austrian Empire), emerged as a proud victor from the Napoleonic Wars. Most authors ascribe this victory to the Austrian Chancellor Metternich. While acknowledging the diplomatic mastery of Metternich, the author of this contribution also points out that by chance events which Metternich could not have foreseen also played a role in the whole process. The amazing victory documented at the Congress of Vienna, however, was fateful for Austria in several aspects. This Central-European power had succumbed to the illusion of its own greatness which prevented it from seeing its true position in 19th-century Europe.