The Tyrolian Uprising - Ludwig Baer
The Tyrolian Uprising began in March 1809 when young Tyrolian men were called to military service within the Bavarian Army. The County of Tyrol, Princely County since 1504, dates back to 1027. Several bishops, counts of Bavaria, Bohemia and Brandenburg ruled the county since 1361, but it passed to Margaret Maultasch, who was married to Louis V of Wittelsbach, then Margrave of Brandenburg, in 1363. The red eagle of Tyrol might have spawned from her reign. In 1363 Margaret bequeathed the county to Rudolph IV of Habsburg. From then on the country was ruled by a member of one of the different lines of the Habsburg family until 1805. After 1806 a member of the same family became Emperor of Austria.
With the end of the War of the Third Coalition, Austria had to sign the Treaty of Pressburg (today Bratislava). Under all other points Austria turned the responsibility of Tyrol over to the newly established Kingdom of Bavaria. By that time Tyrol was already occupied by French troops under Marshal Ney. The first thing that Ney did was disband all rifle formations of the Tyrolian People (Tiroler Standschützen) because they gave hard times to French troops.
The Tyrolian Rifles
According to the Landlibell from 1511, all men between the age of 16 to 60 fit for military service had to join the Tiroler Standschützen and be ready to defend their homeland. This was valid until 1918, although today they do still play a roll in the local community. The Standschützen elect their own officers. Similar formations can be found in Vorarlberg and Salzburg.
On February 11, 1806, French officers handed the county over to Bavarian state officials. The Bavarian "occupation" lasted until 1814 and ended with the Congress of Vienna. From that time on Tyrol belonged to Austria. After the end of WWI in 1918 the Austrian Empire disappeared from the map, but Tyrol remained. In 1919, however, Tyrol was divided by the Peace Treaty of St. Germain at the Brenner-Line. The southern part went to Italy and the Northern part remained a normal state within the newly founded Republic of Austria.
The State of Bavaria
During the war between Austria and France (1800), the Duchy of Bavaria under Prince-Elector Maximilian I Joseph of Wittelsbach assisted the Austrian troops. In 1805, however, the alliance ended because the Prince-Elector Maximilian IV Joseph of Wittelsbach signed a secret defense alliance with Napoleon. On account of this, Bavaria was raised to a Kingdom, and as the declared "winner" gained the County of Tyrol. Soon thereafter a delegation of Tyrolian citizens went to Munich to demonstrate their respect to the King. In turn the King promised the Tyrolians he would maintain all former rights for the benefit of the people. He even signed the Landibell from 1511, which said that no Tyrolian man could be forced to do any military service outside of Tyrol. A further concession was that the King elected Count Charles Arco to the High Commissioner in order to administer the country from Innsbruck, the old capital of Tyrol.
But it should be clear that these old regulations and laws of Tyrol did not fit into the policies of the Bavarian government under Count Montegelas. The new administration swiftly raised the taxes and barred the exportation of cattle form Tyrol to Bavaria. In total there were no incentive measures on commerce, production and market. Those people living in smaller towns were still willing to accept the new system, because they expected future improvements. The administration in Munich, however, made a big mistake. The Tyrolian people were very religious and revolted against the administration that interfered in affairs of the Catholic Church by banning traditional services, like Christmas Eve and the ringing of evening bells and processions. The revolt escalated when people were called into Bavarian military service.
Besides this, the close contact and exchange of information between Innsbruck and Vienna did not remain secret to the French/Bavarian allies. They had no precise information on what might happen, but nevertheless they expected some military actions. Herein lay the problem. Should they concentrate more troops in Tyrol or should they withdraw all troops? They did not do anything and left only weak garrisons in the country, which were overrun by the attacking Tyrolian Standschützen and surrendered on April 11th and 12th. The overall attack by the Austrian Army against Bavarian soil started on April 10, 1809. Innsbruck and Hall were liberated on April 12th. Even a "French/Bavarian corps" on its way through Tyrol had to surrender on April 13th in the town of Wilten. In a few days the Tyrolians captured about 130 officers, including two generals and 8,200 soldiers. The Austrian troops came to late. Until the end of April a few skirmishes happened, but most of Standschützen returned home, because most of the German speaking part of Tyrol was liberated.
The main rebel leader was Andreas Hofer, who was born on November 22, 1767, in St. Leonhard/Passeier and had been living living there as innkeeper. He was elected into the Tyrolian Landtag in 1791 and during the war of the Third Coalition he fought in Tyrol against the invading troops. By that time Hofer was already elected as captain of the Standschützen in the Passeier Valley. Hofer became the leader of the anti-Bavarian rebellion and was member of a delegation that went to Vienna in January 1809 to ask the Emperor Francis II for assistance. The request was granted Hofer returned home to begin preparations for the uprising. He was assisted by Josef Speckbacher, Father Joachim Haspinger and others.
Speckbacher was born July 13, 1767, in Hall/Tyrol and worked at a salt mine later on in Hall. He married and became member of the Standschützen, fighting in 1797 near Brixen for first time against French troops. This was followed in 1800 and 1805.
Haspinger was born on October 28, 1776, in Gsies/Tyrol and studied in Bozen and Innsbruck. He fought with the Standschützen against French troops in 1796, 1797 and 1799 until 1801. In 1802 he joined the Capuchin Order and became ordained on September 1, 1805.
As stated above the Uprising began on April 9th, and at the same time Archduke Johann, brother of Archduke Charles the supreme commander of the Austrian army, signed a document in Bavaria that forfeited all rights to Tyrol and any resistance against Bavarian and French occupation troops would be legal. In the meantime Napoleon drove Austrian troops out of Bavaria. He ordered the VII. Corps under Marshal François Joseph Lefebvre to Innsbruck, which they reached on May 19th. On their way through the villages and towns (like Wörgl and Schwaz), the Bavarian troops of the 2nd Division looted and burned many houses. Austrian Corps under General Chasteler liberated Lienz and lost to Bavarian troops near Wörgl on May 13th. On May 25th the Bavarians attacked 12,200 Tyrolians supported by 1,350 Austrians. The Bavarians were defeated, and on the next day the Bavarian troops left Innsbruck, Tyrol and the country. Tyrol was again liberated.
On May 29, 1809, the Austrian Emperor Francis signed under the impression of the Austrian victory at Aspern, the so-called Wolkersdorfer Handbillet. In this letter he promised to never sign a treaty disregarding the rights of the Tyrolian people. The armistice of Znaim signed on July 12th and the peace treaty of Schönbrunn, however, disregarded the above verified legal rights of Tyrol. After the armistice of Znaim, Napoleon had enough troops to clean up the situation in Tyrol and sent three divisions via the Inn valley towards Innsbruck, entering Tyrol on July 28th and reaching Innsbruck on July 30th. 10,000 men under General Beaumont came from Scharnitz. On August 13th, 17,000 Tyrolians fought against 16,000 Bavarians. The Bavarians lost the battle and retreated via Rosenheim and the country was free for the third time.
On October 14, 1809, the Peace Treaty of Schönbrunn was signed by Austrian Emperor Francis I and Napoleon. Francis again gave up any claims to Tyrol. Napoleon ordered the re-conquest of the county the same day. This time, however, the treaty declared an amnesty for those who continued fighting after July 12th, the date of the Armistice in Znaim.
Napoleon, however, was not finished. French troops marched slowly towards Innsbruck, which they reached on October 29th, and on November 1st the last Standschützen formation was defeated at the 4th Battle of Bergisel. The fighting continued until the end of the year until finally the enemy again occupied the whole county. While marching in and through the county many of the "rebels" were executed without trial by French and Bavarian troops.
The hunt for the leaders Andreas Hofer, Josef Speckbacher and Father Haspinger began soon after. Speckbacher made it to Vienna after his last battle on October 17th where he lived until 1814. Thereafter he returned to Hall where he died on March 28, 1820. Father Haspinger left Tyrol in October 1809 and also made it to Vienna. He died 1858 in Salzburg and was buried as the first one of the three leaders in the Hofkirche in Innsbruck. As consequence of the insurrection, Bavaria was forced by Napoleon to cede large parts of Südtrirol to Italy. Andreas Hofer hid himself and his family in south Tyrol, but he was betrayed by a neighbor to the French. Since this part of the country belonged to Italy, 150 Italian soldiers where sent to arrest him and his family on January 19, 1810. Hofer was arrested and brought to Mantua, an old Austrian fortress. Here, the French viceroy of Italy, Eugène de Beauharnais, wanted to pardon Hofer, but was overruled by the order of Napoleon. Hofer received the death penalty on February 19 and was executed the next day. First Hofer was buried at Mantua, but in 1823 officers of the Kaiserjäger, a famous regiment of the imperial Austrian Army, exhumed his remains and brought them to Innsbruck where they were buried at Hofkirche together with Speckbacher and Haspinger. Today you can still see the monument in Innsbruck.
Later in a meeting with Fürst Metternich, Chancellor of the Austrian Empire, Napoleon claimed that Hofer was executed against his wishes. At this time Napoleon and his Empire reached its greatest extent, only the UK and some parts of Portugal did not belong to the French Empire. Upon Napoleon’s fall in 1814 and the Congress of Vienna, all parts of Tyrol were reunited within the Austrian Empire.