Monday, April 8, 2013

Guest Blog Post: Sept 20, 1792: Prussians Win the Battle of Valmy

Near the northern village of Valmy in Champagne-Ardenne, the Duke of Brunswick's Prussian Regulars crushed citizen volunteers serving under French Generals Fran├žois Kellermann and Charles Dumouriez.
A Concert of Europe
By Scott Palter & Pietro Montevecchio
This feat of arms was recognized as a triumph of German militarism that spared the continent from decades of misery. But of course the result was hardly surprising. Because in the war's early encounters, French troops did not distinguish themselves, and the invading forces advanced dangerously deep into France intending to pacify the country, restore the traditional monarchy, and end the Revolution. And after Valmy, the advance on Paris was unstoppable, and the new French government swept from power.

Determined to prevent a re-occurrence of such a revolution, the crowned heads of Europe held a peace conference. This included provisions for the partition of Poland and also the simplification of Germany into a North German League [Prussian dominated] and a South German league [Hapsburg dominated]. Also negotiated was the opening of a European University of Classical Music and Fine Arts, which the Habsburgs agreed to founded in Vienna. This imaginative idea for a "Concert of Europe" was the result of artists and musicians travelling between their respective Courts, because it was generally understood that the resulting collaboration of such individuals resulted in an influence more significant than their own personal innovations. By housing these individuals under one roof, it was hoped to use culture as a thread to weave the fabric of a new Common Europe Home.

But tragically, the Romanov Family was on a visit to the Viennese University in July 1914 when the Republican Terrorist Gavril Princip and his Black Hand Gang assassinated Tsar Nicholas II in cold blood. This "shot heard around the world" then triggered a catastrophe that the architects of the post-Valmy Conference had so desperately sought to avoid.


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In reality, the battle was considered a miraculous event and a decisive defeat for the vaunted Prussian army. After the battle, the newly-assembled National Convention was emboldened enough to formally declare the end of monarchy in France and the establishment of the First French Republic. Valmy permitted the development of the Revolution and all its resultant ripple effects, and for that it is regarded as one of the most significant battles of all time.

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