Joseph Radetzky von Radetz

Joseph Radetzky von Radetz

Sedlcany, Okres Příbram, Středočeský (Central Bohemia), Czech Republic
Death 5 Jan 1858 (aged 91)
Milan, Città Metropolitana di Milano, Lombardia, Italy
Burial Heldenberg, Hollabrunn Bezirk, Lower Austria (Niederösterreich), Austria
Memorial ID 40851594 · View Source
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Czech-born Austrian Field Marshal. Nicknamed "Father Radetzky" by his troops, his military career spanned seven decades. He achieved his most important victories in his 80s. Radetzky was born into a noble family in Trebnice, Bohemia. Inheriting the title of count upon the death of his parents, he joined the Austrian army as a cadet at age 21. He fought with distinction in the Napoleonic Wars and rose to the rank of Major General (1805) and Lieutenant Field Marshal (1809). As Chief of Staff to Field Marshal Karl-Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg, Radetzky was a key coalition strategist of the Battle of Leipzig (1813), which helped lead to Napoleon's downfall. The following year he was a delegate at the Congress of Vienna (1814), which placed much of Northern Italy under Austrian rule. This immediately fomented rebellion among Italian nationalists who hoped to reunify the country, and Radetzky's subsequent career was largely spent defending the Habsburg Empire's interests there. He was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Upper Italy in 1831, and promoted to Field Marshal in 1836, when he was 70. Tough and vigorous despite his age, Radetzky introduced the modern concept of peacetime maneuvers so his army would always be combat-ready; his soldiers were reputedly the best-trained in Europe. His preparedness paid off in 1848 when revolution broke out throughout Italy. Radetzky crushed the uprisings with two major battles, at Custoza (1848) and Novara (1849), in both cases using brilliant tactics to defeat greatly superior numbers. He also commanded during the year-long siege of Venice and negotiated the city's surrender in August 1849. To safeguard these victories he was appointed Governor-General of Upper Italy that same year. Radetzky's skills as a fighter and administrator reasserted Austrian dominance of the region and set back the cause of Italian reunification by ten years. Emperor Franz Joseph finally forced him to retire at age 90 in 1857. He died in Milan a few months later and was buried at Austria's warrior pantheon in Heldenberg. The Italians, aided by the French, made quick capital of Radetzky's departure: in 1859 they defeated his former army and reclaimed most of the Austrian-held territories. A united Kingdom of Italy was finally established under Victor Emmanuel II in 1861. Beyond his role in military history, Radetzky is remembered for a piece of light music. To celebrate the Battle of Custoza, Johann Strauss, Sr. composed the famous "Radetzky March" (1848) in his honor. At its first performance in Vienna army officers spontaneously began to clap and stamp their feet to the chorus, and audiences since then have made this part of the work's tradition. The "Radetzky March" is played as the customary finale to the Vienna Philharmonic's New Year's concerts.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
  • Added: 19 Aug 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 40851594
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Joseph Radetzky von Radetz (2 Nov 1766–5 Jan 1858), Find a Grave Memorial no. 40851594, citing Gedenkstätte Heldenberg, Heldenberg, Hollabrunn Bezirk, Lower Austria (Niederösterreich), Austria ; Maintained by Find A Grave .