Napoleon Bonaparte and his epoch
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Prochaska Eleonora

Prochaska Eleonora(1785—1813)

Eleonore Prochaska was a German woman soldier who fought in the Prussian army against Napoleon during the War of the Sixth Coalition.

Eleonore's father was NCO in the Prussian guards, on a low income. She grew up poor and was sent by her father to the military orphanage in Potsdam when her mother died. There she later found work as a domestic servant, though she was also interested in the war against Napoleon from an early age.

During these wars she disguised herself as a man and registered for 1 Jägerbataillon of the Lützow Free Corps under the name August Renz, serving first as a drummer, then later as an infantryman. She was severely wounded at the Battle of the Göhrde and field-surgeons, rushing to treat her wounds, discovered she was a woman and took her to Dannenberg, where she succumbed to her wounds three weeks later.

In retrospect, she was strongly idealized as a chaste heroine and honoured as "Potsdam's Joan of Arc" ("die Potsdamer Jeanne d'Arc"). Various plays and poems were written on her life (including one by Friedrich Rückert), whilst Ludwig van Beethoven began a "Bühnenmusik" (WoO 96) on her, with a libretto entitled "Eleonore Prochaska" written by the Prussian royal private-secretary Friedrich Duncker.

Eleonore was one of many German women to fight in the Napoleonic Wars, though almost all of them were ejected from the army when it was found out that they were women.

German Federal Republic, 2013.10.05, Dannenberg (Elbe). Eleonore Prochaska


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