The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) was a major European conflict that began in 1701 after the death of the last Spanish king of the Habsburg dynasty, Charles II. Charles had bequeathed all his possessions to Philip, Duke of Anjou–the grandson of the French King Louis XIV–who later became King Philip V of Spain. The war began with an attempt by Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I to defend the right of his dynasty (also Habsburg) to Spanish possessions. When Louis XIV began to expand his territories more aggressively, however, some European powers (mainly England and the Dutch Republic) sided with the Holy Roman Empire to prevent France from becoming stronger. Other states joined the alliance between France and Spain to try to gain new territories or to defend existing ones. The war took place not only in Europe, but also in North America, where the local conflict was referred to by English colonists as the Queen Anne War.
The war lasted more than a decade and displayed the talents of such famous commanders as the Duke de Villar and Duke of Berwick (France), the Duke of Marlborough (England), and Prince Eugene of Savoy (Austria). The war ended with the signing of the Treaties of Utrecht (1713) and Rastatta (1714). As a result, Philip V remained King of Spain, but lost his right to inherit the French throne, which broke the dynastic alliance between the crowns of France and Spain. The Habsburgs of Austria received most of the Spanish possessions in Italy and the Netherlands. France, in turn, retained all of Louis XIV”s previous conquests, and also received the principality of Orange and Barcelonnet. As a result, the threat to encircle France with Hapsburg possessions disappeared forever.
Since Charles II of Spain was mentally and physically ill from an early age and had no children, and there were no other men in the Spanish branch of the Habsburg family, the question of inheriting the vast Spanish Empire – which in addition to Spain also included possessions in Italy and America, Belgium and Luxembourg – was a constant subject of debate:271-273.
Two dynasties claimed the Spanish throne: the French Bourbons and the Austrian Habsburgs; both royal families were closely related to the last Spanish king:273-274.
The most legitimate heir in terms of Spanish tradition, which allowed succession to the throne through the female line, was Louis the Great Dauphin, the only legitimate son of the French king Louis XIV and the Spanish princess Maria Theresa, the elder half-sister of Charles II:273-274. In addition, Louis XIV himself was a cousin of his wife and King Charles II, since his mother was the Spanish princess Anne of Austria, sister of the Spanish King Philip IV, father of Charles II. The Dauphin, as first heir to the French throne, faced a difficult choice: if he inherited the French and Spanish kingdoms, he would have to control a vast empire that threatened the balance of power in Europe. In addition, Anne and Maria Theresa renounced their rights to the Spanish succession under the terms of the marriage treaty. In the latter case, the renunciation did not take effect because it was a condition of Spain paying the dowry of Infanta Maria Theresa, which the French crown never received.
Another candidate was Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I, who belonged to the Austrian branch of the Habsburg dynasty. Since the House of Habsburg adhered to Salic law, Leopold I was next to Charles within the dynastic hierarchy, since both were descended from Philip I of Habsburg. Furthermore, Leopold was a cousin of the King of Spain, his mother was also the sister of Philip IV and did not renounce her rights to the Spanish throne when she married; moreover, Charles II”s father, Philip IV had mentioned the Austrian branch of the Habsburgs as heirs in his will. This candidate was also of concern to the other powers, for with Leopold”s accession to the Spanish succession there would have been a revival of the sixteenth-century Spanish-Austrian Habsburg empire. In 1668, just three years before the coronation of Charles II, the then childless Leopold I agreed to the division of Spanish territories between the Bourbons and the Habsburgs, even though Philip IV bequeathed him undivided power. In 1689, however, when King William III of England secured the emperor”s support in the Nine Years” War, he promised to support the emperor”s claim to the entire Spanish empire.
Another candidate for the Spanish throne was Crown Prince Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria, born in 1692. He belonged to the Wittelsbach dynasty and was the maternal grandson of Leopold I. His mother, Maria Antonia, was the daughter of Leopold I by his first marriage to the younger daughter of Phillip IV of Spain, Marguerite Teresa:273-274. Since Joseph Ferdinand was neither a Bourbon nor a Habsburg, the likelihood of a merger of Spain with France or Austria in the event of his coronation was slim. Although Leopold I and Louis XIV sought to place their descendants on the Spanish throne – Leopold I his youngest son, Archduke Charles, and Louis XIV his youngest son the Dauphin, Duke of Anjou – the Prince of Bavaria remained the safest candidate. Thus England and the Netherlands preferred to bet on him. Moreover, Joseph Ferdinand was named the rightful heir to the Spanish throne by Charles II.
As the Nine Years” War drew to a close in 1697, the question of the Spanish Succession was becoming critical. England and France, weakened by the conflict, signed the Hague Agreement, which recognized Joseph Ferdinand as heir to the Spanish throne, but Spain”s possessions in Italy and the Netherlands were to be divided between France and Austria. This decision was taken without consulting the Spaniards, who were opposed to the division of their empire. Thus at the signing of the Treaty of The Hague, Charles II of Spain agreed to name the Prince of Bavaria as his successor, but designated the entire Spanish Empire, not the parts chosen for him by England and France, as his inheritance.
The young prince of Bavaria died suddenly of smallpox on the night of February 5-6, 1699, which again raised the question of the Spanish Succession:281. England and France soon ratified the Treaty of London, which gave the Spanish throne to Archduke Charles. The Italian territories passed to France, and the archduke retained all other Spanish possessions:282-283.
The Austrians, who were not part of the agreement, were extremely dissatisfied; they openly sought possession of all of Spain, and the Italian territories interested them the most: they were richer, close to Austria, and easier to govern. In addition, Austria”s international prestige and influence in Europe increased after the Karlowitz Peace Treaty, which was extremely beneficial to her.
In Spain the resentment of the agreement was even greater; the court was unanimously opposed to the division of the dominions:284 but there was no unanimity as to whom to support – the Habsburgs or the Bourbons. The supporters of France were in the majority, and in October 1700, to please them, Charles II bequeathed all his estates to the Dauphin”s second son, the Duke of Anjou:289 Charles took steps to prevent the merger of France and Spain; he decided that if Philip of Anjou inherited the French throne, the Spanish throne would pass to his younger brother, the Duc de Berry. Next on the list of succession after the Duke of Anjou and his brother was Archduke Charles.
At first the Allies did not object to the accession of the Duke of Anjou to the Spanish throne, stipulating only the transfer of the Spanish Netherlands (Belgium) to England and Holland to make it a buffer between France and Holland, and the Spanish possessions in Italy to Austria. But after the outbreak of war (in 1703) Allies put a candidate for the Spanish throne Archduke Charles, and the alliance was involved Portugal, on the basis of which Charles was to seize Spain with the help of the Anglo-Dutch fleet. Charles III had supporters in Catalonia and Aragon, while southern Spain was on the side of Philip of Anjou (elected king Philip V).
When news of Charles II”s will reached the French court, Louis XIV”s advisors persuaded him that it would be safer to accept the terms of the London Agreement of 1700 and not to go to war over the entire Spanish succession. But the French foreign minister explained to the king that should France encroach on all or only part of the Spanish empire, war was inevitable with Austria, which had not agreed to the division of Spanish possessions stipulated in the London Agreement. In addition, according to Charles”s will, the Duke of Anjou was to receive either all or nothing of the Spanish Empire; if he refused, the right of succession to the entire empire passed to Phillip”s younger brother, Charles, Duke de Berry, and, if he refused, to Archduke Charles. Knowing that the maritime powers – England and the Dutch Republic – would not support him in a war with Austria and Spain in the event of an attempt to partition the latter, Louis decided to accept the will of the Spanish king and allow his grandson to inherit all Spanish possessions. On learning that Louis and Philip of Anjou had accepted the will, the Spanish ambassador exclaimed: “there are no more Pyrenees.”
Charles II died on November 1, 1700, and on November 24, Louis XIV proclaimed Philip of Anjou king of Spain. Philip V was named king of the entire Spanish empire, despite the London Agreement signed earlier with the English. William III of Orange, however, did not declare war on France, having no elite support in either England or Holland.
However, Louis chose an overly aggressive path to protect France”s hegemony in Europe. He cut England and the Netherlands off from trade with Spain, which seriously threatened the commercial interests of these two countries. William III in September 1701 concluded the Hague Agreement with the Dutch Republic and Austria, which still recognized Philip V as King of Spain, but gave Austria coveted Spanish possessions in Italy. The Austrians were also to take control of the Spanish Netherlands, thereby protecting the region from French control. Austria and Holland regained their commercial rights in Spain.
A few days after the agreement was signed, James II, the previous king of England, who had been removed from the throne by William in 1688, died in France. Although Louis had previously recognized William III as king of England with the signing of the Riswick Agreement, he now declared that only the son of the ousted James II, James Francis Edward Stuart (the old claimant), could be the sole heir of the dead William III of Orange:292 Outraged England and the Dutch Republic (whom Louis had angered by introducing French troops into the Spanish Netherlands) responded by raising their armies and declaring war on France and Spain on May 14, 1702. On May 15, England and Holland were joined by Austria:293.
The armed conflict began with the introduction of Austrian troops under the command of Eugene of Savoy into the Duchy of Milan, one of the Spanish territories in Italy. England, Holland, and most of the German states (including Prussia and Hanover) sided with the Austrians, while Bavaria, Cologne, Portugal, and Savoy supported France and Spain. In Spain itself, the Cortes of Aragon, Valencia, and Catalonia (former territories of the Kingdom of Aragon) declared their support for the Austrian Archduke. Even after William III”s death in 1702, under his successor, Queen Anne, England continued to actively wage war under the leadership of the ministers Godolphin and Marlborough.
Venice declared its neutrality despite the pressure of the powers, but could not prevent foreign armies from violating its sovereignty. Pope Innocent XII first supported Austria, but after some concessions from Louis XIV he supported France.
The main theaters of military operations in Europe were the Netherlands, Southern Germany, Northern Italy, and Spain proper. At sea the main events took place in the Mediterranean basin.
For a ruined and impoverished Spain, the outbreak of war was a real disaster. The state treasury was empty. The government had no ships or an army; in 1702 it was barely possible to raise two thousand soldiers for an expedition to Italy. In the dilapidated fortresses stood a very small garrison, which was the reason for the loss of Gibraltar in 1704. The soldiers, who had no money, weapons or clothing, scattered without any remorse, and France had to use its fleets and armies to protect the vast Spanish possessions.
Actions in Italy
In 1701 in Italy Louis XIV decided to limit himself to defensive actions. Taking advantage of the alliance with the Duke of Mantua, which opened the way to the French in Italy, Louis XIV had time to move the army of Marshal Catin. Taking into account the fact that the probable route of the Austrian advance was the right bank of the Adige, by May he concentrated the army (51 battalions of infantry and 71 squadron of cavalry, a total of 33 thousand men and about 11 thousand in the garrisons of Cremona, Mirandola, Picigetona, Lodi and Lecco) in the position between Lake Garda and Adige at Rivoli. The position was strong and strategically advantageous, providing an opportunity to block the invading army from Tyrol from entering Italy. The marshal”s plan was to hold his position at Rivoli, move his troops into all the mountain passages as far west as Lake Como and, without crossing the Adige out of respect for Venetian neutrality, limit his defensive action to defensive action.
Hostilities began as early as the spring of 1701. The Duke of Savoy, Victor Amadeus II, at the head of the Piedmont armies moved on Milan and entered it without difficulty.
Meanwhile, the Austrian army, under the command of Prince Eugene of Savoy, by the end of May had assembled at Breonio, from where on June 4 it launched an attack along the left bank of the Adige River. On June 6, both armies positioned themselves as follows. The Austrians: General Gutenstein (5 battalions and 100 dragoons for the demonstration from the side of Lake Garda) – opposite Monte Baldo, the main forces of Eugene (in addition, were to join the army 3700 men of infantry and 5 thousand cavalry. The French: 8,700 men at Rivaga, one battalion at Ferrara, 2,300 men at Bussolengo, 18,000 (in addition, the troops of Victor-Amadeus of Savoy were expected to join.
Thus Katina, instead of taking a central position, from where he could attack at a favorable moment against the crossing enemy, stretched along the Adizha cordon. The consequence of this was that when he received the news of the crossing at Karpi, he did not have time to concentrate enough forces to the threatened point. Katina, defeated at the battle of Karpi on July 9 and having drawn up to 20,000 men to Nogara by July 10, withdrew to the Minchio River.
Meanwhile, Prince Eugene on July 9 crossed the Adige at Carpi, and on July 15 arrived at Villafranca, where on the same day he joined up with Gutenstein, who was on his way through Bussolengo. By July 16 Eugene had 33,000 and 70 guns against Katin”s 38,000, whose army had positioned itself on the Marmirolo – Borghetto front. On July 25, Duke Victor-Amadeus of Savoy, who held the title of commander-in-chief, arrived to the French army.
On July 26, the Austrians began moving toward Minchio at Salionza, and General Palfi”s detachment to cover it (all troops crossed without interference during the night and positioned themselves near Peschiera.
Meanwhile, Catina, instead of taking advantage of the numerical superiority to attack the imperial army and push it behind the Adige, allowed it to make a flank march and restore communications with Tyrol. On crossing the Minchio, Prince Eugene decided to take advantage of the situation and bypass the left flank of the French army to force it to abandon its positions along the Minchio, Kiese, and beyond without a fight. On July 31 the Austrians marched to Lonato and Caminelo, where they encamped. With the above movement Eugene won a new communication line to the Tyrol through the valley of the Chiesa and occupied such a position that Catina had to fear for Olio.
The French marshal, not having understood the situation, was firmly convinced of the Austrian offensive in Mantua and along the Po River. Therefore, having crossed the Olio, he took up a position near Canetto. On hearing of the retreat of the French for Olio, the Austrian commander-in-chief moved to Vigizzolo (August 8) and sent a cavalry detachment of Palfi to reconnaissance towards Chiari and Palazzolo. News of this prompted Catin to withdraw the army to Sonzino, where he arrived on 15 August and took up a position at Romanengo.
The grouping of forces during this period of time was as follows. Catin had: in Romanengo – 38 thousand, in Vaprio – 12 thousand (Vaudemont), a total of 50 thousand, and up to 22 thousand scattered in the fortresses. Prince Eugene has almost all the troops in the camp at Vigizzolo (32 thousand). On August 22, a new commander-in-chief, Marshal Villeroy, arrived to replace Catin and decided to go on the offensive.
On 29 August the troops crossed the Olio River and by 31 August were positioned south of Chiari. Upon receiving news of the French crossing the Olio, the Austrian commander positioned himself with a front to the south in the position at Chiari. The Austrians had in their ranks 13 thousand infantry, 9 thousand cavalry, the French had 30 thousand infantry, 8 thousand cavalry. On September 1, the French attacked the position at Chiari without preparation with artillery, but were repulsed with the loss of 3,600 men killed and wounded; the Austrian losses did not exceed 200 men.
After the battle at Chiarie, the French army positioned itself on the Urago-Castrezato line, where it remained idle for more than 2 months. Lack of food finally forced Villeroy on the night of November 13 to surreptitiously cross Olio, retreat to Cremona and settle in winter quarters. Eugene, not having had time to prevent the retreat of the French, moved down the Olio and, standing between Villeroy”s army and Mantua, encircled this fortress. After that, having captured Borgoforte, Ostiglia, Pontemolino, Guastalla and Mirandola, Eugene also positioned himself in winter quarters, covering Minchio and Po and having advanced posts on the Olio.
Actions in the Netherlands
Meanwhile, extensive preparations for war continued in the Netherlands and Anglo-Dutch troops were gathering around Breda, with General Marlborough to take command. In view of the crucial importance of the war in the Netherlands, the French commander-in-chief was appointed the oldest of the marshals, Bufler, who had 123 battalions and 129 squadrons (75,000 men). In addition, Tällaro”s 15,000-strong corps stood on the Moselle and a similar number were in the garrisons of the most important cities of the Spanish Netherlands (Newport, Oudenarde, Charleroi, Namur, etc.). However, there was no military action here this year.
Actions on the Rhine
In Germany, in the first year of the war, minus the troops sent to Italy and Hungary, was no more than 50-60 thousand; of these on the Rhine, under the command of Margrave Ludwig of Baden, was about 15 thousand infantry and 6,500 cavalry, and in the hereditary Austrian possessions to 11 thousand infantry and 7 thousand cavalry.
The French army on the Rhine (62 battalions and 100 squadrons, 41,000 in all) was initially under the command of Marshal Villeroy; up to 16 battalions (8,000) were scattered throughout Alsace. Intending to achieve his objectives through diplomatic negotiations and ordering that all theaters be limited to strictly defensive actions, Louis XIV deprived himself of all the advantages of initiative.
Actions at sea
In Europe, actions at sea were concentrated off the coast of Spain and Italy, and in general they were closely linked with operations on land. Preparation and movement of fleets (mobilization and strategic deployment) began as early as 1701. Holland fielded 24 battleships, but some of them and a significant number of frigates she left near its shores to protect the passages, because she feared an invasion of the French from the Netherlands. She had a detachment of 10,000 men of English troops under the command of the Duke of Marlborough. Most of the battleships under Admiral Almond joined the British fleet, which had begun to assemble as early as April at Portsmouth under Admiral Rooke. The appointment of an allied fleet was to produce pressure on Spain by taking possession of reliable bases on its shores to prevent the French naval forces that were preparing in Toulon and Brest from joining together and to prevent them from setting up bases from Spanish ports. Indeed, Louis demanded of the Spanish government that Cadiz, Gibraltar and Port Mahon be fortified and supplied.
The French, meanwhile, sent two detachments from Brest in August (Admirals Ketlogon and Château-Renaud) to the West Indies with troops and supplies for the colonies, and to conduct from there a “silver fleet” on whose arrival from South America depended the material means of Spain for the war. The British, for their part, decided to intercept this fleet. Upon receiving news of Ketlogon”s departure, Admiral Rooke was ordered to watch Brest, but he approached it after Chateau-Renault had left. Then Rooke separated a squadron (25 British and 10 Dutch ships) under the command of Vice-Admiral Benbow to the Spanish coast to intercept the “silver fleet,” after which Benbow was to go to the West Indies with 10 British ships to support the operations of the colonists, and send the remaining ships in Portsmouth, where Rooke went the same time.
October 10 Benbow arrived in the Azores, where he was informed that the “silver fleet” had already entered Cadiz, so Benbow sent his squadron to England, and himself with 10 ships arrived on November 13 on the island of Barbados. Meanwhile, the news turned out to be false. “Silver Fleet” and did not go out, because the galleons were not ready, and the Spaniards considered the detachment Ketlogon too weak for reliable cover, so he returned to Brest in February 1702.
A detachment of Château-Renaud (10 ships) from Brest sailed first to Lisbon to put pressure on Portugal, whose allegiance to the alliance with Spain was already suspicious at that time. From there he crossed over to Cadiz at the end of October. In Cadiz, the detachment of Chateau-Renaud met with a French squadron of 20 battleships under the command of Count d”Estrees, which since May had moved here from Toulon. Receiving news of the appearance of Benbow”s squadron and the task assigned to him, Château-Renaud went with 14 ships behind the “silver fleet,” while d”Estreux, too weak after that to counter Benbow, left Cadiz, taking the Spanish troops to transport them to Naples and Sicily, then returned to Toulon. Château-Renaud arrived at Santa Cruz and in March 1702 set sail with the “silver fleet” for Europe via Havana.
In the spring of 1702 England sent a squadron to Portugal and forced King Pedro II to break a treaty with France. On October 22, 1702, 30 English and 20 Dutch ships under the command of Admiral George Rooke broke the log barriers, broke into the Bay of Vigo and landed there 4 thousand troops. A large part of the armada carrying silver from the Spanish possessions in the Americas was sunk, some of the silver was captured, some sank with the ships.
In 1702, Prince Eugene of Savoy continued to operate in Northern Italy, where the French were commanded by the Duc de Villroix, whom the prince defeated and captured at the Battle of Cremona on February 1. Villroix was replaced by the Duc de Vendôme, who, despite the successful battle of Luzzara in August and his considerable numerical advantage, showed his inability to dislodge Eugene of Savoy from Italy.
Meanwhile, in June 1702 the Duke of Marlborough landed in Flanders, and fighting began in the Netherlands and on the Lower Rhine. Marlborough led a combined force of English, Dutch, and Germans into the northern Spanish possessions and captured several important fortresses, among them Liège. On the Rhine, the imperial army, led by Ludwig, Margrave of Baden, captured Landau in September, but the threat to Alsace diminished after Elector Maximilian II of Bavaria entered the war on the side of France. Ludwig was forced to retreat across the Rhine, where he was defeated at the Battle of Friedlingen (October) by the French army under Marshal de Villard.
Actions in Italy
At the beginning of 1702, Austrian troops (50,000 men) were occupying an apartment position east of the Olio River, in the area of Ostiano, Novellara, Mirandola, and Castiglione.
The French stood west of the Olio River (the main quarter of Cremona) and Tesse”s 6,000 men at Mantua. Villeroy”s forces numbered up to 75,000. Calculating that the reinforcements sent to him would arrive before Prince Eugene expected, the marshal wanted to force the latter to lift the siege of Mantua and, reinforced by Tesse”s detachment, to force him back behind Minchio. However, Eugene decided to capture Cremona even before the arrival of the enemy”s reinforcements, introducing troops there by an underground passage from the castle moat, leading to the cellar of the Austrian accomplice, the Abbot of Cosoli.
At 7 a.m. on February 1, 600 men, gathered in the courtyard of the abbot”s house, marched into the city, seized the gates, broke the guard, occupied the main square of Cremona and captured Marshal Villeroy. But this was the end of the imperial successes. General Revel, who took the place of Villeroy, gathered his troops and forced the Austrians to leave the city.
On February 18, the new commander-in-chief of the French army, Duke Vendôme, arrived and decided to go on the offensive along the south bank of the Po and then undertake operations to unblock Mantua. On March 18, the French army, reinforced to 56 thousand, began to rally to Stradella, and on March 26 began the offensive, on March 30 it reached the Noura river; but the difficulty of food on the right bank of the Po slowed the movement and forced the French to cross over to the left bank.
For his part, Prince Eugene, having received the news of the French attack, ordered to lift the siege of Mantua and concentrated the main forces (24 thousand) on the line Curtatone – Borgoforte. Meanwhile, Vandome, having crossed the Po River and proceeded to Pralboino, reached Minchio on May 23, occupied Rivalta and Goito and forced the imperialists to clear the entire left bank of Minchio. On June 1 Vande took possession of Castiglione. Prince Eugene”s communications with the base were now in great danger.
Then Vendôme decided to keep a part of his troops at Rivalta, and with the other to cross the river Po and here, demonstrating against Guastalla, move with concentrated forces to Borgoforto. On July 8, he, leaving at Rivalta Vaudemont with 33 thousand, he himself with 38 thousand headed to the right bank of the Po and on July 25 came to the river Enza.
Upon receiving news of Vendôme”s attack, Prince Eugene ordered the construction of a tête-de-ponne at Borgoforte for 6,000 men and ordered three cavalry regiments of General Visconti to move to Brescello and monitor the line of the Enza River, as well as to take care of the construction of a tête-de-ponne at Saint-Vittoria, where his units had withdrawn when the French approached.
Vendôme decided to attack Visconti at St. Vittoria. Taken by surprise, Visconti”s detachment tried to resist, but was driven back to Guastalle, with the loss of 600 men killed and wounded, 400 prisoners. The French lost about 200 men.
On July 28, Vandom marched from St. Vittoria to Novellara, allocated a small force to occupy Reggio, Carpi, Modena and Coredgio and hoping to draw in some of Vaudemont”s troops (who meanwhile occupied Montanaro and Curtatone) so as to continue the offensive towards Borgoforte.
On the night of August 1, the Austrians crossed the Po and stretched out toward Soleto. On August 14, having received 7,000 reinforcements from Vaudemont, Vendôme”s army (up to 30,000, 49 battalions and 103 squadrons) marched to Lucara, where it arrived at 8 a.m. on August 15. For his part, Prince Eugene, having received news of the French advance, at 10 a.m. moved to Lucara from Soleto (25 thousand, 38 battalions, 80 squadrons and 57 guns). The bloodiest battle that lasted all day unfolded. Only the darkness of the night and fatigue of the troops did not allow to continue the battle, which was not won. Losses: Austrians – 2700 men killed and wounded; French – about 3 thousand.
Then there was no resumption of hostilities in the field, and it was not until the first days of November that Vandom decided to bypass Eugene”s left flank. On November 5 the French moved towards Reggiolo. On November 7, Vandome seized the bridge at Bandanello and encamped there. Realizing that Vandome”s intentions were to occupy a quartier location near the Secchia and Panaro Rivers, Eugene sent 4 regiments of cavalry to the right bank of the Secchia with orders to delay the French crossing until the main force, which followed from behind, approached. Vandom did not dare to attack the strong imperial position and on November 13 retreated to Fabriko to occupy winter quarters; Eugene followed his example. On November 14 Vandome took possession of Borgoforte, and in December Governolo fell.
Actions in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, the campaign of 1702 began with the siege of Kaiserswerth (near Dusseldorf), where the 5-thousand French garrison of Blainville was locked in. On April 18 the Anglo-Dutch army of the Duke of Nassau (19 thousand) laid siege to the city, which surrendered on June 15. But even before Marshal Beaufleur (36 battalions, 58 squadrons, a total of 25,000 men) managed to win a victory at Nimwegen (June 11) over the detachment of General Ginsquel (27 battalions, 61 squadron, a total of 23 thousand men). The Dutch lost 400 men killed and wounded and 300 prisoners of war, the French up to 200 men.
On September 11 the Duke of Nassau (30,000) laid siege to Venlo, which was defended by a French garrison of 4,000 de Labadie, and by September 23 forced the fortress to surrender.
On September 29 Rurmond was encircled, surrendering on October 7.
Exhausted by sending troops to Alsace and Landau, Bufler could do nothing decisive and, camped in Tongres, tried in vain to cover the threatened siege of Lüttich. The marshal had to content himself with letting the 8-thousand garrison into the town and then, as the 40-thousand Marlborough army approached the town, avoiding a battle, he withdrew to Janaren on October 17. Lüttich surrendered, and on November 23 all the troops had already dispersed to their winter quarters.
Thus, this year”s operations in the Netherlands were not decisive and were limited to fortress warfare.
Actions on the Rhine
In Alsace and Bavaria the campaign of 1702 began with the passage of Margrave Ludwig of Baden (32,000 infantry and 14,000 cavalry) across the Rhine between Mainz and Speer (April 27), and the encampment of his troops at Frankenthal, where he was engaged in preparations for the siege of Landau.
Marshal Catina, summoned from Italy and standing in Strasbourg, tried to assist the 5,000-strong garrison, but, being numerically weak, could not succeed. On June 18 the Imperials closely encircled Landau, which held out until September 9. The French lost 1,700 men killed and wounded, the rest were given a free pass to Strasbourg.
On the same day the Elector of Bavaria (25,000) took Ulm and, leaving a 4,000-strong garrison there, sent General Count d”Arco with 10,000 to the Schwarzwald mountains to liaise with the army of Villar, sent by Louis XIV to reinforce the troops of Catin. Arco took possession of Kirchbach on the Iller, Biberach, Memingen, Augsburg, and Ofenhausen. Learning of the movements of the Bavarians, the margrave decided to prevent them from joining with Villar, for which purpose he crossed the Rhine (September 22) at the height of Strasburg, occupied with troops all the passages of the Black Forest mountains, and stood in the way of the allied connection. Ludwig of Baden”s decision was the right one, but he should not have delayed in attacking and crushing the Elector before the French arrived, and then descending upon Villar. The cautious Margrave, however, confined himself to the occupation of Hagenau and Bischweiler and intensified his surveillance of the passages of the Black Forest.
On September 24, Villar with 30 battalions, 40 squadrons and 33 guns, bypassing the mountains through the Güningen passage, managed to reach Güningen, where he ordered the construction of a bridge, which was ready at noon in October. In sight of the enemy, the marshal crossed to the right bank of the Rhine on October 2 (a feat which was highly valued in its time as an outstanding episode of this entire campaign) and decided to attack the imperialists by bypassing them through Wilz and then to give the hand of the Bavarians, to unite with whom the French king especially insisted on political considerations.
After a series of maneuvers and detours he attacked the margrave at Frillingen (October 14). The French had 17 thousand in their ranks, and the Imperials had 14 thousand. The 2-hour battle was hard fought and victory wavered. The capture of the trenches on the heights of Friedlingen and the brilliant attack of the cuirassiers decided the battle in favor of the French, who lost 2.5 thousand killed and wounded; the imperial losses to 2 thousand men. Margrave Ludwig retreated to Staufen, where he connected with reinforcements.
After the surrender of Friedlingen (15 October), the hostile armies were dispersed to winter quarters.
Actions at sea
The start of hostilities was delayed by the death of King William III of Orange of England (March 8, 1702). Only in late June 1702 in Portsmouth, focused 30 British and 20 Dutch battleships, 13 frigates, 9 Brander, 8 mortar ships and about 100 transports with 9000 British and 4000 Dutch troops. It was intended to take over Cadiz in order to make it the base for expeditions to the Mediterranean, to interrupt communications between Toulon and Brest, to operate against the Spanish and French sea trade and to protect the trade route to the Mediterranean. Main command of the expedition was given to Admiral Rook, the Dutch squadron was commanded by Admiral Almond. In the English Channel to blockade Brest and protect trade was to remain a British squadron of 30 ships under Admiral Chauvela, and the Dutch squadron of 15 ships under Vice-Admiral Evertsen.
It was not until August 1 that Rook left Portsmouth. He had already had word from Benbow from the West Indies that Chateau-Renault had sailed with the “silver fleet” in March. Therefore, after taking possession of Cadiz, he was to return north to wait for Château-Renault off the northern Spanish coast, while Chauvel was ordered to guard him off the French coast. It was considered more likely that Château-Renaud would bring the “silver fleet” to one of the French ports.
On August 23 Rook appeared in front of Cadiz, but the attempt to capture it ended in complete failure. October 1, the expedition moved to Lagos, where the ships poured water, and 6 battleships with 3000 troops on the transports were sent to the West Indies to reinforce the detachment of Admiral Benbow. The expedition then proceeded to England, moving very quietly along the coast due to nasty winds.
At the same time, Benbow, off the coast of Colombia, conducted a week-long battle (August 29-September 4) with a French squadron commanded by Ducasse. Benbow pursued and violently attacked the French squadron, but the refusal of most of his captains to support the attack allowed Ducasse to escape. Benbow injured his leg during the clash and died of illness two months later. Two of his captains were accused of cowardice and hanged.
Château-Renault and the Silver Fleet arrived in Vigo on September 27, and just in time, as Admiral Chauvel had just received orders to move from Brest to Cape Finisterre. Through the English envoy in Lisbon the news of the presence of the “silver fleet” reached Rook, and he decided to take possession of it. On October 23 he stormed the raid, destroyed the Chateau-Renaud squadron, and captured much of the Silver Fleet. It was a huge and important success for the Allies, which the French were unable to prevent because they could not muster a strong enough line fleet to engage the Allied fleet on the high seas. The French fleet was again broken up into small detachments in various ports, their main purpose being to facilitate an attack on the enemy”s commerce. If brought together, they could, especially in 1702, when the allied fleet operated with extreme slowness, hold it in the English Channel or the Mediterranean Sea, but this was not part of the French plans for naval warfare. The result – the loss of 14 battleships and huge funds, which was hoped to continue the war, and the appearance in 1703 of a squadron of Allied already in the Mediterranean Sea.
The following year Marlborough captured Bonn and forced the Elector of Cologne to flee, but he failed to take Antwerp, and the French were successful in Germany. A combined French-Bavarian army under Villar and Maximilian of Bavaria defeated the imperial armies of the Margrave of Baden and Hermann Stirum, but the timidity of the Bavarian electorate prevented an attack on Vienna, leading to Villar”s resignation. French victories in southern Germany continued under Villard”s successor, Camille de Tallard. French commanders made serious plans that included the capture of the Austrian capital by the combined forces of France and Bavaria as early as the following year.
In May 1703 a national uprising broke out in Hungary, and in June it was led by Ferenc Rakoczi II, a descendant of Transylvanian princes; by the end of the year the uprising covered the entire Hungarian kingdom and diverted large Austrian forces to the east. But in May 1703 on the side of the anti-French coalition moved Portugal, and in September dramatically changed its position and Savoy. At the same time, England, which had previously watched Philip”s attempts to retain the Spanish throne, now decided that its commercial interests would be safer under Archduke Charles.
Actions in Italy
The previous campaign had ended unsuccessfully for the Imperials, who, of all their previous conquests, had only Mirandola and the only route of communication with the base through Ostile and Trient remaining in their hands. In addition, Prince Eugene was no longer at the head of the Austrian troops, having been sent to another theater of war, against the rebellious Hungary, and the command passed to Count Staremberg, who had only 20 thousand. This situation created a very favorable situation for Vandom, which had 47 thousand, in addition to 10 thousand garrisons of cities and fortresses and 5 thousand blocking Brescello.
Despite the superiority of forces, Vendôme preferred only to maneuver, playing into the hands of the enemy who wanted to buy time. On June 8, he attacked with 27,000 men at Ostilia, but the flood produced by the breach of a large dam on the River Po forced Vendôme to retreat.
The French were inactive until July 1; on that day Vandom moved to Mantua, while French troops on the right bank of the Po were deployed between O. Benedetto and Bandanello, and Albergotti”s detachment (7,000) covering Modena was occupying Buon Porto.
The Elector of Bavaria had meanwhile taken Innsbruck (June 22) and had gained a foothold in Tyrol, leaving eight battalions and seven squadrons in Desenzano and with the remaining force (30 battalions and 70 squadrons) in two columns on both shores of Lake Garda, Vandome had left on July 20 in conjunction with the Bavarians and on July 28 was at Trent. At that time he received orders from Louis XIV to stop moving towards the Tyrol and to turn against his betraying ally, Duke Victor-Amadeus of Savoy. Vendôme had to turn back and arrived in Benedetto on August 29.
In the absence of Vendôme his brother finally surrendered Brescello (27 July), whose fall Staremberg had vainly tried to prevent. The Duke of Savoy had 8,000 infantry and 3,500 cavalry, a force rather insignificant for countering the French, in consequence of which he based the success of the struggle on a connection with Staremberg, expecting to enter into communication with him through the Ligurian Alps or through Piacenza. As Vendôme approached, he cleared Asti and withdrew to Villanova. On November 6 the French took possession of Asti, after which Vandome decided to station his troops in winter quarters and returned to Milan on December 4.
Count Staremberg was just waiting for this moment to join up with Victor-Amédée. Deftly leading demonstrations on the right bank of the Po, he reached Nice della Palia, where he joined the Savoys, despite Vandom”s attempt to prevent the connection. On January 13, 1704, Vendôme, who had missed the chance to defeat the nearly twice weaker Staremberg, had to settle for winter quarters.
Actions in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands at the opening of the campaign in 1703 the French army (up to 105 thousand) was located on the line of Dunkirchen – Gueldern. The allies were weaker, and this circumstance, due to disagreements between the English and the Dutch, prevented Marlborough from acting decisively.
The campaign began with the surrender of Rheinsberg to a detachment of Dutch General Lottum (February 9), after which the Allies, under the command of Marlborough (about 40,000), besieged Bonn on April 24, and forced its surrender on May 15. The siege of Bonn was covered by a detachment of General Overkerk, located along the Maas, near Luttich and Maastricht. Another Anglo-Dutch corps was located near the mouth of the Scheldt.
Even before the surrender of Bonn on May 9, Marshal Villeroy moved out of the Tyrlemont camp and on the next day arrived at Tongr, whose garrison was only 2 Dutch battalions. Overkerk had time to assemble to Lanaken (near Maastricht) to 31 thousand, and when May 14 morning Villeroy approached (about 35 thousand) to Lanaken, he saw the enemy almost equal in number and in an impregnable position. Without trying to attack him Villerois withdrew back to Tongr.
Meanwhile, thanks to the reinforcements sent, the Allied forces increased to 82,000, not counting the garrisons. On May 25, Marlborough set out from Maastricht, with the aim of cutting off the French army from Antwerp and then undertaking a siege of that city. But disagreements among the Allies prevented the British commander-in-chief to act decisively, so instead of moving on Antwerp, he proceeded to the August 19 siege of the fortress of Guy, the garrison (6 thousand) capitulated on August 25.
Höldern, besieged since February, fell on September 17 and Limburg fell to the Allies on September 27, thus ending the hostilities of 1703.
Actions on the Rhine
On the Rhine and in Bavaria the war of 1703 was waged with the aim: for the Imperials, to destroy the forces of Maximilian of Bavaria and seize his possessions; for Louis XIV, to support his only ally by assisting him in Germany itself.
The number of the Elector”s army reached 52 thousand, but about half of it was garrisoned, scattered along the lower Inn, in Ingolstadt, Neumark and other places. Deployed against the Bavarians on the left bank of the Danube imperial troops were located in two groups: Count Stirim and Count Schlick (against Villar”s army (49 battalions and 77 squadrons, a total of 32 thousand) on the upper Rhine and in the area Breezes – Freiburg stood margrave Ludwig of Baden (35 thousand), and on the Moselle was located 9 thousand squadron of Prince of Hesse, who covered the siege of Treirbach.
In mid-January, Tallar (12,000) began a military move against the Prince of Hesse, forced him to lift the siege of Treirbach (February 24) and on March 3 took possession of O.-Wandel.
Almost at the same time as Tallard, Villar began operations. His troops, scattered in Alsace and Franche-Comté, were gradually drawn toward the Rhine at Altenheim, Neuburg, and Güningen. The purpose of the Marshal was to bypass and to attack suddenly the winter quarters of the Margrave of Baden, after which he expected, captured Kel, to move in Bavaria to join the troops of the Elector. On February 12 he began to move through Cadern to Neuburg and, having passed the line Briesach – Freiburg, on February 18 arrived in Altenheim, and on February 19 to Kinzig, from where he made a sudden attack on the apartments of the imperialists, forcing them to retreat.
After that Villar captured Offenburg and on February 25 laid siege to Kehl (2.5 thousand garrison). On March 9 the fortress surrendered.
In the meantime Elector Maximilian took advantage of Willard”s diversion of a part of the imperial forces and on February 4 occupied Neuburg, the only Austrian crossing point on the upper Danube. With 12,000 concentrated at Braunau, he advanced to Passau, in the basin of the lower Inn, where, at the village of Siegharding, he attacked and defeated Schlick”s 10,000-man detachment on March 11. The Imperials lost 1,200 men killed and wounded, the Bavarians about 500.
The Elector”s new victory at Emhof (March 28) over the troops of Stirim forced the Imperials to concentrate their forces again toward the Danube. Villar (34,000) then crossed the Rhine at Strasbourg on April 18, moved to join with the Bavarians, and on May 10 at Riedlingen joined them. During a private meeting with the Elector, the marshal offered him a combined force (60,000) to march through the Danube right into Vienna, which had nearly been emptied of its forces on the occasion of the Hungarian uprising, while Tallar would hold back the army of the Margrave of Baden. At first Maximilian agreed, but then, fearing the imperial movement into his own possessions, he refused.
On June 14, the 24,000-strong Bavarian army began its advance toward Tyrol. Kufstein (where he remained encamped until August 21, hoping to make contact with Vandome, whose troops were still near Mantua. On August 21, having received news of Schlick”s movement toward Neuburg and his crossing of the Inn, Maximilian turned back and returned to Munich. During the continuation of these useless maneuvering marches, Villar, bound by the condition to cover Bavaria from attempts on her part by Ludwig of Baden and Count Stirum, could not begin to move.
On June 26, the margrave”s imperial army (40,000) halted at Langenau. For his part, Villar fortified on the left bank of the Danube, between Dillingen and Lavingen. The margrave did not dare to attack the French army in this position, preferring to seize it by maneuvering, for which he sent Latour”s 5,000-strong detachment to the Illeru River to invade Bavaria, expecting to force the marshal to move to the right bank of the Danube to cover Maximilian”s possessions, but Villar, having discerned his enemy”s plan, did not move, sending only a 4.5 thousand-strong force from Legal to Offenhausen. The latter attacked Latour”s troops at Munderkingen at dawn on July 31 and defeated them. On August 23, leaving against Villar at Dillingen the 20,000-strong corps of Stirim, the margrave crossed the Danube above Ulm on August 28 and headed for Augsburg through upper Iller and Memmingen. The Marshal tried to stop the Imperials by sending a detachment of 20 battalions and 44 squadrons to Augsburg, but the Margrave had time to warn the French and on September 5 occupied that city, throwing two bridges over the Lech River and sending numerous mounted parties to the Munich side.
Having received news of the movement of Maximilian of Bavaria”s army towards Augsburg and wishing to draw Stirum to him, the Margrave of Baden sent the latter an order to go to join him. On September 18, Stirim left Dillingen and reached Schweningen on September 19, while the Elector”s troops were approaching Donauvert, where they joined up with Villar. Beyond the allocation of garrisons, the Allied forces reached 30 thousand, while Stirum”s detachment had no more than 18 thousand. On the evening of September 19, leaving d”Usson”s detachment in the Dillingen fortified camp, the Allies began a general offensive. On September 20 at Gochstedt there was a battle, which began with d”Husson”s attack on Stirim”s troops at Ober-Glaugheim. The French attack ended in failure: bypassed by the enemy”s cavalry, having a superior force in front of him and receiving no news from Villard, who was busy crossing the Danube, d”Husson hastily retreated to his fortified lines. It was not until 10 a.m. that the marshal and the elector arrived at the battlefield.
Having bypassed the left flank of the Imperials, the Allies attacked them so vigorously that they hastily began to retreat toward Nordlingen, and, had d”Usson at this point left the Dillingen camp and stood in the retreat path of Stirum, the imperial defeat would have been even more complete. They lost 4,000 killed and wounded; the Allies no more than 1,500. The remnants of the defeated imperial army retreated in disarray to Nordlingen, from where Count Stierm hoped to reach the upper Danube and connect with the Margrave, who stood in Augsburg.
On September 22, the Allies moved there through Donauvert, Wertingen, and Biberbach and reached Gersthofen, near Augsburg, on September 26. But seeing heavily fortified positions in front of them and fearing the movement of Stirum through the Black Forest, they were satisfied with the fact that to cover Bavaria left a 19 thousandth unit on the Lech and through Biberach and Bargau headed for Willingen (8 thousand), on the left bank of the Iller. Upon receiving this news, Ludwig of Baden, leaving in Augsburg 6 thousand garrison, began an attack to Iller and seized Memmingen, but then withdrew to Leutkirch. At Memmingen a disagreement began between the Marshal and the Elector. The former proposed to attack the margrave before he joined up with Stirim, but the latter did not agree with Villar”s plan, preferring fortress warfare, and on November 16 he took possession of Kemptein.
While these events were taking place, Tallar (26 thousand) on 13 October besieged Landau (6 thousand imperials of Count Friesen). On November 13 the Prince of Hesse came from Speyr with 24 thousand to the aid of Landau. Meanwhile, Tallar, having joined with Prakontal”s detachment and having 18 thousand men, moved against the enemy on the evening of November 14 and on the next day came upon him near the river Speirbach (in the Bavarian Palatinate, on the left bank of the Rhine). Without reconstructing the marching columns in battle order and fearing to lose the moment, the marshal led the attack and defeated the imperialists. The Imperials lost 6 thousand dead and wounded; the French – about 4 thousand.
The campaign of 1703 ended with the siege and capture of Augsburg (December 3 to 16), whose 6,000-strong garrison surrendered to Maximilian of Bavaria.
Actions at sea
On July 12, 1703, Admiral Chauvelle departed for the Mediterranean Sea with 35 battleships, while the operations of the rest of the fleet that year were limited to observing the French northern coast. Chauvel had orders: to conduct a caravan of merchant ships to Malta; to enter into relations with the pirate states of the northern coasts of Africa to induce them to go to war with France; to put pressure on Tuscany and Venice, which gravitated toward France, and force them to observe neutrality; to ensure the Austrians freedom of communication on the Adriatic (supporting the Habsburg party at Naples; if circumstances proved favorable, to attack Cadiz, Toulon, or other ports; to bring merchant ships from the Mediterranean to England in the fall.
The delay in Chauvel”s departure was due to the late arrival of 12 Dutch ships (June 25), which were to be part of his squadron. With the death of William III, who united England and the Netherlands, the Dutch, citing a lack of money, began to evade their commitments to arm a certain number of ships. For the expedition to the Mediterranean they were to give 18 ships, but sent only 12; they did not send a single ship to the canal squadron (Admiral Rooke) that year. Near their shores and against Dunkirhen they kept two detachments, totaling 22 ships. Disagreements also began between the English and Dutch admirals because the English were harassing the latter.
Chauvel stayed in the Mediterranean Sea until November, after which he returned to England, leaving six Dutch ships in Lisbon. Although he could not carry out all the errands assigned to him, the French fleet could not move from Toulon because of the presence of the English. During that winter, 9 English battleships were lost in a terrible storm at Dawns in early December.
In mid-March 1704 Archduke Charles arrived in Lisbon in 30 Allied ships with the Anglo-Austrian army, but the English offensive from Portugal to Spain was unsuccessful. In 1704, the French planned to use Villroy”s army in the Netherlands to hold off the Marlborough offensive while the Franco-Bavarian army of Tallard, Maximilian Emmanuel, and Ferdinand de Marsens would advance on Vienna. In May 1704, Hungarian rebels (Kuruts) threatened Vienna from the east; Emperor Leopold was about to move to Prague, but the Hungarians still retreated without French support.
Marlborough, ignoring the Dutch desire to leave troops in the Netherlands, led the combined British and Dutch troops southward into Germany, and at the same time Eugene of Savoy and the Austrian army moved northward from Italy. The purpose of these maneuvers was to eliminate the threat to Vienna from the Franco-Bavarian army. Joining forces, the troops of Marlborough and Eugene of Savoy entered with the French army of Tallard in the Second Battle of Hochstedt (only the French lost 15 thousand prisoners, including Marshal Tallard, such defeats France has not known since Richelieu, in Versailles were very surprised that “God took the side of heretics and usurpers”.
In August England achieved an important success: with the help of Dutch troops, the English landing force of George Rooke took the fortress of Gibraltar in just two days of fighting. On August 24 at Malaga Prince of Toulouse, a second son of Louis XIV, attacked the British fleet, having received orders to recapture Gibraltar at all costs. However, the battle ended in a draw, with both sides losing no ships; it was more important to Rook to keep the fleet to defend Gibraltar than to win the fight, and so the battle of Malaga ended to the advantage of the British. The French fleet after that battle completely abandoned major operations, effectively ceding the ocean to the enemy and only defending itself on the Mediterranean.
After the second Battle of Hochstedt, Marlborough and Eugene separated again and returned to their respective fronts.
Actions in Italy
By the beginning of 1704 the Imperials occupied the province of Milan and Ferrara; their numbers were reduced to 10,000 and General Linengen took command of them, following the departure of Count Staremberg. Victor-Amadey”s 30,000-strong army stood on the borders of Savoy. Vandome (62,000) was instructed by the king to drive the Imperials out of Italy and undertake an invasion of Savoy. He was to be reinforced with 24 more battalions and 12 squadrons.
The campaign of 1704 began with Vandome”s victory on January 11 at Castelnuovo di Bormida, where he defeated a 5 thousand-man detachment of Solari, who lost 600 men killed and wounded. But this insignificant affair had little consequence, especially since after it the French remained inactive for nearly 3 months. Finally, having received news of the movement of Victor-Amadey”s troops (19 thousand) to Casale, Vandome decided to attack the Savoys and on May 8 with 29 thousand made to Cricentino. Upon hearing of the enemy”s movements, however, Victor-Amadeus retreated, only to pay the price of his rearguard, which was destroyed on May 11 at Cresentino. Further actions in 1704 in Italy were limited to the siege of a number of fortresses.
Actions on the Rhine
On the Rhine and in Bavaria the campaign of 1704 began with the movement of Tallar”s army (about 18 thousand) to Saarbrücken and Palzburg to threaten Mainz and the lower Rhine (the main forces of Tallar reached Briesach, and in the following days (May 14 and 15) captured Adelhausen and Zurlamben, seeking to get in touch with the army of Marshal Marsen, which arrived on May 4 in Ulm. On May 29 at Donauvert the Elector of Bavaria connected with Marsen (28 thousand French and 32 thousand Bavarians) and they began an offensive movement against the Margrave of Baden, who meanwhile managed to capture Meskihrh and become a firm foot in the vicinity of Munderkingen with 42 thousand.
On 16 May, as Tallar entered the link with Marsen, the Duke of Marlborough (about 31,000) marched from Maastricht and headed for Bonn via Bois-les-Duc and Ruhrmond. On his way to Bonn he was to be joined by contingents from Lüneburg, Hanover, and Hesse, doubling the size of his troops. On 23 May Marlborough reached Bonn, and on 25 May he reached Koblenz.
Meanwhile, Marshal Villeroy, who was entrusted with the command of the troops in Flanders, having penetrated into the Duke”s intentions, divided his army into 2 parts: one of them (14 thousand), under the command of Guiscard, was to enter into communication with the corps Bedmar (17 thousand), which was on the line Lierre – Ostend, and the other, under his personal command (26 thousand), move to Namur. On 23 May Bedmare linked up with Guiscard at Saint-Thron, and the marshal arrived at Basson the same day via Namur, so as to be closer to Marlborough.
Meanwhile Marlborough had crossed the Rhine (26 May) and then moved along the Rhine through Zwingenberg and Weingham to Neckar, where on 3 June he encamped at Ladenburg. This movement, in connection with the construction of the bridge at Philippsburg, led the French generals to believe that Marlborough was plotting an attempt against Landau. So Villeroy moved toward Luxembourg, and Tallard moved from Strasbourg toward Lauterburg. The number of French forces reached up to 58 thousand, regardless of the cavalry units advanced to the Moselle, the army of Marsen at Ulm and 32 thousand Elector of Bavaria in the fortified camp at Lauwingen.
On June 22, Marlborough approached Ulm, where he joined the 32,000-strong army of the Margrave of Baden. Marlborough and the Margrave”s forces numbered 63,000. Having settled on the decision to invade Bavaria in order to cut it off from the rest of the theater of war, the Allies moved toward Donauvert (June 30), in order to ensure the crossing of the Danube by the capture of this city. Having defeated the advance party (10,000) of Count d”Arco”s Bavarians near Schellenberg, the Allies took Donauvert without a fight on July 5, from where Maximilian withdrew to Augsburg, and reached Friedberg on July 23.
While these events were taking place, Villeroy did not move from his camp in lower Alsace. On June 23, the king finally instructed Tallard to launch an offensive through the Black Forest, while Villeroy was to confine himself to demonstrations. On July 1, Tallar (26,000) crossed the Rhine near Strasbourg and, following through Offenburg, joined up with Elector Maximilian near Augsburg on August 3. The combined forces of the Allies reached 57 thousand.
As for Prince Eugene, he moved with 16 thousand from Italy to join Marlborough. On August 11 the armies were joined at Schoenfeld; the army now numbered 70 battalions, 180 squadrons and 52 guns (60,000) against 82 battalions, 150 squadrons and 100 guns (58,000) of the enemy.
Meanwhile, the French-Bavarian army left the Augsburg camp as early as August 6 and positioned itself on August 12 between Blenheim and Ober-Klau, and the Electorate and Marsen between Ober-Klau and Luzingen. The battle of Gochstedt followed on August 13. The French and the Bavarians suffered a severe defeat. Tallar was taken prisoner, and Marsin led the pitiful remnants of the French army away to Strasbourg. The Elector withdrew to Belgium after this victory had placed all of Bavaria in Allied hands. The Allies remained on the battlefield until August 19 and only drew the Margrave of Baden from near Ingolstadt.
Leaving General Tungen”s detachment (11,000), which had besieged the city on August 23, to take Ulm, they moved toward Philippsburg and crossed the Rhine (September 8 and 9). On September 11 Ulm surrendered. On the same day the margrave, having crossed the Rhine, besieged Landau. On November 24 the fortress fell, and a month earlier Trier had surrendered to the Allies (the capture of Traerbach (December 20) ended the operations on the Rhine in 1704.
Actions in Spain
The accession of Portugal to the alliance against Louis XIV gave the imperials a new base of operations against Philip of Anjou, on the Iberian Peninsula. On March 9 Archduke Charles, who had proclaimed himself king of Spain, landed in Lisbon with General Schomberg”s 10,000-strong landing party, transported there by Anglo-Dutch ships. The Archduke hoped to gain supporters in Spain by his appearance.
Philip of Anjou had no more than 26-27 thousand; At Badajoz was a detachment of Tserklas Tilly (near Salvatierra (south of Badajoz) stood the commander in chief French Marshal Count Berwick with 16 thousand, who was to take possession of the fortified places on the right bank of the Tajo, reach Villa Vega and, pulling a detachment of Tserklas Tilly, begin an offensive toward Abrantes while Don Ronquillo”s cavalry (15 squadrons) made a diversion toward Almeida.
On May 4 the troops began to move, the same day Berwick besieged Salvatierra, which surrendered after 2 days, and then before May 22 took Segura, Rosmaningal, Monsanto and Castel Branco. In addition, the marshal was fortunate enough to capture Sierra Estreja by surprise attack, after which he advanced to Villa Vega, crossing the bridge over Tahoe.
Meanwhile, Tserklas Tilly, delayed at Estremos by Schomberg, could not move forward, so Berwick decided to go himself to meet him. Leaving 2 battalions and 1 squadron to cover the bridge and 5 battalions and 15 squadrons at Castel Branco, he crossed the Tajo, joined Tserklas at Portalegro (June 7) and besieged Portalegro, which surrendered on June 8. Thanks to delays caused by levies and sieges of towns, the enemy had time to fortify between Villa Vega and Abrantes, covering both this latter point and the road to Lisbon.
To act against the right flank of Berwick”s army (Don Ronquillo”s detachment) 11 thousand Las Minas were assembled in Almeida. The latter took Monsanto and moved directly to Sarsa, the base of the Spanish army. To save Sarsa, Berwick, joining Ronquillo at Duro and drawing a detachment from Castel Branco (13 thousand), moved toward Las Minas, who, however, evaded battle and withdrew to Pena Macor. The marshal then hastened to join up with Philip of Anjou, who was standing on the left bank of the Tajo, near Villa Vega. To Berwick at this time from Andalusia came the reinforcements (6 thousand) of General Villadarias. He was immediately charged with the capture of Castel Vida. The small fortress surrendered after four days.
It was beginning to be a time of terrible heat, so in July hostilities ceased, and the troops of both armies settled in their quarters. Villadarias returned to Andalusia, Tserklas to Badajoz, Aguilar to Alcantara, and Berwick positioned himself between Duero and Sierra de Gata, Las Minas withdrew to Almeida.
Operations resumed only in September, but were not decisive, and on 12 October the troops dispersed to their winter quarters. A few days later (21 October) English Admiral Leek laid siege to the Spanish fortress of Gibraltar.
Actions at sea
In 1704 the allied fleet was to transport to Lisbon the challenger to the Spanish throne, Charles III, with 10,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry, and this fleet was tasked with facilitating the operations of ground forces in the Spanish theater of war. But these operations themselves were seen by the Allies as nothing more than a diversion on the right flank of the general theater of war (Spain-France-Northern Italy-Danube) to enable the Austrian army to defeat the French on the left flank. This was to be facilitated by the Allied fleet acting against the Spanish ports in the Mediterranean Sea and the French center in Toulon and northern Italy.
The need for French naval power in the Mediterranean Sea was urgent, and Louis XIV decided to make every effort to gather his entire fleet here. All winter there were active preparations in the ports. However, it was very difficult to do this, as the personnel scattered on the numerous privateers and sought more on the squads assigned to the prosecution of the trade, which promised him great monetary benefits; in addition, the French ports were poorly equipped for the preparation of large squadrons. Twenty-five ships were being armed in Brest, and 30 ships in Toulon.
February 24, the Allied fleet of 17 British and 12 Dutch ships and 300 transports with troops, under the overall command of Admiral Rook went to Lisbon, and the French could not prevent it, as their fleet was not yet ready. On May 8 Rook with 33 battleships set out for the Mediterranean Sea and at the end of the month arrived in Barcelona. The hope that the governor would take the side of Charles III was not fulfilled, and there were insufficient funds for a proper siege of the city. It was then decided to march to the Guierre Islands to operate against Toulon. Here Rook received news that a French squadron had left Brest, and that it had been seen off the Portuguese coast. Now it was decided to go to the French to meet them, and if they do not manage to meet or it appears that they have time to take refuge in a fortified port, such as Cadiz – to go further north to join with the British squadron of Admiral Chauvel, which was to monitor Brest and had orders, if it misses the French, to follow them to join with Rook.
Indeed, the Brest squadron under the command of the Count of Toulouse went to sea, sneaked safely past Chauvelle and as Rook went all the time ahead of him and only delayed near Barcelona, he approached Toulon (June 7) just at the time when near it was also Rook, who went from the Guierre Islands. Lucky for the French direction, very weak wind at the same time, did not give Rook the opportunity to immediately attack them. For two days the opponents maneuvered at sight of each other, and the French managed to get so close to Toulon that Rook, losing hope of cutting them off from that port and fearing that reinforcements would come to them from there, decided to go to join with Chauvelle, and the Count of Toulouse entered Toulon.
Thus, thanks to lucky circumstances, the French managed to concentrate 55 battleships in Toulon, but the ships armed here were still far from ready, and therefore the French could not hinder the operations of the weaker (33 ships) Rook. An opportunity to defeat the Allies at sea was lost because June 26, Rook joined forces with Chauvel at Lagouche, and now his squadron consisted of 58 battleships, which is somewhat superior in strength to the French.
First he received orders from Charles III to take possession of Cadiz, but there was a great delay in sending the necessary troops for this, and on July 27 the military council in the squadron came to the decision to make an attempt to take Gibraltar, the fortifications of which were negligible. August 1, Rook appeared in front of Gibraltar, putting a guard detachment at Malaga to protect themselves from the sudden appearance of the French fleet, and August 4 the fortress was already in Allied hands.
Only on July 22 the French fleet was able to leave Toulon and headed for Barcelona, where he hoped to find allies. There he learned of the capture of Gibraltar and was ordered by Philip V to take it back at all costs, for which he had already sent a corps of troops by dry route. The Count of Toulouse had 51 battleships, which could be joined by more French and Spanish galleys. Rook also had only 51 ships, as five Dutch ships were sent to escort a caravan of merchant ships to Plymouth and then the delivery of supplies from there to Lisbon, and several other ships went to the Azores to bring from there the Portuguese merchant ships returning from Brazil.
Rook took all measures to fortify Gibraltar, and with the fleet on August 12 headed for Tetuan to pour water. On August 19, he went to sea with only 39 ships, as the other 12 had not yet finished pouring water, and at this time scouts reported that the enemy in sight, a distance of only 30 miles. The situation was very dangerous, but while the council of war could not decide what to do – from the scouts came the news that the French were coming to Malaga. The French decided, having found the enemy, to pour water into Malaga and join the galleys that were there. This delay saved Rooke. He had time to send to Gibraltar for the naval soldiers that had been brought ashore there, who arrived on August 20, and let the ships remaining in Tetuan, who joined him that same day, know.
The French did not show themselves until August 23, and on August 24 there was a hesitant battle, after which the Count of Toulouse – without losing a single ship, while the Allies had one ship destroyed, and despite the fact that while maneuvering in battle he positioned himself between Rook”s squadron and Gibraltar – departed via Alicante for Toulon. In the meantime, Rook had no supplies and had already decided to break through to Gibraltar, sacrificing his damaged ships, which had been ordered to burn themselves if they could not get away from the French. On August 31 Rook arrived in Gibraltar just in time as the Spanish army was already in sight.
After that, Louis XIV finally lost faith in the possibility of achieving anything with the help of the line fleets, and again all the ships and means of the ports were turned to the pursuit of the maritime trade of the allies. In Alicante, Count of Toulouse was ordered by Philip V to support the besieging army from the sea, so he detached Admiral Pointis with 13 ships, which was to convoy to Gibraltar transport with 3000 men of troops, supplies and siege park. But all this was not ready until October. Since the squadron of Rook urgently needed fixing and could not stay near Gibraltar, with it was transferred as possible people (about 2000), combat supplies and provisions, and September 5 she left, leaving for the winter in Lisbon detachment of 10 ships under the command of Vice Admiral Leek, which, because of the poor state of the Portuguese shipyards, was ready to go only in late October.
At this time Pointees came to Gibraltar, landed troops, unloaded supplies and, leaving only frigates here, left for Cadiz for provisions. Lick could not leave until November 5 and arrived in Gibraltar on November 9 in the evening, which was in great danger. Just on November 10 an assault was scheduled, with the intention of landing a detachment of troops from the sea in the rear, under the cover of French frigates. Leek”s appearance saved Gibraltar. Lick”s position was dangerous due to the vulnerability of Gibraltar Bay to winter storms and the fact that he had a stronger detachment of Pointees in his rear.
Meanwhile, transports with new reinforcements for Gibraltar arrived in Lisbon. Lick decided to march to Cadiz, to block Pointeas there, and thereby allow the transports to pass. He was delayed by storms, and in the meantime Pointees went out to take possession of the transports, for which purpose he positioned himself in their way, raising English and Dutch flags; but he maneuvered too soon to surround them; of 20 transports he succeeded in taking only two, and Gibraltar was again supplied. Pointees returned to Cadiz, and Leek made his way to Lisbon.
In 1705 the situation on the fronts was virtually unchanged, with Marlborough and Villrois maneuvering in the Netherlands and Eugene and Vendôme in Italy.
A British fleet appeared off the coast of Catalonia and attacked Barcelona on September 14, 1705; on October 9 the Earl of Peterborough took possession of the city, most Catalans, out of hatred for Madrid, defected to his side and recognized Charles Habsburg as king. Part of Aragonia, almost all of Valencia, Murcia, and the Balearic Islands openly sided with the pretender; in the west the allies besieged Badajoz.
Actions in Italy
In Italy, by the beginning of 1705, the French had 77 thousand men, of whom 22 thousand Vandom – in Piedmont, 15 thousand of his brother – in the region of Brescia, 11 thousand de Lafellada – in Nice, 5 thousand Lapar encircled Mirandola and about 24 thousand were in the garrisons.
The combined forces of Count Staremberg and Duke Victor-Amadei did not reach even 17 thousand men; but at the beginning of the year Eugene of Savoy was sent to Italy with 28 thousand, which, upon joining with the troops of Victor-Amadei was to go on the offensive against Vendôme. April 22, Eugene arrived in Rovedo and, learning about the plight of the besieged Mirandola, decided to cross part of the troops (12 thousand) across the Minchio at Salionce, with the rest of the troops to go to Mirandola. However, the Imperial detachment was repulsed behind Minchio and Mirandola fell on 10 May.
After that the Austrian commander-in-chief turned to another plan – to attack Milan by surprise. At the same time, in order not to be stopped at Mincio, Eugene transported his troops by boat along Lake Garda to Salo and Howardo, from where he set out on the night of June 23 to the upper Olio, wishing to get in touch with the Savoys, and on July 2 he occupied Pontolio and Palazzolo. Having then taken Sonsino and received the necessary reinforcements, Eugene moved on to Romanengo (15 July).
Meanwhile, Vendôme, learning of Eugene”s movement, drew Lapar and his brother”s troops to him and, heading across Lodi, encamped opposite Eugene. The latter, meanwhile, decided to make a stealthy march to the upper Adde and cross the river before the French could begin their pursuit. On August 10 at night he went to Trezzo and from there to Paradiso, where he arrived at dawn on August 13 and immediately ordered the flooding of the bridge over the Adda. For lack of materials the bridge was not completed until the morning of August 15, which Vande took advantage of. Figuring out the enemy”s plan, he left a 13-thousand force under his brother at Cassano and 9 thousand men crossed to the right bank of the Adda and went upriver, reaching Paradiso, while Prince Eugene had time to cross the Adda only a small part of his troops. This forced the Austrians to abandon the crossing.
Then Eugene, wishing to take advantage of the division of the French army, turned against Cassano, where a battle took place on August 15. After a stubborn battle he was repulsed by Vendôme”s troops with great damage and driven back to Treviglio. Here the Austrians set up a fortified camp, while the French encamped at Rivalto, and for two months they took no decisive action, confining themselves to the observation of the enemy. The numerical ratio of the parties was as follows: 10,000 by Eugene at Treviglio and 21,000 by Vendôme at Rivalto, not counting the garrisons at Cremona and on the lower Olio, as well as the de Lafellada corps besieging Kivasso.
On the night of 10 October Prince Eugene set out from Treviglio for Moscazzano, aiming to cross the Serio and then, covered by the lower Adda, seek a connection with the Savoys. Having received news of the movement of the Austrians, the French commander-in-chief ordered the troops on the lower Adda to move to the left bank of the Serio, and himself having crossed the Adda at Lodi, with the main forces moved through Pichigitone to Castiglione, where he managed to warn Eugene, taking the heights between Castiglione and Lonago and dropping his advanced detachments to Chiesa. After that, the troops dispersed to their winter quarters: the French positioned themselves between Desenzano and Carpendolo, and the Austrians near Lake Garda.
In Piedmont, Count Staremberg seized the city of Asti on October 21, and an attempt to retake the city by de Lafellade (November 6) ended in failure.
The actions of the French in Nice were happier: on November 14, Marshal Berwick (8 thousand) seized the city, and then on January 4, 1706 and the citadel. Thus, Vendôme, by the swiftness and decisiveness of his actions, rendered futile all Eugene”s attempts to pass into Piedmont and reach the goal set for him in this campaign. Vandome”s actions are incomparably superior to those of Eugene.
Actions in the Netherlands and on the Rhine
In the Netherlands and on the Rhine at the beginning of 1705 the French stood 3 armies: at Maastricht was Willeroy (32 thousand), in Flanders – Villar (46 thousand), on the Rhine – Marsene (26 thousand), which was to assist Villar and cover Alsace. Many troops were garrisoned all the way from Ostend to the Rhine.
The Allies were stationed in winter quarters: the Anglo-Dutch army on the left bank of the Maas and partly between the Maas and the Moselle, and the Margrave Louis of Baden on the Lauter and in the Stollhofen lines.
On May 15, hostilities began. Marlborough crossed the Meuse at Wiese and headed for the Moselle, leaving a 20,000-strong Overkerk force near Maastricht against Villeroy. The Elector Maximilian reinforced Villeroy”s forces to 43,000, and the latter could have seriously countered the concentration of the enemy”s armies, but he preferred the siege of Güy and then Limburg, which he took.
On June 3, Marlborough crossed his army across the Moselle at Igel and arrived at Jelendorf on June 14, at the head of 90,000 men. Villar, who was between Luxembourg and Saarlouis, had no more than 55 thousand, however, the English commander in chief did not dare to attack him and on the night of 16 to 17 June withdrew to Trier. He expected to join the troops of the Margrave (19 thousand) from Landau, but the latter moved so slowly that they came to the Saarbrücken only July 20, when Marlborough had already left the camp and through Dalhem went to Maas (July 27). Villeroy from Limburg withdrew to Tongr, and Overkerk from Maastricht marched to Guy and forced him to surrender on July 12, after which he joined the main forces.
Meanwhile, Marlborough, on July 18 at Vangen, thanks to skillfully conducted demonstrations, defeated a 15-thousand French detachment and forced the entire enemy army to withdraw behind the River Dyll. Marlborough then moved to Louvain (July 19), where Villeroy”s army was concentrated across the Dille River, and, after an unsuccessful attempt to attack it, withdrew to Bossier, where he remained for 2 weeks. Without giving up his plan to attack the French, Marlborough moved on August 15 through Corbet to Bran Lalède, while the French approached the Swan forest, occupying the same position that 110 years later was defended by the English army of Wellington at Waterloo, which Marlborough did not dare to attack.
On August 19 he withdrew to Wawr, thence to Arshot and camped. The French withdrew to Bouchot and to the Demeru River. There were no more decisive actions and these maneuvers ended the combat operations in Flanders and on the Maas.
On the Rhine, the Margrave of Baden, reinforced with reinforcements, at the head of 20 thousand men, moved through Zweibrücken to the Saar, but Villar, keeping a sharp eye on the movements of the imperialists, crossed the river, seized Saarbrücken and then headed for Trier, where he drove 7 thousand enemy troops, capturing plenty of food supplies. With a small force (only 15 thousand) Marshal could not do more, and only after joining with Marsen (July 3), his forces increased to 40 thousand at Werth, and he moved to Weissenburg, where he defeated the 6 thousandth imperial detachment and seized the fortified lines. His attempt to take Lauterburg, however, failed. Instead, Villar got his hands on Homburg, which surrendered on July 27, Druesenheim (September 24), and Gagenau (October 6). On November 22 both armies dispersed to their winter quarters: the French to Strasbourg and Saverne, the Imperials to Bischweiler.
Actions in Spain
In Spain, the start of the 1705 campaign was marked by the naval battle of Gibraltar. After this battle Gibraltar, besieged since 21 October 1704, despite the heroic courage of the garrison, was taken by the Allies on 30 April 1705 and has remained in the power of England ever since.
In Catalonia, Archduke Charles (11,000) seized Barcelona on October 6, then Lerida, Tortosa, and other towns, but in Extremadura Badajoz, defended by General Puebla, persisted until the siege was lifted (October 17).
This ended the hostilities on the Iberian Peninsula in 1705, when Leopold I died in Austria and Joseph I (1705-1711) ascended the throne.
Actions at sea
In 1705 the French and Spanish were making great efforts to take back Gibraltar. Operations on the Portuguese frontier were halted, and troops with Marshal Tesse at their head were sent to Gibraltar. Tesse demanded the assistance of the fleet; Pointees was categorically ordered to withdraw, and on March 16 he came to Gibraltar with 13 battleships. Despite his protests about the danger of the bay, Tesse did not allow Pointeas to stay at sea. On March 18, 8 ships were knocked off their anchors and carried to sea, and on March 20, Lick suddenly appeared with 32 ships (19 British, 4 Dutch and 9 Portuguese) and a transport with 3 regiments of infantry and large supplies. 3 French ships were taken, 2 were thrown ashore and burned themselves, and 8 carried off to Toulon. Tess had to lift the siege.
In 1705 and 1706 the allied fleet under Admirals Chauvel and Almond assisted Charles III in the conquest of Catalonia. For this purpose, new ships were added to the forces already in the Mediterranean, and on August 5 the allied fleet reached a strength of 58 battleships, 11 frigates and 9 bombardier ships. Under its cover the Allied army was landed, and on October 3, with the help of the fleet, it took possession of Barcelona, after which all Catalonia passed over to Charles III, and its example was followed by Valencia and Arragon. The Allied fleet headed home on October 23, leaving a squadron of 25 ships at Lisbon for the winter under the command of Leek and Wassenaar.
In February 1706 Peterborough entered Valencia; Philip V moved on Barcelona, but its siege ended in severe defeat. On 23 May 1706 Marlborough defeated Villroy”s forces at the Battle of Ramillies in May and captured Antwerp and Dunkirk, forcing the French out of much of the Spanish Netherlands.
Prince Eugene also enjoyed success; on September 7, after Vendôme had left for the Netherlands to support a divided army there, Eugene, along with Victor Amadeus, Duke of Savoy, inflicted heavy losses on the French armies of the Duke of Orleans and Marzen at the Battle of Turin, enabling them to be expelled from all of Northern Italy by the end of the year.
After the French were forced out of Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy, Spain became the center of military activity. In 1706 the Portuguese general Marquis Minas launched an attack on Spain from Portugal: in April he took Alcantara, then Salamanca, and in June he entered Madrid. But Charles Habsburg never made it into the capital; Philip V moved his residence to Burgos and declared that he would “rather shed his blood to the last drop than give up the throne.” The Castilians were outraged that the eastern provinces and heretic Anglicans wanted to impose their king on them. A popular movement began everywhere in Spain, the nobility took up arms, food supplies and monetary contributions began pouring in from all sides into the French camp. The Spaniards rebelled west of Madrid and cut Charles off from Portugal. In October 1706, the Allies, seeing no support from anywhere, left Madrid, and Philip Bourbon, with the help of the Duke of Berwick (the illegitimate son of King James II of England), returned to the capital. The allies retreated to Valencia, with Barcelona as Charles Habsburg”s residence until 1711.
Actions in Italy
The 1706 campaign in Italy was the most instructive and interesting of the entire war. By the beginning of 1706 the Austrian troops (15,000 men) were in winter quarters west of Lake Garda. In the absence of Prince Eugene, General Raventlau was put in temporary command. Count Staremberg”s 25,000-strong army was at Turin.
Duke Vendôme”s forces reached 44,000, but for action in the field he had no more than 36,000. Taking advantage of Prince Eugene”s absence and despite orders to act defensively, Vendôme decided to launch an attack to drive the Austrians out of Italy and thereby ensure de Lafellade”s mastery of Turin. Having seized Ponte San Marco on the night of April 19, Vandome (36 thousand men) led the attack on the left flank of the Austrians at Calcinato. After a fierce battle 20 thousand troops of Reventlau was defeated and driven back to Roveredo with a loss of 3 thousand dead and wounded. The French lost no more than 500 men. However, Vandome did not develop success by attacking Rovedo with all his forces.
Meanwhile, Prince Eugene arrived from Vienna in Roveredo with a small detachment (3,600 men) and, having arranged the retreating troops, moved toward Verona, near where he positioned himself on the left bank of the Adige. The French, in turn, positioned themselves along the Adige, guarding the entire space from Salo to Badia on the lower Adige. Both armies were idle from late May until mid-July. Eugene (16,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry) was waiting for a 10,000-strong corps from Germany, Vandome (39,000) for the purpose of buying time to capture Turin, encircled by de-Lafellade since May 13. De-Lafellada had 42 thousand men against the 20 thousand garrison of Count Down, which, in the absence of Victor-Amadeus of Savoy, who retreated with 8 thousand to Carmagnola, had to lead the defense of Turin. Meanwhile, the increased requests of Victor-Amadeus, who feared for the fate of Turin, and the fear that with the fall of the capital the Duke of Savoy might abandon the Austrian alliance, induced Prince Eugene to proceed to decisive action. His plan was to abandon communications with Tyrol and move to the right bank of the Po, bypass the right flank of the French line and, when combined with Victor-Amadeus (12 thousand), give de Lafellade a decisive battle near Turin.
Leaving at the Adige 8-thousand detachment, which was soon to strengthen the arrival of 10 thousand Hessians, with the remaining 36 thousand on the night of July 5, Eugene quickly went down the Adige, July 9 crossed at Badia, July 16 crossed the Po at Policella and reached the Panaro River near Camposanto. Thus the right flank of the French army was bypassed, and it, unable to hold on to the Adige, retreated behind Minchio. With such an enemy as Vendôme, such a bypass of the flank could not have made much difference, but to the misfortune of the French, this talented commander was at this time reassigned to the Netherlands to correct the critical state of affairs there as a result of the defeat of Villeroy at Ramillies. He was succeeded by the Duke of Orleans, though a man of courage and determination, but inexperienced and bound to the advice of Marshal Marsin, who had the King”s authorization, in case of disagreement with the Duke, to take charge of the army. As Eugene”s army was in two masses, separated by the river Po, the French could easily, taking advantage of their concentration and superiority of forces, have broken the Austrians in parts, but the Duke of Orleans and Marsin themselves divided into two parts. Leaving at Minchio 10 thousand troops Count Medavy, against the Prince of Angalt, who had time to join with the Hessians, with the remaining 26 thousand French commanders crossed to the right bank of the Po and camped at San Benedetto behind the river Sekiya, that is, took flank position in relation to the path of the attack on Turin on the right bank of the Po.
On July 24 Eugene crossed the Panaro at Camposanto, crossed then the Secchia and on August 1 seized Carpi and Coreggio, which were on the right flank of the French army. At the same time the Prince of Hesse launched an offensive on Minchio against Count Medavi and pushed him back to Castiglione. On August 9 Eugene arrived at Reggio, took it after a 6-day siege, and on August 15 in the morning moved toward Parma, which fell the next day.
Until then the French had been totally passive, but at last fear for communications with Milan forced the Duke of Orléans and Marsin to cross to the left bank of the Po and support Medavy”s detachment; they were too late, however, for Goito was already in Austrian hands. On 19 August the Austrian army was near Piacenza and the next day moved on to Stradella, the possession of which was all the more important to Eugene because this narrow gorge was the key to the invasion of Piedmont.
Figuring out the enemy”s intentions and knowing the strategic advantages of the Stradel position, the Duke of Orleans moved there from Cremona along the left bank of the Po (August 20), but was several hours late and, not having time to block the Austrians” way, headed for Turin via Quivasso, where he joined up with de Lafellade on August 28. For his part, Eugene followed to Vogera and boldly passed between Tortona and Alessandria, occupied by strong French garrisons, and on August 31 was already in Asti, while Victor-Amadeus, who came out to meet him, was at Carmagnola. September 2, the two armies joined together, and the Allied forces stretched to 36,000 men, while the Duke of Orleans was connected to de Lafellade had about 60,000. With such forces could achieve decisive results, but instead it was decided to meet the attack of the enemy without leaving their countervaluation lines. September 7, 1706 played out the battle of Turin, in which the French suffered a severe defeat and retreated to Alessandria to join with Medavi, who was on the Middle Po. The defeated army thus voluntarily cut itself off from the rest of the troops on the Po and on the Minchio. The defeat at Turin entailed for the French the loss of all Italy, despite their successful action on the Mincio.
Meanwhile, the Prince of Hesse (18 thousand), seized Goito, began the siege of Castiglione, to the rescue of which Medavi (13 thousand), who ran into the imperial forces on 8 September near Solferino, rushed from Mantua. The Imperials were overturned and pushed back to the left bank of the Minchio. The victory at Solferino could not correct the general state of affairs when the main French army was defeated at Turin and when Prince Eugene, with his movement towards Milan, completely cut off Medavi”s detachment from his base. With the king”s permission, Medavi entered into negotiations and, having surrendered Modena, Mirandola, Vicenza, Cremona, Mantua and Milan to the Imperials (and having held one Susa in French hands), was allowed a free retreat into France.
Soon the French left Pinerolo, Vercelli, Ivrea and Verrois, which passed into the hands of the Savoys. On September 15 Eugene surrendered the fortress of Quivasso, and on September 20 Novara with the fort of Bar. Then came the turn of Lodi, Picigetone, Tortona, Alessandria and other fortified places, whose number reached 20, and at the beginning of the next year – a 10 thousandth Austrian detachment without a shot seized the kingdom of Naples. Thus, the whole of Italy was lost to Louis XIV.
Eugene”s movement to Piedmont indisputably belongs to the brilliant exploits. The success is due to the courageous decision to abandon his communications and quickly move to strike at the French communications, then enter into a decisive battle and the skillful choice of the point of attack fortified line near Turin.
Actions in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands the combat operations of 1706 began with the transition of Villeroy”s army (May 19) through the Diehl and its encampment at Tierlemont. Its forces reached 40 thousand infantry and 30 thousand cavalry. On the same day, British troops arrived in Maastricht and May 20, joined the Dutch in Loo (the number of allied forces amounted to 62 thousand men (including about 15 thousand cavalry). Assuming that Marlborough was moving toward Namur, Villeroy wanted to warn him and undertook a march to Ramillies, where a decisive battle took place on May 23. The French lost it and retreated in disarray, first to Louvain and then to Brussels. On May 25, Marlborough crossed the Dille and on May 26 was already near Brussels, from where the French, having crossed the Scheldt, made their way to Ghent, positioned between that city and Saint-Denis. The Allies followed them relentlessly: on May 30 they were in Aloste, and on May 31 in Ghent, from where the enemy retreated to Courtrat, where he received significant reinforcements, which brought his numbers to 32 thousand.
Meanwhile, the English commander was subduing the most important cities and strongholds of Brabant and Flanders. Oudenarde and Bruges surrendered on June 2, Antwerp fell on June 6, and the siege of Ostend began on June 26, ending with the surrender on July 6. On August 4 Marlborough besieged Menin and captured it on August 25.
On the day the siege of Menin began, a new commander-in-chief, Duke Vendôme, arrived at the French army. With a weak and disorganized army he could not stop the successes of such a prominent opponent as Marlborough, who, after taking Menin, besieged Dendermonde (near Ghent) on 27 August, surrendering on 5 September, and Ath, surrendering on 6 September, on 2 October. Both armies then dispersed to their winter quarters (November 6).
Actions on the Rhine
In Alsace and on the Rhine the fighting was not decisive and was limited mainly to maneuvering and fortress warfare. By the beginning of 1706 the Margrave of Baden with 20 thousand occupied Bischweiler and Drutsenheim, having at the same time about 10 thousand in the Stollhofen lines.
The French troops were divided into two armies: one, Marsen (11 thousand), threatened Trauerbach, and the other, Villar, occupied the space between Strasbourg and Güningen. On April 30, Marsen joined up with Villar (46,000) and they attacked the fortified imperial camp at Bischweiler on May 1 and forced the Margrave to clear the left bank of the Rhine. Druszenheim and Gagenau (May 12) fell into Villar”s hands, but he did not develop further success, because at that time Marsen”s 11,000-strong detachment was ordered to go to Flanders, and then, learning of Villeroy”s defeat at Ramillies, he detached 18,000 to help the defeated army in the Netherlands; his remaining forces did not exceed 28,000, while the imperial army was strengthening day by day and even threatened Strasbourg.
At the end of August Villar had 25,000 and the Imperials about 55,000; so the marshal confined himself to watching the enemy, and to cover Alsace from the north he built fortified lines near Weissenburg. On November 15 the troops of both armies dispersed to their winter quarters.
Actions in Spain
In Spain the two foreign kings still continued to challenge each other for the throne of Charles V. Philip of Anjou ruled Madrid and the central provinces, having garrisons in most of the fortified points, especially on the Portuguese border. His army, reinforced by militias of Castile, Andalusia and Extremadura, reached 26,000. For Archduke Charles, who owned Barcelona, stood Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia. His forces stretched to 32,000, with the help of the Portuguese and the Anglo-Dutch auxiliary forces of General Galway. On March 4 Philip, joining with Marshal Tesse”s detachment standing on the Ebro, moved toward Barcelona at the head of 17,000 and approached that city on April 3.
At this time the Portuguese army (30 thousand men) with Anglo-Dutch detachments invaded Extremadura and, crossing the Guadiana, positioned itself at Elvas. Marshal Berwick, standing near Badajoz (4,000), could not prevent her advance toward Madrid. On May 4, the Allied army was already 80 kilometers from Madrid. Here she stood until May 11 and then moved to Ciudad Rodrigo, which took possession of May 26 evening. Berwick withdrew to Salamanca.
Meanwhile, the siege of Barcelona did not move forward, and when a British squadron arrived in Barcelona on May 10 and landed to help the city, Tesse began to retreat on May 11. On learning of the retreat of the French from Barcelona, Galway, who commanded the Anglo-Portuguese army, made June 3 from Ciudad Rodrigo to Madrid, which entered on June 25 and proclaimed the King of Spain, Archduke Charles. However, Berwick, joined with Tesse, reoccupied Madrid on August 4, and Galway withdrew to the province of Valencia, and then forced the surrender of Cuenza (October 9) and moved toward Cartagena, after the capture of which on November 17 he settled for winter quarters in the southeast part of the peninsula.
In the west of the Iberian Peninsula, fortune also favored the French, where Salamanca and Alcántara passed into their hands.
Actions at sea
In 1706 the French took decisive steps to make up for the previous year”s failures. In order to be able to achieve decisive results before the allied fleet arrived in the Mediterranean, they invaded Catalonia, drove Charles III to Barcelona, which was encircled from the land by 40,000 French army, and from the sea by a French fleet of 30 ships and a detachment of galleys, under the command of the Count of Toulouse.
Receiving news of the French preparations, the Allies also hastened this year. On March 9, Leek left Lisbon, on April 14 in Gibraltar, he had 30 battleships, and in early May at Altea joined him further reinforcements, so that his force reached 50 battleships (36 British, 14 Dutch), 6 frigates, 2 Brander, 2 mortar ships and transports with troops and supplies. On May 6, near Tortosa, he received a message from Charles III that Barcelona was barely hanging on and only the arrival of the fleet could save her. Lick ordered his squadron, not keeping order, forcing sails, to go to Barcelona. The front of his ships approached Barcelona early in the morning on May 7, but the French fleet was not. At the news of the approach of the Allied fleet, he left for Toulon. On the same day, the entire Allied fleet arrived, troops were landed, and Barcelona, and with it Catalonia, were saved. On May 10, Marshal Tesse lifted the siege, dropping about 100 guns and the wounded.
The allied fleet was then ordered to move troops from Catalonia to Valencia, from where they marched by land to Alicante, a stronghold of Philip V”s supporters. While the troops were making this crossing, the fleet appeared (June 10) before Cartagena and, under threat of attack, forced her to recognize the authority of Charles III. The fleet then crossed to Alicante (July 7), and with its help the city was taken on September 6. From Alicante the Leek headed for the Balearic Islands. The island of Ivisa immediately recognized Charles III, and on Majorca the population forced the same on the governor when Lick threatened to bombard the city of Palma. The Allies were eager to take possession of Minorca with its excellent harbor of Port Magon, but Lick found his landing facilities insufficient to overcome the French garrison there. On October 4, the Allied fleet headed home for the winter, leaving 17 British ships in Lisbon under Admiral Bing.
After the capture of Barcelona, the war on land was marked by a series of successes for Charles III. On June 26 Madrid was taken and Philip V retreated to France with the French army.
In the English Channel, the English fleet participated (June) in the capture of Ostend. The success of Charles III, however, was short-lived. There were too many supporters of Philip in Castile, and when the French army entered Spain again (Charles III had to retreat to Catalonia, Philip V entered Madrid in October, and after the defeat of the Allied forces at Almansa (25 April 1707) all of Spain, except Catalonia, was again in the hands of Philip. In response, the Allies in the campaign of 1707 decided to strike at the center of the French disposition – to take Toulon and, based on it, to take possession of Provence.
Count Galway made a new attempt to take Madrid in the spring of 1707, advancing from Valencia, but Berwick defeated him crushingly at the Battle of Almansa on April 25, captured 10 thousand British, Valencia opened the gates to the winners, soon they obeyed Aragon – all of Spain except Catalonia, went back to Philip. After that, the Spanish war turned into a series of minor skirmishes, which as a whole did not change the overall picture.
In 1707 the War of the Spanish Succession briefly overlapped with the Great Northern War, which was taking place in Northern Europe. The Swedish army of Charles XII arrived in Saxony, where it forced Elector Augustus II to give up the Polish throne. The French and the anti-French coalition sent their diplomats to Charles” camp. Louis XIV sought to set Charles at war with Emperor Joseph I, who supported Augustus. But Charles, who considered himself the protector of Protestant Europe, disliked Louis for his persecution of the Huguenots and was not interested in waging a western war. He made a treaty with the Austrians and headed for Russia.
The Duke of Marlborough devised a new plan involving a simultaneous offensive deep into France from Flanders and from Piedmont into Provence to force Louis XIV to make peace. In June 1707, a 40,000-strong Austrian army crossed the Alps, invaded Provence, and besieged Toulon for several months, but the city was well fortified and the siege was unsuccessful. In the summer of 1707, however, the imperial army marched through the Papal Region to Naples and took possession of the entire Kingdom of Naples. Marlborough continued to operate in the Netherlands, where he seized French and Spanish fortresses one by one.
Actions in Italy and Southern France
In Italy and in southern France, after the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples and the Treaty of March 13, 1706, with Medawi, the Allies became the de facto possessors of Italy. They now conceived an invasion of southern France, the defense of which was entrusted to Marshal Tesse, summoned from Spain, who deployed troops (43 thousand) throughout to cover the Dauphiné and Provence.
As for the Allies (44 thousand), deciding to invade France and intending to seize Toulon, they counted on the support of the Anglo-Dutch fleet, which consists of 108 ships (including 48 warships) was to arrive to the city and contribute to its siege from the sea. A large detachment was left to cover Piedmont.
On July 1, the Allies began to move from Ivry, Pignerolles, and Coney and, having crossed the Alps through the passage of Tend, came to Nice on July 10, and on July 26 they positioned themselves at La Valette in sight of Toulon. Attempts to capture Toulon failed, and on August 20 the Allies lifted its siege and withdrew to Susa (Prince Eugene), Piñerolles, and Savigliano (Victor-Amadeus). With the capture of Susa on October 3, the fighting operations of 1707 ended and the troops began their winter quarters.
Actions in the Netherlands
By early May Marlborough concentrated his army (76,000) around Brussels. Vendôme (80,000) was near Mons and on May 26, when Marlborough approached the Swan forest, moved to Ligny, finding himself thus on the flank of the Anglo-Dutch army, which gave him an opportunity to cut it off from Maas and cut off its communication line with Brabant. The English commander-in-chief, who had hoped to attack the French at Nivelle, noticed the danger in time and hastily withdrew to Tyrlemont, covering Brabant from the attempts of Vendôme, who was positioned in a fortified camp at Jemblé.
From June 1 to August 10 the opponents remained idle, but on this last day Marlborough, learning of the weakening of Vendôme”s forces, forced to send 8,000 men to reinforce the Toulon garrison, crossed the Dille River, intending to bypass the left flank of the French. On August 12, Vendôme moved to Seneffe and Marlborough moved to Nivelle. Then, after a series of futile marches Vendôme withdrew to Tournais, while the Allies crossed to the left bank of the Scheldt (September 7) and on October 10 set up winter quarters. On September 20, the French did the same.
Actions on the Rhine
In Alsace and on the Rhine, the hostilities of 1707 began with the movement on May 21 of Villard”s army (44,000) toward the fortifications of the Stollhofen lines, occupied by the imperials (35,000) of Count Tungen, who had replaced the dead (January 4) Margrave of Baden. Thanks to the stealth of movement and well chosen points for attacks, the marshal with negligible losses managed to capture the lines on May 23. The Imperials withdrew in disarray to Pforzheim, where Villar rushed, but did not find the enemy there. On June 8 he occupied Stuttgart, on June 15 he crossed the Neckar and on June 19 he came to Schorndorf, and on June 20 at the Abbey of Loch he destroyed a 5 thousandth enemy detachment. But at that time the marshal received an order from the king to send 6 thousand men to Provence to help Toulon and had to suspend the attack.
Meanwhile, on June 29, the Imperials captured Heilbronn and moved toward Philippsburg. Upon learning of this, Villar (29 thousand) marched to Schorndorf on June 28, sending 7 thousand men to Lauter and 2.5 thousand to guard the bridge. On July 9 he approached Bruchsal, while the imperial troops were camped below Philippsburg, near Rheingausen. Intending to prevent reinforcements from reaching the enemy, the marshal captured Mannheim (July 14), but did not have time to prevent the Imperials from crossing to the left bank of the Rhine (July 16), between Rheingausen and Philippsburg, and reinforce themselves with fresh troops. Under such conditions Villar had to confine himself to defensive action, and he withdrew to Rastadt (29 August), from where he withdrew his army to winter quarters in the last days of October.
Actions in Spain
In Spain, by early 1707 Archduke Charles still owned Catalonia, Aragon and Valencia, with in these provinces to 45 thousand of his troops and 8 thousand Portuguese. Philip of Anjou, who settled in the winter quarters in Murcia, had 38 thousand, regardless of this to the Portuguese border was advanced detachment of 8 thousand, under the command of the Marquis de Baie, and from Navarre came French reinforcements (14 thousand).
On March 27 Galway launched an offensive through Fuente la Higuera (33,000). For his part, Marshal Berwick crossed to Almansé on April 11, threatening the Allied operational line, which meanwhile had laid siege to Villena, where a general battle occurred on April 13, which the French call the Battle of Almansé and which ended in the complete defeat of the Allied army.
The victory at Almansa secured the Spanish crown for Philip of Anjou. The day after the battle Berwick was joined by 14 thousand men of the Duke of Orleans, and the pursuit of the enemy began. On April 21 surrendered Requena, and on April 26 opened the gates of Valencia, after which the Anglo-Dutch army withdrew to Tortosa, where on May 2 came Berwick, meanwhile, the Duke of Orleans, drew the detachment of Legalese from Tudela and captured Zaragoza, so that the possession of Archduke Charles was left alone Catalonia.
As winter set in, Berwick positioned his army in winter quarters from Saragossa to Murcia, and the Allies in Barcelona.
Actions at sea
Already in January 1707 Admiral Chauvelle of England had gone to the Mediterranean and landed 7,000 troops at Alicante, in aid of Charles III; but after this he had to return to Lisbon, as his fleet was far from being ready for a long voyage in the Mediterranean, away from his base. On April 10 Admiral Bing was dispatched from Lisbon with a ready part of the fleet and with further reinforcements to the east coast of Spain. At Alicante he learned of Charles III”s defeat at Almansa and that the remnants of the defeated army had retreated to Tortosa. He therefore crossed over to the Catalan coast, collected these remnants at various points on the coast, and, together with new reinforcements, delivered them on May 20 to Barcelona. Soon Chauvelle arrived here as well.
On June 4 the Allied fleet headed for the shores of northern Italy to ensure the safe movement of Prince Eugene”s Austrian army on that shore of Toulon. Italy, to ensure the safe movement of Prince Eugene”s Austrian army along this shore toward Toulon and the communication line with its bases, Genoa and Livorno. In mid-June the navy entered communication with the army, and on July 11, with its aid, the army crossed the border river Var unhindered. On July 29, Toulon was besieged from land and sea, but by August 22 it became clear that there was no hope of capturing it and the Austrian army retreated to northern Italy, with the fleet again accompanying it along the coast. The main reason for the failure was the small size of the siege army, and this was because the Austrian emperor had detached a large part of the army to capture Naples, as the beginning of peace negotiations was expected, and he wanted by that time to actually take possession of Naples. England and Holland persuaded him that Naples itself would be in his hands if he succeeded in taking Provence, but the emperor held his ground. The only result of the attack on Toulon was that the French, fearing the annihilation of their fleet by bombardment, sank it, and then they managed only a small part of it to make it fit for further service. At the end of joint operations with the Austrian army, the allied fleet headed for home, leaving 12 English and 6 Dutch ships in Gibraltar, under the command of Rear-Admiral Dilk, who, transferring troops from Barcelona to Livorno, crossed to Lisbon (March 24, 1708). On the return voyage a disaster occurred over Chauvelle”s squadron, which the sailors constantly feared when returning in late autumn from the Mediterranean Sea. On entering the English Channel, the squadron was caught in a violent storm, four battleships were lost and, thrown ashore after the wreck, Admiral Chauvel himself was killed by robbers.
In 1708, Marlborough”s army faced the French, who had serious problems with their commanders: the Duke of Burgundy (grandson of Louis XIV) and the Duke of Vendôme often failed to find common ground and made short-sighted decisions. The indecisiveness of the Duke of Burgundy resulted in the armies of Marlborough and Eugene uniting again, enabling the Allied army to crush the French at the Battle of Audenarde on May 11, 1708, and then to capture Bruges, Ghent, and Lille.
The English fleet, meanwhile, forced Sicily and Sardinia to recognize the power of the Habsburgs; on September 5, 1708, the British took the fortress of Port Mahon on the island of Menorca, where all the time the French garrison was held. From that moment England became the strongest power in the Mediterranean.
The Austrians inflicted a heavy defeat on the Hungarian rebels almost simultaneously at the battle of Trenchin; since the new Emperor Joseph I. had easily pardoned the rebels and tolerated the Protestants, the Hungarians began to defect en masse to the Habsburg side.
The disastrous failures at Audenarde and Lille brought France to the brink of defeat and forced Louis XIV to agree to peace negotiations; he sent his foreign minister, the Marquis de Torsy, to meet with Allied commanders at The Hague. Louis agreed to give Spain and all its territories to the Allies, with the exception of Naples and Sicily, to expel the Old Pretender from France, and to recognize Anne as queen of England. Moreover, he was prepared to finance Philip V”s expulsion from Spain. But the allies imposed even more humiliating conditions on France: they demanded the cession of French possessions in the West Indies and South America, and insisted that Louis XIV send an army to remove his own grandson from the throne. Louis rejected all terms and decided to fight to the end. He appealed to the French people for help and his army was replenished with thousands of new recruits.
Actions in Flanders and Alsace
In mid-April 1708 the French army (90,000) concentrated toward Mons. The forces of the Anglo-Dutch army, drawn to Brussels, reached up to 85,000. On the Rhine, at Strasbourg, the French had 53,000, and the Imperials, with the army of Prince Eugene (at Etlingen), up to 60,000.
The campaign began with the movement of Marlborough”s troops toward Mons (May 26) and Vendôme”s march toward the Forest of Suan. On June 1 the French army stood 12 kilometers from the enemy”s left flank, and Vendôme had already intended to bypass it, as the English commander hurriedly withdrew to Louvain (June 3). In this position both hostile armies remained for a month without active action.
Meanwhile the imperial army, under the command of the Elector of Hanover, who were in the fortified camp at Ettlingen, had before them the troops of Maximilian of Bavaria and Berwick, who had been deported from Spain, standing at Lichtenar. Not wanting to allow the imperial army to connect with reinforcements standing at Mainz, Marshal Berwick, having sent part of his troops to the Saar and part to Lauter, with the rest (35 thousand) encamped in Resnick on the Moselle, watching the movements of the Elector of Hanover. However, this circumstance did not prevent Prince Eugene from joining his troops with the Imperials at Coblenz on June 22 and on the same day proceeding to Flanders to join Marlborough”s army.
On July 4, the Duke of Burgundy, who held the title of commander in chief of the royal forces in Flanders, marched toward Ghent; on July 5, a surprise attack took Ghent, and the detachment of the Comte de Lamothe took the city of Bruges. From that time the intentions of the Prince of Burgundy had the sole purpose of preserving the places he had conquered, and this purpose determined all his further movements. On June 6 he stood between Alost and Aufdegem, covering at the same time Ghent.
On the same day, Marlborough marched to Ghent and positioned himself at Asch, where he joined up with Prince Eugene, after which the allies moved on to Oudenarde, where a battle was fought that ended in the defeat of the French army, which retreated to Ghent in disarray. After the Battle of Oudenarde, Vendôme fortified himself behind the Bruges Canal at Lovendegem where he organised and reorganised his army. Finally, the Allies decided to lay siege to the fortress of Lille, where Marshal Bouffler and his 16,000-strong garrison were locked in.
Eugene (about 40,000) began the siege on August 14, while Marlborough (15,000) covered it by setting up a fortified camp at Guelchin and watching Berwick, who was at Condé and seeking to join Vendôme”s army. On August 28, Berwick arrived at Engien and joined Vendôme without hindrance; the French army was up to 35,000. However, the interference of Minister of War Chamillard in the course of the fighting operation resulted in the French being unable to compel the enemy to lift the siege of Lille. On December 8 the fortress fell. On December 30, Ghent, defended by de Lamotte, surrendered.
Nothing remarkable happened in Alsace during this time, because the forces remaining here were negligible for the production of any serious combat operations.
Action in the Alps
On the Alpine frontiers the French forces reached 39,000, of which 17,000 were scattered among the garrisons, so that, starting the campaign, Marshal Villard could have only 22,000 to cover the entire space from Geneva to Nice. Victor-Amadeus of Savoy”s army (up to 40,000) was near Turin. On July 20, the Savoys attacked French detachments on Mont-Senis and Little Saint-Bernard, which after stubborn resistance withdrew to Barrault, but Villard, reinforced by reinforcements, went on the offensive (August 27) and repulsed the Savoys to Fenestrelle. This minor success, however, had little consequence and did not even prevent Victor-Amédée from forcing Fenestrelle to surrender (September 3), despite Villard”s best efforts to save the fortress.
Actions in Spain
In Spain, the Allied forces by the beginning of 1708 were completely separated, as one part of their troops had its base in Portugal, and the other with Archduke Charles at the head – Catalonia and several fortresses (Tortosa, Alicante, Urgell). The number of troops did not exceed 11 thousand in Portugal (near Alsace) and 20 thousand around Barcelona, under the command of Count Staremberg. To finally expel the Allies from the Iberian Peninsula, Philip of Anjou sent the Duke of Orleans to Tortosa in May; on June 12 the siege began, and on June 15 this fortress surrendered. This was the only result of the 1708 campaign on the Iberian Peninsula that did not change the state of affairs of either side.
Actions at sea
The need for a convenient base in the Mediterranean Sea was imperative. As such, Minorca, with its excellent harbor, Port Mahon, was outlined. In 1708, the allied fleet, which operated in the Mediterranean under the command of Admiral Leek, consisted of only 31 ships, because there was nothing to fear of the French fleet, and therefore a large part of the naval forces was left in the north to fight against the French destroyers trade. Lick”s squadron provided active support for operations on the dry track, constantly transporting troops, as needed, then to Spain, then to northern Italy. On May 22nd 67 of 100 French merchant ships carrying provisions for the French army attacking in Spain had been captured and that affected the operations of Charles III. On instructions from the latter that it was desirable to seize Sardinia as a food base, the Lick appeared before Calliari on 12 August and, under threat of bombardment, the Governor, forced to do so by the population, acknowledged the power of Charles III, which the whole island then also acknowledged. Thereafter, Lick, in conjunction with General Stanhope, attacked Port Mahon, and on September 29 Minorca was in the power of the Allies.
The main forces of Leek did not wait for the capture of the fortress and went home, leaving to assist the land forces 12 British and 3 Dutch battleships, 5 frigates and 3 mortar ships, commanded by Rear Admiral Whitaker. But this squadron also failed to winter in Port Magon, due to the lack of properly equipped coastal facilities for repair and supply of the fleet.
To the north, the French this year attempted a rebellion in Scotland, in favor of James III, landing him there with 6,000 French troops. In consequence of the complete decline of the regular navy, Admiral Earl Forben, who was to escort transports with troops, had only five warships, and the rest of the escorts were privateers. Rumors of the French plans reached England, and on March 12, Admiral Bing was already near Dunkirhen, where the expedition was to leave. On the night of March 19, when he was driven back by a storm to the Downs, the expedition set out and made it safely to Forth Bay, but it turned out that there was no hope of a Scottish rebellion and on shore were ready to repel the landing by force. Bing, meanwhile, was already following Forben, who, hearing of his approach, put to sea in front of Bing on March 23. Despite the vigorous pursuit, Forben succeeded in deftly changing the direction of the path at night to deceive the British and reach Dunkirhen with the loss of only one ship.
In 1709 the Allies attempted three offensives against France, two of which were minor, serving as a distraction. The more serious offensive was organized by Marlborough and Eugene, advancing toward Paris. They confronted the forces of the Duke of Villar at the Battle of Malplaquet (September 11, 1709), the bloodiest battle of the war. Although the Allies defeated the French, they lost thirty thousand men killed and wounded, while their opponents lost only fourteen thousand. In the hands of the united army was Mons, but it was no longer able to build on its success. The battle was a turning point in the war, because despite the victory, the allies had no strength left to continue the offensive because of the huge losses. Nevertheless, the overall situation of the Franco-Spanish coalition seemed hopeless: Louis XIV was forced to withdraw French troops from Spain, and Philip V was left with only a weak Spanish army against the combined coalition forces.
Actions in Flanders and Alsace
As the campaign began, Marshal Villar (60,000) was sent to Flanders to cover access to France. After receiving reinforcements, which brought his forces to 80,000, the marshal moved to Lance on June 14 and fortified it.
Meanwhile, the Allies laid siege to Tournai (June 26). Their forces reached: Eugene – up to 51 thousand, Marlborough – 79 thousand, that is, by 50 thousand more forces of Villar. On September 3, Tournai fell, and on September 4 the Allies moved towards Mons. Upon learning of the Allied crossing of the Scheldt and their movement toward Mons, Villard also crossed the river in order to attack the Allied army during its movement toward Mons. On September 9, the French army positioned itself at Malplaquet, where a battle occurred on September 11, 1709, resulting in the defeat of the French, who retreated to Valenciennes. The Allies moved on to Mons. On September 24, the siege of the fortress began, and on October 20 it surrendered.
Bouffler, replacing the wounded Villard, with 46,000 men positioned himself between Valenciennes and Caenet, while Berwick, with 35,000 men, took up a position across the Sambre, in a fortified camp against Mobege. On October 28, the Allies dispersed to their winter quarters.
In Alsace near Strasbourg were the French troops (24 thousand) of Marshal Garcourt, who on June 11 crossed the Rhine at Kehl, but on June 26 crossed back to the left bank, pressed by the Duke of Hanover, who gathered at Ettlingen 33 thousand men. On August 26, a detachment of imperial troops of General Mercy (10,000) ran into the French rearguard (about 6,000) of the Comte de Bourg near Neuburg, where the imperials were defeated.
Action in the Alps
On the Alpine frontiers, Berwick”s French army (45,000) was at Brienson, Provence and Valois. The Allies, with 40,000, began an offensive in three columns on July 11, but after several skirmishes, without achieving significant results, returned to Piedmont in September.
Actions in Spain
In Spain the beginning of military operations in 1709 was marked by the capture of Alicante (on May 7, the Marquis de Baie, standing at Badajoz, attacked the Anglo-Portuguese army of Galway and after a fierce battle near Gudina defeated it; but to develop success failed, and the French withdrew to Badajoz. In Catalonia, hostilities continued until the end of September, limited to minor skirmishes.
Actions at sea
In 1709-1712 the allied fleet did not have to participate in any major affairs, due to the absence of a significant naval force in the enemy, and also due to the fact that all important goals had been achieved (Gibraltar, Minorca, Sardinia) and now had only to hold the occupied position. Divided into detachments, which posed no danger due to the weakness of the enemy at sea, the allied fleet assisted land operations everywhere, maintained communication between the armies in Spain and Italy, brought them food and did not allow the French to use the sea supply. Sometimes, however, the latter managed to deceive the Allies” vigilance. For example, Captain Cassar managed in 1709, 1710 and 1711 to bring the caravans with bread to Marseille, which was important, because in France in those years was crop failure. In 1712 he also managed to leave the Mediterranean Sea for the West Indies and ruin some of the English and Dutch colonies. However, attempts by the Allies to establish themselves in French territory ended in failure. In July 1710 they succeeded in seizing the port of Zetta, but could not hold out here. Due to the weakness of the French at sea, the Allied squadron in the Mediterranean Sea all decreased in number, and they could leave a large force to fight against the destroyers of trade in the English Channel and the North Sea, after which the success of the French privateers began to decline rapidly, despite their multiplicity, as the French government gave for this purpose all the warships, personnel and port facilities. The French maritime trade had to cease altogether, and the French fleet also perished definitively in this struggle.
On the side of the French in this struggle stood out several officers who have committed a number of brilliant and sometimes amazing feats, but these private successes could not balance the overall success of the allied fleet at sea. These were Captains Forben, St. Paul, Duguet-Truen, Cassar, and Admiral Du Cass.
In 1710, the Allies began their last campaign in Spain, the army of Charles of Hapsburg, under James Stanhope, marched from Barcelona to Madrid. On July 10, at Almenara, the English attacked and after a fierce battle defeated the Spaniards; only the coming night saved Philip V”s army from total destruction. August 20, the battle of Zaragoza took place between 25 thousand Spaniards and 23 thousand allies (Austrians, British, Dutch, Portuguese). On the right flank the Portuguese retreated, but the center and left flank held out and defeated the enemy. Philip”s defeat seemed final; he fled to Madrid and a few days later moved his residence to Valladolid.
Charles Habsburg took Madrid for the second time, but most of the nobility left after the “legitimate” Philip V for Valladolid, and the people almost openly showed their ill-will. Charles”s position was very precarious, his army suffering from starvation; Louis XIV advised his grandson to give up the throne, but Philip did not agree, and soon Charles retreated from Madrid, as he could not gather food for his army there. A new army arrived from France; in pursuit of the retreating army, on December 9, 1710, at Brieuig, Vandom forced the surrender of an English detachment that had run out of ammunition, General Stanhope was also taken prisoner. Almost all of Spain came under the rule of Philip V; Charles retained only Barcelona and Tortosa with part of Catalonia. The alliance began to weaken and disintegrate.
Actions in Flanders and Alsace
Fighting in Flanders in 1710 began on April 23 with the imposition of the Allied armies Duet fortress, in which locked 8 thousand garrison Albergotti. The French army (about 75 thousand) was at Cambrai, where on May 20 arrived Marshal Villar, who had recovered from his wounds. The numerical superiority of the Allies (160 thousand) was so great that the marshal could not count on the success of the battle, so set a goal to divert the enemy from the besieged his fortresses, but these gradually surrendered: Douet – June 27, Bethune (near Arras) – August 28, Saint-Venant – September 29 and Era – November 8. After the fall of Ere, the Allies dispersed to their winter quarters, and the French followed suit.
Nothing important happened in Alsace during this period of time. Marshal Beson, who commanded the French army there (50 battalions and 84 squadrons), did not leave the fortified camp at Lauterre, nor did his opponent, the imperial General Grofeld, who burrowed into the trenches of Ettlingen. Both sides stood idle in their positions until November 19, when they dispersed to their winter quarters.
Action in the Alps
On the Alpine frontiers, Marshal Berwick, with 35,000 troops, continued to wage a defensive war. The Allies, after an unsuccessful attempt to attack Como in July, despite the assistance of an English landing, returned to Piedmont. On their removal Berwick immediately took possession of the abandoned positions.
Actions in Spain
In Spain, from all of Philip of Anjou”s troops were composed 2 armies: one (the other (relying on forces located in Andalusia (14 battalions and 15 squadrons), the remaining troops were stationed in Valencia. Villadarias” own Spanish army (23 thousand) was located between Almenara and Alguera. Count Staremberg, approaching Balaguer, had only 15 thousand infantry and 3.5 thousand cavalry.
Hoping for numerical superiority, Philip and Marquis Villadarias resolved to attack the Imperials. On June 10, having crossed the Segru at Lerida, they moved toward Balaguerre, near which, in a fortified camp, stood the troops of Staremberg. Finding the position very strong, Villadarias did not dare to attack and withdrew to Almenara. Meanwhile, Staremberg, having received reinforcements, went on the offensive and defeated the French at Almenara (June 27). However, the imperials had no success, and only August 12, Staremberg with 24,000 moved to Zaragoza, where on August 19 the Spanish-French army also approached. Here the French, attacked by Staremberg on August 20, suffered a new defeat.
On September 16 General Vandom arrived in Valladolid, under whom the war on the Iberian Peninsula took a different turn. Ordering de Baie to move immediately to Extremadura to block the road to Spain from the Anglo-Portuguese army stationed at Elvas, the marshal concentrated the rest of his forces in Salamanca. Preoccupied with the organization and reorganization of the army, Vandom could not immediately move against the allies; therefore, having separated the Portuguese from the Imperials, he took care to cut off the latter from communications with Zaragoza, both by sending cavalry to their communication line and by seizing the rear points occupied by the Imperials. He succeeded in cutting Madrid off from the rest of the country, subjecting the capital to starvation. His forces increased more and more.
Meanwhile, the Archduke Charles was forced to leave Madrid, but because of weakness of forces, not daring to meet with Vandom, decided to seek a connection with the Portuguese, for which he crossed the Tagus and settled between Toledo and Aranjuez on November 12. But the impossibility of connecting with the Anglo-Portuguese army was so obvious that Count Staremberg decided to withdraw to Aragon and left Toledo on November 29. At that time Vandom received news that General Stanhope”s detachment had advanced to Brigueta (northeast of Madrid). On December 9, Vandom attacked the enemy and after a battle that lasted a day, the English general surrendered with 3,400 men, supplies and artillery, leaving about 6,000 dead and wounded on the battlefield. The losses of the French were about 1.5 thousand. On the next day at Villa-Viciosa Vandom attacked Count Staremberg, who had rushed to the rescue of Stanhope, and after a persistent and bloody battle defeated him. On December 23 Count Staremberg arrived in Zaragoza, from where he withdrew to winter quarters in Catalonia.
In all theaters of war, the warring sides took no decisive action, limiting themselves to marches and minor skirmishes.
The Duke of Marlborough lost his political influence in London, falling into disfavor because of a quarrel between his wife and Queen Anne. Moreover, the Whigs, who supported the war effort, were replaced by the Tories, supporters of peace. Marlborough, the only capable English commander, was recalled to Britain in 1711 and replaced by the Duke of Ormonde.
After the sudden death of his older brother Joseph (April 17, 1711), Archduke Charles, still in Barcelona, was proclaimed Holy Roman Emperor under the name Charles VI. This meant that if the Austrians won, the Catholic empire of Charles V would be reborn, which did not suit the British or the Dutch at all. The British began secret unilateral negotiations with the Marquis de Torsy. The Duke of Ormonde withdrew British troops from the Allied army, and the French, under Villard, were able to regain many of the lost territories in 1712.
On July 24, 1712, Marshal Villar defeated the Allies at the Battle of Denène; Eugene of Savoy could not save the situation. The Allies then abandoned plans for an attack on Paris, and Eugene began to withdraw his troops from the Spanish Netherlands.
On September 11, 1712, the French fleet, long inactive, attacked Rio de Janeiro, took a large contribution from the city and returned safely to Europe.
Actions in Flanders and Alsace
By April 10, the French army (93,000) was positioned behind Scarpa, and Eugene”s army (133,000) was between Douai and Bouchene.
In the meantime, with the death of Joseph I and the change of the English ministry, the political situation of Western Europe had changed considerably, and the statesmen of England, sharing the public opinion, were against the war, finding that with the accession to the throne of Charles VI, not France but Austria threatened the political equilibrium of Europe. In the presence of these conditions and the resignation of the Duke of Marlborough, a supporter of war, who had been removed from command, the English government entered into negotiations with France and came to an agreement with it to convene a congress at Utrecht. These negotiations resulted in a secret order to the Duke of Ormonde, who commanded the English troops, to limit his defensive actions and then to cease all action against France, of which the Versailles cabinet was not slow to inform Marshal Villar.
Thus, henceforth the whole burden of the war was to fall on Austria alone, trying in vain to prevent a general reconciliation. But if this was the intention of the Viennese cabinet, then Prince Eugene would have to hurry to strike a decisive blow, without giving the enemy an opportunity to strengthen.
But the Austrian general got involved in the fortress war and on June 8 he laid siege to Kenois, which fell on July 3. On July 17, Prince Eugene began the siege of Landrécy, with the intention of opening a passage into the space between the Scheldt and the Sambre and then moving directly toward Paris by the Oise valley adjacent to that space. Villard, who had been ordered to limit his maneuvers until the British separated from the Allies, stood idle behind the Scheldt the whole time. The capture of Kenoit and the siege of Landrécy that had begun worried the French government, and Villard was ordered to act decisively, trying at the same time to prevent Landrécy from falling.
The brilliant success of the French commander was expressed in the so-called Denène operation (July 24), which saved Paris from an invasion by Eugene and forced the latter to lift the siege of Landrécy and retreat via Mons to Tournais and from there to Brussels. Taking advantage of the success that raised the spirits of the French army, Villar sent Albergotti to lay siege to Douai (August 14). On September 8, the fortress surrendered, and on the same day a detachment of Saint-Fremont closely besieged Kenoit, which surrendered on October 4, and on October 19, Bouchene fell.
Actions on the Rhine
On the Rhine both hostile armies still stood against each other: the imperial army (30,000) – in the fortified lines of Ettlingen, the army of Garkur (26,000) – in the fortified camp at Lauter. There were no decisive actions on either side.
Action in the Alps
On the Alpine frontiers, the peace negotiations could not fail to affect the hostilities, which this year began with the movement of the troops of Marshal Berwick (22 thousand) on July 12 to the valley of Barceloneta and Durance. The Duke of Savoy (35 thousand) moved towards him to Fenestrelle, but it did not come to a decisive battle, and after a series of maneuvers Berwick withdrew to Chianal, where he moved his main apartment, and the Savoys – to Souza.
Actions in Spain
In Spain in 1712 the French suffered a great loss in the gifted Vendôme, who died on 11 June at Tortosa. His death was most fortunate for Staremberg, who, having received reinforcements from Italy, took the offensive to Balaguerre on July 29, detaching a force of 9,000 to besiege Gerona, but the separation of England from the alliance and the departure of the English troops that were under his command weakened his forces so much that he withdrew to his fortified camp. Nevertheless, he did not abandon his attempts on Gerona, and on November 1 he undertook its siege by General Wetzel”s corps. When French auxiliary forces approached Gerona on January 3, 1713, threatening Barcelona, Staremberg lifted the siege and retreated to his camp.
Peace negotiations between the British and Dutch allies and France took place in 1713 and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, under which Britain and Holland withdrew from the war with France.
Actions on the Rhine
On the Rhine during this period of time the command of the imperial-Austrian forces passed to Prince Eugene of Savoy, whose forces, with the addition of the German contingents, were to increase to 110,000. His headquarters were at Ettlingen.
The French army on the Rhine was in two groups: one, under Bezon (25,000), was located on the Saar, and the other, under Garcourt (105,000), near Strasbourg. But Garcourt was soon succeeded by Villard, who undertook the siege of Landau on June 11. In spite of the efforts of Prince Eugene, who stood in his fortified lines, to prevent the fall of the fortress, the latter surrendered on August 20. On September 22 Villard besieged Fribourg, which surrendered on November 16, and 10 days later peace negotiations opened between France and Austria at Rastadt, which lasted until March 7, 1714, when peace was signed.
Actions in Spain
In Spain the imperial cause was lost irrevocably and Staremberg was forced to leave Catalonia. This left Barcelona, which back in 1705 announced its support for Archduke Charles in his struggle for the Spanish throne. July 12, 1714 Marshal Berwick (40 thousand men and 87 guns) besieged Barcelona, the garrison of which did not exceed 16 thousand. The Catalans defended bravely, but had to surrender the city to Berwick on September 11. Many Catalan separatist leaders were repressed, the ancient liberties – fueros – burned by the hand of the executioner. The day of the surrender of Barcelona is today celebrated as the National Day of Catalonia. After this defeat the Allies finally lost their position in Spain. The surrender of Barcelona was the last act of the grand struggle for the Spanish Succession.
Hostilities between France and Austria continued until the end of the year, until the signing of the Treaties of Rastatt and Baden. The War of the Spanish Succession was over, although Spain was formally at war with Austria until 1720.
In the colonies there was fighting in the West Indies and in North America. In the West Indies from the very beginning of the war the enemies had detachments of warships: Admirals Ketlogon and Chateau-Renaud on the French side and Admiral Benbow on the English side. After leaving Ketlogon and Chateau-Renault with the “silver fleet” was sent there in 1702, Admiral Du Cass with 4 battleships and 8 transports with troops to strengthen the garrisons of the Spanish colonies. To intercept him, Benbow separated 6 battleships under the command of Admiral Witston to the south coast of the island of Haiti, and himself with 7 battleships headed for Cartagena, where, according to rumors, went Du-Cass. August 29, they met, and despite the half-weakest forces and the presence of transports, Du Cass during the 5 days to brilliantly repel the attacks of the British, who had to retreat to the island of Jamaica. Du Cass, on the other hand, landed troops in Cartagena, and, in addition, carried galleons of silver to Europe.
He managed to do this in 1708 and 1711, and by this he greatly facilitated France and Spain in the conduct of the war. The rest of the hostilities were limited to mutual raids on individual islands, and since 1708, when the British could send large forces here, as in the main theater of war it was already over, they almost undividedly owned the waters in the West Indies, and the French only managed by chance to gain some private success.
In North America the struggle was long fought only between the colonists” militia and their armed merchant ships, with the French having the upper hand. But in 1710 and 1711 English squadrons and troops appeared here as well, the French lost Port Royal in Nova Scotia, and their sea trade and fishing were hampered; however, the English attempt in 1711 to take possession of Quebec failed.
The most successful of the French expeditions was the attack on Rio de Janeiro in 1712 by Captain Duguet-Truen, who took rich booty and took a huge contribution from the city. This expedition also had an impact on the conclusion of peace, as it struck at Portugal”s most sensitive point: in Brazil lay the source of its wealth.
A number of successful departures of small French detachments, which, although they did not have a significant impact on the overall course of military action, still sometimes inflicted very sensitive pricks to the opponents of France, took place, mainly because at this time had not yet entered into consciousness of the concept of a real tight blockade. The Allies watched the enemy”s shores from their bases, appearing before them occasionally and going to sea usually only upon receiving news of the French preparations, and therefore were altogether late. Only later, mainly during the wars of the French Revolution and Empire, did the English develop techniques of close blockade, during which their squadrons and detachments kept direct watch on the exits from the enemy”s ports.
At the Treaty of Utrecht, Philip was recognized as King Philip V of Spain, but he renounced the right of succession to the French throne, thus breaking the alliance between the royal families of France and Spain. Philip retained Spain”s overseas possessions, but the Spanish Netherlands, Naples, Milan, the Presidia and Sardinia went to Austria; Austria also received Mantua after the suppression of the pro-French Gonzaga-Never dynasty there in 1708; Sicily, Monferrat and the western part of the Duchy of Milan were annexed to Savoy, Upper Gueldern to Prussia; Gibraltar and the island of Menorca to Britain. The British also secured the right to a monopoly on the slave trade in the Spanish colonies in the Americas (“asiento”). England also took possession of Portugal”s trade, concluding the Treaty of Methuen with the latter in 1703.
Concerned with the political organization of his empire, Philip, applying the centralizing approach of the Bourbons in France, issued decrees that ended the political autonomy of the kingdoms of Aragon that had supported Archduke Charles in the war. On the other hand, Navarra and the Basque provinces, which supported the king, did not lose their autonomy and retained their institutions of power and laws.
There were no major changes in France”s borders in Europe. Although the French did not lose the lands they had accumulated, their expansion into central Europe was halted. France ended its support for the Stuart pretenders to the English throne and recognized Anne as the legitimate queen. The French also relinquished some territories in North America, recognizing England”s dominion over Rupert”s Land, Newfoundland, Acadia, and their part of St. Kitts. France undertook to destroy the port of Dunkirk, which served as the main base for her slayers of commerce.
Holland received several forts in the Spanish Netherlands and the right to annex part of the Spanish Gelderland. Meanwhile, the war had greatly depleted Holland, which could no longer compete with England in sea trade and ceased to be a great power.
With the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, the French hegemony in Europe that had characterized the Grand Siècle came to an end. With the exception of Philip V”s war of revenge for the possession of the southern Italian lands (1718-1720), France and Spain, now ruled by monarchs of the Bourbon dynasty, remained allies in subsequent years (“the Bourbon family pact”). Spain, which had lost territories in Italy and the Netherlands, had lost much of its power, becoming a secondary power in continental politics. Austria became the dominant power in Italy and dramatically strengthened its position in Europe.