Thousands watch snowy re-creation of Napoleonic battle outside Brno

Despite the heavy snow, the annual re-creation of the 1805 Battle of Austerlitz (Slavkov) took place yesterday in Brno to much fanfare.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 03.12.2023 09:51:00 (updated on 18.12.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Despite some intense snow yesterday, the annual re-creation of the Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, took place as scheduled at the location of its original 1805 site by Tvarožná in the Brno region.

More than one thousand actors clad in historical uniforms from the Napoleonic era took part in what was the most extensive reconstruction of the battle since 2015. The event comes just weeks after director Ridley Scott brought the same battle to cinemas worldwide in Napoleon, starring Joaquin Phoenix.

Tradition dictates that organizers revive the Battle of Austerlitz annually at its location near Brno, where Napoleon's forces triumphed over an anti-French coalition. Unlike the light dusting of snow 218 years ago, the battleground was blanketed with several centimeters yesterday and snow fell throughout the reenactment.

According to organizers, the snowy conditions presented more of a challenge for the spectators than for the participants, who eagerly anticipate this annual event throughout the year. Some stunning photos from the event were captured by Výpravy za bunkry a opevněním (Expeditions Behind Bunkers and Fortifications):

Despite the weather, approximately 10,500 spectators came to see the event, pleasantly surprising organizers given the road conditions. Nearly 1,200 enthusiasts from 15 countries gathered on the partially muddy and unfrozen battleground to reenact the final clash of the Battle of the Three Emperors.

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Spectators witnessed powerful Allied columns, led by General Buxhöwden, suddenly confronted at the rear by units of the fourth corps of Marshal Soult between the foothills of Pratecký Hill and the villages of Sokolnice and Telnice.

The Austrian and Russian units initially marched in columns against a smaller portion of French infantry scattered in a line of skirmishers. The Allied forces, with their numerical superiority, compelled the French to a hasty retreat. However, at the moment of this partial victory, Soult's soldiers' bayonets appeared on the horizon behind them.

Viewers ultimately observed the gradual success of the French, aided by artillery, who ultimately seized the battleground, forcing the opponent into a general retreat. The central role of Napoleon was played by American Mark Schneider, who has been assuming this role since 2005.

For years, the re-creation of the Battle of Austerlitz outside Brno has served as a commemoration of shared European history rather than a celebration of warfare or Napoleon himself. On Friday, solemn acts took place at the Slapanice Cemetery at the memorial for French physicians.

Further commemorations occurred on Saturday at the monument dedicated to the victims of the battle in front of the municipal office building in Tvarožná. The three-day event will culminate on Sunday at noon with a solemn act at the Cairn of Peace Memorial.

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