Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Louis-François de Boufflers entered the French army in 1663 and rose through the ranks. He was a favorite of Henri de Turenne, leading the rearguard after Turenne’s death. By 1688 was leading the French army that opened the War of the Grand Alliance by taking Mainz. In 1690 he led troops skillfully at Fleurus, leading the column that reinforced Luxembourg and made the victory possible. Throughout the war he proved to be skilled at siege and battle, winning accolades at Steenkerque and the rank of marshal. Although he surrendered Namur in 1695, he was praised for his stubborn defense. By the time of the War of the Spanish Succession, he was often sidelined by illness. Nevertheless, his defense of Lille was superb, and although forced to surrender he dictated his own terms. He served as second in command at Malplaquet and led the army in its successful retreat. He died in 1711 before the war ended on terms more favorable to France due in part to Boufflers skill at Lille and Malplaquet. Boufflers was a soldier’s soldier, tough, brave, and practical. His greatest fame came when leading French troops in no-win situations such as Namur and Lille.
Nicolas Catinat was the only one of Louis XIV’s marshals who was not of noble blood, his father being a magistrate. His rise was due in part to his competence. He served well in the War of Devolution and Franco-Dutch War. He led troops skillfully in the opening phase of the War of the Grand Alliance. In 1690 he was given command of troops on the border with Savoy. Catinat diligently trained his troops and was popular because of his bravery. In 1690 he won a small battle at Staffarda and took Nice in 1692. In 1693 he won a smashing victory at Marsaglia over a combined Spanish and Savoy force. The battle saw the use of a mass bayonet charge and led to Savoy dropping out of the war in 1696. Catinat was named a marshal in 1693 and considered one of France’s leading commanders. His record in the War of Spanish Succession was uneven. He was out-maneuvered by Eugene and lost at Carpi in 1701. To be fair Catinat was elderly and hampered by the poor quality of his troops, and interference from Louis XIV. Shortly after Catinat retired and died in 1712. Among Louis XIV’s commanders Catinat was among the smartest; he trained originally as a lawyer and was a minor philosopher. He won his greatest acclaim late in life and indeed if not for his middle-class birth, might have risen higher, faster, and gained more fame. While hardly a genius, he was among the best commanders of the War of the Grand Alliance.
John Graham of Claverhouse came from the great Graham family of Scotland. His holdings were in Claverhouse. He sought a military glory, serving with Monmouth under the French and then with the future William III in the opposing army. In 1678 he was made a captain and patrolled the Scottish border, mostly attacking Covenanters. Claverhouse was defeated and Glasgow was put to siege, but the Covenanters were defeated by Monmouth. Claverhouse though despised Monmouth, aligning himself with the future James II. By 1688 he was commander of the Scottish Army. In 1689 he failed to rally Scotland for James II. At first he sought retirement but his enemies, in part looking for revenge, tried to imprison him. Claverhouse out-witted them and raised a Highland army. He was immensely popular with his men, known to look after their welfare and for his personal courage. His ragtag force ambushed a large column at Killiecrankie. Claverhouse won but was himself mortally wounded. Without his charisma, the rebellion broke down and the next year the Jacobite army surrendered. Claverhouse might have been the most capable of the long and sad line of Jacobite leaders. Like many of his kind, his life and death is surrounded in romantic myth.
James II never expected to be king. He was the younger son of Charles I and spent his youth in the English Civil War. When oxford fell he was captured but escaped to The Hague. He fought under Henri de Turenne with the French, earning a reputation for valor. France though backed Cromwell, so James was expelled and schemed with the Spanish, where came to admire the Catholic faith. When his brother Charles became king, James went with him. He caused a scandal by impregnating and marrying Anne Hyde, a match considered below his station. James proved a loving husband and father, although he had mistresses including Arabella Churchill. Her brother John would become a major fixture in James’ entourage. Named Lord High Admiral, along with Samuel Pepys he reformed the English navy, laying the groundwork for its future dominance. Granted land taken from New Netherland, New Amsterdam was renamed New York in honor of James, who was Duke of York. His actions in the fire of London won him further praise, but his conversion to Catholicism made him vastly unpopular, even though most of his associates were Protestants. His new wife, Mary of Modena, was treated as a papal agent. James, who was the heir to the throne, was embroiled in the exclusion crisis, as the rising Whig Party sought a Protestant succession. They failed, and James became king in 1685. A rebellion led by Charles’ popular bastard, Monmouth, was suppressed. James had grown more bitter over the years. His previous rule in Scotland saw liberal use of torture, and while Monmouth’s rebellion was never popular, James’ bloody reprisals won him few friends. He sought toleration for Catholicism and Protestant dissenters while he expanded and improved the army. England’s finances were also put in order, but James’ heavy-handed manner caused growing dissension. In 1688 William of Orange invaded with a Dutch army. Backed by many Protestants, James took to the field but declined battle as his army was unreliable and Churchill deserted him. James took command in Ireland, and until this point most had a high regard for him as an administrator and military commander. Yet, James had never led a major army into battle and he botched the Battle of the Boyne. He fled Ireland, which the next year fell to the Protestants. James II came under the protection of Louis XIV, who tried to make him king of Poland but after 1697 he was no longer supported by the Bourbons. Given to depression, he became more committed to Catholicism. He died in 1701, his remains disturbed to various Catholic institutions. He was considered for sainthood in 1734. His bastard son with Arabella, Berwick, became a successful French general. James II is perhaps the most controversial of all English kings. Hated in his own time, he seems to have been a devoted Catholic who sought genuine toleration. His reforms of the English army and navy were crucial in the rise of both military establishments. Yet, he was heavy-handed and autocratic. He will remain an enigma of English history for years to come.
Guy Aldonce de Durfort, duc de Lorges was a relative of Henri de Turenne; his older brother was Jacques de Durfort, one the most unremarkable marshals of the era. Nevertheless, such connects guaranteed Lorges a high position. He served under Turenne and in 1690 was given command of the troops on the German border, holding that command until 1695. His operations were unremarkable but also mostly successful. Lorges, although connected to the highest circles, was noted for his honesty. He married Gabrielle de Frémont out of love instead of politics. He died in extreme pain during a failed operation to remove a kidney stone in 1702.
François-Henri de Montmorency, duc de Luxembourg was born six months after his father was executed for dueling. The young Montmorency grew up with Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condé, and served with him in the Fronde. Condé secured for him a marriage to the most sought after woman in France, the duchess of Luxembourg in 1661. From now on he was known as Luxembourg. He was out of favor for a time but cultivated a relationship with François Michel de Louvois. After seeing some service in the War of Devolution, Luxembourg led one of the main French armies in the Franco-Dutch War. He proved to be an able commander, noted for hard marches and aggressive tactics, much like his mentor Condé. His success was hurt by his decision to burn Bodegraven, killing at least hundreds of civilians. For this he received a cool reception at court and his actions did much to rally the Dutch. Although made marshal and successful along the Rhine border, Luxembourg was thrown into the Bastille in 1680. This was possibly due to his association with the notorious Catherine Monvoisin, a reputed witch. Louis XIV reluctantly turned to Luxembourg in 1690 after the defeat at Walcourt. The following years saw Luxembourg at his finest, as he won three major field battles. He captured so many flags at Neerwinden that he was declared le Tapissier de Notre-Dame as the banners were draped within the great cathedral. Luxembourg became a national hero, but Louis XIV still distrusted him. He died in 1695. Known for his sharp wit, Luxembourg led a debauched lifestyle. Combined with his humpback, association with Monvoisin, burning of Bodegraven, and his marriage into great wealth some considered him an evil man, possibly in league with Satan. Louis XIV’s revulsion towards Luxembourg was based in part on pure superstition. As a commander his handling of logistics left much to be desired. Yet, his hard marches and tactical skill were acclaimed even by his enemies. He was undoubtedly the most accomplished and successful commander of the War of the Grand Alliance. William III called him, appropriately enough, the “cursed humpback” after Neerwinden.
Anne Jules de Noailles came from one of France’s most powerful families. His father Anne played a major role in the Fronde and was placed in charge of Roussillon near Catalonia. Anne Jules took up his father’s dukedom and in 1689 created the Noailles regiment. For the War of the Grand Alliance he led troops on the Spanish border. He fostered a peasant rebellion in 1689 and captured the mountain fort at Camprodon but had to abandon it. Noailles’ army was kept on the defensive until 1693 although many of his men were sent to reinforce Catinat in Italy. In 1693 he captured Rosas but again had to retreat, although he won the rank of marshal. In 1694 Noailles drove on Gerona and decisively defeated a Spanish army at Torroella. The degree to which Noailles was responsible is disputed; his army was superior in terms of training, experience, and artillery. Noailles, to his credit, did conceive a good battle plan. Gerona fell but the French government reduce his supplies and could not take Bareclona. The Royal Navy also arrived and made a blockade too risky. Noailles became ill and in 1695 was replaced with Louis Vendôme. In 1697 Vendôme took Barcelona, a decisive event that helped bring the war to a close. Anne Jules’ son, Adrien, took over the family in 1708 and had some success although in 1743 he was defeated at Dettingen. Anne Jules’ remains something of an unknown. Always lacking funds and support, his victories in Spain showed him to be a capable commander.
Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban was a poor, minor noble, an orphan at age ten. He served with the rebels in the Fronde, but ended up joining Louis XIV with the aid of Cardinal Mazarin. He took an interest in engineering and was often tapped to builds fortresses but also oversee siege.s His actions in the War of Devolution drew great praise. In the Franco-Dutch War he created a superb system, borrowed from the Turks, for taking fortresses by the use of trenches. After the war he created the famous star pattern of fortification that remained the standard until the late 20th century. The War of the Grand Alliance saw him at the height of his power. At Namur in 1692 he took on the great Dutch engineer Menno van Coehoorn and came out successful, in part by using ricochet firing. In 1694 he brilliantly defended Brest, France. In 1703 he took Breisach was named marshal of France. His influence declined though as his various fortresses were captured, many not realizing that without Vauban’s forts the war would have been lost. Vauban was one of great geniuses of military history, his system of forts and sieges dictated the tempo of European warfare until the French Revolution and were still relevant until World War II. He was also diverse in his talents, writing on biology, taxation, and economics. Vauban opposed the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, pointing out the economic damage it would cause. He also correctly saw the taxation system as unfair and inefficient. Some of this came from personal experience. Vauban’s family was so poor he grew up among the peasants, and observed their hardships. Vauban’s warnings were not heeded and unfair taxation was the ultimate long-term cause of the French Revolution.
- Last edited Tue Jan 31, 2017 2:12 am (Total Number of Edits: 3)
- Posted Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:36 am
Kris Van Beurden
William III called him, appropriately enough, the “cursed humpback” after Neerwinden.
"How does he know I have a hump?" retorted Luxembourg, "he has never seen my back."
Nice treatment of the Bourbon generals again, Sean!
Dukes we despise, Kings we cannot be, Gamers are we!
Good old Boufflers! One of my all-time favorite generals.