Battle of Rivoli

The Battle of Rivoli (14–15 January 1797) was a key victory in the French campaign in Italy against Austria. Napoleon Bonaparte's 23,000 Frenchmen defeated an attack of 28,000 Austrians under General of the Artillery Jozsef Alvinczi, ending Austria's fourth and final attempt to relieve the Siege of Mantua. Rivoli further demonstrated Napoleon's brilliance as a military commander and led to French occupation of northern Italy.

Battle of Rivoli
Part of the French Revolutionary Wars
Napoleon at the Battle of Rivoli

Napoleon at the Battle of Rivoli, by Philippoteaux (Galerie des Batailles, Palace of Versailles)
Date14–15 January 1797
Result Decisive French victory[1]
 France Habsburg Monarchy Habsburg Monarchy
Commanders and leaders
Napoleon Bonaparte
André Masséna
Barthélemy Joubert
Jozsef Alvinczi
Peter von Quosdanovich
Josef Philipp Vukassovich
19,000 28,000
Casualties and losses
3,200-5,000 12,000-14,000


See Rivoli 1797 Campaign Order of Battle.


Alvinczi's plan was to rush and overwhelm Barthélemy Joubert in the mountains east of Lake Garda by concentrating 28,000 men in five separate columns, and thereby gain access to the open country north of Mantua where Austrian superior numbers would be able to defeat Bonaparte's smaller Army of Italy. Alvinczi attacked Joubert's 10,000 men on January 12. However Joubert held him off and was subsequently joined by Louis-Alexandre Berthier and, at 2 a.m. on January 14, by Bonaparte, who brought up elements of André Masséna's division to support Joubert's efforts to form a defensive line on favorable ground just north of Rivoli on the Trambasore Heights. The battle would be a contest between Alvinczi's efforts to concentrate his dispersed columns versus the arrival of French reinforcements.


The morning of Saturday January 14, found Alvinczi engaging the division of Joubert. He had united three Austrian columns between Caprino on the right and the chapel of San Marco on the left; the brigade of Franz Josef de Lusignan was advancing to the north of Monte Baldo; and the troops of Peter Vitus von Quosdanovich and Josef Philipp Vukassovich were pouring down the roads on either side of the Adige. Before daybreak as the French were moving on the road from Rivoli to Incanale Joubert attacked and drove the Austrians from the chapel of San Marco.[2]

At 9 a.m., the Austrian brigades of Samuel Koblos and Anton Lipthay counterattacked the French forces on the Trambasore Heights. Another column under Prince Heinrich of Reuss-Plauen attempted to turn the French right via the Rivoli gorge. Meanwhile, on the French right flank, Vukassovich had advanced down the east bank of the Adige and had established batteries opposite Osteria. The fire of his guns and the pressure from Quosdanovich forced the French out of the village of Osteria and onto the Rivoli plateau. By about 11 a.m. the position of Bonaparte was becoming desperate: an Austrian column under Lusignan was cutting off his retreat south of Rivoli. To reopen his line of retreat Bonaparte turned to Massena's 18th Demi-brigade ("the Brave"), newly arrived from Lake Garda. Meanwhile, Alvinczi was on the Trambasore Heights urging his victorious battalions forward, though they were unformed by combat and rough terrain.

With the 18th dispatched to check Lusignan, Bonaparte turned all his attention to Quosdanovich. He understood the defeat of this column was the key to the battle. Unfortunately the French had very few reserves left and mostly had to accomplish this with troops already at hand. Making the best of interior lines and his advantage in artillery, Bonaparte thinned out Joubert's lines facing the Austrians frontally at the Trambasore Heights as much as possible and concentrated them before the gorge. A battery of 15 French guns were massed and poured canister shot at point blank range into the advancing Austrian column that was emerging from the gorge. This devastating firepower struck first on the advancing Austrian dragoons who broke and stampeded through their own infantry causing mass chaos. At this juncture the brigade of Charles Leclerc assaulted the column frontally while Joubert laid down heavy flanking fire from San Marco. Here Antoine Charles de Lasalle with just 26 horseman of the 22nd Horse Chasseurs charged into the melee. Lasalle's men captured a whole Austrian battalion and seized 5 enemy flags. In the centre the battle was not yet won; Joseph Ocskay renewed his attack from San Marco and drove back the brigade of Honoré Vial. But at midday French cavalry under Joachim Murat charged the flanks of Ocskay's troops, which were driven back to the positions they occupied in the morning.[3]

Battle of Rivoli map
Map of the battle

Quosdanovich realized he could not force the defile and ordered his troops to fall back out of artillery range. Meanwhile, while Lusignan was being engaged frontally by the brigade of Guillaume Brune, the division of Gabriel Rey, coming up from Castelnuovo and the brigade of Claude Victor (reserve) began to arrive. They crushed the Austrian column of Lusignan who fled west with less than 2,000 men remaining.[4] The French lost 3,200 killed and wounded and 1,000 captured, while the Austrians suffered 4,000 killed and wounded, plus 8,000 men and 40 guns captured.[5][6] One authority gives the French 5,000 and the Austrians 14,000 total losses.[7]


The next day Joubert and Ray began a successful pursuit of Alvinczi, all but destroying his columns, the remnants of which fled north up into the Adige Valley in confusion. The Battle of Rivoli was Bonaparte's greatest victory at the time. After that he turned his attention to Giovanni di Provera. On January 13, his corps (9,000 men) had crossed north of Legnano and driven straight for the relief of Mantua which was besieged by French forces under Jean Sérurier. At night on January 15, Provera sent a message to Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser to break out in a concerted attack. On January 16, when Wurmser attacked he was driven back into Mantua by Sérurier. The Austrians were attacked from the front by Masséna (who had force marched from Rivoli) and from the rear by the division of Pierre Augereau, and were thus forced to surrender the entire force. The Austrian army in North Italy had ceased to exist. On February 2, Mantua surrendered with its garrison of 16,000 men, all that remained of an army of 30,000. The troops marched out with the 'honours of war', and laid down their arms. Wurmser with his staff and an escort were allowed to go free. The remainder were sent to Austria after swearing an oath to not serve against the French for a year, 1,500 guns were found in the fortress.[8] On February 18, Bonaparte proceeded with 8,000 men to Rome, determined to come to a settlement with the Papal States, which had shown covert hostility so long as the campaign had proceeded with uncertainty as to the fate of Italy. But with the fall of Mantua the Austrians were finally driven from Italian soil, and Pope Pius VI agreed to an armistice dictated by Bonaparte in Tolentino.[9] Snow had closed the Alpine passes, but Austria still refused Bonaparte terms of a peace agreement. He prepared one last campaign to the east, into the heartland of Austria to the gates of Vienna itself.


The Rue de Rivoli, a street in central Paris, is named after the battle.


  • Boycott-Brown, Martin. The Road to Rivoli. Cassell; New Ed edition, 2002. ISBN 0-304-36209-3
  • Chandler, David. Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars. New York: Macmillan, 1979. ISBN 0-02-523670-9
  • Rothenberg, Gunther E. (1980). The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-31076-8.
  • Smith, Digby (1998). The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book: Actions and Losses in Personnel, Colours, Standards and Artillery, 1792–1815. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books. ISBN 1-85367-276-9.


  1. ^ Alan Forrest (27 October 2011). Napoleon. Quercus Publishing. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-85738-759-2. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
  2. ^ Reginald George Burton (2010). Napoleon's Campaigns in Italy 1796–1797 & 1800, p. 84. ISBN 978-0-85706-356-4
  3. ^ Reginald George Burton (2010). Napoleon's Campaigns in Italy 1796–1797 & 1800, p. 85. ISBN 978-0-85706-356-4
  4. ^ Reginald George Burton (2010). Napoleon's Campaigns in Italy 1796–1797 & 1800, p. 85. ISBN 978-0-85706-356-4
  5. ^ Smith, p. 131
  6. ^ Rothenberg, p. 248
  7. ^ Chandler, p. 328
  8. ^ Reginald George Burton (2010). Napoleon's Campaigns in Italy 1796–1797 & 1800, p. 88. ISBN 978-0-85706-356-4
  9. ^ Reginald George Burton (2010). Napoleon's Campaigns in Italy 1796–1797 & 1800, p. 88. ISBN 978-0-85706-356-4

External links

Coordinates: 45°34′00″N 10°49′00″E / 45.5667°N 10.8167°E

1797 in Austria

Events from the year 1797 in Austria

1797 in France

Events from the year 1797 in France.

Antoine-Guillaume Rampon

Antoine-Guillaume Rampon (16 March 1759 - 2 March 1842) joined the French army as a private soldier and rose in rank to become a general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars. He fought in many battles under Napoleon Bonaparte in Italy and Egypt. In one celebrated battle, he rallied his troops to defend the key Monte Negino redoubt against the Austrians. He saw limited service during the Napoleonic Wars. His surname can be found among the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.

Antoine Charles Louis de Lasalle

Antoine-Charles-Louis, Comte de Lasalle (10 May 1775, Metz – 6 July 1809, Wagram) was a French cavalry general during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, often called "The Hussar General". He first gained fame for his role in the Capitulation of Stettin. Over the course of his short career, he became known as a daring adventurer and was credited with many exploits. Eventually, he fought on every front and was killed at the Battle of Wagram.

Battle of Calliano

The Battle of Calliano on 6 and 7 November 1796 saw an Austrian corps commanded by Paul Davidovich rout a French division directed by Claude Belgrand de Vaubois. The engagement was part of the third Austrian attempt to relieve the French siege of Mantua during the French Revolutionary Wars. The battle was preceded by a clash at Cembra on 2 November and followed by actions at Rivoli Veronese on 17 and 21 November.

Campaigns of 1797 in the French Revolutionary Wars

The French Revolutionary Wars continued from 1796, with France fighting the First Coalition.

On 14 February, British admiral Jervis met and defeated a Spanish fleet off Portugal at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. This prevented the Spanish fleet from rendezvousing with the French, removing a threat of invasion to Britain. However, the British fleet was weakened over the rest of the year by the Spithead and Nore mutinies, which kept many ships in port through the summer.

On 22 February, a French invasion force consisting of 1,400 troops from the La Legion Noire (The Black Legion) under the command of Irish American Colonel William Tate landed near Fishguard (Wales). They were met by a quickly assembled group of around 500 British reservists, militia and sailors under the command of John Campbell, 1st Baron Cawdor. After brief clashes with the local civilian population and Lord Cawdor's forces on 23 February, Tate was forced into an unconditional surrender by 24 February.

In Italy, Napoleon Bonaparte's armies were laying siege to Mantua at the beginning of the year, and a second attempt by Austrians under Joseph Alvinczy to raise the siege was driven off at the Battle of Rivoli. Finally, on 2 February, Wurmser surrendered Mantua and 18,000 troops. The Papal forces sued for peace, which was granted at Tolentino on 19 February. Napoleon was now free to attack the Austrian heartland. He advanced directly toward Austria over the Julian Alps, sending Barthélemy Joubert to invade the Tyrol.

Archduke Charles of Austria hurried from the German front to defend Austria, but he was defeated at the Tagliamento on 16 March, and Napoleon proceeded into Austria, occupying Klagenfurt and preparing for a rendezvous with Joubert in front of Vienna. In Germany, the armies of Hoche and Moreau crossed the Rhine again in April after the previous year's failure. The victories of Napoleon had frightened the Austrians into making peace, and they concluded the Peace of Leoben in April, ending hostilities. However, his absence from Italy had allowed the outbreak of the revolt known as the Veronese Easters on 17 April, which was put down eight days later.

Although Britain remained at war with France, this effectively ended the First Coalition. Austria later signed the Treaty of Campo Formio, ceding the Austrian Netherlands to France and recognizing the French border at the Rhine. Austria and France also partitioned Venice between them.

Command Decisions

Command Decisions was a series produced by Hoff Productions which aired on The History Channel in 2004. Each episode depicted an historic battle through re-creations, and gave the viewer an opportunity to test his or her skills, strategies, and nerve as a commander through nine questions. The viewer was asked to imagine themselves in the mind of the battlefield commander, and would choose from 3 options for how to proceed.

List of depicted battles:

Battle of the Bulge (December 1944-January 1945)

Battle of Britain (1940)

Battle of Iwo Jima (February-March 1945)

Battle of Rivoli (January 1797)

San Juan Hill (July 1898)

Siege of Alesia (September 52 BC)

Tet Offensive (1968)

Six Day War (June 1967)

Cambrai ()

Châlons (June 451 AD)

Gettysburg (July 1863)

Little Bighorn (June 1876)

Inch'on (September 1950)

Marathon (490 BC)

Waterloo (June 1815)

Stalingrad (August 1942-February 1943)

Desert Storm (January-February 1991)

Midway (June 1942)

Saratoga (September-October 1777)

Hastings (October 1066)The episode titled "The Siege of Alesia" was filmed in 2003 and featured the historical reenactment groups Legio X Fretensis as the Romans and a Celtic group named "Gaestate" who modified their equipment and costume to emulate Gauls of the First Century BC.

Franz Joseph, Marquis de Lusignan

Franz Joseph, Marquis de Lusignan (23 June 1753 – 23 December 1832), a Spaniard, joined the Austrian army and fought against Prussian soldiers and Belgian rebels. During the French Revolutionary Wars, he played a significant role at the Battle of Rivoli in 1797 and became a general officer. He led brigade- and division-sized forces during the Italian campaign of 1799. In the Napoleonic Wars, he twice commanded a division and was so badly wounded in 1809 that he was forced to retire from the army. From 1806 until his death he was proprietor of the Lusignan Infantry Regiment.

Franz von Weyrother

Franz von Weyrother (1755 – 16 February 1806) was an Austrian staff officer and general who fought during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He drew up the plans for the disastrous defeats at the Battle of Rivoli, Battle of Hohenlinden and the Battle of Austerlitz, in which the Austrian army was defeated by Napoleon Bonaparte twice and Jean Moreau once.

François Roguet

François Roguet (12 November 1770 – 4 December 1846) became a French division commander in the Imperial Guard during the Napoleonic Wars. He enlisted in the French Royal Army in 1789. His regiment was assigned to the Army of Italy in 1792 and fought in the Italian campaigns of the French Revolutionary Wars. He commanded a battalion at the Battle of Rivoli in 1797. He was badly wounded at the Battle of Verona in 1799. For suppressing partisans he was promoted to command an infantry regiment.

Promoted general of brigade in 1803, Roguet fought at Elchingen and Scharnitz in 1805. He led his brigade at Jena and Magdeburg in 1806 and at Eylau and Guttstadt in 1807. He led a Young Guard brigade at Aspern-Essling and Wagram. He was in Spain in 1808 and 1810–1811. In the latter year he received promotion to general of division. In 1812 he directed the Young Guard at Battle of Krasnoi. In 1813 he led the Old Guard division at Lützen and Bautzen and a Young Guard division at Dresden and Leipzig. In 1814 he led a Young Guard division at Hoogstraten and Courtrai. In 1815 he led Imperial Guard troops at Ligny and Waterloo. After a period of retirement, he led a French division that intervened in the Belgian Revolution. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 26.

Joseph Ocskay von Ocsko

Joseph Ocskay von Ocskó (1740 – 8 December 1805) joined the army of the Habsburg Empire and rose to the rank of general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars. He fought in numerous actions in the 1796-1797 Italian campaign against the French army commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte. In particular, he led a combat brigade during the first, third, and fourth Austrian attempts to relieve the Siege of Mantua.

Paul Thiébault

Paul Charles François Adrien Henri Dieudonné Thiébault (14 December 1769, Berlin - 14 October 1846, Paris) was a general who fought in Napoleon I's army. During his military career he wrote a number of histories and memoirs, the last of which were published in 1895.

Peter Vitus von Quosdanovich

Peter Vitus Freiherr von Quosdanovich (Croatian: Petar Vid Gvozdanović; 12 June 1738 – 13 August 1802) was a Croatian nobleman and general of the Habsburg Monarchy. He achieved the rank of Feldmarschall-Lieutenant and was awarded the Commander's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa. He played a major role in several battles against the French Army of Italy led by Napoleon during the French Revolutionary Wars.


Rivoli may refer to:

Rivoli Bay, a bay in South Australia

Rivoli, Piedmont, a town near Turin in Italy

Rivoli Veronese, a community in the Italian province of Verona

Battle of Rivoli, a battle that took place near Rivoli Veronese

The Rivoli, a restaurant/club in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Rue de Rivoli, a street in Paris

The Rivoli Ballroom, an old-fashioned dance venue in South London

Rivoli Cinemas, a multiplex cinema complex in Melbourne, Australia

Rivoli Township, Mercer County, Illinois

Rivoli (surname), a surname

SS Rivoli, a coaster in service with A Scotto Pugliese Fils & Compagnie, Algeria from 1948 to 1952

Rivoli 1797 Campaign Order of Battle

In the Battle of Rivoli on 14 and 15 January 1797, the French Army of Italy led by Napoleon Bonaparte crushed the main Austrian army led by Jozsef Alvinczi. The battle occurred during the fourth Austrian attempt to relieve the Siege of Mantua. After crippling Alvinczi's army on the 14th, Bonaparte left Barthélemy Joubert and Gabriel Rey to finish off the Austrians and raced south with André Masséna to deal with a relief column led by Giovanni di Provera. On 16 January, Masséna, Pierre Augereau, and Jean Sérurier trapped Provera near the Mantua siege lines and forced his surrender.

Rivoli Veronese

Rivoli Veronese is a little town (comune) in the Province of Verona, Veneto, Italy, located on the hills overlooking the right bank of the river Adige, 20 kilometres (12 mi) northwest of Verona.

Rue de Rivoli

Rue de Rivoli (French pronunciation: ​[ʁy də ʁivɔli]) is one of the most famous streets in Paris, a commercial street whose shops include the most fashionable names in the world. It bears the name of Napoleon's early victory against the Austrian army, at the battle of Rivoli, fought January 14 and 15, 1797. The rue de Rivoli marked a transitional compromise between an urbanism of prestige monuments and aristocratic squares, and the forms of modern town planning by official regulation.

The new street that Napoleon Bonaparte pierced through the heart of Paris took for one side the north wing of the Louvre Palace, which Napoleon extended, and the Tuileries Gardens. For the first time ever, a handsome, regular, wide street would face the north wing of the old palace. Napoleon's original section of the street opened up eastward from the Place de la Concorde. Builders on the north side of the Place Louis XV, as it then was named, between rue de Mondovi and rue Saint-Florentin, had been constrained by letters patent in 1757 and 1758 to follow a single façade plan. The result was a pleasing uniformity, and Napoleon's planners extended a similar program, which has resulted in the famous arcaded facades that extend for almost a mile.

The restored Bourbon King Charles X continued the rue de Rivoli eastwards from the Louvre, as did King Louis-Philippe. Finally, Emperor Napoleon III extended it into the 17th-century quarter of Le Marais (see: Right Bank). Beneath the rue de Rivoli runs one of the main brick-vaulted, oval-sectioned sewers of Paris' much-imitated system, with its sidewalks for the sewer workers.

In 1852, opposite the wing of the Louvre, Baron Haussmann enlarged the Place du Palais-Royal that is centered on the baroque Palais Royal, built for Cardinal Richelieu in 1624 and willed to the royal family, with its garden surrounded by chic commercial arcades. At the rear of the garden is the older branch of the Bibliothèque Nationale, in rue Richelieu.

North of the rue de Rivoli, at the point where the Grands Boulevards crossed an enormous new square, the new opera house was built. The Opera Garnier is a monument to the construction of the Second Empire. Just behind the opera house can be found the largest department stores, such as the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.

East along the rue de Rivoli, at the Place des Pyramides, is the gilded statue of Joan of Arc, situated close to where she was wounded at the Saint-Honoré Gate in her unsuccessful attack on English-held Paris, on September 8, 1429. A little further along, towards the Place de la Concorde, the rue de Castiglione leads to the Place Vendôme, with its Vendôme Column surmounted by the effigy of Napoleon Bonaparte. He began the building of the street in 1802; it was completed in 1865. A plaque at no. 144 commemorates the assassination there of the Huguenot leader Admiral Gaspard II de Coligny, in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of 1572.

Treaty of Tolentino

The Treaty of Tolentino was a peace treaty between Revolutionary France and the Papal States, signed on 19 February 1797 and imposing terms of surrender on the Papal side. The signatories for France were the French Directory's Ambassador to the Holy See, François Cacault, and the rising General Napoleon Bonaparte and opposite them four representatives of Pius VI's Curia.

It was part of the events following the invasion of Italy in the early stages of the French Revolutionary Wars. Having defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Mantua, at the Arcola Bridge and in the Battle of Rivoli, Napoleon had no more enemies in northern Italy and was able to devote himself to the Papal States. Following nine months of negotiations between France and the Papal States, in February 1797 9,000 French soldiers invaded the Papal Romagna Region, leaving the Pope no choice but to accept the French terms.

Unfinished portrait of General Bonaparte

The unfinished portrait of General Bonaparte (also titled Le Général Bonaparte) is an unfinished portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte by Jacques-Louis David. He began it in 1798, painting its subject from life, and it was to represent Bonaparte at the Battle of Rivoli, holding the Treaty of Campo Formio in his hand, but it was never completed. Vivant Denon cut down the canvas to preserve only the painted part of the face and bust. It is on display at the Louvre.

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