Listen on Apple Podcasts 1796. January. February. March. Three months in which the British take Ceylon thanks to some daring – or perhaps that should be dairy-ing – exploits… Napoleon Bonaparte takes command of the Army of Italy… And the new French government, the Directory, struggles to find its way. This is episode 17 of the Napoleonic Quarterly – covering three months in which it feels like the (E)dam is about to break over this conflict. [15:54] - Military historian and author Philip Ball describes the British capture of Ceylon's Trincomalee and Colombo, which is unexpectedly aided by the unorthodox use of dairy products. [36:01] - Professor Biancamaria Fontana of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland discusses and deliberates on the dynamics and dilemmas of the Directory, the five-man executive now taking over the reins of the Revolution. [53:04] - Rafe Blaufarb, Professor of History at Florida State University, sizes up the state of the French military machine as Napoleon Bonaparte takes command of the Army of Italy. Plus Professor Emeritus Charles Esdaile of the University of Liverpool and Professor Alexander Mikaberidze of Louisiana State University-Shreveport lock horns over British imperialism and the merits of "all this liberty, equality and stupidity nonsense", providing their expert analysis and opinions throughout.
The new series did start - very worthwhile to listen, thanks to some very outstanding contributors, like Charles Esdaile and Alexander Mikaberidze, and in this series also Prod Fontana and Philip Ball.
Rafe Blaufarb is a bit disappointing in his campaign of Italy and Bonaparte entrenched perspective. Why on earth should be the Armée d'Italie be the best of Republican France???
Only because it has a hope for plunder and the poors sods of the armies in Germany under top commanders (at least up to then much more established than Boney) should be inferior? And ah yes, due to the fact that they are operating in the dark Black Forrest. Sorry I cannot buy this, Jourdan did campaign on the highly fertile and rich Main valley and he took deals in advance with Franconian provinces and cities - like we protect you from our French soldiers, all I need is to cough up money, like 8 million livres, which the Franconian Kreis had to cough up, not a trivlings sum, and the demands kept high during the whole campaign there, Ernouf demaning 5 million livres from the Hochstift Würzburg alone, along with other subsidies.
In my view the French Armies fighting in Germany were by no means inferior and they had to fight top notch Austrian Armies and leadership in contrast to the more chaotic and weak leadership in Italy where Piedmontes and Austrians did not come to grips to form a worthwhile alliance to fight off the French onslaugh.