Josef Wenzel Radetzky from Radetz

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Josef Graf Radetzky, around 1850
Signature Josef Wenzel Radetzky from Radetz.PNG

Johann Joseph Wenzel Anton Franz Karl Count Radetzky von Radetz ( Czech Jan Josef Václav hrabě Radecký z Radče ; born November 2, 1766 in Trebnitz Castle near Seltschan , Kingdom of Bohemia ; † January 5, 1858 in Milan ) was a field marshal , Bohemian nobleman and the probably the most important military leader in Austria in the first half of the 19th century.


coat of arms

Childhood and youth

After Radetzky age of six orphan had become, he came to his grandfather in Prague where this him by the Piarists einschulte. In the further course of his childhood and youth he attended the Knight Academy in Brno and the Theresianum in Vienna.

After graduating from high school, he began studying law . Due to a lack of physical fitness, he was initially denied the desired military career.

Military career

Radetzky joined the 2nd Cuirassier Regiment as a cadet in 1784 and took part in the Turkish War in 1788/89 under commanders Lacy and Laudon . From 1792 to 1795 he was on campaigns in the Netherlands and on the Rhine . Then Radetzky became a captain promoted and aides of Feldzeugmeister Beaulieu appointed. At Voltri he was also able to distinguish himself, was promoted to major and in 1799 to colonel . He also fought with distinction in the Battle of Hohenlinden (1800).

At the beginning of the 1805 campaign, Radetzky was transferred to Italy as major general . For his achievements in this campaign as commander of the 3rd Cuirassier Regiment, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Military Maria Theresa Order . 1809 he fought in the 5th Corps as commander of the vanguard in Braunau also with distinction and went after the Battle of Aspern to Field Marshal Lieutenant on. In this capacity he was also a participant in the Battle of Wagram . In that year Radetzky was appointed Chief of Staff , but was forced to give up his ambitious reform plans for the Austrian army due to French requirements and lack of financial resources .

In 1813, as head of the Quartermaster's Office of the Bohemian Army, he developed the plan for the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig . In the following years he reorganized the Austrian army and served on the staff of Prince Schwarzenberg . During his service as Chief of Staff for Schwarzenberg, Radetzky also supported the plans of Feldzeugmeister Vincenz von Augustin to manufacture his own rockets as military equipment at Metternich and obtained a corresponding approval for Augustin.

The Bavarian King Maximilian I Joseph awarded him the Grand Cross of the Military Max Joseph Order in 1815 .

After the peace treaty Radetzky came to Ödenburg as a division general , later to Ofen ( Budapest ) and in 1821 as general of the cavalry and fortress commander to Olomouc .

From 1818 to 1828 he advised Archduke Ferdinand Karl of Austria-Este . From 1831 to 1857 he was general commander of the Austrian army in the Lombardy-Venetian kingdom (since 1836 in the rank of field marshal ).

Radetzky became famous primarily for his military successes in 1848/1849 against Sardinia-Piedmont and the national -Italian rebels supported by this kingdom, which rose against Austrian domination on March 18, 1848 (see Risorgimento ). He won the Battle of Santa Lucia on May 6, 1848, the Battle of Vicenza on June 10, 1848, the Battle of Custozza on July 25, 1848, the Battle of Mortara on March 21, 1849 and in the Battle of Novara on March 23, 1849.

From 1848 to 1857 Radetzky was Governor General of Lombardy-Venetia when he was replaced by Archduke Maximilian of Austria .

Retirement and balance sheet

Radetzky 1856

It was not until December 17, 1856, from Verona that Radetzky wrote his resignation to Emperor Franz Joseph:

“Your Majesty, the laws of nature force me, after 72 years of service and 90 years of life, to ask your Majesty for the most gracious removal from my post. Your majesty condescend to grant me this exemption with that supreme grace and grace with which they have so often showered me and your majesty allow me on this occasion the highest of grace and imperial benevolence [...] My old age has indeed paralyzed my activity, but until my last breath I will implore Almighty blessings for the exalted house and the glorious throne of my beloved monarch, whom I will die in deepest humility. "

He was finally retired on February 28, 1857, at the age of 90. With 72 years of service in the Imperial and Royal Army , he broke many soldier records, for example he had served under five emperors and participated in no fewer than 17 campaigns.

Radetzky received a total of 146 domestic and foreign medals, including the Knight's Cross of the Military Maria Theresa Order (1799 for his behavior in the Battle of Novi ) and the Grand Cross of the Military Maria Theresa Order (for his victory in the battle at Custozza in 1848) and in 1849 the Order of the Golden Fleece (for his victory at the Battle of Novara).

Private life

On April 5, 1798 he married Franziska, Countess Strassoldo-Graffemberg (* January 3, 1781, † January 12, 1854), a daughter of Lieutenant Field Marshal Leopold Graf Strassoldo and Franziska Xaveria Princess of Auersperg . From this marriage five sons and three daughters were born, of which only one son and one daughter survived the father. The son Theodor (1813–1878) became major general, the daughter Friederike (1816–1866) married Count Karl von Wenkheim (1811–1891).

Due to his generosity, his large family and the extravagance of his wife, Radetzky found himself in financial distress throughout his life.

Death and burial

Radetzky's grave on Heldenberg

Radetzky died on January 5, 1858 of pneumonia in Milan. After being transferred to Vienna, he was laid out in the arsenal . From there he was brought to the blessing in St. Stephen's Cathedral in a conduct that Emperor Franz Joseph personally commanded . Then it went with the northern railway to Kleinwetzdorf . On January 19, 1858, he was buried in the presence of the emperor on Heldenberg in Lower Austria .

Actually, he should have been buried in the Capuchin Crypt at the Emperor's request , but Radetzky had bequeathed his earthly remains and the right to bury him to the army supplier Joseph Gottfried Pargfrieder , who had paid off his debts, including gambling debts, for decades. He built an open-air pantheon littered with warrior statues, the Heldenberg Memorial . Radetzky is buried there in a crypt under a monumental obelisk.


Radetzky equestrian statue in front of the former Ministry of War in Vienna
Honor saber for Radetzky (Army History Museum)

Radetzky was greatly admired by many patriotic-monarchist-minded Austrians. Franz Grillparzer wrote the ode in his honor with the famous line “In your camp is Austria”. Johann Strauss the Elder Ä. composed the Radetzky March in 1848 .

In 1860 Radetzkystraße (here under number 2A also the Radetzkystraße grammar school ) in Vienna-Landstraße (3rd district) was named after him and in 1876 Radetzkyplatz . In 1862 the Novaragasse in the 2nd district Leopoldstadt was named after the battle of the same name. In 1869 the Radetzky Bridge over the Vienna near the Urania was named that way (built in 1855, today a new building from 1900). There is also a Radetzkystraße and a Radetzky Bridge over the Mur in Graz-Innere Stadt , as well as in Baden-Weikersdorf , Salzburg-Maxglan , Klagenfurt-Villacher Vorstadt , Innsbruck-Reichenau , Dornbirn and Hohenems .

Due to the imperial resolution of Franz Joseph I on February 28, 1863, Radetzky was added to the list of "most famous warlords and generals worthy of constant emulation in Austria", in whose honor and memory a life-size statue was erected in the then newly erected military hall kk  Hofwaffenmuseums (today: Heeresgeschichtliches Museum Wien ) was built. The statue was created in 1867 from Carrara marble by the sculptor Thomas Greinwald and was dedicated "by the generals of the imperial army to their general".

In 1886 Caspar von Zumbusch was commissioned by Archduke Albrecht to create a Radetzky monument . Initially, the equestrian statue was to be placed in front of the Palace of Justice on the Ring . Finally, it was built on Am Hof square in front of the War Ministry at the time and moved there in 1912, after the new War Ministry on Stubenring was completed.

A separate hall in the Vienna Army History Museum is dedicated to the general, the Radetzkysaal . Among other things, Radetzky's uniform , his honorary saber , numerous of his medals, including the order of the Golden Fleece , as well as his resignation are on display . The honorary saber was dedicated to the general of the Vienna National Guard based on a design by the architect Eduard van der Nüll and presented in Milan in May 1849. Scenes from his campaigns are depicted on numerous oil paintings by contemporary artists such as Albrecht Adam and Wilhelm Richter .

Austrian films also paid homage to the popular field marshal several times. In 1929, for example, Karl Forest could be seen in the title role of the silent film Father Radetzky , while Paul Hörbiger played old Radetzky in 1958 in the romance Hoch Sounds der Radetzkymarsch .


Web links

Commons : Josef Wenzel Radetzky von Radetz  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. (p. 17)
  2. Rudolf von Kramer, Otto Freiherr von Waldenfels: Virtuti pro Patria - The Royal Bavarian Military Max Joseph Order, Acts of War and Book of Honor 1914-1918. Self-published by the Royal Bavarian Military Max Joseph Order, Munich 1966, p. 443.
  3. Radetzky's handwriting is exhibited in the Vienna Army History Museum, cf. Heeresgeschichtliches Museum (Ed.): The Heeresgeschichtliches Museum in Vienna , Vienna / Graz 1960, p. 51.
  4. ^ Announcement of his death. In:  Militär-Zeitung , No. 2/1958 (11th year), January 6, 1858, p. 1, above. (Online at ANNO ). Template: ANNO / Maintenance / mil.
  5. ^ A b Association for the History of the City of Vienna (Ed.): History of the City of Vienna , Volume 7, Part 1, A. Holzhausen, p. 245, footnotes
  6. Johann Christoph Allmayer-Beck : The Army History Museum Vienna. The museum and its representative rooms . Kiesel Verlag, Salzburg 1981, ISBN 3-7023-0113-5 , p. 32.
  7. Werner Telesko : cultural area Austria. The identity of the regions in the visual arts of the 19th century. Böhlau, Vienna 2008, ISBN 978-3-205-77720-5 , p. 161.
  8. On the honorary saber in detail: Heeresgeschichtliches Museum (Ed.): The Heeresgeschichtliches Museum in Vienna. Vienna / Graz 1960, p. 47 f.
  9. ^ Liselotte Popelka: Army History Museum Vienna. Graz / Cologne 1988, p. 45.
  10. ^ Manfried Rauchsteiner , Manfred Litscher (Ed.): The Army History Museum in Vienna. Graz, Vienna 2000, p. 51 f.