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Osprey Publishing

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Osprey Publishing
Parent companyBloomsbury Publishing
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Headquarters locationOxford
Publication typesBooks
Nonfiction topicsmilitary history
ImprintsShire, Old House

Osprey Publishing is an Oxford-based publishing company specializing in military history. Predominantly an illustrated publisher, many of their books contain full-colour artwork plates, maps and photographs, and the company produces over a dozen ongoing series, each focusing on a specific aspect of the history of warfare. Osprey has published over 2,300 books. They are best known for their Men-at-Arms series, running to over 500 titles, with each book dedicated to a specific historical army or military unit. Osprey is an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Napoleonic Wars: Austerlitz 1805
  • ✪ Combat: German vs. British Infantryman by David Greentree
  • ✪ Osprey - Αρχαία Πολεμική Ιστορία


An Epic History TV / HistoryMarche collaboration, supported by our sponsor, the Great Courses Plus. In December 1804, in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor of the French. Europe had never seen such a sudden and dramatic rise to power – a son of impoverished Corsican nobility, to military dictator of France, in little more than 10 years. Revolution and war had cleared Napoleon’s path to the throne. War would dominate his ten-year reign: a conflict unprecedented in history, that would leave millions dead, and a continent in turmoil. Eight months after Napoleon’s coronation. The French Empire, and its Spanish ally were at war with Britain, and Napoleon had assembled an army of 180,000 men along the Channel coast. But as long as the British Royal Navy ruled the seas, invasion was impossible… But nor could Britain challenge France on land. And so British Prime Minister William Pitt tried to build a European coalition against Napoleon, using diplomacy and gold. Britain would prove Napoleon’s most steadfast enemy… and its press delighted in relentless mockery of the French emperor. Britain and France were old rivals, in Europe and overseas. But now Pitt feared Napoleon’s conquests had made France too powerful – the French Emperor had to be defeated, and Europe’s ‘balance of power’ restored, if there was ever to be lasting peace. Pitt found willing allies in Europe: among monarchs who despised Napoleon as a product of the French Revolution, and a dangerous threat to the existing order. Austria harboured the deepest grievances, having seen her influence in Germany and Italy steadily eroded by French victories. The final straw came in May 1804, when Napoleon had also crowned himself King of Italy in Milan. Austria, Russia, Sweden, and Naples joined Britain in an alliance known as the Third Coalition... And devised an ambitious plan for a series of joint offensives against France. The main attack would be made by a combined Austro-Russian army, advancing across the Rhine into France. But Napoleon got word of their plans, and reacted with typical speed and decision. He was determined to strike first, before the Allies could join forces, and ordered his army, now renamed ‘La Grande Armée’, to march to the River Rhine. His target was the Austrian army of General Mack, which had made a premature advance against Bavaria, a French ally, and was now dangerously isolated from the other Allied armies. Napoleon ordered Marshal Murat, his famously flamboyant cavalry commander, to make feint attacks through the Black Forest – while the rest of his army, advancing at speed, enveloped Mack’s army from the north. That summer, Napoleon’s Grande Armée was at its most formidable – well trained, highly motivated - its regiments at full strength. What’s more, it had been newly reorganised according to the ‘corps’ system, later imitated by virtually every army in the world. Each corps, commanded by a Marshal, was a mini-army of 15 to 30 thousand soldiers, with its own infantry, cavalry, artillery and supporting arms, such as reconnaissance, engineers and transport. This meant each corps could march and fight, for a limited time, independently … allowing Napoleon to break with the old doctrine, of keeping his army concentrated, and advance with his corps widely dispersed… This helped to disguise his real objective, and increased movement speed, because the army could advance along multiple roads, and ‘live off the land’ – taking its supplies from scattered villages, rather than relying on slow-moving supply wagons. When the enemy’s main force was located, the army could quickly concentrate for battle. This is how Napoleon’s army was able to move at a speed that often surprised and disorientated his enemies. Mack didn’t realise the danger he was in until it was too late. Napoleon’s fast-moving corps crossed the Danube behind him, and surrounded his army. Mack launched a series of poorly co-ordinated counterattacks… but despite some desperate fighting, the Austrians couldn’t break out of the trap. Mack hoped that Kutuzov’s Russian army could arrive in time to save him, but the Russians were still 160 miles away. And so at Ulm, on 19th October, just 6 weeks into the war, Mack surrendered his army to Napoleon. The French took nearly 60,000 Austrian prisoners, and Napoleon had struck his first devastating blow against the Coalition. Russian General Mikhail Kutuzov was an experienced and wary commander, more cautious than Mack. His army was exhausted after its 900-mile march from Russia. But hearing of the Austrian surrender at Ulm, and knowing he wasn’t strong enough to face Napoleon alone, he immediately ordered a retreat. Napoleon pursued. The Russians fought several sharp rearguard actions… but could not save the Austrian capital Vienna, which the French occupied on 12th November. Kutuzov slipped away to Olmütz, in today’s Czech Republic… where he was joined by reinforcements, as well as Emperor Alexander of Russia, and Emperor Francis of Austria, in person. Napoleon was furious that Kutuzov had escaped. By now his army was also exhausted, and far from home, with winter approaching. He needed to force a decisive battle, quickly. Fortunately for him, the overconfident, 27-year-old Russian Emperor sought the glory of battle, overriding the concerns of his veteran commander, General Kutuzov. With the Allied army closing in, Napoleon ordered his corps to rapidly concentrate on a battlefield he’d carefully selected… near the town of Austerlitz. Napoleon oversaw the dispositions of his army late into the night, then grabbed a few hours’ sleep beside a camp fire. Dawn would mark the first anniversary of his coronation as Emperor – and promised a battle that would make or break his young empire. The morning of 2nd December 1805 was cold and bright, with a heavy mist. Two armies of near equal size faced each other across a 7 mile wide battlefield. But the Allies held the high ground of the Pratzen Heights, while French III Corps, under Marshal Davout, was still marching to the battlefield. Seeing Napoleon’s thinly-stretched right flank, the Allies planned a large-scale attack from the Pratzen Heights, to steamroller the French right, before swinging round to envelop Napoleon’s army. Little did they know, Napoleon was counting on his weak right wing luring the Allies into just such a move, whereupon he would launch his own attack on the Pratzen Heights, to cut the Allied army in half. His bold plan relied on his correct prediction of Allied movements, the speedy arrival of Davout’s III Corps on his right, and a perfectly timed counterattack. The battle began around 7am, as Austrian troops of General Kienmayer’s Advance Guard clashed with French troops defending the village of Telnitz. In the face of overwhelming odds, the French fought stubbornly and bravely… But gradually, they were forced back. But the Allies, instead of carrying out their great, enveloping attack… did nothing. The morning mist and the late arrival of orders had led to confusion and delay, and it was another hour before the first three Allied columns were on the move. Soon fierce fighting erupted around Sokolnitz village and castle. Marshal Davout’s corps, which had just force-marched 70 miles in 2 days, now arrived to strengthen the French right wing. Around 9am, his lead infantry brigade appeared suddenly through the mist and retook Telnitz… Before being driven back in turn by Austrian hussars. Two more of Davout’s brigades reinforced French troops at Sokolnitz. As the mist began to clear, Napoleon saw that as he’d hoped, the Allied left was moving off the Pratzen Heights, and he ordered Marshal Soult’s IV Corps to begin its attack. To the alarm of Allied commanders, two French infantry divisions, until now hidden by the mist, were suddenly seen advancing straight towards the Allied centre. General Kutuzov was forced to hurriedly organise a defence of the Heights using troops of IV Column. Two hours of bloody fighting followed. Musket fire was so rapid and furious that both sides were soon low on ammunition, and turned to the bayonet. By 11am, the French, with the advantage in training and discipline, had secured the Heights, and driven a deep wedge into the Allied position. To the north, a giant cavalry battle developed… while a Russian force from General Bagration’s Advance Guard captured the village of Bosenitz, before it was halted by cannon fire from the Santon hill. A decisive charge by 6 regiments of French heavy cavalry finally drove back the Allies, allowing Marshal Lannes’ V corps to move forward, and seize Blasowitz and Krug. Now Grand Duke Constantine, commanding the Russian Imperial Guard, led forward this last Allied reserve, in a desperate bid to reclaim the Pratzen Heights. A battalion of the French 4th Line Regiment was charged down by Russian guard cavalry, losing its Eagle standard in bloody fighting. Napoleon, who’d moved up to the Heights, sent in in his own Guard cavalry. In this grim melee between the elite horsemen of both armies, the French finally prevailed. Napoleon had broken the Allied centre. Now to close the trap on the Allied left wing, still locked in heavy fighting around Sokolnitz. Around 2pm, Napoleon ordered four divisions to swing south and cut off their retreat. General Buxhöwden, commanding the Allied left, only now saw the danger he was in. Attacked from three sides, the only escape was south… Many of his troops were forced to flee across frozen ponds. French artillery opened fire, trying to smash the ice with their cannonballs. About 200 men and dozens of horses drowned in the freezing water… but not the many thousands of Napoleon’s propaganda. The French Emperor had won a brilliant victory. His army had taken more than 10,000 prisoners, and captured 45 enemy standards. Thousands of dead and wounded of all sides littered the battlefield, many left untended for days. The Battle of the Three Emperors, as it became known, was a crushing blow to the Third Coalition. As Russian forces retreated back to Russia, Francis I of Austria was forced to accept a humiliating settlement with France, agreeing to pay a 40-million-franc indemnity, and give up more territory in exchange for peace. But meanwhile, news had reached Napoleon of a disastrous Franco-Spanish defeat at sea… off Cape Trafalgar. British admiral Lord Nelson, at the cost of his own life, had masterminded a victory so complete, that it ensured British naval dominance not just for the rest of the war, but for the next 100 years. Britain, master of the sea; Napoleon, unbeatable on land. The whale and the elephant, neither able to challenge the other in its own domain. When William Pitt received news of Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz, he’s supposed to have said, ‘Roll up that map of Europe, it will not be wanted these ten years.’ A month later Pitt was dead, but his warning that Europe faced another 10 years of war and upheaval… was to prove prophetic… Napoleon Bonaparte was the ultimate disruptor of European history – one man who transformed a continent. If you want to find out more, why not try a free trial with The Great Courses Plus, a fantastic on-demand video subscription service featuring more than 70 history courses, all taught by top academics. Their course, Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon, provides superb context, with 48 half-hour lectures that you can watch on your TV, laptop or phone wherever you are, at a time to suit you. If you love history, you’ll be tempted by dozens of their courses – ‘The Big History of Civilisations’ and ‘American Military History’ taught by General Wesley Clark, are just two that caught our eye. And they don’t just do history! In all, there’s more than 10,000 lectures covering every topic from science, maths and philosophy, to cookery and personal development. Visit or click on the link in the video description below to start your free trial today. Thanks to fellow YouTube channel HistoryMarche for creating the battle map and animations, and of course to all our Patreon supporters, for making this video possible. Visit the Epic History TV Patreon page to find out how you can support the channel, get early access to videos, and vote on future topics.



In the 1960s, the Brooke Bond Tea Company began including a series of military aircraft cards with packages of their tea. The cards proved popular, and the artist Dick Ward proposed the idea of publishing illustrated books about military aircraft. The idea was approved and a small subsidiary company called Osprey was formed in 1968.[1] The company’s first book, North American P-51D Mustang in USAAF-USAF Service, was published in 1969. Soon after, Ward proposed trying the same idea with famous military units, and in 1971 the first Men-at-Arms title appeared. In the late 70s, the firm was acquired by George Philip Ltd. In 1988, Philip was acquired by Reed International; it was sold to the private equity firm Botts & Company. [2]

During these years, the firm grew steadily, adding new titles and new series to their catalogue. Although they have produced books of all types, the main focus remains on military history, particularly the military history of Britain. Osprey Publishing now publishes an average of 10-12 books a month.

Shire Books was acquired in 2007, and the science fiction, fantasy and horror imprint Angry Robot was purchased from HarperCollins in 2010.[3] The reprint house Old House was acquired in 2011.[4] To continue expansion, a majority stake in Osprey was sold by Botts to Alcuin Capital Partners in 2011.[5] In 2012, Osprey acquired Duncan Baird (later renamed Nourish) and its Watkins imprint.[6][7] In 2013, Osprey acquired British Wildlife Publishing.[8]

In 2014, Osprey and its imprints were sold by Alcuin. Angry Robot, Nourish, and Watkins went to Etan Ilfeld while Osprey, Shire, Old House, and British Wildlife went to Bloomsbury Publishing.[9][10]


  • Air Vanguard - Launched in Autumn 2012, it is the technical aviation series whose books give a concise history of an aircraft's design and operational history.
  • Aircraft of the Aces - A series that focuses on fighter pilots who became aces with first-hand accounts, aircraft profiles, unit listings, and scale plans. [11]
  • Aviation Elite Units - Provides a full combat history of a fighter or bomber unit that earned particular distinction in action with first hand accounts, stories of the unsung heroes of each unit, and specially commissioned aircraft profile drawings and illustrations. [12]
  • Battle Orders - details the organization of famous military units.
  • Campaign - individual battles or campaigns in military history.
  • Combat - a new series detailing the differences between soldiers in the field.
  • Combat Aircraft - Concentrates on one of the greatest aircraft in aviation history, the technology behind it, and the men who flew it. [13]
  • Command - details the lives of important generals and admirals.
  • Dark Osprey - a comedic series detailing paranormal topics such as Nazi zombies and alien invasions.
  • Duel - comparing contemporary opponents, such as French and British frigates in the age of sail or German and Soviet tanks on the Eastern Front.
  • Elite - details individual units or tactics.
  • Essential Histories - Each book studies the origins, politics, fighting, and repercussions of one major war or theatre of war, from both military and civilian perspectives. [14]
  • Fortress - details important fortifications from Roman forts to Hitler's bunkers to the Berlin Wall.
  • Men-at-Arms - An illustrated reference on the history, organisation, uniforms, and equipment of the world's military forces, past and present. [15]
  • Myths and Legends - Examines the great stories that have echoed down through time to help shape our cultures. Each title focuses on a specific legendary figure retelling the related myth and also provides interesting, factual information about the history behind the story and its evolution over time. [16]
  • New Vanguard - approx 200 books on military equipment such as vehicles, artillery, and ships
  • Osprey Wargames - a series of wargaming rules.
  • Osprey Modelling - how-to guide to military model making.
  • Raid - details about famous military raiding actions or daring plans.
  • Warrior - focuses on the individual warrior of a specific period or culture, examining his experiences on the battlefield as well as his training, fighting methods and day to day living.
  • Weapon - discusses individual weapons from sidearms to artillery.


  1. ^ a b Farrimond, Robert. "50 Years of Osprey Publishing". Blog. Osprey Publishing. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Sturrock to chair Osprey Publishing". The Bookseller. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
  3. ^ Neilan, Catherine (2010-05-11). "HC imprint Angry Robot acquired by Osprey". Archived from the original on 2010-09-27. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
  4. ^ "Osprey Acquires Old House Publishing". Osprey Publishing. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
  5. ^ "Osprey Gets Additional Funding; Seeks Acquisitions". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
  6. ^ "Osprey buys Duncan Baird". The Bookseller. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
  7. ^ "Duncan Baird Rebrands as Nourish". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
  8. ^ "Osprey buys British Wildlife Publishing". The Bookseller. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
  9. ^ "Osprey sells off Watkins, Angry Robot and Nourish". The Bookseller. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
  10. ^ "Bloomsbury buys Osprey". The Bookseller. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^

External links

This page was last edited on 3 November 2018, at 02:02
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