1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Grand Alliance, War of the
GRAND ALLIANCE, WAR OF THE (alternatively called the War of the League of Augsburg), the third of the great aggressive wars waged by Louis XIV. of France against Spain, the Empire, Great Britain, Holland and other states. The two earlier wars, which are redeemed from oblivion by the fact that in them three great captains, Turenne, Condé and Montecucculi, played leading parts, are described in the article Dutch Wars. In the third war the leading figures are: Henri de Montmorency-Boutteville, duke of Luxemburg, the former aide-de-camp of Condé and heir to his daring method of warfare; William of Orange, who had fought against both Condé and Luxemburg in the earlier wars, and was now king of England; Vauban, the founder of the sciences of fortification and siegecraft, and Catinat, the follower of Turenne’s cautious and systematic strategy, who was the first commoner to receive high command in the army of Louis XIV. But as soldiers, these men—except Vauban—are overshadowed by the great figures of the preceding generation, and except for a half-dozen outstanding episodes, the war of 1689–97 was an affair of positions and manœuvres.
It was within these years that the art and practice of war began to crystallize into the form called “linear” in its strategic and tactical aspect, and “cabinet-war” in its political and moral aspect. In the Dutch wars, and in the minor wars that preceded the formation of the League of Augsburg, there were still survivals of the loose organization, violence and wasteful barbarity typical of the Thirty Years’ War; and even in the War of the Grand Alliance (in its earlier years) occasional brutalities and devastations showed that the old spirit died hard. But outrages that would have been borne in dumb misery in the old days now provoked loud indignation, and when the fierce Louvois disappeared from the scene it became generally understood that barbarity was impolitic, not only as alienating popular sympathies, but also as rendering operations a physical impossibility for want of supplies.
Thus in 1700, so far from terrorizing the country people
into submission, armies systematically conciliated them by
paying cash and bringing trade into the country.
Formerly, wars had been fought to compel a people
to abjure their faith or to change sides in some
personal or dynastic quarrel. But since 1648 this had noCharacter
of the war. longer been the case. The Peace of Westphalia established the general relationship of kings, priests and peoples on a basis that was not really shaken until the French Revolution, and in the intervening hundred and forty years the peoples at large, except at the highest and gravest moments (as in Germany in 1689, France in 1709 and Prussia in 1757) held aloof from active participation in politics and war. This was the beginning of the theory that war was an affair of the regular forces only, and that intervention in it by the civil population was a punishable offence. Thus wars became the business of the professional soldiers in the king’s own service, and the scarcity and costliness of these soldiers combined with the purely political character of the quarrels that arose to reduce a campaign from an “intense and passionate drama” to a humdrum affair, to which only rarely a few men of genius imparted some degree of vigour, and which in the main was an attempt to gain small ends by a small expenditure of force and with the minimum of risk. As between a prince and his subjects there were still quarrels that stirred the average man—the Dragonnades, for instance, or the English Revolution—but foreign wars were “a stronger form of diplomatic notes,” as Clausewitz called them, and were waged with the object of adding a codicil to the treaty of peace that had closed the last incident.
Other causes contributed to stifle the former ardour of war. Campaigns were no longer conducted by armies of ten to thirty thousand men. Large regular armies had come into fashion, and, as Guibert points out, instead of small armies charged with grand operations we find grand armies charged with small operations. The average general, under the prevailing conditions of supply and armament, was not equal to the task of commanding such armies. Any real concentration of the great forces that Louis XIV. had created was therefore out of the question, and the field armies split into six or eight independent fractions, each charged with operations on a particular theatre of war. From such a policy nothing remotely resembling the crushing of a great power could be expected to be gained. The one tangible asset, in view of future peace negotiations, was therefore a fortress, and it was on the preservation or capture of fortresses that operations in all these wars chiefly turned. The idea of the decisive battle for its own sake, as a settlement of the quarrel, was far distant; for, strictly speaking, there was no quarrel, and to use up highly trained and exceedingly expensive soldiers in gaining by brute force an advantage that might equally well be obtained by chicanery was regarded as foolish.
The fortress was, moreover, of immediate as well as contingent value to a state at war. A century of constant warfare had impoverished middle Europe, and armies had to spread over a large area if they desired to “live on the country.” This was dangerous in the face of the enemy (cf. the Peninsular War), and it was also uneconomical. The only way to prevent the country people from sending their produce into the fortresses for safety was to announce beforehand that cash would be paid, at a high rate, for whatever the army needed. But even promises rarely brought this about, and to live at all, whether on supplies brought up from the home country and stored in magazines (which had to be guarded) or on local resources, an army had as a rule to maintain or to capture a large fortress. Sieges, therefore, and manœuvres are the features of this form of war, wherein armies progressed not with the giant strides of modern war, but in a succession of short hops from one foothold to the next. This was the procedure of the average commander, and even when a more intense spirit of conflict was evoked by the Luxemburgs and Marlboroughs it was but momentary and spasmodic.
The general character of the war being borne in mind, nine-tenths of its marches and manœuvres can be almost “taken as read”; the remaining tenth, the exceptional and abnormal part of it, alone possesses an interest for modern readers.
In pursuance of a new aggressive policy in Germany Louis XIV. sent his troops, as a diplomatic menace rather than for conquest, into that country in the autumn of 1688. Some of their raiding parties plundered the country as far south as Augsburg, for the political intent of their advance suggested terrorism rather than conciliation as the best method. The league of Augsburg at once took up the challenge, and the addition of new members (Treaty of Vienna, May 1689) converted it into the “Grand Alliance” of Spain, Holland, Sweden, Savoy and certain Italian states, Great Britain, the emperor, the elector of Brandenburg, &c.
“Those who condemned the king for raising up so many enemies, admired him for having so fully prepared to defend himself and even to forestall them,” says Voltaire. Louvois had in fact completed the work of organizing the French army on a regular and permanent basis, and had made it not merely the best, but also by far the most numerous in Europe, for Louis disposed in 1688 of no fewer than 375,000 soldiers and 60,000 sailors. The infantry was uniformed and drilled, and the socket bayonet and the flint-lock musket had been introduced. The only relic of the old armament was the pike, which was retained for one-quarter of the foot, though it had been discarded by the Imperialists in the course of the Turkish wars described below. The first artillery regiment was created in 1684, to replace the former semi-civilian organization by a body of artillerymen susceptible of uniform training and amenable to discipline and orders.
In 1689 Louis had six armies on foot. That in Germany, which had executed the raid of the previous autumn, was not in a position to resist the principal army of the coalition so far from support. Louvois therefore ordered it to lay waste the Palatinate, and the devastation of the country around Heidelberg, Mannheim, Spires,Devastation of the Palatinate, 1689. Oppenheim and Worms was pitilessly and methodically carried into effect in January and February. There had been devastations in previous wars, even the high-minded Turenne had used the argument of fire and sword to terrify a population or a prince, while the whole story of the last ten years of the great war had been one of incendiary armies leaving traces of their passage that it took a century to remove. But here the devastation was a purely military measure, executed systematically over a given strategic front for no other purpose than to delay the advance of the enemy’s army. It differed from the method of Turenne or Cromwell in that the sufferers were not those people whom it was the purpose of the war to reduce to submission, but others who had no interest in the quarrel. It differed from Wellington’s laying waste of Portugal in 1810 in that it was not done for the defence of the Palatinate against a national enemy, but because the Palatinate was where it was. The feudal theory that every subject of a prince at war was an armed vassal, and therefore an enemy of the prince’s enemy, had in practice been obsolete for two centuries past; by 1690 the organization of war, its causes, its methods and its instruments had passed out of touch with the people at large, and it had become thoroughly understood that the army alone was concerned with the army’s business. Thus it was that this devastation excited universal reprobation; and that, in the words of a modern French writer, the “idea of Germany came to birth in the flames of the Palatinate.”
As a military measure this crime was, moreover, quite unprofitable; for it became impossible for Marshal Duras, the French commander, to hold out on the east side of the middle Rhine, and he could think of nothing better to do than to go farther south and to ravage Baden and the Breisgau, which was not even a military necessity. The grand army of the Allies, coming farther north, was practically unopposed. Charles of Lorraine and the elector of Bavaria—lately comrades in the Turkish war (see below)—invested Mainz, the elector of Brandenburg Bonn. The latter, following the evil precedent of his enemies, shelled the town uselessly instead of making a breach in its walls and overpowering its French garrison, an incident not calculated to advance the nascent idea of German unity. Mainz, valiantly defended by Nicolas du Blé, marquis d’Uxelles, had to surrender on the 8th of September. The governor of Bonn, baron d’Asfeld, not in the least intimidated by the bombardment, held out till the army that had taken Mainz reinforced the elector of Brandenburg, and then, rejecting the hard terms of surrender offered him by the latter, he fell in resisting a last assault on the 12th of October. Only 850 men out of his 6000 were left to surrender on the 16th, and the duke of Lorraine, less truculent than the elector, escorted them safely to Thionville. Boufflers, with another of Louis’s armies, operated from Luxemburg (captured by the French in 1684 and since held) and Trarbach towards the Rhine, but in spite of a minor victory at Kochheim on the 21st of August, he was unable to relieve either Mainz or Bonn.
In the Low Countries the French marshal d’Humières, being in superior force, had obtained special permission to offer battle to the Allies. Leaving the garrison of Lille and Tournay to amuse the Spaniards, he hurried from Maubeuge to oppose the Dutch, who from Namur had advanced slowly on Philippeville. Coming upon their army (which was commanded by the prince of Waldeck) in position behind the river Heure, with an advanced post in the little walled town of Walcourt, he flung his advanced guard against the bridge and fortifications of this place to clear the way for his deployment beyond the river Heure (27th August). After wasting a thousand brave men in this attempt, he drew back. For a few days the two armies remained face to face, cannonading one another at intervals, but no further fighting occurred. Humières returned to the region of the Scheldt fortresses, and Waldeck to Brussels. For the others of Louis’ six armies the year’s campaign passed off quite uneventfully.
Simultaneously with these operations, the Jacobite cause was being fought to an issue in Ireland. War began early in 1689 with desultory engagements between the Orangemen of the north and the Irish regular army, most of which the earl of Tyrconnel had induced to declare for King James. The northern struggle after a time condensed itself intoThe war in Ireland,
1689–1691. the defence of Derry and Enniskillen. The siege of the former place, begun by James himself and carried on by the French general Rosen, lasted 105 days. In marked contrast to the sieges of the continent, this was resisted by the townsmen themselves, under the leadership of the clergyman George Walker. But the relieving force (consisting of two frigates, a supply ship and a force under Major-general Percy Kirke) was dilatory, and it was not until the defenders were in the last extremity that Kirke actually broke through the blockade (July 31st). Enniskillen was less closely invested, and its inhabitants, organized by Colonel Wolseley and other officers sent by Kirke, actually kept the open field and defeated the Jacobites at Newtown Butler (July 31st). A few days later the Jacobite army withdrew from the north. But it was long before an adequate army could be sent over from England to deal with it. Marshal Schomberg (q.v.), one of the most distinguished soldiers of the time, who had been expelled from the French service as a Huguenot, was indeed sent over in August, but the army he brought, some 10,000 strong, was composed of raw recruits, and when it was assembled in camp at Dundalk to be trained for its work, it was quickly ruined by an epidemic of fever. But James failed to take advantage of his opportunity to renew the war in the north, and the relics of Schomberg’s army wintered in security, covered by the Enniskillen troops. In the spring of 1690, however, more troops, this time experienced regiments from Holland, Denmark and Brandenburg, were sent, and in June, Schomberg in Ireland and Major-general Scravemore in Chester having thoroughly organized and equipped the field army, King William assumed the command himself. Five days after his arrival he began his advance from Loughbrickland near Newry, and on the 1st of July he engaged James’s main army on the river Boyne, close to Drogheda. Schomberg was killed and William himself wounded, but the Irish army was routed.
No stand was made by the defeated party either in the Dublin or in the Waterford district. Lauzun, the commander of the French auxiliary corps in James’s army, and Tyrconnel both discountenanced any attempt to defend Limerick, where the Jacobite forces had reassembled; but Patrick Sarsfield (earl of Lucan), as the spokesman of the younger and more ardent of the Irish officers, pleaded for its retention. He was left, therefore, to hold Limerick, while Tyrconnel and Lauzun moved northward into Galway. Here, as in the north, the quarrel enlisted the active sympathies of the people against the invader, and Sarsfield not only surprised and destroyed the artillery train of William’s army, but repulsed every assault made on the walls that Lauzun had said “could be battered down by rotten apples.” William gave up the siege on the 30th of August. The failure was, however, compensated in a measure by the arrival in Ireland of an expedition under Lord Marlborough, which captured Cork and Kinsale, and next year (1691) the Jacobite cause was finally crushed by William’s general Ginckell (afterwards earl of Athlone) in the battle of Aughrim in Galway (July 12th), in which St Ruth, the French commander, was killed and the Jacobite army dissipated. Ginckell, following up his victory, besieged Limerick afresh. Tyrconnel died of apoplexy while organizing the defence, and this time the town was invested by sea as well as by land. After six weeks’ resistance the defenders offered to capitulate, and with the signing of the treaty of Limerick on the 1st of October the Irish war came to an end. Sarsfield and the most energetic of King James’s supporters retired to France and were there formed into the famous “Irish brigade.” Sarsfield was killed at the battle of Neerwinden two years later.
The campaign of 1690 on the continent of Europe is marked by two battles, one of which, Luxemburg’s victory of Fleurus, belongs to the category of the world’s great battles. It is described under Fleurus, and the present article only deals summarily with the conditions in which it was fought. These, though they in fact led to an encounter that could, in itself, fairly be called decisive, were in closer accord with the general spirit of the war than was the decision that arose out of them.
Luxemburg had a powerful enemy in Louvois, and he had consequently been allotted only an insignificant part in the first campaign. But after the disasters of 1689 Louis re-arranged the commands on the north-east frontier so as to allow Humières, Luxemburg and Boufflers to combine for united action. “I will take care that Louvois plays fair,” Louis said to the duke when he gave him his letters of service. Though apparently Luxemburg was not authorized to order such a combination himself, as senior officer he would automatically take command if it came about. The whole force available was probably close on 100,000, but not half of these were present at the decisive battle, though Luxemburg certainly practised the utmost “economy of force” as this was understood in those days (see also Neerwinden). On the remaining theatres of war, the dauphin, assisted by the duc de Lorge, held the middle Rhine, and Catinat the Alps, while other forces were in Roussillon, &c., as before. Catinat’s operations are briefly described below. Those of the others need no description, for though the Allies formed a plan for a grand concentric advance on Paris, the preliminaries to this advance were so numerous and so closely interdependent that on the most favourable estimate the winter would necessarily find the Allied armies many leagues short of Paris. In fact, the Rhine offensive collapsed when Charles of Lorraine died (17th April), and the reconquest of his lost duchy ceased to be a direct object of the war.
Luxemburg began operations by drawing in from the Sambre country, where he had hitherto been stationed, to the Scheldt and “eating up” the country between Oudenarde and Ghent in the face of a Spanish army concentrated at the latter place (15th May–12th June). He then left Humières with a containing force in the Scheldt region andFleurus, 1690. hurried back to the Sambre to interpose between the Allied army under Waldeck and the fortress of Dinant which Waldeck was credited with the intention of besieging. His march from Tournay to Gerpinnes was counted a model of skill—the locus classicus for the maxim that ruled till the advent of Napoleon—“march always in the order in which you encamp, or purpose to encamp, or fight.” For four days the army marched across country in close order, covered in all directions by reconnoitring cavalry and advanced, flank and rear guards. Under these conditions eleven miles a day was practically forced marching, and on arriving at Jeumont-sur-Sambre the army was given three days’ rest. Then followed a few leisurely marches in the direction of Charleroi, during which a detachment of Boufflers’s army came in, and the cavalry explored the country to the north. On news of the enemy’s army being at Trazegnies, Luxemburg hurried across a ford of the Sambre above Charleroi, but this proved to be a detachment only, and soon information came in that Waldeck was encamped near Fleurus. Thereupon Luxemburg, without consulting his subordinate generals, took his army to Velaine. He knew that the enemy was marking time till the troops of Liége and the Brandenburgers from the Rhine were near enough to co-operate in the Dinant enterprise, and he was determined to fight a battle at once. From Velaine, therefore, on the morning of the 1st of July, the army moved forward to Fleurus and there won one of the most brilliant victories in the history of the Royal army. But Luxemburg was not allowed to pursue his advantage. He was ordered to hold his army in readiness to besiege either Namur, Mons, Charleroi or Ath, according as later orders dictated; and to send back the borrowed regiments to Boufflers, who was being pressed back by the Brandenburg and Liége troops. Thus Waldeck reformed his army in peace at Brussels, where William III. of England soon afterwards assumed command of the Allied forces in the Netherlands, and Luxemburg and the other marshals stood fast for the rest of the campaign, being forbidden to advance until Catinat—in Italy—should have won a battle.
In this quarter the armed neutrality of the duke of Savoy had long disquieted the French court. His personal connexions with the imperial family and his resentment against Louvois, who had on some occasion treated him with his usual patronizing arrogance,inclined him to join the Allies, while on the other hand he could hope for extensionsStaffarda. of his scanty territory only by siding with Louis. In view of this doubtful condition of affairs the French army under Catinat had for some time been maintained on the Alpine frontier, and in the summer of 1690 Louis XIV. sent an ultimatum to Victor Amadeus to compel him to take one side or the other actively and openly. The result was that Victor Emmanuel threw in his lot with the Allies and obtained help from the Spaniards and Austrians in the Milanese. Catinat thereupon advanced into Piedmont, and won, principally by virtue of his own watchfulness and the high efficiency of his troops, the important victory of Staffarda (August 18th, 1690). This did not, however, enable him to overrun Piedmont, and as the duke was soon reinforced, he had to be content with the methodical conquest of a few frontier districts. On the side of Spain, a small French army under the duc de Noailles passed into Catalonia and there lived at the enemy’s expense for the duration of the campaign.
In these theatres of war, and on the Rhine, where the disunion of the German princes prevented vigorous action, the following year, 1691, was uneventful. But in the Netherlands there were a siege, a war of manœuvres and a cavalry combat, each in its way somewhat remarkable. The siege was that of Mons, which was, like many sieges in the former wars, conducted with much pomp by Louis XIV. himself, with Boufflers and Vauban under him. On the surrender of the place, which was hastened by red-hot shot (April 8th), Louis returned to Versailles and divided his army between Boufflers and Luxemburg, the former of whom departed to the Meuse. There he attempted by bombardment to enforce the surrender of Liége, but had to desist when the elector of Brandenburg threatened Dinant. The principal armies on either side faced one another under the command respectively of William III. and of Luxemburg. The Allies were first concentrated to the south of Namur, and Luxemburg hurried thither, but neither party found any tempting opportunity for battle, and when the cavalry had consumed all the forage available in the district, the two armies edged away gradually towards Flanders. The war of manœuvre continued, with a slight balance of advantage on Luxemburg’s side, until September, when William returned to England, leaving Waldeck in command of the Allied army, with orders to distribute it in winter quarters amongst the garrison towns. This gave the momentary opportunity for which Luxemburg had been watching, and at Leuze (20th Sept.) he fell upon the cavalry of Waldeck’s rearguard and drove it back in disorder with heavy losses until the pursuit was checked by the Allied infantry.
In 1692 the Rhine campaign was no more decisive than before, although Lorge made a successful raid into Württemberg in September and foraged his cavalry in German territory till the approach of winter. The Spanish campaign was unimportant, but on the Alpine side the Allies under the duke of Savoy drove back Catinat into Dauphiné, which they ravaged with fire and sword. But the French peasantry were quicker to take arms than the Germans, and, inspired by the local gentry—amongst whom figured the heroine, Philis de la Tour du Pin (1645–1708), daughter of the marquis de la Charce—they beset every road with such success that the small regular army of the invaders was powerless. Brought practically to a standstill, the Allies soon consumed the provisions that could be gathered in, and then, fearing lest the snow should close the passes behind them, they retreated.
In the Low Countries the campaign as before began with a great siege. Louis and Vauban invested Namur on the 26th of May. The place was defended by the prince de Barbançon (who had been governor of Luxemburg when that place was besieged in 1684) and Coehoorn (q.v.), Vauban’s rival in the science of fortification.Siege of Namur, 1692. Luxemburg, with a small army, manœuvred to cover the siege against William III.’s army at Louvain. The place fell on the 5th of June, after a very few days of Vauban’s “regular” attack, but the citadel held out until the 23rd. Then, as before, Louis returned to Versailles, giving injunctions to Luxemburg to “preserve the strong places and the country, while opposing the enemy’s enterprises and subsisting the army at his expense.” This negative policy, contrary to expectation, led to a hard-fought battle. William, employing a common device, announced his intention of retaking Namur, but set his army in motion for Flanders and the sea-coast fortresses held by the French. Luxemburg, warned in time, hurried towards the Scheldt, and the two armies were soon face to face again, Luxemburg about Steenkirk,Steenkirk. William in front of Hal. William then formed the plan of surprising Luxemburg’s right wing before it could be supported by the rest of his army, relying chiefly on false information that a detected spy at his headquarters was forced to send, to mislead the duke. But Luxemburg had the material protection of a widespread net of outposts as well as a secret service, and although ill in bed when William’s advance was reported, he shook off his apathy, mounted his horse and, enabled by his outpost reports to divine his opponent’s plan, he met it (3rd August) by a swift concentration of his army, against which the Allies, whose advance and deployment had been mismanaged, were powerless (see Steenkirk). In this almost accidental battle both sides suffered enormous losses, and neither attempted to bring about, or even to risk, a second resultless trial of strength. Boufflers’s army returned to the Sambre and Luxemburg and William established themselves for the rest of the season at Lessines and Ninove respectively, 13 m. apart. After both armies had broken up into their winter quarters, Louis ordered Boufflers to attempt the capture of Charleroi. But a bombardment failed to intimidate the garrison, and when the Allies began to re-assemble, the attempt was given up (19th–21st Oct.). This failure was, however, compensated by the siege and capture of Furnes (28th Dec. 1692–7th Jan. 1693).
In 1693, the culminating point of the war was reached. It began, as mentioned above, with a winter enterprise that at least indicated the aggressive spirit of the French generals. The king promoted his admiral, Tourville, and Catinat, the roturier, to the marshalship, and founded the military order of St Louis on the 10th of April. The grand army in the Netherlands this year numbered 120,000, to oppose whom William III. had only some 40,000 at hand. But at the very beginning of operations Louis, after reviewing this large force at Gembloux, broke it up, in order to send 30,000 under the dauphin to Germany, where Lorge had captured Heidelberg and seemed able, if reinforced, to overrun south Germany. But the imperial general Prince Louis of Baden took up a position near Heilbronn so strong that the dauphin and Lorge did not venture to attack him. Thus King Louis sacrificed a reality to a dream, and for the third time lost the opportunity, for which he always longed, of commanding in chief in a great battle. He himself, to judge by his letter to Monsieur on the 8th of June, regarded his action as a sacrifice of personal dreams to tangible realities. And, before the event falsified predictions, there was much to be said for the course he took, which accorded better with the prevailing system of war than a Fleurus or a Neerwinden. In this system of war the rival armies, as armies, were almost in a state of equilibrium, and more was to be expected from an army dealing with something dissimilar to itself—a fortress or a patch of land or a convoy—than from its collision with another army of equal force.
Thus Luxemburg obtained his last and greatest opportunity. He was still superior in numbers, but William at Louvain had the advantage of position. The former, authorized by his master this year “non seulement d’empêcher les ennemis de rien entreprendre, mais d’emporter quelques avantages sur eux,” threatened Liége, drew William over to itsNeerwinden. defence and then advanced to attack him. The Allies, however, retired to another position, between the Great and Little Geete rivers, and there, in a strongly entrenched position around Neerwinden, they were attacked by Luxemburg on the 29th of July. The long and doubtful battle, one of the greatest victories ever won by the French army, is briefly described under Neerwinden. It ended in a brilliant victory for the assailant, but Luxemburg’s exhausted army did not pursue; William was as unshaken and determined as ever; and the campaign closed, not with a treaty of peace, but with a few manœuvres which, by inducing William to believe in an attack on Ath, enabled Luxemburg to besiege and capture Charleroi (October).
Neerwinden was not the only French victory of the year. Catinat, advancing from Fenestrelle and Susa to the relief of Pinerolo (Pignerol), which the duke of Savoy was besieging, took up a position in formal order of battle north of the village of Marsaglia. Here on the 4th of October the duke of Savoy attacked him with his whole army,Marsaglia. front to front. But the greatly superior regimental efficiency of the French, and Catinat’s minute attention to details in arraying them, gave the new marshal a victory that was a not unworthy pendant to Neerwinden. The Piedmontese and their allies lost, it is said, 10,000 killed, wounded and prisoners, as against Catinat’s 1800. But here, too, the results were trifling, and this year of victory is remembered chiefly as the year in which “people perished of want to the accompaniment of Te Deums.”
In 1694 (late in the season owing to the prevailing distress and famine) Louis opened a fresh campaign in the Netherlands. The armies were larger and more ineffective than ever, and William offered no further opportunities to his formidable opponent. In September, after inducing William to desist from his intention of besieging Dunkirk by appearing on his flank with a mass of cavalry, which had ridden from the Meuse, 100 m., in 4 days, Luxemburg gave up his command. He died on the 4th of January following, and with him the tradition of the Condé school of warfare disappeared from Europe. In Catalonia the marshal de Noailles won a victory (27th May) over the Spaniards at the ford of the Ter (Torroella, 5 m. above the mouth of the river), and in consequence captured a number of walled towns.
In 1695 William found Marshal Villeroi a far less formidable opponent than Luxemburg had been, and easily succeeded in keeping him in Flanders while a corps of the Allies invested Namur. Coehoorn directed the siege-works, and Boufflers the defence. Gradually, as in 1692, the defenders were dislodged from the town, the citadelLater campaigns of the war. outworks and the citadel itself, the last being assaulted with success by the “British grenadiers,” as the song commemorates, on the 30th of August. Boufflers was rewarded for his sixty-seven days’ defence by the grade of marshal.
By 1696 necessity had compelled Louis to renounce his vague and indefinite offensive policy, and he now frankly restricted his efforts to the maintenance of what he had won in the preceding campaigns. In this new policy he met with much success. Boufflers, Lorge, Noailles and even the incompetent Villeroi held the field in their various spheres of operations without allowing the Allies to inflict any material injury, and also (by having recourse again to the policy of living by plunder) preserving French soil from the burden of their own maintenance. In this, as before, they were powerfully assisted by the disunion and divided counsels of their heterogeneous enemies. In Piedmont, Catinat crowned his work by making peace and alliance with the duke of Savoy, and the two late enemies having joined forces captured one of the fortresses of the Milanese. The last campaign was in 1697. Catinat and Vauban besieged Ath. This siege was perhaps the most regular and methodical of the great engineer’s career. It lasted 23 days and cost the assailants only 50 men. King William did not stir from his entrenched position at Brussels, nor did Villeroi dare to attack him there. Lastly, in August 1697 Vendôme, Noailles’ successor, captured Barcelona. The peace of Ryswijk, signed on the 30th of October, closed this war by practically restoring the status quo ante; but neither the ambitions of Louis nor the Grand Alliance that opposed them ceased to have force, and three years later the struggle began anew (see Spanish Succession, War of the).
Concurrently with these campaigns, the emperor had been engaged
in a much more serious war on his eastern marches against
the old enemy, the Turks. This war arose in 1682 out
of internal disturbances in Hungary. The campaign of
the following year is memorable for all time as the last
great wave of Turkish invasion. Mahommed IV. advanced fromAustro-Turkish wars,
1682–1699. Belgrade in May, with 200,000 men, drove back the small imperial army of Prince Charles of Lorraine, and early in July invested Vienna itself. The two months’ defence of Vienna by Count Rüdiger Starhemberg (1635–1701) and the brilliant victory of the relieving army led by John Sobieski, king of Poland, and Prince Charles on the 12th of September 1683, were events which, besides their intrinsic importance, possess the romantic interest of an old knightly crusade against the heathen.
But the course of the war, after the tide of invasion had ebbed, differed little from the wars of contemporary western Europe. Turkey figured rather as a factor in the balance of power than as the “infidel,” and although the battles and sieges in Hungary were characterized by the bitter personal hostility of Christian to Turk which had no counterpart in the West, the war as a whole was as methodical and tedious as any Rhine or Low Countries campaign. In 1684 Charles of Lorraine gained a victory at Waitzen on the 27th of June and another at Eperies on the 18th of September, and unsuccessfully besieged Budapest.
In 1685 the Germans were uniformly successful, though a victory at Gran (August 16th) and the storming of Neuhaüsel (August 19th) were the only outstanding incidents. In 1686 Charles, assisted by the elector Max Emanuel of Bavaria, besieged and stormed Budapest (Sept. 2nd). In 1687 they followed up their success by a great victory at Mohacz (Aug. 12th). In 1688 the Austrians advanced still further, took Belgrade, threatened Widin and entered Bosnia. The margrave Louis of Baden, who afterward became one of the most celebrated of the methodical generals of the day, won a victory at Derbent on the 5th of September 1688, and next year, in spite of the outbreak of a general European war, he managed to win another battle at Nisch (Sept. 24th), to capture Widin (Oct. 14th) and to advance to the Balkans, but in 1690, more troops having to be withdrawn for the European war, the imperialist generals lost Nisch, Widin and Belgrade one after the other. There was, however, no repetition of the scenes of 1683, for in 1691 Louis won the battle of Szlankamen (Aug. 19th). After two more desultory if successful campaigns he was called to serve in western Europe, and for three years more the war dragged on without result, until in 1697 the young Prince Eugene was appointed to command the imperialists and won a great and decisive victory at Zenta on the Theiss (Sept. 11th). This induced a last general advance of the Germans eastward, which was definitively successful and brought about the peace of Carlowitz (January 1699). (C. F. A.)
The naval side of the war waged by the powers of western Europe from 1689 to 1697, to reduce the predominance of King Louis XIV., was not marked by any very conspicuous exhibition of energy or capacity, but it was singularly decisive in its results. At the beginning of the struggle the French fleet kept the sea in face of the united fleets of Great Britain and Holland. It displayed even in 1690 a marked superiority over them. Before the struggle ended it had been fairly driven into port, and though its failure was to a great extent due to the exhaustion of the French finances, yet the inability of the French admirals to make a proper use of their fleets, and the incapacity of the king’s ministers to direct the efforts of his naval officers to the most effective aims, were largely responsible for the result.
When the war began in 1689, the British Admiralty was still suffering from the disorders of the reign of King Charles II., which had been only in part corrected during the short reign of James II. The first squadrons were sent out late and in insufficient strength. The Dutch, crushed by the obligation to maintain a great army, found an increasing difficulty in preparing their fleet for action early. Louis XIV., a despotic monarch, with as yet unexhausted resources, had it within his power to strike first. The opportunity offered him was a very tempting one. Ireland was still loyal to King James II., and would therefore have afforded an admirable basis of operations to a French fleet. No serious attempt was made to profit by the advantage thus presented. In March 1689 King James was landed and reinforcements were prepared for him at Brest. A British squadron under the command of Arthur Herbert (afterwards Lord Torrington), sent to intercept them, reached the French port too late, and on returning to the coast of Ireland sighted the convoy off the Old Head of Kinsale on the 10th of May. The French admiral Chateaurenault held on to Bantry Bay, and an indecisive encounter took place on the 11th of May. The troops and stores for King James were successfully landed. Then both admirals, the British and the French, returned home, and neither in that nor in the following year was any serious effort made by the French to gain command of the sea between Ireland and England. On the contrary, a great French fleet entered the Channel, and gained a success over the combined British and Dutch fleets on the 10th of July 1690 (see Beachy Head, Battle of), which was not followed up by vigorous action. In the meantime King William III. passed over to Ireland and won the battle of the Boyne. During the following year, while the cause of King James was being finally ruined in Ireland, the main French fleet was cruising in the Bay of Biscay, principally for the purpose of avoiding battle. During the whole of 1689, 1690 and 1691, British squadrons were active on the Irish coast. One raised the siege of Londonderry in July 1689, and another convoyed the first British forces sent over under the duke of Schomberg. Immediately after Beachy Head in 1690, a part of the Channel fleet carried out an expedition under the earl (afterwards duke) of Marlborough, which took Cork and reduced a large part of the south of the island. In 1691 the French did little more than help to carry away the wreckage of their allies and their own detachments. In 1692 a vigorous but tardy attempt was made to employ their fleet to cover an invasion of England (see La Hogue, Battle of). It ended in defeat, and the allies remained masters of the Channel. The defeat of La Hogue did not do so much harm to the naval power of King Louis as has sometimes been supposed. In the next year, 1693, he was able to strike a severe blow at the Allies. The important Mediterranean trade of Great Britain and Holland, called for convenience the Smyrna convoy, having been delayed during the previous year, anxious measures were taken to see it safe on its road in 1693. But the arrangements of the allied governments and admirals were not good. They made no effort to blockade Brest, nor did they take effective steps to discover whether or not the French fleet had left the port. The convoy was seen beyond the Scilly Isles by the main fleet. But as the French admiral Tourville had left Brest for the Straits of Gibraltar with a powerful force and had been joined by a squadron from Toulon, the whole convoy was scattered or taken by him, in the latter days of June, near Lagos. But though this success was a very fair equivalent for the defeat at La Hogue, it was the last serious effort made by the navy of Louis XIV. in this war. Want of money compelled him to lay his fleet up. The allies were now free to make full use of their own, to harass the French coast, to intercept French commerce, and to co-operate with the armies acting against France. Some of the operations undertaken by them were more remarkable for the violence of the effort than for the magnitude of the results. The numerous bombardments of French Channel ports, and the attempts to destroy St Malo, the great nursery of the active French privateers, by infernal machines, did little harm. A British attack on Brest in June 1694 was beaten off with heavy loss. The scheme had been betrayed by Jacobite correspondents. Yet the inability of the French king to avert these enterprises showed the weakness of his navy and the limitations of his power. The protection of British and Dutch commerce was never complete, for the French privateers were active to the end. But French commerce was wholly ruined.
It was the misfortune of the allies that their co-operation with armies was largely with the forces of a power so languid and so bankrupt as Spain. Yet the series of operations directed by Russel in the Mediterranean throughout 1694 and 1695 demonstrated the superiority of the allied fleet, and checked the advance of the French in Catalonia. Contemporary with the campaigns in Europe was a long series of cruises against the French in the West Indies, undertaken by the British navy, with more or less help from the Dutch and a little feeble assistance from the Spaniards. They began with the cruise of Captain Lawrence Wright in 1690–1691, and ended with that of Admiral Nevil in 1696–1697. It cannot be said that they attained to any very honourable achievement, or even did much to weaken the French hold on their possessions in the West Indies and North America. Some, and notably the attack made on Quebec by Sir William Phips in 1690, with a force raised in the British colonies, ended in defeat. None of them was so triumphant as the plunder of Cartagena in South America by the Frenchman Pointis, in 1697, at the head of a semi-piratical force. Too often there was absolute misconduct. In the buccaneering and piratical atmosphere of the West Indies, the naval officers of the day, who were still infected with the corruption of the reign of Charles II., and who calculated on distance from home to secure them immunity, sank nearly to the level of pirates and buccaneers. The indifference of the age to the laws of health, and its ignorance of them, caused the ravages of disease to be frightful. In the case of Admiral Nevil’s squadron, the admiral himself and all his captains except one, died during the cruise, and the ships were unmanned. Yet it was their own vices which caused these expeditions to fail, and not the strength of the French defence. When the war ended, the navy of King Louis XIV. had disappeared from the sea.
See Burchett, Memoirs of Transactions at Sea during the War with France, 1688–1697 (London, 1703); Lediard, Naval History (London, 1735), particularly valuable for the quotations in his notes. For the West Indian voyages, Tronde, Batailles navales de la France (Paris, 1867); De Yonghe, Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche Zeewezen (Haarlem, 1860). (D. H.)
- The name “Grand Alliance” is applied to the coalition against Louis XIV. begun by the League of Augsburg. This coalition not only waged the war dealt with in the present article, but (with only slight modifications and with practically unbroken continuity) the war of the Spanish Succession (q.v.) that followed.
- Louvois died in July 1691.
- A few days before this the great naval reverse of La Hogue put an end to the projects of invading England hitherto entertained at Versailles.
- Marsaglia is, if not the first, at any rate, one of the first, instances of a bayonet charge by a long deployed line of infantry.
- Hussars figured here for the first time in western Europe. A regiment of them had been raised in 1692 from deserters from the Austrian service.