Archduke Charles, 1809
[Archduke Charles, German Nation]
proclamation, address, German Nation

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Archduke Charles proclamation
to the German Nation - April 1809

  On the 6th April 1809 the Archduke Charles marched, at the head of his regiment, into a Vienna where the Austrian Emperor, nobles and citizens tended to be greatly concerned about a looming threat from the forces of the Emperor Napoleon.

A certain amount of patriotic feeling was in the air and the Archduke Charles added to it in the form of an address to his troops that was later seen as being something of a proclamation to the German nation.

"When all endeavours to preserve independence from the insatiable ambition of a foreign conqueror prove fruitless, when nations are falling around us, and when lawful sovereigns are torn from the hearts of their subjects; when, in fine, the danger of universal subjugation threatens even the happy states of Austria, and their peaceable fortunate inhabitants, then does our country demand its deliverance from us, and we stand forth for its defence.  
On you, my brother-soldiers, are fixed the eyes of the universe, and of all those who still feel for national honour and national prosperity. You shall not incur the disgrace of being the instuments of oppression; you shall not carry on the endless wars of ambition under distant climes; your blood shall never flow for foreign fleets or insatiable covetousness; nor on you shall the curse alight of annihilating distant nations, and over the bodies of the slaughtered defenders of their country, paving the way for a foreigner to an usurped throne.
A happier lot awaits you; the liberty of Europe has taken refuge under your banners. Your victories will loose its fetters, and your brothers in Germany, yet in the ranks of the enemy, long for their deliverance. On the fields of Ulm and Marengo, of which the enemy so often reminds us wuth ostentatious pride, we shall renew the glorious deeds of Würtzburg and Ostrach, of Stockach and Zurich, of Verona, the Trebbia, and Novi.

We shall conquer a lasting peace for our country; but that great end is not to be attained without proportionate virtues. Unconditional subordination, strict discipline, persevering courage, unshaken steadiness in danger, are the companions of true fortitude. Nothing but a union of will, and a joint co-operation of the whole, can lead to victory. I will be everywhere in the midst of you; you shall receive the first thanks of your country from your general on the field of battle. The patriotism of the Austrian nobility has anticipated your wants; this is a pledge of national gratitude. Adorned with the marks of the public esteem, will I present to our sovereign, to the world, those brave men who have deserved well of their country. Civil virtues must also accompany your arms out of the field of battle: the real soldier is moderate, compassionate, humane; he knows the evils of war, and strives to lighten them. It is not the intention of our monarch to oppress foreign nations, but to deliver them, and to form with their princes a lasting peace, and maintain the general security and welfare."

This address raised eyebrows amongst some of the rulers who were allied with Austria against Napoleon as its tenor seemed to them to compromise, by its somewhat national tenor, the dynasticism they themselves wished to see restored.

Emerson's "Transcendental" approach to History
Emerson's essay "History"


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Archduke Charles proclamation
1809 : German Nation