Austrian field marshal and diplomat, one of the most successful Allied commanders in the Napoleonic Wars who contributed significantly to the French emperor´s defeat in 1813-14.
Scion of one of the oldest aristocratic houses of the Habsburg Empire he joined the Austrian Army in 1787 and served against the Turks from 1788 to 1789.
A cavalry officer during the War of the First Coalition against Revolutionary France (1792-97) he distinguished himself during the War of the Second Coalition (1798-1802), covering the Austrian withdrawal after the defeat at Hohenlinden (1800).
Saving his troops after the Austrian defeat at Ulm (1805) he became vice president of the Hofkriegsrat (Supreme Imperial War Council) and planned the creation of a popular militia to defend the Austrian domains.
He partly initiated the army reforms that made possible Austria´s early successes in the 1809 war against Napoleon in which he also distinguished himself as a field commander.
His most noteworthy diplomatic efforts were persuading the emperor Alexander I to delay Russian support of France in 1809 and negotiating one year later the marriage between Napoleon and the Austrian emperor Francis I´s daughter Marie-Louise as well as the agreement for the war of 1812 against Russia.
In command of the Austrian contingent of Napoleon´s army invading Russia he in accordance with Austrian policy held his forces back and during the winter of 1812-13 retreated into Austrian territory, thus facilitating the junction between Russian and Prussian forces.
Henceforward he headed the party at the Austrian court that urged war against Napoleon and in August 1813, when his policy prevailed, he was promoted to field marshal and appointed commander in chief of the Allied forces.
On the advice of Field Marshal Joseph, Graf Radetzky, Schwarzenberg united the Allied armies near Leipzig and dealt Napoleon the decisive defeat that liberated Germany.
Following that success he pushed the French across the Rhine and directed the operation in France that led to the final collapse of Napoleon´s forces in 1814.
As head of the Hofkriegsrat from 1814 he argued for more easily defensible frontiers for the Habsburg Empire.
At the Congress of Vienna (1815) he opposed Prussia´s demand for all of Saxony which would have meant the encirclement of Bohemia.
He suffered a stroke in 1817 and died three years later.
A cautious commander, he always felt himself to be Napoleon´s inferior, yet he defeated the French emperor by sound strategical thinking.