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Capital Ships, Commerce, and Coalition: British Strategy in the Mediterranean Theater, 1793

Description: In 1793, Great Britain embarked on a war against Revolutionary France to reestablish a balance of power in Europe. Traditional assessments among historians consider British war planning at the ministerial level during the First Coalition to be incompetent and haphazard. This work reassesses decision making of the leading strategists in the British Cabinet in the development of a theater in the Mediterranean by examining political, diplomatic, and military influences. William Pitt the Younger and his controlling ministers pursued a conservative strategy in the Mediterranean, reliant on Allies in the region to contain French armies and ideas inside the Alps and the Pyrenees. Dependent on British naval power, the Cabinet sought to weaken the French war effort by targeting trade in the region. Throughout the first half of 1793, the British government remained fixed on this conservative, traditional approach to France. However, with the fall of Toulon in August of 1793, decisions made by Admiral Samuel Hood in command of forces in the Mediterranean radicalized British policy towards the Revolution while undermining the construct of the Coalition. The inconsistencies in strategic thought political decisions created stagnation, wasting the opportunities gained by the Counter-revolutionary movements in southern France. As a result, reinvigorated French forces defeated Allied forces in detail in the fall of 1793.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Baker, William C.

Jacques-Antoine-Hippolyte, Comte De Guibert: Father of the Grande Armée

Description: Jacques-Antoine-Hippolyte, comte de Guibert (1743-1790) dedicated his life and career to creating a new doctrine for the French army. Little about this doctrine was revolutionary. Indeed, Guibert openly decried the anarchy of popular participation in government and looked askance at the early days of the Revolution. Rather, Guibert’s doctrine marked the culmination of an evolutionary process that commenced decades before his time and reached fruition in the Réglement of 1791, which remained in force until the 1830s. Not content with military reform, Guibert demanded a political and social constitution to match. His reforms required these changes, demanding a disciplined, service-oriented society and a functional, rational government to assist his reformed military. He delved deeply, like no other contemporary writer, into the linkages between society, politics, and the military throughout his career and his writings. Guibert exerted an overwhelming influence on military thought across Europe for the next fifty years. His military theories provided the foundation for military reform during the twilight of the Old Regime. The Revolution, which adopted most of Guibert’s doctrine in 1791, continued his work. A new army and way of war based on Guibert’s reforms emerged to defeat France’s major enemies. In Napoleon’s hands, Guibert’s army all but conquered Europe by 1807. As other nations adopted French methods, Guibert’s influence spread across the Continent, reigning supreme until the 1830s. This dissertation adopts a biographical approach to examine Guibert’s life and influence on the creation of the French military system that led to Napoleon’s conquest of Europe. As no such biography exists in Anglophone literature, such a work will fill a crucial gap in understanding French military success to 1807. It examines the period of French military reform from 1760 to the creation and use of Napoleon’s Grande Armée from 1803 to 1807, illustrating the importance of ...
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Date: August 2014
Creator: Abel, Jonathan, 1985-

A Pre-professional Institution: Napoleon’s Marshalate and the Defeat of 1813

Description: Napoleon’s defeat in 1813 generates a number of explanations from historians regarding why he lost this epic campaign which ultimately resulted in France losing control over the German states. Scholars discussing the French marshalate of the Napoleonic era frequently assert that these generals could not win battles without the emperor present. Accustomed to assuming a subordinate role under Bonaparte’s direct supervision, these commanders faltered when deprived of the strong hand of the master. This thesis contributes to this historiographical argument by positing that the pre-professional nature of Napoleon’s marshalate precluded them from adapting to the evolving nature of warfare during the First French Empire. Emerging from non-military backgrounds and deriving their capabilities solely from practical experience, the marshals failed to succeed at endeavors outside of their capacity. An examination of the military administration of the Old Regime, the effects of the French Revolution on the French generalate, and the circumstances under which Bonaparte labored when creating the imperial marshalate demonstrates that issues systemic to the French high command contributed to French defeat in 1813. This thesis also provides evidence that Napoleon understood this problem and attempted to better prepare his marshals for independent command by instructing them in his way of war during the 1813 campaign.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Smith, Eric C.