Paul Kray

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Paul Kray
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Baron Paul Kray
Born5 February 1735 (1735-02-05)
Käsmark (Késmárk), Hungary
Died19 January 1804 (1804-01-20) (aged 68)
Pest, Hungary
AllegianceBanner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg  Habsburg Monarchy
Service/branch Colonel and Proprietor,
Rank Feldzeugmeister
Battles/wars War of the Bavarian Succession (1778)

Habsburg War with the Ottoman Empire (1787–1791)
War of the First Coalition (1792–1797)


War of the Second Coalition (1799–1802)

Baron Paul Kray of Krajova and Topolya (German : Paul Freiherr Kray von Krajova und Topola ; Hungarian : Krajovai és Topolyai báró Kray Pál; 5 February 1735 19 January 1804), was a soldier, and general in Habsburg service during the Seven Years' War, the War of Bavarian Succession, the Austro–Turkish War (1787–1791), and the French Revolutionary Wars. He was born in Késmárk, Upper Hungary (today: Kežmarok, Slovakia).

Craiova Place in Dolj County, Romania

Craiova, Romania's 6th largest city and capital of Dolj County, is situated near the east bank of the river Jiu in central Oltenia. It is a longstanding political center, and is located at approximately equal distances from the Southern Carpathians (north) and the River Danube (south). Craiova is the chief commercial city west of Bucharest and the most important city of Oltenia. The city prospered as a regional trading centre despite an earthquake in 1790, a plague in 1795, and a Turkish assault in 1802 during which it was burned.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Hungarian language language spoken in and around Hungary

Hungarian is a Finno-Ugric language spoken in Hungary and parts of several neighbouring countries. It is the official language of Hungary and one of the 24 official languages of the European Union. Outside Hungary it is also spoken by communities of Hungarians in the countries that today make up Slovakia, western Ukraine (Subcarpathia), central and western Romania (Transylvania), northern Serbia (Vojvodina), northern Croatia and northern Slovenia. It is also spoken by Hungarian diaspora communities worldwide, especially in North America and Israel. Like Finnish and Estonian, Hungarian belongs to the Uralic language family. With 13 million speakers, it is the family's largest member by number of speakers.

He withdrew from military service temporarily in 1792 because of poor health, but in 1793, he was recalled to the Habsburg military in the Netherlands at the request of Field Marshal Prince Coburg and fought in the Flanders Campaign.

Habsburg Netherlands Historical region in the Low Countries, 1482–1581

Habsburg Netherlands, also referred to as Flanders during the early modern period, is the collective name of Holy Roman Empire fiefs in the Low Countries held by the House of Habsburg. The rule began in 1482, when after the death of the Valois-Burgundy duke Charles the Bold the Burgundian Netherlands fell to the Habsburg dynasty by the marriage of Charles's daughter Mary of Burgundy to Archduke Maximilian I of Austria. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor was born in the Habsburg Netherlands and made the Low Countries the core of his "empire on which the sun never sets".

Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld austrian general

Prince Frederick Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld was a general in the Austrian service.

Flanders Campaign

The Flanders Campaign was conducted from 6 November 1792 to 7 June 1795 during the first years of the French Revolutionary Wars. A Coalition of states representing the Ancien Régime in Western Europe – Austria, Prussia, Great Britain, the Dutch Republic, Hanover and Hesse-Kassel – mobilised military forces along all the French frontiers, with the intention to invade Revolutionary France and end the French First Republic. The radicalised French revolutionaries, who broke the Catholic Church's power (1790), abolished the monarchy (1792) and even executed the deposed king Louis XVI of France (1793), vied to spread the Revolution beyond France's borders, by violent means if necessary.

In 1799 he was appointed commander of the Austrian forces in Italy and Colonel-Proprietor of the Infantry Regiment N.34, a ceremonial position he held until his death. On 18 April 1799, Kray was promoted to Feldzeugmeister. In the 1800 campaign, Kray commanded the Austrian force on the Upper Rhine, charged with the defense of all approaches to Vienna through the German states. After being out-maneuvered by the French, he was disastrously defeated in five consecutive battles. After the Battle of Neuburg, the French acquired both shores of the river, and commanded access to the Danube waterway as far east as Regensburg. During the subsequent armistice, Emperor Francis II replaced Kray with his brother, Archduke John; Kray was discharged on 28 August 1800 and retired to Pest, Hungary. He died there on 19 January 1804. For all his victories, for his fierce competitiveness on the battlefield, the French soldiers referred to him as Le terrible Kray, le fils cher de la victoire and men from both sides attended his funeral in 1804.

A Proprietor, or Inhaber, was a term used in the Habsburg military to denote special honors extended to a noble or aristocrat. The Habsburg army was organized on principles developed for the feudal armies in which regiments were raised by a wealthy noble, called the Inhaber (proprietor) who also acted as honorary colonel. Originally, he raised the regiment, funded its needs, and received a portion of its revenue, which might be plunder or loot. He also shared in its shame or its honors. The Prussian and Imperial Russian military adopted a similar system.

Vienna Capital city and state in Austria

Vienna is the federal capital, largest city and one of nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primate city, with a population of about 1.9 million, and its cultural, economic, and political centre. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union. Until the beginning of the 20th century, it was the largest German-speaking city in the world, and before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the city had 2 million inhabitants. Today, it has the second largest number of German speakers after Berlin. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations and OPEC. The city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In July 2017 it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger.

Battle of Neuburg (1800)

The Battle of Neuburg occurred on 27 June 1800 in the south German state of Bavaria, on the southern bank of the Danube river. Neuburg is located on the Danube between Ingolstadt and Donauwörth. This battle occurred late in the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802), the second war between Revolutionary France and the conservative European monarchies, which included at one time or another Britain, Habsburg Austria, Russia, the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), Portugal and Naples. After a series of reverses, several of the allies withdrew from the Coalition. By 1800, Napoleon's military victories in northern Italy challenged Habsburg supremacy there. French victories in the upper Danubian territories opened a route along that river to Vienna.


Early career

Kray was born in Késmárk, Upper Hungary (today: Kežmarok, Slovakia). He was educated in mathematical and other military sciences in Schemnitz and Vienna. [1]

Kežmarok Town in Slovakia

Kežmarok is a town in the Spiš region of eastern Slovakia, on the Poprad River.

Upper Hungary

Upper Hungary is the usual English translation of Felvidék, the Hungarian term for the area that was historically the northern part of the Kingdom of Hungary, now mostly present-day Slovakia. The region has also been called Felső-Magyarország.

Slovakia Republic in Central Europe

Slovakia, officially the Slovak Republic, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, Austria to the west, and the Czech Republic to the northwest. Slovakia's territory spans about 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi) and is mostly mountainous. The population is over 5.4 million and consists mostly of Slovaks. The capital and largest city is Bratislava, and the second largest city is Košice. The official language is Slovak.

Entering the Austrian army at the age of nineteen in 1754 in the Infantry Regiment 31 "Hallerstein" and fought in the Seven Years' War. In 1778, he was promoted from grenadier captain to major and transferred to Infantry Regiment "Preysach" 39. After the War of Bavarian Succession, he transferred to the 2nd Szeckler Grenz (border) Infantry Regiment as lieutenant colonel. In 1784 he suppressed a Walachian peasants' uprising in Transylvania. Kray served in the Turkish wars of 1787-91. On 10 May 1788, he defeated a superior Turkish force of 5,000 men commanded by Osman Pazvantoğlu and Kara Mustapha Pasha on the borders of Transylvania. He later led the capture of the Krajova fortress; for this, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa on 21 December 1789, in May of the following year, Kray was promoted Generalmajor and subsequently ennobled by Emperor Joseph II with the title of Freiherr "von Krajow und Topolya". [2] In the Austro-Turkish War of 1787 to 1791 he saw active service at Porczeny and the Vulcan Pass. [3]

Seven Years War Global conflict between 1756 and 1763

The Seven Years' War was a global conflict fought between 1756 and 1763. It involved every European great power of the time and spanned five continents, affecting Europe, the Americas, West Africa, India, and the Philippines. The conflict split Europe into two coalitions: one was led by the Kingdom of Great Britain and included the Kingdom of Prussia, the Kingdom of Portugal, the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and other small German states; while the other was led by the Kingdom of France and included the Austrian-led Holy Roman Empire, the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Spain, and the Swedish Empire. Meanwhile, in India, some regional polities within the increasingly fragmented Mughal Empire, with the support of the French, tried to crush a British attempt to conquer Bengal.

Osman Pazvantoğlu Ottoman rebel

Osman Pazvantoğlu was an Ottoman soldier, a governor of the Vidin district after 1794, and a rebel against Ottoman rule. He is also remembered as the friend of Rigas Feraios, a Greek revolutionary poet, whom he tried to rescue from the Ottoman authorities in Belgrade.

Transylvania Historical region of Romania

Transylvania is a historical region which is located in central Romania. Bound on the east and south by its natural borders, the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended westward to the Apuseni Mountains. The term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also parts of the historical regions of Crișana and Maramureș, and occasionally the Romanian part of Banat.

War of the First Coalition

Promoted Major General in 1790, three years later Kray commanded the advance guard of the Allies under Prince Coburg, operating in Flanders and the Austrian Netherlands. He distinguished himself at Famars, Menin, Wissembourg, Charleroi, Fleurus, and, indeed, at almost every encounter in the Flanders Campaign with the armies of the French Republic. [3] Promoted to Feldmarschalleutnant on 5 March 1796 Kray served in Archduke Charles's Army of the Lower Rhine. On 19 June, after the Battle of Wetzlar, he forced General Jean-Baptiste Kléber to withdraw from Uckerath. [4] He also defeated French General of Division Jourdan in the clash at Limburg on 16 September. He then fought in various actions, including the victory at Amberg on 24 August, and at the Battle of Würzburg as a divisional commander, when he was largely responsible for the victory of Archduke Charles of Austria. [5] On 19 September, he captured the mortally-wounded General of Division François Séverin Marceau-Desgraviers, one of the ablest and bravest French commanders of the day; he returned the corpse to French lines with a guard of honor of the Bethlen Hussars N.35. [3] On 4 March 1796 he received promotion to Lieutenant General (Feldmarschal-Leutnant). In the celebrated campaign of 1796, on the Rhine and Danube, he performed conspicuous service as a corps commander. In the following year, he was less successful, being defeated on the Lahn, and at Mainz. [3] Worse, his command was surprised and defeated by the French General Louis-Lazarre Hoche in the Battle of Neuwied of 1797. Kray was accused of negligence; a courts-martial found him guilty and sentenced him to two weeks arrest. He requested to resign in protest but this was denied. [6]

Major general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. The disappearance of the "sergeant" in the title explains the apparently confusing phenomenon whereby a lieutenant general outranks a major general while a major outranks a lieutenant.

Battle of Famars battle

The Battle of Famars was fought on 23 May 1793 during the Flanders Campaign of the War of the First Coalition. An Allied Austrian, Hanoverian, and British army under Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld defeated the French Army of the North led by François Joseph Drouot de Lamarche. The action occurred near the village of Famars in northern France, five km south of Valenciennes.

Battle of Menin (1793) Military history

The Battle of Wervik, or of Wervik and Menin was fought on 12 and 13 September 1793 between 30,000 men of the French Army of the North commanded by Jean Nicolas Houchard, and 13,000 Coalition troops: the veldleger of the Dutch States Army, commanded by the William, Hereditary Prince of Orange and his brother Prince Frederick of Orange-Nassau, and a few squadrons of Austrian cavalry under Pál Kray, seconded by Johann Peter Beaulieu. The great superiority in numbers being on the French side the battle ended in a victory for France, with the Dutch army suffering heavy losses. Among the casualties was Prince Frederick, who was wounded in the shoulder at Wervik, an injury from which he never fully recovered. The combat occurred during the Flanders Campaign of the War of the First Coalition. Menen is a city in Belgium located on the French border about 100 kilometres (62 mi) west of Brussels.

War of the Second Coalition

Kray commanded in Italy in 1799, and reconquered the plain of Lombardy from the French. He won a sharp action at Legnago on 26 March. For his victory over the French at the Battle of Magnano on 5 April, he was promoted Feldzeugmeister (artillery lieutenant general). [3] This victory caused the French army to withdraw to the Adda River. Nevertheless, Kray was replaced when Michael von Melas arrived to take command of the Austrian forces. While the field army won two more major battles, Kray conducted the successful sieges of Peschiera del Garda and Mantua. At the Battle of Novi, he commanded the divisions of Peter Ott and Heinrich Bellegarde. [7] On 6 November, he was defeated by the French in a second clash at Novi Ligure. [8]

The following year he commanded on the Rhine against Jean Moreau. As a consequence of his defeats at the battles of Stockach, Messkirch, Biberach, Iller River, and Höchstädt, Kray was driven into Ulm. However, by a skillful march round Moreau's flank he succeeded in escaping to Bohemia. [3] After a 15 July truce became effective he was relieved of his command by Emperor Francis II and dismissed from the service. Kray's successor, Archduke John of Austria was disastrously defeated at the Battle of Hohenlinden in December. [9]

Thoroughly discredited and personally demoralized, the once respected general retired to his estates to live out his life in exile. Austrian society could be cruel to its losers. When the Habsburg officer corps shunned him, he was left almost friendless, the memories of his fine service during the Seven Years' War vanished. Later Archduke Charles would write Kray a flattering letter explaining that the boorish behavior directed toward him stemmed from envy over his previous victories. [10]

Kray died in Pest, Hungary on 19 January 1804. [11]


Kray was one of the best representatives of the old Austrian army. Tied to an obsolete system, and unable, from habit, to realize the changed conditions of warfare, he failed, but his enemies held him in the highest respect as a brave, skilful, and chivalrous opponent. It was he who, at Altenkirchen, cared for the dying Marceau (1796), and the white uniforms of Kray and his staff mingled with the blue of the French in the funeral procession of the young general of the Republic. [12]

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  1. Smith, Digby. Paul Kray. Napoleon Series Research Biographies, Compiled by Leopold Kudrna.
  2. Smith, Paul Kray.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 PD-icon.svg  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Kray von Krajova, Paul, Freiherr". Encyclopædia Britannica . 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 925.
  4. Rickard, J. (2009). "Combat of Uckerath, 19 June 1796". Retrieved 15 Oct 2014.
  5. Smith, Paul Kray.
  6. Smith, Paul Kray.
  7. Smith, p 163
  8. Smith, p 173
  9. Smith, Paul Kray.
  10. James Arnold, Marengo & Hohenlinden. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK:p 203
  11. Smith, Paul Kray.
  12. Chisholm 1911.