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Željko Zidarić
30th-May-2012, 04:09 AM
During the years 1809 to 1815, of French ruling in Croatian-Slovenian parts, Croatians served in many French military formations. Napoleon was one of many rulers that were fascinated by Croatian war skills, he said to General Marmont:


"I never had more braver and better soldiers". Napoleon also said this: "Croatians, there are best soldiers in the world. If I had only 100,000 Croatians, I would conquer the entire world!".

• Trpimir Macan, Povijest hrvatskog naroda, Školska knjiga, Zagreb 1971.
• Tomislav i Višeslav Aralica, Hrvatski ratnici kroz stoljeća, Znanje, Zagreb 1996.


In 1812 Napoleon to attacked Russian with the Grande Armée. Of the almost 600,000 soldiers, that invaded Russia, less than 100,000 survived the retreat to France.

Two Croatian regiments of Royal Cravate were under the French flag in military operations undertaken by Napoleon I in Russia. Especially important was their insurance of Napoleon's retreat from Russia across Berezino in 1812/13. More than two thirds of the Croats lost their lives: 400 soldiers and 10 officers, plus 357 dead of famine and freezing. Only 296 survived. According to Marmont, Napoleon declared: ``I never had more courageous and better soldiers''. According to Dolbeau (http://www.croatianhistory.net/etf/l.html#dolb), p 18, Napoleon addressed the following message to these 296 Croatian survivors:
Hier, j'ai pu m'assurer de mes propres yeux de votre courage et de votre fidélité. Vous avez acquis la gloire immortelle et l'estime, et je vous place parmi mes meilleurs troupes. Pour votre courage, je vous promets de vous accorder tout ce que vous me demanderez de bon droit lorsque nous serons de retour. Je suis satisfait de vous, trčs satisfait.
Yesterday, I saw with my own eyes your courage and your loyalty. You have acquired immortal glory and esteem, and I place you among my best troops. For your courage, I promise to give you everything you ask of me upon or return home. I am satisfied with you, very satisfied.
Demobilized in 1814, only several officers stayed in France, like the "fameux général" Marko Sljivaric, comte de Heldenburg (1762-1838), who became commander of the city of Antibes. In the French Military Museum in Paris (Maison des Invalides) there is a memorial tablet containing the following words "To the memory of Croatian regiments that under the French flag have shared the glory of the French Army"


Napoleon Bonaparte in Croatia
1806 – 1813

Written by Mislav Miholek

In 1805, Napoleon had defeated Austrians in battle of Austerlitz. Peace treaty was signed in Bratislava and Austria lost Venice and Croatian parts of West Istria, Dalmatia and Boka Kotorska Bay. These territories became part of French satellite "Kingdom of Italy". French Generals Molitor and Lauriston have crossed West Croatia and came in Knin and Split in February 1806. On 26 May 1806, Lauriston had seized "Republic of Dubrovnik" (Ragusa), small Croatian state that was only free Croatian territory for centuries. Officially "Republic of Dubrovnik" was disbanded on 31 January 1808. In the meantime, Russian forces have seized Boka Kotorska Bay (they were called by Austrians) and isle of Korčula. Russians with help of Montenegrins tried to capture Dubrovnik with no success. In 1807, French troops managed to capture Boka Kotorska and Korčula. The governor of these Croatian parts was Vicenzo Dandolo (Venetian) and military commander was general Marmont.

In 1809, new war between Austria and Napoleon started. Croatian troops and volunteers under the command of General Petar Knežević, have attacked and in August captured Dalmatia except cities of Zadar, Knin, Klis and ex-territory of Dubrovnik Republic and Boka Kotorska. But Austrians lost the battle against Napoleon again. Peace in Scönbrunn, gave Napoleon the 1805 territories plus West Slovenia and entire Croatia south of Sava river. From these territories, Napoleon decided to organise "the Illyrian Provinces" as part of French Empire. The Governor of these provinces was General August Marmont, duke of Spalato.

In 1813, Napoleon lost war against Russia, "the Illyrian Provinces" collapsed and came under Austrian rule. Officially there were given to Austria in 1815.

During the years of French ruling in Croatian-Slovenian parts, Croatians served in many French military formations. Napoleon was one of many rulers that were fascinated by Croatian war skills, he said to General Marmont: "I never had more braver and better soldiers". Napoleon also said this: "Croatians, there are best soldiers in the world. If I had only 100000 Croatians, I would conquer the entire world!".

Sources:

Trpimir Macan, Povijest hrvatskog naroda, Školska knjiga, Zagreb 1971.
Tomislav i Višeslav Aralica, Hrvatski ratnici kroz stoljeća, Znanje, Zagreb 1996.

Read more:
Du « Royal-Cravate » de Louis XIV aux Régiments Croates de Napoléon (http://www.amb-croatie.fr/actualites/invalides.htm)
The Croatians 1809-1814 (http://www.croatians.com/MILITARY-CROATIANS%20NAPOLEON.htm)

Provisional Croatian Regiments (http://empire.histofig.com/Provisional-Croatian-regiments.html)
Sedentary Croatian Regiments (http://empire.histofig.com/Sedentary-Croatian-regiments.html)
Croatian Hussars Regiment (http://empire.histofig.com/Croatian-Hussars-Regiment.html)

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