Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Battlefield Royal: Prince Eugene of Savoy
Certain tactics would define the career of Prince Eugene of Savoy and win battle after battle for him; speed, mobility and clever use of the terrain to his own advantage. At these, Prince Eugene was a master and they proved a winning combination for him. During the War of the Spanish Succession he defeated the French at Carpi in 1701, joined with the British forces of the great Marlborough to defeat the French and Bavarians at Blenheim in 1704 and two years later led a victorious campaign that drove the French out of Italy. In 1708 he besieged and finally captured the French fortress at Lille, designed by the brilliant French military engineer Sebastien le Prestre de Vauban, which had previously been considered totally impregnable. That same year the Prince joined forced with Marlborough again to administer another victory over France in Flanders. Throughout his career, the Prince often made the supposedly impossible seem almost easy as he won battle after battle and campaign after campaign, rapidly gaining the reputation of one of the greatest military leaders of his time. Given that so many of his victories were over the armies of France, one cannot help but wonder if anyone in Paris cursed the seemingly inconsequential decision of King Louis XIV not to enlist the young Savoy in the French army as he had originally intended. One cannot help but wonder how history might have been changed if he had done so and if the Prince of Savoy had fought under the golden lilies instead of the double eagle.