John H. Gill, The Battle of Znaim: Napoleon, the Habsburgs and the End of the War of 1809. Barnsley: Greenhill Books, 2020. 512 pp. Illustrations and maps. £30.00 (hb). ISBN: 978-1-78438-450-0
Reviewed by Charles J. Esdaile, University of Liverpool.
"In any “A to Z” of Napoleon’s battles, that of Znaim (today Znojmo) cannot but come in last place. Curiously enough, however, it would very probably take that self-same place in a list of said battles ordered according to how well they are known. Thus, as John Gill, the author of the work under review--not surprisingly, the first dedicated study of the action ever to appear in English--observes in the very first line, “The battle of Znaim is almost unknown” (p. xix)....That it was the Austrians who were the aggressors in 1809 has been widely interpreted, including not least by Gill, as at the very least being strongly suggestive that Napoleon was not the constant war-monger of legend. To argue thus is to miss the point....To conclude, substantial, well-written, sumptuously illustrated, and provided with plenty of maps, Gill’s book will be useful reading for all students of the Napoleonic Wars. That said, it suffers from many of the same limitations as other treatments of the battles of the soldiers of Francis I and therefore cannot be regarded as definitive. As the author of this review has observed elsewhere, then, the Austrian aspects of the Napoleonic Wars remain a subject in search of a new historiography."