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If the action of Louis XIV in accepting the will of Charles II of Spain had proved insufficient to rouse England and the United Provinces to war, at Vienna its effects had been greater. The Emperor had steadily rejected the compromise of a partition, because he had always trusted that a will would leave the whole inheritance to the Archduke, and he was not inclined; to swallow this disappointment without a protest or to acquiesce without resistance in the accession of Philip V. Yet the prospects of successfully disputing Philip’s claim were not of the brightest. A great war was impending in the Baltic; the Emperor’s hereditary dominions were still feeling the strain aud exhaustion of the recent wars in east and west; Hungary, quite recently reconquered from the Turk, was seething with discontent; and the lukewarmness displayed by the Princes of Germany in the defence of the Empire against Louis promised ill for their support of Leopold’s claims on the Spanish inheritance. And as, moreover, the Maritime Powers hung back and compelled the reluctant William III to recognise the new King of Spain, it is not wonderful that a party among the Emperor’s adv'sers, headed by Margrave Lewis of Baden-Baden, should have counselled submission. These counsels were, indeed, so far followed that overtures were made in order to discover if any compensation could be obtained. Moderation and slight concessions might have avoided war; but Louis, blinded by the success he had already achieved, adopted an uncompromisingly aggressive attitude, and, by rejecting the idea of providing a “satisfaction” for the unsuccessful claimant to the Spanish inheritance, drove the Emperor over to the war party in his “conference,” of whom Prince Eugene of Saxony and Archdukes Charles and Joseph were the leaders.

Accordingly, in the spring and early summer of 1701, while Austria’s diplomats sought to rouse Europe in the Emperor’s cause, a considerable army was gradually collected in southern Tyrol to contest the French occupation of Lombardy. Here the connivance of the Dukes of Savoy and Mantua had enabled the French to secure the Spanish possessions in the valley of the Po; and Marshal Catinat was able to push ‘forward to Lake Garda and there take up his position, in order to bar the advance of the Austrians from Tyrol upon Lombardy. Deficiencies of transport and organisation for the time rendered the Imperial army immobile; but it appeared most probable that, when Eugene’s energy and administrative talents should have overcome these obstacles, his advance would follow the Adige. A more direct advance on Milan by the Engadine or Valtelline would involve the passage of more difficult country and the violation of Swiss neutrality; a move west of Lake Garda on Brescia meant taking an equally unsatisfactory route; and, though the Venetians, whose territory separated Tyrol from the Milanese, had not absolutely refused a passage to the Imperialists, it was understood that they had forbidden them the use of the country between the Adige and the Adriatic. Catinat, at any rate, trusted Venetian neutrality to protect his right flank, which rested on the Adige, and, relying on this, confidently awaited an attack. This was some time in coming, for Eugene’s force was far short of the numbers promised him; and it was not till the end of May that, under cover of a feint down the right bank of the Adige against Chiuse, he carried the bulk of his 6000 horse and 16,000 foot over Monte Baldo by difficult and little-known mountain-paths, and, moving by Verona (May 28) and thence down the left of the Adige, established himself on Catinat’s flank. 

Eugene had thus scored the first trick in the game; but Catinat might have restored matters, had he either fallen on Guttenstein’s exposed division, which had threatened Chiuse, or concentrated his troops, and, imitating his adversary’s disregard of the neutrality which Venice seemed powerless to defend, crossed the Adige to force a decisive battle on the inferior force opposed to him. He did neither; but, harassed by Eugene’s feint and unable to discover whether he intended to strike west across the Adige or southward over the Po against Modena or Naples, he scattered his army in detachments along the Adige from Rivoli to Carpi, a front of over 60 miles. Eugene did not miss such a chance. On July 9 he fell in force on Saint-Fremont’s division at Carpi, and drove it and the reinforcements' which Tesse brought up from Legnago back on Nogara with heavy loss, thus piercing the French line and forcing Catinat to recoil behind the Mincio, where the French rallied, their right' at Mantua, their left at Goito. But this position also Catinat failed to maintain. A move north-west enabled Eugene to rejoin Guttenstein(Julyl5); and, crossing the Mincio almost unopposed at Peschiera (July 28), he again placed himself on Catinat’s flank, threatening his communications with Milan. To cover Milan, the French fell back to the Oglio (August 16), Eugene pressing on westward by Brescia, and being on the point of forcing this line also near Pontoglio, when he heard (August 24) that Marshal Villeroi had arrived from France and superseded the unfortunate Catinat. The Imperialists thereupon fell back to Chiari, where, on September 1, they sustained the attack of Villeroi’s superior numbers, inflicting on them a sharp repulse. This success allowed Eugene to retain his position unmolested; and, when with November both sides went into winter-quarters, the Imperialists were left in possession of the greater, part of the duchy of Mantua, though a closely blockaded French garrispn held out in the capital. The winter was made memorable by Eugene’s celebrated raid on Crer'ona and capture of Marshal Villeroi (February 1, 1702)—an exploit which, though the town was finally recovered, compiled the French to fall back behind the, Adda, leaving their magazines to Eugene, who also occupied the territory, of Parma. The Dukes of Modena and Guastalla now declared for the Imperialists; and the outbreak of an insurrection in the Emperor’s favour in Naples compelled the Spanish contingent with the French army to withdraw thither.

Meanwhile the diplomats had not been idle, and, when the campaign of 1702 opened, hostilities were no longer confined to Italy, but had assumed the dimensions of a general European war. The arrogance and aggressions of Louis had effected what the warnings of William III and Heinsius had failed to do. By securing for French traders the Asiento, or monopoly of the supply of slaves to Spanish America (August), Louis so roused England, that William felt able to conclude with the Emperor the Treaty of the Hague (September 7), which pledged the Emperor and the Maritime Powers to secure Europe against the union of France and Sppin, and to obtain territorial compensation for the Habsburgs and commercial concessions for the Maritime Powers. The recently recognised kingdom of Prussia was already bound by the “Crown Treaty” to support the Emperor, and during the winter of 1701-2 the majority of the German Princes were enlisted on the side of the Grand Alliance—among them the Electors of Mainz and Trier, the Landgraves of Hesse-Cassel and Hesse-Darmstadt, and the Electors John William of the Palatinate and George Lewis of Hanover, with his uncle, Duke George William of Celle. The Franconian and Swabian Circles at, first contemplated declaring themselves neutral, but they were soon won over to unite with the two Rhenish Circles, the Austrian, and the Westphalian.; and a conference of these Circles held at Nordlingen in March, 1702, promised to put into the field a, joint force of 54,000 men. The Baltic Powers held aloof from the Coalition; but, thanks to the intervention of England and Holland in the conflict between Denmark and Sweden in 1700,  the troops both of Denmark and of Holstein-Gottorp were available for hire by the Maritime Powers.

Not all the German Powers, however, were mustered among the adherents of the Coalition. Hatred of his LUneburg cousins inclined Antony Ulric of Bruns wick-Wolfenbiittel to take the side of Louis, but Celle and Hanover overpowered him; he was put to an ignominious flight, and his brother Rudolf Augustus (with whom he ruled conjointly) had to conclude an “accord” which allowed the Brunswick-

Wolfenbüttel troops to be taken into the Emperor’s service. More useful to Louis were the two Wittelsbach brothers, Electors Maximilian Emanuel of Bavaria and Joseph Clement of Cologne. Maximilian, hitherto one of the most consistent opponents of Louis, had been acting as Governor of the Spanish Netherlands since 1695; but he had not opposed the occupation of that country by French troops, and, after carrying on simultaneous negotiations with Louis and the Coalition, decided, in March, 1701, to throw in his lot with France, though he was not to commit any overt act of hostility until a suitable opportunity.

Bavaria's action.—The military situation. [1701-2

In addition to his Wittelsbach followers, Louis could also reckon among his allies two States whose adhesion to his cause was dictated by fear rather than by enthusiasm. Duke Victor Amadeus II of Savoy, true to the family policy of balancing dangerous neighbours against each other, had been suspected of supplying information to Eugene as to the movements of Catinat’s army with which the Savoyard troops were serving, while Portugal had thrown in her lot with Louis, mainly to avert attack from Spain. In that kingdom Philip V had been readily acknowledged, save only in Catalonia, and the resources of Spain’s Indian possessions were thus placed at the disposal of Louis.

Thus, at the outset of the War, the forces of the two sides seemed by no means unequally matched. Against the superior numbers and financial resources of the Coalition France could set the great advantages of unity of command and purpose, while her central position gave her the strategic asset of operating on interior lines. Moreover, certain special features of the strategical situation were greatly in her favour. By securing without opposition military possession of the Spanish Netherlands, she at once menaced the United Provinces with invasion, and placed herself in a strong position on the lines of communication between the Maritime Powers and Austria. At the same time, the alliance with Bavaria secured to her armies an open door into the Danube valley, the easiest and most direct line of advance against Vienna; and, though the alternative route, by the valley of the Po and the head of the Adriatic, was disputed by Eugene’s army, the situation in northern Italy added to the tasks and difficulties of Austria. Further, though the joint naval forces of England and Holland considerably outnumbered those of France, the fact that the harbours of Spain and the two Sicilies were under French control, and that those of Portugal were closed to the Maritime Powers through her alliance with France, seemed to secure Louis against that advent of a superior hostile fleet in the Mediterranean by which William III had turned the scale against France in the previous war. On land things were more equals it was not till the later campaigns of the war that Louis XIV ceased to oppose approximately equal numbers to the armies of the Grand Alliance; and, even when the Allies enjoyed a slight numerical superiority, it was balanced by the advantages of homogeneity. Before 1702 the prestige of the French armies had not yet been seriously challenged, and, though Luxembourg, was gone, France seemed to have successors worthy of him in Villars, Boufflers, Catinat, Vendome and Berwick. The real weakness of France and the great asset of the Allies were only to be revealed by war. The French administration, formerly, under Louvois, the direct cause of the triumphs of Louis XIV, was no longer what it had been: Chamillart, conceited, incapable, though personally honest, was a poor substitute for the great organiser, and deficiencies in supplies and equipment hampered the French throughout. The mantle of William fell on worthier shoulders. Marlborough possessed all the resolution and endurance which had sustained William through so many disappointments; he had also a marvellous power of managing men, whether in the council-chamber or in the field, which William had never possessed. As a general too William had failed in execution, being without that capacity for careful attention to details which is essential to the securing of success. But it was precisely in this that, with all his brilliance, Marlborough’s greatness lay. Both as a strategist and as a tactician her was to prove himself superior to all of his opponents; nor is there any soldier of his time whom it is possible so much as to compare with him except his colleague, Eugene. Unruffled by the interference of Dutch deputies and by the failure of half-hearted Princes of the Empire to fulfil' their promises, Marlborough was always resourceful, always ready for the unexpected, quick to perceive and to utilise his enemy’s errors, careful of his men, but prepared to demand necessary sacrifices from them. He had readiness, alertness and au originality which rose superior to the conventional strategy of the day; while at the same time his soundness of judgment and great common sense saved him from recklessness or from rash attempts at the impossible. An adroit and accomplished tactician, it was perhaps in the domain of strategy that his preeminence was most marked; here his broad grasp of the general situation, combined with his great capacity for dealing with the details of administration, enabled him to frame great enterprises and to carry them to a successful conclusion. And, almost alone among great generals, he showed a singular insight into naval affairs, inspiring the strategy by which the Allies obtained and utilised the control of the Mediterranean. In this, as in other respects, he may have learnt from William; but his use of his lessons was all his own. 

The campaign of 1702 was opened in Italy. Here Eugene, ill supported by the inefficient War Council at Vienna, found himself outnumbered by Vendome and forced to choose between evacuating Italy altogether and allowing the French to sever his communications with Vienna. He chose the latter course; and it was no small achievement that he nevertheless succeeded in maintaining his position in the Modenese throughout the campaign, even though severed from his base, subsisting on the produce of the country, and inflicting a sharp check at Luzzara (August 15) on the greatly superior forccs of Vendome and Philip of Spain, who had brought up a strong division from Naples. One reason for the lack of assistance he experienced is to be found in the fact that, when rather late in the year reinforcements were about to start for Italy, they had to be diverted to southern Germany. There the command of the Allies, a motley and not very efficient force provided mainly by the Swabian and Upper-Rhenish Circles, with an Austrian contingent, had been entrusted to Lewis of Baden-Baden, a veteran of the Turkish wars. Fortunately for him, the diversion of the main efforts of France to the Netherlands caused Catinat’s army of Alsace to be in even worse plight. Indeed, when in June the Allies crossed the Rhine and laid siege to Landau, Catinat was too weak to relieve the fortress, which, after a valiant defence, capitulated on September 11. Here the successes of Lewis of Baden were rudely checked, for the Elector of Bavaria, suddenly throwing off the mask of neutrality he had hitherto assumed, had declared for France and attacked and captured Ulm. The Allies, finding their communications with Vienna in grave peril, hastily recrossed the Rhine; and Villars, superseding Catinat, not only managed to gain a passage at Huningen, but, advancing into the Black Forest, engaged and defeated Lewis of Baden at Friedlingen (October 14). However, it was too late in the year for the victors to effect a junction with their Bavarian ally; and the Elector was prevented from attacking Upper Austria by the troops which were to have joined Eugene and were instead diverted to hold the line of the Inn.

Meanwhile Marlborough had taken the field in the Netherlands (July), where the main body of the Allies, some 40,000 strong, was lying in front of Nymegen to cover the siege of Kaiserswerth on the lower Rhine, which 25,000 Dutch and Prussians were assailing, and to protect the south-eastern frontier of Holland against 60,000 Frenchmen quartered in the bishopric of Liege under Marshal Boufflers. Skilfully taking advantage of the undue extension of the French lines, Marlborough drew Boufflers back from Cleves to the left bank of the Meuse by threatening to cut him off from Brabant; and, though the intervention of the Dutch deputies twice prevented a battle when Marlborough seemed to have Boufflers at his mercy, the French had to withdraw behind the Demer (August 23). Marlborough was thus able to successively besiege and reduce Venloo (September 16), Ruremonde (October 7), and Liege (October 23); Boufflers making an unavailing attempt to anticipate the Allies at Liege, but retreating at once when he found the position he had meant to take up occupied by Marlborough’s covering army. These successes gave the Allies control of the lower Meuse, while the capture of Kaiserswerth (June 15) and Rheinberg did the same for the lower Rhine, so that the work of securing the communications between the Maritime Powers and Vienna was well started. In the next summer, Marlborough invaded the electorate of Cologne, overrunning it and capturing Bonn (May 18, 1703). But, before he could gain complete strategic freedom, it was necessary to remove farther from the neighbourhood of the Dutch frontier the menace of the French occupation of the Spanish Netherlands. A well-conceived scheme for an attack on Antwerp was spoilt by the disobedience of one Dutch general and the rashness of another, resulting in the defeat of Obdam at Eckeren (June 30); and Marlborough had to content himself with securing the Meuse below Namur by the capture of Huy and other minor fortresses and with forcing the French back behind the lines of the Mehaigne, where they remained passive spectators of the fate of these places. These achievements, though less than he might have achieved if unimpeded, cleared the country between Meuse and Rhine of the French and set him free to carry to Vienna the help so urgently needed there.

With the spring of 1703, the French prepared to utilise the path to Vienna thrown open to them by Bavaria’s action. In March Villars secured Kehl, and, pushing across the Black Forest by Villingen, joined the Bavarian Elector near Ulm (May 9), unimpeded by Lewis of Baden, who lay inactive in his celebrated lines of Stolhofen, watched by another French corps under Marshal Tallard. The Elector would not have been there for Villars to join, had but Styrum, who commanded the troops of the Franconian Circle, cooperated with the 19,000 Austriaris under Schlick on the Inn. Their failure to unite had allowed the Elector to capture Ratisbon, and to inflict on Schlick’s isolated corps a sharp reverse at Scharding (March 11).

Vienna was now in dire peril. Had Villars and the Bavarian Elector pushed on down the Danube, it is difficult to see how the city could have been saved. Lewis of Baden was helpless, Marlborough fully occupied in the distant Netherlands, Hungary actually in insurrection; and not even Eugene could prevent the army of Italy from being pressed back through Tyrol by Vendome’s superior forces. But, like his son Charles Albert thirty-eight years later, Maximilian Emanuel missed his chance. Intent on securing communication with much-coveted Milan, he turned aside into Tyrol, leaving Villars, much to the French commander’s chagrin, to cover his operations against Lewis of Baden, who had come up from Stolhofen with most of his corps and joined Styrum (June). But the conquest of Tyrol did not prove so easy as the Elector anticipated. Though opposed by the peasantry, he reached Innsbruck (July 2) and even pushed a detachment forward to the Brenner Pass, only to find that Vendome had not arrived. The latter, indeed, never started for Trent till July 20; and, by the time he reached it (September 2), the Bavarians, harassed by the Tyrolese mountaineers, who cut off their detachments and threatened their communications, had given up hope of his coming and had beaten a costly retreat to Bavaria (August). During this time Lewis of Baden and Styrum had let slip the chance of combining their forces against Villars, who, profiting by their separation, parried the Margrave’s. attack on Augsburg by falling on Styrum’s weaker force at Hochstadt (September 20) and completely defeating him. This checked Lewis, who had to abandon Augshurg and retire into winter-quarters, just north of the Lake of Constance. Even at this late point in the campaigning season Villars was anxious to try a dash at Vienna, now seriously menaced by the Hungarian insurgents; but the Elector’s refusal to contemplate the project led to violent quarrels between him and Villars, and to the recall of the latter before the next campaign.

Meanwhile, on the Rhine things had fared ill for the Allies. Thiingen, whom Lewis of Baden had left at Stolhofen, failed to prevent Tallard from taking Breisach (September 8) and besieging Landau. Reinforced by a corps from the Netherlands under the Hereditary Prince Frederick of Hesse-Cassel, he attempted the relief of Landau, only to suffer a disatrous defeat at Speyerbach (November 13), on which Landau surrendered (November 21). Thus, with 40,000 French wintering in Bavaria, their communications with Alsace greatly improved by Tallard’s successes and the fprces of the Maritime Powers apparently committed to operations in the Netherlands, the prospects for the Emperor looked bad indeed. The only gleam of satisfaction was that the Duke of Savoy, always distrustful of the sincerity of his French ally’s promises, had been in secret communication with the Emperor for some time, and now, urged to the step by Vendome’s demand that he should hand over Turin and Susa to the French and suffer the disarming of his troops, definitively threw in his lot with the Allies and signed a treaty with the Emperor (October 25). On this, Starhemberg, who had maintained Eugene’s old position on the lower Po during the summer, hastened with his 15,000 men across the Parmesan and joined Victor Amadeus on the Tanaro (January, 1704)—a move which Vendome, who had evacuated southern Tyrol after his fruitless advance to Trent (September), completely failed to prevent. Savoy’s defection meant that Austria was secure from attack on the side of Italy, at any rate until the French had secured their communications with France, which this change of sides had menaced.

1704] MarlborougKs march to the Danube.

But, even so, Vienna’s peril was great; and, when in April strong reinforcements crossed the Black Forest by the Hollenthal and joined the Elector of Bavaria near Dillingen (May 19), unhampered by Lewis of Baden, it seemed futile to hope that even Eugene, who had replaced Styrum, would be able to stem the advance of the Franco-Bavarians down the Danube. Tallard, with over 30,000 men, took up a position near Kehl to protect the French communications with Bavaria and to hold Lewis of Baden in check; while Villeroi, with yet another army, was expected to keep Marlborough occupied in the Netherlands. Luckily for the Allied cause, Marlborough had realised the critical condition of affairs; and his great design of bringing, the British and their auxiliaries to the Danube had been planned and discussed with Eugene. during the winter. But to obtain the consent of the cautious Dutch to a scheme so daring would have been impossible, and the first stages of the march were accordingly carried out on the pretext that he intended to turn the French position in the Netherlands by a move up the Moselle. Under the colour of this pretence, the British and their auxiliaries left their cantonments towards the end of April, and, pushing across the Meuse to Jülich and thence (May 19) to the Rhine, made their way up that river. It was soon evident that something more than a campaign on the Moselle was afoot. Marlborough’s appearance at Mainz (May 29) brought Tallard back to the left of the Rhine to cover Alsace; but the English commander merely made a feint of being about to cross at Mannheim and pushed on south-eastward across the Main, up the Neckar by Ladenburg (June 3) and Mondelheim (June 10), on by the Pass of Geislingen through the hills which divide the Neckar from the Danube until, on June 22, he joined the corps of Lewis of Baden at Ursprung, a little north of Ulm. On the way, Eugene and Margrave Lewis had joined Marlborough to discuss plans; and the result of their deliberations was that Eugene proceeded to Stolhofen to contain Tallard, while the Margrave and Marlborough cooperated against the Elector and the French under Marsin, Villars’ successor. A week later (June 28) the arrival of the British infantry with Marlborough’s guns brought, up the Allied force to 202 squadrons and 96 battalions, about 70,000 men in all. The march had changed the situation: the dangerous weakness of the Allied position was remedied; until Marlborough’s army was beaten, Vienna could not be attacked. But the strategic insight which had determined Marlborough’s course of action, and the daring with which he planned what was practically a flank movement right across the French front, are really less remarkable than the care with which the details of the move had been calculated and the success with which his object had been concealed frqm watchful foes and timid friends alike.

The first task before the Allies was to secure a passage over the Danube. To this end Marlborough moved upon Donauworth, and on July 2 succeeded after a desperate struggle in storming the strong entrenched camp of the Bavarians on the Schellenberg. The losses, though heavy, were justifiable; for Tallard was reported to becoming up from the Rhine, and it was important to capture the post before the garrison could be reinforced. This success gave the Allies Donauworth and its bridge, opening Bavaria to them, and forcing the Elector and Marsin to abandon the line of the Danube and retire southward up the Lech. Marlborough was thus enabled to place himself between the Franco- Bavarians and Vienna, Bavaria being exposed to his raiding parties. However, reinforcements were on their way to join the Elector; for no sooner had Villeroi found that Marlborough’s feint at the Moselle was only the cloak to greater designs than he had pushed across to Alsace and joined Tallard. This allowed Tallard to cross the Rhine at Kehl (July 6) and carry 40 battalions and 60 squadrons through the Black Forest to Villingen (July 16), and, after wasting five days in a futile attempt on that town, to join the Elector near Augsburg on August 6. This delay was importart. Eugene had been restrained from impeding Tallard’s march by the presence of Villeroi’s superior numbers; but, when he found that Villeroi showed no signs of taking the offensive, he set off with 78 squadrons and 18 battalions, nearly 20,000 men (July 23), and by forced marches reached Hochstadt on the Danube on the day Tallard joined his colleagues. This reinforcement made it possible to detach Margrave Lewis, whom Marlborough had found a somewhat uncongenial colleague, with 22 battalions and 34 squadrons of Austrians, amounting to some 15,000 men, to besiege Ingolstadt, the one strong place on the Danube below Donauworth still in the hands of the Bavarians, and a fortress of great importance to the Allies because of its position on their direct line of communication with Vienna. Immediately after his departure (August 9) the enemy, hoping to find Eugene isolated, crossed to the north of the Danube at Dillingen and moved downstream. But, though Marlborough had remained posted south of the Danube so as to cover the siege of Ingolstadt, if necessary, he was not out of supporting distance of Eugene. A forced march brought his army into line with Eugene’s on the Kessel (August 11); and, two days later,the Allies, anxious not to let slip the chance of a battle, attacked the Franco- Bavarians behind the Nebel. The position was strong: the fortified villages of Blenheim (Blindheim) and Lutzingen protected its flanks, that of Oberglauheim covered its centre, and marshy banks made the Nebel a formidable obstacle. But Marlborough was quick to see that it had weak spots: that Blenheim and Oberglauheim were too far apart for mutual support; that, as the result of the two armies being posted separately, the actual centre of the Franco-Bavarians was formed of cavalry; that the cavaliy who formed their centre were too far back from the Nebel to dispute the passage; and that the massing of Tallard’s infantry in the villages left very few available to support his centre. Accordingly, Eugene’s army worked round to the right through the woods to attack Marsin and the Elector, who were on Tallard’s left from Oberglauheim to Lutzingen; Marlborough, after delaying till past midday to give Eugene time to get into place, drew Tallard’s attention to the extremities of his line by vigorous, if expensive, attacks on Blenheim and Oberglauheim, under cover of which he pushed his cavalry forward to attack the hostile centre, from which reinforcements had been drawn off to Blenheim. Covered by the fire of the infantry and artillery which Marlborough brought up to support them, the Allied cavalry crossed the marshy Nebel, repulsed with the aid of Lord Orkney’s infantry a belated charge by the French horse, and then, reinforced by their reserves, delivered a smashing blow against Tallard’s centre. The French cavalry, not having enough infantry to succour them were routed and driven headlong, the few battalions of their centre being cut to pieces. Thus Tallard’s whole army was shattered; and, though up to this point Marsin’s had held Eugene at bay, the valiant efforts of the Imperial general’s infantry being ill-supported by his horse, Marlborough’s blow was decisive. Marsin, his right flank uncovered by the defeat of his colleague, could not hold his ground; Oberglauheim had already been Carried; the 28 fine battalions in Blenheim were completely cut off and forced to surrender; and though Marsin withdrew his army in good order, Tallard’s had ceased to exist as an efficient fighting-force. At a cost of 12,000 casualties the 52,000 Allies had routed a rather larger force in a strong position, inflicting on them 14,000 casualties, capturing over 100 guns and 11,000 prisoners, and had by this crushing blow shattered the great reputation of the French arms. The effect of this great victory was seen in the precipitate retreat of the French behind the Rhine, and in Villeroi’s failure to interfere with the siege of Landau, which the Allies, who crossed at Philippsburg on September 8, invested a week later. On November 23 Landau fell; and on the same day Trarbach surrendered to Marlborough, who had pushed up the difficult valley of the Queich to the Moselle and occupied Trier (October 26).

Thus in the year 1704 the situation was completely reversed in Germany; Vienna was delivered; the French invaders were expelled; the Elector of Bavaria was a fugitive, his dominions being placed under Austrian control by the Convention of Ilbersheim (November 7); and French prestige destroyed by a blow without a parallel since Condé had destroyed the Spanish reputation at Rocroi. Nor could Louis XIV balance this disaster with any success elsewhere. In Italy, Victor Amadeus, though sore beset and isolated, still maintained his ground ini Piedmont; in the Netherlands nothing had been done since Villeroi’s departure; and in the new theatre of operations in the Pyrenean Peninsula and the Mediterranean the advantage had remained with the Allies.

In the negotiations as to the Partition Treaties the question of the Mediterranean had been one of the most important issues: William, fresh from the experience of the last war, had seen that, were Spain tb pass to a Bourbon, England would be excluded from the Mediterranean unless she could secure a base within the Straits. He had fought hard to obtain Minorca for England; and, but for the reluctance of Rooke to venture out so late in the season, a squadron would probably have been despatched to Cadiz in the autumn of 1701 to forestall the French in occupying that all-important position. William was pressing on the preparations for such an expedition, when his death, which threw all arrangements out of gear, caused a serious delay in its departure. The instructions issued to Rooke leave no doubt that the expedition was aimed at Cadiz, not as the commercial centre of ithe trade of Spanish America, but as a strategic point capable of being made the base from which a British fleet might control the Mediterranean. But Rooke never liked or appreciated the scheme. In his eyes , the intercepting of the returning Plate fleet was of far greater importance; and, owing partly to his lack of energy, but even more to Ormond’s mismanagement and the bad discipline of the troops, the attack on Cadiz (August 15—September 15) proved a fiasco, which was only partly redeemer by Rooke’s exploit on the homeward voyage. He found the Plate fleet sheltering in Vigo, and attacked and destroyed it with the French squadron which formed its escort (October 12). By this means he managed, to return with one useful achievement to his credit, though the greater scheme had miscarried, and for want of a Mediterranean base the naval operations of the Allies in 1703 were of little effect. Still, by forcing the French to lie quiet all that summer in Toulon, Shovell proved to Portugal that England could cover her against France. This demon­stration directly furthered the negotiation of the Treaty of May 16,1703, by which Portugal was detached from the side of Louis and enrolled among the adherents of the Grand Alliance.

1704-5] Gibraltar and Malaga,—The Netherlands.

One important result of Portugal’s change of sides was that, when the Emperor decided to transfer his rights over Spain to his second son, Archduke Charles, and to despatch him to the Peninsula to prosecute his claim, a, good base was secured for the operations of the troops which England and Holland sent out to assist him (February, 1704). Philip V was, however, prepared for, the attack; and by land little was accomplished. It was at sea, not ashore, that took place the principal operations of the Allies in southern Europe in 1704. Seeing clearly that the capture of Toulon would be the most damaging blow that could be inflicted on France, Marlborough had planned that, after Rooke had escorted Archduke Charles to the Tagus, he should carry his fleet to the Riviera and there gain touch with the Duke of Savoy, who was to furnish the land forces needed to cooperate with the British navy in this great enterprise. Unfortunately for the Allies, it was at this time wholly out of the power of the Duke of Savoy to spare any troops for an attack on Toulon. Accordingly, Rooke had to fall back on his alternative task of assisting the operations of the Archduke, and returned to the Straits. On the way home, he unluckily just failed to intercept the French squadron from Brest, which the Count of Toulouse was bringing to the assistance of the Toulon squadron, sighting them without being able to overtake them (May 27). At the Straits, Rooke found reinforcements awaiting him from the Channel Fleet, sent southward as soon as the destination of Toulouse was known, which brought his fleet up to over 50 sail of the line. Thus reinforced, he decided to carry out an enterprise which English strategists had been contemplating for some ime past. The capture of Gibraltar (August 4) was, like the destruction of the Plate fleet at Vigo, a useful rather than a brilliant achievement, for both garrison and defences were weak; but, if Rooke’s merits in this matter are sometimes overstated, he has not generally received proper credit for the action which he fought three weeks later—the only encounter’ of the main battle fleets during the War. Believing that Rooke was going to attack Barcelona, Toulouse had put to sea with about 50 sail of the line (July 29); and, on hearing of the loss of Gibraltar, he hastened to the Straits to see if he could do anything to retrieve the situation. Rooke was cruising to the eastward of Gibraltar, to cover his prize from any attempt to recover it; and on August 24 he fell in with the French off Velez Malaga. The odds were approximately equal; for, if the Allies had a slight superiority in ships, they were very short-handed, and were also seriously handicapped by the great expenditure of ammunition in the capture of Gibraltar. It was a hard-fought encounter—“the sharpest day’s service I ever saw,” Rooke called it—of which tactically the Allies had by no means the worst, preventing Toulouse’s efforts to break their line, and ultimately forcing the French to draw off so roughly mauled that next day, when he had the wind, Toulouse made no attempt to renew the action but withdrew to Toulon, leaving the Allies in possession of the fortress they had fought for. Strategically, there was no doubt about the victory; and during the rest of the War the French made no serious effort to challenge the Allied control of the Mediterranean, their fleet retiring into the shelter of Toulon whenever the British appeared in any strength. Shortly afterwards, it is true, when the lateness of the season had forced Rooke to depart homeward with the bulk of his fleet, Gibraltar was vigorously assailed by land by the Marquis of Villadarias with a large Franco-Spahish army, supported by a small squadron under de Pointis; but the siege proved ineffectual, and in March, 1705, Leake finally raised it by destroying the blockading squadron off Marbella Point (March 21).

For the campaign of 1705 Marlborough had planned an invasion of France by the line he had pretended to be about to use in 1704—that of the Mosells and Saar. His aim was to penetrate to Metz, thereby turning the fortresses of the Netherlands and also cutting off Alsace from the interior. However, neither the States General, who had promised to fill his magazines, nor the Rhenish Electors on whom he was relying for transport, performed their obligations; and, when the death of the Emperor (May 5) caused the recall home of the Austrian contingent, Marlborough, not relishing the prospect of a campaign with a colleague so unsympathetic to him as Lewis of Baden, decided to transfer himself and his army to the Netherlands. Here Villeroi had already taken the offensive by capturing Huy (May 24); but Marlborough’s return sent him back to his lines, out of which the Duke, despite the constant interference of Dutch deputies, proceeded to manoeuvre him by a series of adroitly planned and skilfully executed enterprises. Feints against the extremities of the lines diverted Villeroi’s attention and allowed the Duke to pierce their centre near Tirlemont (July 18); but the obstruction of the Dutch spoilt more than one fair chance of victory, and the campaign ended with the levelling of the lines; between the Méhaigne and the Demer as the only thing accomplished. This, however, caused a strong detachment to be called up from Alsace, so that Villars was reduced to the defensive (August), just as he had taken Weissenburg and seemed likely to recover the line of the Lauter. In Italy, rather more had been accomplished. Eugene, taking the field in April, forced Vendome’s brother, the Grand Prior of France, to abandon the line of the Oglio and retire hastily behind the Adda by appearing on his flank and rear at Brescia (June 23). However, at Cassano (August 16) Vendome checked Eugene’s advance somewhat sharply; and the Austrians had finally to retire towards Tyrol for the winter. Still, Eugene’s activity had greatly relieved the pressure on Piedmont, enabled Turin to hold out, and kept the half-hearted Duke of Savoy true to his new alliance.

The next campaign opened badly for the Imperialists in Italy. In April, 1706, Vendome made a sudden attack on their cantonments round Brescia, driving them back into Tyrol in confusion, just as Eugene returned from his labours at Vienna, whither he had gone to obtain reinforcements and a supply of money for the army in Italy.

Had the Allied commanders been able to have their own way, Eugene would have been accompanied by Marlborough and a British contingent; for the Duke, ever looking towards Toulon, hoped in concert with Eugene to sweep the French from northern Italy, and then, assisted by the British fleet in the Mediterranean, to deal the blow hitherto forbidden by the want of a land force at his disposal. It was a scheme more brilliant even than the march to the Danube in 1704 and exhibiting to the full Marlborough’s strategic insight and comprehensive grasp. However, just as he seemed about to win the consent of the States General, the sudden retreat of Lewis of Baden behind the Rhine (April) revived their apprehensions, and prevented the great design from being carried out. But an English subsidy of £250,000 furnished Eugene with 24,000 troops from Hesse-Cassel, Brandenburg, Saxe-Gotha and the Palatinate; and,thus reinforced, he moved down the left of the Adige (July 5), disregarding Venetian neutrality as in 1701, outflanked Marsin, the new commander of the French army of Italy, and crossed to the south of the Po (July 18). Once on that bank, he pushed on at great speed, outpacing as well as outflanking the French, who moved parallel up the left bank. Not even at Stradella was any resistance offered; and, on August 31, the junction with the Duke of Savoy was effected at Villastellona. It was promptly followed up by an advance on Turin, and by the complete defeat of the investing army after a stubbornly-fought battle (September 7), in which the superior numbers of the French were neutralised by Eugene’s skilful handling of his troops and prompt improvement of his tactical opportunities. So far as Italy was, concerned, the victory was decisive. The French at once evacuated Piedmont, withdrawing to France by Pinerolo and leaving to their own resources their garrisons at Mantua, Alessandria, and in the Milanese. These resisted stoutly, but vainly; and by the end of the year hardly a fortress still held out. The completeness of the French defeat may be judged from the conclusion of the Convention of Milan (March, 1707), by which Louis abandoned northern Italy and withdrew all his troops to France, thereby obtaining a reinforcement, which was greatly needed elsewhere, for the French disasters of 1706 had not been confined to Italy.

After having to abandon his scheme for helping Eugene in Italy Marlborough had laid his plans for forcing the lines of the Dyle behind which Villeroi was lying, as he hardly anticipated that the French Marshal would take the offensive. However, Villeroi, hearing that the Prussian and Hanoverian contingents had not yet joined Marlborough, boldly left his lines on May 19 and pushed across the Great Gheete by Tirlemont to Judoigne on his way towards Liege. A rapid concentration at Bilsen and a forced march southwestward enabled Marlborough to plant himself across Villeroi’s path, with over 60,000 men, British, Dutch, and Danes; and, early in the morning of May 23, the two armies came into contact on the high ground which serves as the watershed between the Gheete and the Mehaigne. Villeroi, though surprised to find the Allies on the move, promptly took up his position for battle, resting his right, mainly composed of cavalry, on the Mehaigne at Taviere, posting his centre at Ramillies and Offuz and his left between Offuz and Autre liglise, its front being covered by the marshes in which the Gheete rises. The position was strong and the French army hardly, if at all inferior in numbers to the Allies. But the marshes also forbade a counter-attack by the French left; and Marlborough, realising this, contained that wing by a feint with the first line of his right, the rest of which was diverted under cover of some hills to support the left and centre in their attack on the French right. The move was a complete success. Tavieres, too far from Ramillies for effectual support, was stormed; a great cavalry combat on the slopes between the Mehaigne and Ramillies ended in the defeat of the French; and their effort to form a new line, with its left resting on Ramillies, was frustrated by the capture of that village. Next, the Allied cavalry, pushing on, outflanked the new French right in the direction of the Tomb of Ottomond; some British battalions crossed the marshes and assailed Autre Église; and the whole French army gave way in complete disorder, losing nearly all their guns and suffering treble the 5000 casualties of the Allies.

In some respects Marlborough’s most brilliant victory, Ramillies was remarkable for the relentless vigour of the pursuit, which did not allow the French to rally behind the Scheldt, but forced them to retire hastily up the Lys to Courtray, to avoid being cut off from France. Within a fortnight of the battle, all Brabant and most of Flanders was in Marlborough’s hands: Antwerp (May 26), Ghent, Binges, and Oudenarde were among the towns which capitulated at the first summons, and the capture of Ostend (July 6) gave him a more direct line of communications with England, which he subsequently secured by the successive reduction of Menin (August 22), Dendermonde (September 5), and Ath (October 2). Moreover, his victory paralysed the French in other quarters. Villars lost his chance of following up the retreat of Lewis of Baden from Alsace, because he had to detach 30,000 men to the Netherlands and was reduced to the defensive: Eugene’s task was made easier, when the recall of Vendome to replace Villeroi left him with only Marsin to face. 

Peterborough in Spain, [1706-6

In the Pyrenean Peninsula also things had gone well for the Allies. After Leake’s relief of Gibraltar (March, 1705), Galway advanced into Estremadura from Portugal, taking Valenza and forcing Tesse to evacuate Andalusia to save Badajoz. Meanwhile Shovell’s squadron carried a British force round to the east coast, where Peterborough was thus enabled to inaugurate his remarkable career by the escalade of Monjuich (September 12) and the reduction of Barcelona (October 9,1705). This was followed by the adoption of the Habsburg cause by Catalonia and Valencia; and, though in the following spring, in the absence from the Mediterranean of the bulk of the English fleet, a French army under Tesse invaded Catalonia and besieged Barcelona (February), the return of Leake’s fleet in full strength sent the Toulon squadron which had been covering the operations flying back to harbour, and forced Tesse to raise the siege (May 11) and beat a disastrous retreat to France. Valencia was again cleared of the French; and, on June 26, Madrid passed into the occupation of the Allies. Galway, with an Anglo-Portuguese force, had taken Ciudad Rodrigo in May and advanced by Salamanca on Madrid, Marshal Berwick retiring before him. But outside Catalonia and Valencia hardly a Spaniard was for Charles: Castile rallied to Philip; Berwick returned with reinforcements; and Galway, after a brief stay, found it necessary to evacuate Madrid: while, though joined by Peterborough (August 6), he had finally to retire into Valencia, on the borders of which province he took up his winter-quarters, Peterborough having, shortly before that, left Spain for Italy. Still, despite the failure to hold Madrid, 1706 was a great year for the Allies, and so early as the middle of August Louis made overtures for peace—apparently the first serious overtures which have to be noted in a long succession of efforts. These overtures, which indicated his willingness to consent to the cession of Spain to Archduke Charles, if Philip’s rule over Milan, Naples and Sicily were recognised, were addressed through the French diplomatists Chamillart, Torcy, and the veteran d’Avaux, to the States General. They were offered (what to them was of paramount importance) a good “Barrier”—i.e. the surrender into Dutch keeping of a cincture of Belgian fortresses; and ulterior suggestions were added as to the annexation of the “loyal” Provinces as a whole, besides commercial advantages at the expense of all-suffering Spain. On communicating the substance of these proposals to Marlborough, Heinsius was quickly given to understand that England was not prepared—as in truth neither the Whigs, nor the Queen and public opinion, at the time were—to listen to any mention of the partition of the Spanish monarchy; while a significant hint was conveyed to him and his Government, that the nature of the ultimate Dutch “Barrier” would largely depend on the fidelity of the United Provinces to the Alliance. Thus this first attempt at peace negotiations, which had been repudiated by the Imperial as well as by the English Government, broke down; although, in view of what was to follow, it cannot be said to have been made wholly in vain.

One circumstance which had encouraged Louis to hold out for better terms than the Allies would grant him also contributed largely to hamper Marlborough’s operations in 1707. The course of affairs in north-eastern Europe had established the victorious army of Charles XII of Sweden within the boundaries of the Empire at Altranstadt in Saxony; and Louis hoped that the days of Turenne and Wrangel were come again, and that the advance of the Swedish veterans into the Austrian dominions might effect what the direct attack on Vienna by the Danube had failed to do. There, were reasons for this hope. Joseph had infuriated Charles by assis.jg Augustus II, while the Silesian Protestants were appealing to the Swedish King for protection against Austrian oppression and persecution. Throughout central Germany alarm and consternation prevailed; the Princes prepared to retain for their own defence the troops they would otherwise have hired out to the Maritime Powers; and so serious was the outlook that Marlborough found it necessary to go in person to Altranstadt to see whether his diplomatic skill could prevent Charles from intervening in western Europe (April, 1707). However, he found his cause half won, for Charles, though anxious to do something for the Silesian Pro­testants, had preoccupations more pressing than that of embroiling himself with the Maritime Powers in order to assist Louis XIV; and Marlborough was soon able to return to the Netherlands, secure in the knowledge that Charles on breaking up from Altranstadt would not march on Vienna. Nevertheless, his advance into the Empire had certainly been of use to France; for several of the north-German Princes, direading this unwelcome neighbour, had failed to produce the contingents that should have served with Marlborough in the Netherlands; so that his force fell short of what was required, and the campaign of 1707 proved disappointingly barren of results. The strength of the French frontiers, all “covered by very strong towns and well fortified,” while those of the Allies were open, made it essential that the Allies should outnumber the French by about 25,000 men, in order to provide a besieging force and escorts for convoys and trains over and above the field-force needed to cover sieges. The numerical superiority, however, was with the French, and Vendome, adopting a most cautious defensive, would give no opportunity for a battle. Moreover, when at last Eugene’s invasion of Provence, described below, caused the French to detach troops thither from Flanders, and so transferred the superiority to Marlborough, the untimely intervention of the Dutch deputies prevented him from bringing Vendome to action on favourable terms, near Waterloo; and soon afterwards unusually wet weather brought the campaign to an abortive close.

The Flanders campaign of 1707.-Villars on the Rhine. [1707

Elsewhere, the Allies had done even worse. The campaign of 1706 had been Lewis of Baden’s twenty-sixth and last; worn out by many years of hard service, he died in January, 1707. Although his military talents were not of the highest order and in the school of generals to which he belonged precision and method were apt to degenerate into pedantry and formalism, he had done good service in trying to reorganise the army of the Empire, and had been unrivalled as a constructor of fortified lines. Marlborough and Eugene had found him no very congenial or efficient colleague. Yet his successor in command, Margrave Charles Ernest of Brandenburg-Baireuth, was certainly his inferior. The campaign of 1707 on the Rhine illustrates admirably the utter inefficiency of the defensive arrangements of the Empire. The “Unarmed Members” endeavoured to shirk their obligations to provide funds; while the “Armed Members” preferred to hire out their troops to the Maritime Powers rather than employ them at their own cost in the common cause. Thus, when, in May, Villars unexpectedly took the offensive, crossing the Rhine and assaulting the famous lines of Stolhofen (May 22), he found them weakly held, and had little difficulty in capturing them. This success allowed him to push forward into Swabia, requisitioning and plundering freely in all directions. His raiding parties spread terror throughout south-western Germany, levying contributions on Wiirtemberg, Baden, the Palatinate, and the Swabian Circle. However, in July, ten battalions and twelve squadrons had to be detached to Provence; and on the supersession of the incom­petent Margrave of Baireuth by the Elector George Lewis of Hanover, who brought with him some 6000 men, the French retired across the Rhine (September), having, in the words of an angry colonel in Marlborough’s army, “overrun the lazy and sleepy Empire and not only maintained and paid a great army in it all the year, but by vast contributions sent money into France to help the King’s other affairs.”

But these reverses on the Rhine were trifling, compared with the disastrous turn affairs had taken in Spain. Hoping that Galway’s army might be utilised to cooperate with Eugene in the attack on Toulon, which now seemed at last practicable, Marlborough had despatched reinforcements to the Peninsula. Unfortunately a disagreement between Galway and Archduke Charles led to a separation; and the Archduke’s departure for Catalonia left Galway with only 15,000 men, a bare third of whom were British, while half were Portuguese and the rest Dutch and Huguenots. Endeavouring, with this motley force, to defeat Berwick before the Duke of Orleans could reinforce him, Galway gave battle at Almanza (April 25, 1707), and, largely through the misconduct of the Portuguese suffered a complete defeat, which lost Aragon, Murcia and Valencia to the Allies, and for the rest of the year reduced them to a mere defensive in Catalonia. Worse than this, no troops could be spared to assist Eugene’s invasion of Provence, a task which had to be undertaken with most inadequate forces, inasmuch as the Emperor foolishly insisted on detaching some 13,000 men under Daun on the quite subsidiary errand of the reduction of Naples, when success at the critical spot, Toulon, would have been the surest road to the ultimate acquisition of southern Italy. Daun easily achieved his task; the Neapolitan population was bitterly hostile to the Bourbons, whose weak garrisons, cut off from all chance of succour by the English command of the sea, merely offered a feeble resistance which came to an end in September. But this success could not compensate for the failure of Eugene’s attack on Toulon. Moving by the Col di Tenda, Eugene had crossed the Var on July 11, and, although hampered by the negligence and inefficiency of the Duke of Savoy, had reached Frejus, and was in touch with Shovell and the British fleet, by the 16th. But the Duke’s procrastination caused further delays, and gave time for the troops which Berwick was sending home from Spain to reinforce Marshal Tesse at Toulon before the arrival of the Allies (July 26). On August 14, Tesse retook the all-important heights of Santa Catarina, which the Allies had stormed a week earlier; and Eugene, finding his retreat menaced and little chance of taking Toulon, had to abandon his attempt (August 22), and fall back across the Var, having lost 10,000 men in this ill-fated enterprise. Its only fruit was that, in order to prevent their ships falling into the enemy’s hands, the French had sunk their whole squadron of more than 50 sail in the harbour, and thereby put it quite out of their power to contest the English control of the Mediterranean.

French diplomacy, whose superiority to its rivals in this period was still as incontestable as till recently had been the military preeminence of France, had not ceased from its efforts since their failure in the autumn of 1706. Already in October and November of that year, an attempt had been made to influence the Imperial Court in the direction of peace through Pope Clement XI; and, when the campaigns of 1707 had conspicuously demonstrated not only the weakness of the Empire in itself, but also the dubiousness of Archduke Charles’ prospects of establishing himself on the Spanish throne, the labours of the French agents recommenced with a better chiance of success. During the winter of 1707-8 seductive suggestions of mercantile advantages were again made at Amsterdam and Rotterdam by Nicolas Mesnager, deputy of Rouen in the Cornell de Commerce at Paris and an expert in colonial and general trade affairs, who from this time onward plays an important part in the negotiations for peace, and by the Belgian Count Bergeyek, on behalf of Philip V. But Marlborough’s star remained in the ascendant; and in December, 1707, by passing in the House of Lords an amended resolution that no peace could be honourable or safe which allowed the House of Bourbon to retain any part of the Spanish monarchy, the Whig party blocked all peace proposals incompatible with this declaration.

For the campaign of 1708 it had been proposed that Marlborough should occupy Vendome and the main French army, over 80,000 strong, in the Netherlands, while a joint advance was made by George Lewis of Hanover upon Alsace, and by Eugene by the Saar and Moselle. But George Lewis, through no fault of his own, could not carry out his share of the design. The failure of many of the principal German Powers, notably Saxony and Prussia, to provide their proper contingents made it impossible for the army of the Empire, whose available force was under 20,000, to take the field; and Eugene had accordingly to fall back on the alternative plan, which had all along been contemplated, of trans­ferring to the Netherlands his 76 squadrons and 33 battalions, in all some 35,000 men, mainly Austrians, Hessians and Palatines. Here Vend6me had been beforehand with the Allies, taking the field at the beginning of July, and by rapid movements securing the line of the Scheldt, the gates of Bruges and Ghent being Opened to him by French partisans within. Too late to save western Flanders, Marlborough took up his position at Assche, to cover Brussels and await Vendome’s next move or Eugene’s arrival. After the fall of the citadel of Ghent (July 8), Vendome decided to besiege Oudenarde, the possession of which would greatly improve the communications between Ghent and Bruges and the French frontier; and, to cover this operation, he moved up the Dender towards Lessines (July 9). This was Marlborough’s opportunity. Though Eugene’s troops were not yet up, and his own army was more than 10,000 weaker than Vendome’s, he never hesitated. By a great forced march, which carried his vanguard over the Dender at Lessines on the evening of the 9th, he interposed between Vendome and the French frontier and caused the French commander to fall back to the north-westward, so as to cover Bruges, making for Gaveren, where he proposed to cross the Scheldt. But again Marlborough’s mobility baffled his adversary. The Allied vanguard under Cadogan pushed forward again and, early on July 11, secured the passage at Eyne, just below Oudenarde and some six miles above Vendome’s proposed crossing-place. Finding the Allies so near and their vanguard only across the Scheldt and in apparent isolation, Vendome determined to fall on it and crush it, in defiance of the opinion of his colleague, the Duke of Burgundy, who would have preferred to take up a defensive position behind the Norken, a few miles to the west. The battle began with an advance against the Allied position near Eyne by Vendome’s vanguard, which, being left unsupported by Burgundy, ended with a disastrous repulse. Then, when the main body of the Allies was rapidly arriving and prolonging Cadogan’s original position to left and right, Burgundy gave the order for a general advance. The battle was stoutly contested, the French attempts to outflank the Allied left being repulsed, though they in turn prevented the Prussians ‘from gaining ground in that quarter. Marlborough, however, sustained the Prussians with Danish and Dutch troops; and, pushing forward the cavalry of his left under cover of a hill, not only outflanked the French right, but took it in the rear, just as the French left, which was at last pushing forward, was driven back in disorder by the British cavalry. Only nightfall saved the bulk of the French forces from capture, and it was a beaten and demoralised army which rallied behind the Bruges canal near Ghent.

The victory of Oudenarde exhibits clearly Marlborough’s wonderful power for fighting an impromptu battle and his remarkable eye for ground. The physical feat performed by his troops in fighting such a battle, after covering nearly fifty miles between 2 a.m. on the 9th and 2 p.m. on the 11th, is also noteworthy; but what is most striking in connexion with his victory of Oudenarde is the daring use to which Marlborough would have put it, could he have obtained the consent of the Dutch and of Eugene, who had himself arrived in time to share in the victory, and whose army arrived a few days after the action. Marlborough would have boldly pushed on into France, merely masking the great fortress of Lille, and have thereby transferred the war to French territory; while the descent upon Normandy of a corps under General Erie would have provided him with a new line of communications with England. He counted on the invasion of France for bringing about automatically the evacuation of western Flanders by the remnants of Vendome’s army. The scheme was, however, too unorthodox even for the enterprising Eugene; and it was decided that the Prince’s army should proceed to besiege Lille, Marlborough covering the operation against interference by Berwick, who had come up from the Moselle with 20,000 men and was endeavouring to join Vendome. About the middle of August the siege was begun, and, despite the stout defence of the veteran Boufflers, was steadily pressed. Vendome quitted Ghent, and on August 30 joined Berwick near Tournay; but, instead of venturing another general action with Marlborough they took up a position between Lille and Brussels, hoping to raise the siege by interrupting the Allied communications with the Belgian capital. Ostend was, however, open; and a vast convoy of ammunition and stores was conducted thence by Cadogan and by Webb, whose brilliant success over de La Mothe at Wynendad (September 28) contributed largely to its safe arrival. On October 22 the town fell, and on December 9 the citadel also surrendered. The siege had cost the Allies over 15,000 casualties; but the prize was of great value. Indeed, the straits to which the French had been reduced is evident from their evacuation of Bruges and all western Flanders, and their retreat within their own frontier, as well as from the terms of peace which Louis now declared himself ready to accept.

Siege of Lille.—Negotiations resumed. [1708-9

As in 1706, so in the spring of 1709 Louis made his first overtures to the Dutch; but Heinsius, who, so late as December, 1708, had declared the adherence of the States General to the principle of the renunciation of the entire Spanish monarchy by the House of Bourbon, would hear nothing of any separate negotiation. Thus, before the pourparlers between Rouille, who was soon joined by Torcy, and the Dutch delegates, Buys and van der Dussen, which began on March 17, had proceeded far, a clear understanding had been reached between Heinsius and Marlborough. The concessions which the French envoys were empowered to make might well have satisfied the Allies, if they had been prepared to entertain any notion of a partition of the Spanish monarchy. Louis was prepared to be satisfied with the retention by Philip of Naples and Sicily only; all the rest of the Spanish inheritance was to be given up; and Mons, Namur, and even Strassburg, were to be surrendered, Lille alone being restored to France. After an interview at the Hague between Marlborough and Torcy on May 17, at which the French envoy attempted to obtain lower terms by bribery on a grand scale, he on the 19th informed Heinsius that he was empowered to offer the cession of the entire Spanish inheritance. Louis XIV had some weeks earlier consented to recognise the Protestant Succession in England, and it was understood that no objection would ultimately be made to the cession of Newfoundland to England, on which Marlborough had in addition insisted, or to the satisfaction of Savoy. The real difficulty lay in the question of the guarantee which Louis could furnish for Philip’s surrender of the Spanish monarchy. The Dutch, with unerring instinct, proposed that the three French towns, Valenciennes, St Omer, and Cambray, should be pledged to the States General; and this solution was supported at the Hague by the veteran authority of Portland (Bentinck). But, recognising that it was England upon whom it would devolve to settle affairs in Spain, the English Government, represented by Townshend at the Hague, demurred; and the Emperor and Savoy now raised their demands. Thus, the Preliminaries presented on May 28 to Torcy on behalf of the Allies as an ultimatum, provided for a return to the conditions of 1648, including a greatly improved “Barrier” for the Dutch and the retrocession of Alsace and Franche Comté, the demolition of the works of Dunkirk, the recognition of the Hanoverian Succession in England and the expulsion of the Pretender from France, and added the demand that Louis should, by August 1, obtain the surrender by Philip of the Spanish monarchy, or, in case of this not being effected, take measures, in conjunction with the Allies, for effecting it. The truce between the belligerents was, in the event of the surrender of the Spanish monarchy within the period fixed, to last till the conclusion and ratification of peace —in other words, Louis might eventually find himself obliged, with diminished possessions and reduced resources, to resume the war. Torcy at once pointed out the necessity of the ratification of peace preceding any efforts which Louis might make to bring about the cession of the Spanish monarchy—for how, he asked, could the King use force towards his grandson? It was, in truth, a concession which not even Oudenarde and Lille, following upon Turin, Ramillies and Blenheim, could wring from Louis; and, as Madame de Maintenon declared, France would not have been France, had the nation failed to support the King in his refusal. Torcy, though preserving perfect calmness, promptly took his departure from the Hague on May 28, and on the same evening from Brussels intimated to Prince Eugene that the King had rejected the Preliminaries. On June 3 the news reached Villars’ headquarters that the war was to proceed; nine days later Louis issued from Versailles his manifesto to his people, denouncing the Allies as having dishonoured France by their demand, and invoking the Divine protection for himself and his army.

It is now known that on July 10,1709, writing most confidentially to Heinsius, Marlborough, whose ambition has been held largely accountable for the unreasonable demand made on Louis XIV by the Allies, avowed that “were he in the place of the King of France, he should venture the loss of his country much sooner than be obliged to join his troops for the forcing his grandson.” The accusation, commonly preferred against Marlborough, of having prolonged the war for his own benefit, is untenable; but he had not at the right moment asserted his more rational views against the obduracy of Townshend, the calculations of the Dutch, and the self-centred obstinacy of the Emperor, who is probably to be held largely responsible for the breakdown. It must, however, be allowed that the cession of the Spanish monarchy— which was still regarded as an indispensable condition of peace—was nugatory without guarantees. While both in Holland and in England there was an outburst of indignation against the defiant resolution of France, Marlborough and Prince Eugene were, not perhaps very fairly, blaming Dutch statesmanship for having found no better way of securing from Louis a satisfactory guarantee of the Spanish cession; and Heinsius was exhibiting his willingness to formulate next time less harsh demands. But, though Marlborough inclined to the revived alternative of a barrier of French fortresses, the Whig leaders held that the only pledge, of the sort to be contemplated was a series,of fortified places in Spain itself!

The first Barrier Treaty.—Villars' preparations. [1709

Meanwhile, in the negotiations which still dragged their length along, the question of a Dutch “Barrier” of Belgic fortresses remained as if it were a fixed point. It will, perhaps, be most convenient to review the whole question of this provision for the protection of the Dutch frontier in connexion with the third and final Barrier Treaty of 1715. Here, therefore, it will suffice to say that the first Treaty known by this name with the States General was signed by Townshend on October 29, 1709. It was, so to speak, an open secret. The United Provinces by it acquired the right of garrisoning nine fortified places in the Spanish Netherlands, together with ten others, should they be retaken from the French; and were thus constituted by England the guardians of southern Belgium—and, as it seemed to Prince Eugene, the eventual masters of the whole of the Belgic provinces. The protests of the Emperor were made in vain, ;for it was quite clear from this time onwards that, if the Maritime Powers held out by each other, the House of Habsburg was reduced to passivity as to this part of any ultimate settlement.

The exorbitant demands of the Allies had in the early summer of 1709 enabled Louis to make a stirring appeal to the dignity and patriotism of his subjects. Summoned to save France from a Coalition bent on her humiliation and ruin, all classes rallied round their aged monarch with wonderful alacrity and enthusiasm. Recruits flocked forward to replete the diminished ranks; nobles imitated the King in sending their plate to the Mint; the incompetent Chamillart was dismissed from the Ministry of War; and, by dint of astounding efforts, a tolerably well-equipped army of some 90,000 men was placed at the disposal of Villars, the only French Marshal who had not yet suffered defeat at the hands of the Allies. Moreover, the long delays over the negotiations provided the French with a welcome respite, which Villars utilised to reorganise and reanimate the troops and to construct fortified lines from Douay to St Venant, covering Arras and barring the line of advance between the Lys and the Scarpe. Not till June did the rupture of the negotiations allow the Allies to begin operations, and by that time Villars had made his lines so strong that even Marlborough shrank from a frontal attack, proposing to turn them by an advance into France along the coast, in which he would have used the British fleet as his movable base. But this daring design did not meet with Eugene’s approval; and in July the Allies set about the more orthodox task of besieging Tournay, in order to secure the line of the Scheldt. Toumay was ably defended and occupied the Allies until the beginning of September; but Villars, too weak to risk a battle, had to remain inactive in his lines until reinforced by a strong division from the upper Rhine. There it had been intended that the army of the Empire should invade Alsace, while Dauphiné was simultaneously attacked by Daun and Victor Amadeus, who had in the previous year secured Piedmont by the capture of Fenestrelles. However, while the Duke of Savoy made no effort to fulfil his share of the scheme, Daun and the Austrian contingent with the Piedmontese could effect nothing unsupported, so that these troops, who might have done good service elsewhere, spent the year in complete inactivity. The usual difficulties delayed the assembly of the army of the Empire so long that the French could safely send detachments to the Netherlands (July), and when at last the Austrians under Mercy impatiently crossed the Rhine near Basel without waiting for the Elector of Hanover, they came to grief at Hiiningen (August 26), after which both sides relapsed into cautious inaction.

After the fall of Tournay (September 3) the Allied forces were immediately set in motion towards Mons, the movement being covered by a feint on Douay to distract Villars. But the Marshal was not to be deceived; and, though the Allies anticipated him in seizing the passage (September 7) by Jemmappes through the great forest which lies westward of Mons, he was able to seize the southern passage by Malplaquet, occupying so threatening a position that the Allies found they must drive him away before they could form the siege. Unfortunately, Marlborough’s proposal to attack immediately was not adopted; Eugene seems to have believed that Villars was merely demonstrating and would not fight, and the Dutch deputies urged that the attack should be deferred until the arrival of the last detachment of the besiegers of Toumay. Hence the attack was not made till two days later (September 11), and Villars had utilised the delay to the best purpose, erecting field-works of a most formidable character to cover his naturally advantageous position. His main body was posted on a ridge less than two miles long, flanked to the right and the left by the woods of Lasnières and Taisnières, while the wood of Sart projecting in front of his left flanked and enfiladed the direct advance against his front. Seeing that this wood of Sart was the key to the French position, Marlborough and Eugene resolved to make their main attack in this quarter, merely demonstrating on their left against the wood of Lasnieres. Unfortunately, a blunder of the Prince of Orange converted this demonstration into a real attack, which resulted in a disastrous repulse for his Dutchmen, who lost very heavily. This allowed Villars to reinforce his hard-pressed left from his right, and a counter-attack drove the Allies back until it in turp was checked by a column under Withers, which had worked round through the woods and now fell upon the extreme left of the French. Boufflers, now in command as Villars had been badly wounded, had therefore to weaken his right centre in order to hold Withers in check; and this gave Marlborough his opportunity. Orkney’s British and Hanoverian infantry were pushed forward against the French entrenchments, carried them, and so opened a way for the Allied squadrons. Then followed a great cavalry combat, which fluctuated until the Allies put in the last word in the shape of Eugene’s Austrian horse, and the battle was won. Boufflers, with his left turned and his centre pierced, did well in extricating his army in good order, only 16 guns and 500 prisoners being left behind. The most costly of the great battles of the war—for the Allies had nearly 20,000  casualties and the French 12,000—Malplaquet was nevertheless an important success for the Allies, even if the French could fairly claim to have shared the honours. Villars’ army, despite the prodigious efforts which it represented, had been ousted from an extremely strong position, and so roughly handled in the process that it could do nothing more for Mons, which had to surrender on October 9; so that the campaign closed with the complete reduction of the French to the defensive, while the Allies were firmly established on the upper Schcldt and their conquests in Brabant and Flanders well covered.

Minorca and the Peninsula. [1708-9

Meanwhile, the events of 1708 and 1709 had done little to shake Philip’s hold on Spain. Early in 1708 Galway had returned from the east coast to Portugal, as it had been resolved to employ in Catalonia in place of the untrustworthy Portuguese German troops set free by the armistice in Italy. However, before the Germans under Starhemberg could arrive, the Franco-Spaniards had taken Tortosa (July 15, 1708) and cut the communications between Catalonia and Valencia; and even when the Germans did arrive they failed to prevent the reduction of Denia (November, 1708) and of Alicante (April, 1709), the only places left to Charles in Valencia. The one success gained by the Allies in this region in 1708 was the capture of Minorca by Leake and Stanhope (September 14-30,1708)—a well-conducted enterprise, which at a small cost secured for the English fleet the one thing of which it had hitherto stood in need, a harbour in the Mediterranean where a squadron could winter and be properly refitted. For Marlborough, seeing the ill-success of his designs on Toulon, had fallen back on the less satisfactory expedient of maintaining a squadron permanently in the Mediterranean, to mask the Toulon fleet and so furnish the Allied generals with that secure naval support for which they were always asking. The expedition had been undertaken at his urgent request, and the equipment of Port Mahon with the stores and appliances needed for a dockyard was at once set on foot. However, little was done in 1709 to advance the Habsburg cause in the Peninsula: even after all the French troops had been recalled from Spain to succour Louis in his great emergency (August) Starhemberg effected nothing beyond the capture of Balaguer (September), which facilitated the next year’s advance; while Galway, invading Spanish Estremadura, suffered a sharp reverse on the Caya (May 17), through the rashness of his Portuguese colleague, de Fronteira. Philip’s hold on the Peninsula was unshaken, and even the successes of the Allies in 1710 only served to confirm it.

Thus, in the course of the campaigns of 1709 there seemed to be a balance of loss and gain between the adversaries such as might justify renewed attempts at negotiating peace. Spain was practically out of the control of the Allies; and the Government of the United Provinces, with its own future secured by the Barrier Treaty, was for peace; though the question of the ultimate definition of the Barrier made it less feasible than ever for the States General to proceed to a settlement without their Maritime Ally. Thus the overtures made by Torcy in November, 1709, as to a resumption of negotiations on the basis of the May Preliminaries, led to a meeting of Dutch and French plenipotentiaries at the Hague (January 18, 1710) and to a declaration by Louis (February) that he was prepared to assent to the proposed basis, subject to a fresh consideration of the question as to the guarantees of the cession. On March 10 conferences were actually opened in nominal secrecy at Gertruydenberg (or rather on a yacht between that place and Mierdyk), and they were continued at intervals till near the end of April. France was represented by Marshal d’Huxelles and the Abbé (afterwards Cardinal) de Polignac, who found more than their match in Buys and van der Dussen. England and the Emperor at first held aloof; though the former Power still controlled the action of her Maritime Ally. It is, however, tolerably clear that from the outset Marlborough and Townshend agreed with the Dutch statesmen in contemplating a partial cession only on the part of Philip, and that even the Whig Government at home was wavering. The Emperor’s estrangement from the Maritime Powers increased in proportion as England’s attitude altered. Joseph, very unreasonably, objected to a partition of the Spanish monarchy, and the proposal to give Sicily to Philip was vehemently opposed by Savoy— though Godolphin and Marlborough, as well as Heinsius, would have agreed to this. Moreover, the wish, certainly cherished at this time by Louis, that his grandson should yield, met with no response on the part of Philip; and no result seeming attainable at Gertruydenberg, the conferences were, on the proposal of the Dutch, interrupted for some time. The campaigns of 1710 had already begun, when Louis went so far as to offer the Allies a monthly subsidy of 150,000 limes, to be eventually doubled, for their coercive operations in the Pyrenean Peninsula. The proposal was rejected by the Dutch plenipotentiaries on their return to Gertruydenberg. It was more clear than ever that the result depended on the decision of England, whether in return for liberal trade concessions by Spain and the transfer of Newfoundland by France, she would assent to a partition of the Spanish monarchy which would leave Spain alone to Philip. The Dutch would in the end be content with a good Barrier; and the Emperor would have to be content with what he could get. Savoy, who vehemently opposed the cession of Sicily to Philip, could not turn the balance.

But, though the decision lay with England, Marlborough was no longer likely to direct it. Already in 1709 the course of affairs was undermining a position from which he might otherwise have looked forward with the highest expectations to the campaign of 1710. He was losing ground at home; Prince George of Denmark, his constant supporter, had died in October, 1708; and now Anne was rapidly slipping away from the influence of the Duchess of Marlborough, and signs were not wanting that the country was beginning to tire of the Whig monopoly of office and to grow weary of a War of which the end appeared as far off as ever, in spite of the great efforts made and the great successes won during its course. In the summer of 1710, Marlborough and Godolphin were aware that their downfall was approaching, and showed no intention of attempting, as they had directed the great War, to determine the peace by which it should be concluded.

Thus, in July, 1710, the inflexible attitude of Buys and van der Dussen rendered a continuation of the Gertruydenberg Conferences hopeless; and the French plenipotentiaries withdrew with an angry protest, to which the States General replied by an elaborate argument representing the King of France as alone responsible for the continuance of the struggle. But a memorandum handed in by the French was not without its effect upon the peace party in the United Provinces; and both there and in England the feeling grew that the real reason for the breakdown of the negotiations had been the excessive demands of the Maritime Powers.

Saragossa and Villa Viciosa. [1710-1

Even before the Conferences were over, in July, 1710, Starhemberg, whose strength reinforcements from Italy had raised to a total of 25,000,   took the offensive, invaded Aragon, beat Philip’s army at Almenara (July 27), and more decisively at Saragossa (August 19), after which he pushed on to Madrid, which for the second time in the war was occupied (September 23) by the Habsburg claimant. But, as in 1706, Castile rallied to Philip; no help was forthcoming from Portugal, for Vendome, sent by Louis to command his grandson’s armies, had moved into the Tagus valley by Valladolid, Salamanca (October 6) and Talavera (October 19), interposing between the Allies in Madrid and their friends in Portugal. As in 1706, Madrid soon proved untenable. During the retreat of the Allies to the coast one of their divisions was defeated and forced to capitulate at Brihuega (December 8), the other securing a safe withdrawal by the battle, tactically indecisive, of Villa Viciosa (December 10). Thus once again the Habsburgs were confined to Catalonia, and even this was hardly secure, for in January, 1711, Gerona surrendered to de Noailles.

Operations had begun in the Netherlands with a sudden concentration of the Allies at Tournay (April 19), followed by a dash across the lines of La Bassée, which caught the French unprepared and allowed Marlborough to form the siege of Douay (May 5). The place made a most gallant defence, but Villars could give it no help; he could not risk the last army of France in a pitched battle, and therefore set himself instead to build the famous fortified lines from the mouth of the Canche to the Sambre, which he boasted would check even Marlborough. Douay, left unaided, fell on June 26; and, before the end of the campaign, Bethune (August 28), St Venant (September 29) and Aire (November 12) had shared its fate; the whole line of the Lys was in the possession of the Allies; and the chances of a successful invasion in the following year had been greatly improved. These were not very brilliant results to show for the 15,000 casualties which the capture of Vauban’s fortresses had cost; but Marlborough had good reason to complain of the slackness of his Allies. The contingents of the German Princes had been late or below their due strength, and Archdeacon Hare wrote that though there were “scarce 40,000 men in all the other armies of France such are our Allies that we hope for nothing from the Rhine or Savoy, though the Empire make the greatest difficulties about peace, and Savoy be the greatest gainer in the war.” Moreover, Marlborough’s tenure of his command had become so insecure that he feared to run any risk, lest his enemies should make the least mishap an excuse for recalling him. For what he had feared had come about. The Whig Ministry, whose position had been already undermined by Anne’s change of favourites, had fallen before the storm raised by the Sacheverell affair, and their places had been taken by Tories, with Harley at their head. Feeling that, with such a Government in power, he could no longer count on cordial support at home, Marlborough contemplated resigning; but, at the urgent entreaties of Eugene and Godolphin, who hoped that another campaign might prove decisive and bring about a satisfactory peace, he decided to retain his post.

Before, however, the operations of 1711 could be opened, the best chance of a decisive campaign had vanished with the sudden death (April 17) of the Emperor Joseph. This event completely altered the European situation, as it left Archduke Charles the head of the Habsburg family and the obvious successor on the Imperial throne. It was hardly possible that the Grand Alliance, which had been formed in order to prevent a cadet of the Bourbon family from ascending the Spanish throne, should continue the war to reunite the dominions of Charles V under the head of the Austrian Habsburgs. Joseph’s death thus provided the Tory Ministry with an additional justification for their determination to bring the war to an end, and to meet the growing feeling that an annual expenditure which had steadily risen in the course of ten years from nearly four to nearly seven millions sterling had become intolerable. According to William Ill’s settlement England had bound herself to furnish two parts out of every five of the land forces required of the war, and five parts out of every eight of the sea forces; and yet it was estimated that above these quotas, England from first to last expended twenty millions sterling to cover the military and naval deficiencies of her Allies.

Yet, though there could be no pretence that the war was any longer carried on as against the preponderance of the power of Prance, and though the burden of it had become unendurable, neither of these con­siderations could justify the English Ministry in the methods which they had from the first pursued in negotiating for peace. It was in 1710 that Torcy, who had never ceased in his labours towards this end, found the requisite agent for his purpose in the Abbe Gaultier, who, prescient of his future usefulness, had remained in London ever since he had first been attached to Marshal Tallard’s embassy to the Court of William III in 1698. Through the Earl of Jersey, a member of the Privy Council but a Jacobite at heart, Gaultier had been introduced to Shrewsbury and Harley ; and in January, 1711, “M. de Lorme” arrived in France on the first of his journeys to the French Court, in the interests—ultimately disentangled—of peace and the Pretender. Torcy was apprised by him of the fact—which of course was no secret to the French Minister—that the new English Government was desirous of peace, while the Dutch sincerely regretted the breakdown of the Gertruydenberg Conferences. Gaultier was informed that the King was prepared to enter into negotiations with England, but not with the States General, though it was subsequently understood that French proposals might be communicated to them by the English Ministers. On this footing the business proceeded, being much expedited so soon as St John was in a position to take a direct part in the proceedings. Early in June Matthew Prior, who, in the spirit of his saying that “ Swords conquer some, but words subdue all men,” was most desirous of distinction in diplomacy, secretly accompanied Gaultier to Paris, being chosen as a servant of the State who might if necessary be disavowed; and, three months later, Mesnager, of whom and whose abilities mention has already been made, appeared in London, still secretly, as agent of the French Government, with elaborate instructions (dated August 3). They show that a change had come over the spirit of French diplomacy and of the sovereign whom it so admirably served, and who now, as his Ministers stated with engaging frankness, looked for concessions in return for his sacrifices. The English Ministers, for their part, in their eagerness for peace, took little thought of the interests of their Allies, unless perhaps of the House of Savoy. On October 9, St John, whose mind was quite made up, introduced Mesnager at Windsor, by the backstairs, to the presence of Queen Anne, who declared herself no lover of war, and ready to do all in her power to end the present conflict. Thus England was carried along by a variety of impulses—among which St John’s hatred of the House of Austria, and the old mercantile jealousy of the Dutch, were alike to be reckoned—into a separate provisional agreement with France. In the same month the preliminaries of peace were virtually settled between the French and English Governments. They threw over the principle of preserving the Spanish monarchy for the House of Habsburg, giving only general assurances as to the demands of England’s Allies, while assuring to England herself the substance of what she actually secured in the Peace of Utrecht.

I711] Marlborough the "non plus ultra"

Apart from its influence upon the diplomatic situation, the death of Joseph had seriously interfered with the Allied plan of campaign for 1711. Eugene and the greater part of his army were called off' to the Rhine, to cover the Imperial election at Frankfort from any possibility of interruption on the part of the French troops in Alsace; and Marlborough found himself at the head of a force nearly 24,000 weaker than the 88,000 with whom Villars was about to defend his celebrated lines. This masterpiece of military engineering ran almost from the coast of Picardy to the Sambre and Meuse, the Canche, the Scarpe and other minor rivers having been dammed in several places to protect tracts of country with inundations. It really appeared as if Villars’ boast would be borne out and Marlborough had at last met his non plus ultra! But Villars had yet to learn the fall measure of his great adversary’s talent. All endeavours to lure Villars from his position into another pitched battle having proved fruitless, Marlborough, after capturing (July 6) a fort at Arleux which commanded a causeway over the inundations of the Sanzee, moved westward on Arras, as though about to tempt destruction by making a frontal attack on the very strongest portion of the lines (August). Deceived by the feint, Villars, who had just retaken and destroyed Arleux (July 21), hastened to send reinforcements to his left. Marlborough’s success was assured. Calling on his men for one of those great efforts he never demanded unnecessarily or in vain, he countermarched his troops from Arras to Arleux, covering forty miles in eighteen hours, pushed across the causeway almost unopposed, and thus pierced the lines on which Villars had so confidently relied (August 5). In vain Villars tried to catch Marlborough at a dis­advantage ; the Duke covered the bridging of the Scheldt by a demonstration against Cambray, after which he crossed to the right of the Scheldt and proceeded to invest Bouchain (August 8). As before, Villars would not fight a battle for a beleaguered fortress, and Bouchain fell on September 13 after what Archdeacon Hare characterised as “the best conducted siege we have made this war.” The capture of Bouchain brought the Allies into an excellent position for an advance into France; but it was Marlborough’s last exploit. The Tories had determined to overthrow him; and on December 31 he was summarily dismissed from all his employments, in order that he might be put on his trial on a charge of misappropriating public moneys which had actually been used for secret service and intelligence work.

The death of Joseph I, though it had thus neither created the desire for peace, nor been the starting-point of the negotiations to that end, justified the indifference of England—and of Holland, if but her “Barrier” were secured—to the continuance of the Grand Alliance. Lord Raby (soon afterwards Earl of Strafford), who had superseded Townshend as British envoy at the Hague, joined with Heinsius in working for the transfer of the Spanish monarchy to Victor Amadeus II of Savoy, whose eldest son, the Prince of Piedmont, should marry an Austrian Archduchess. But the endeavours of Peterborough, who had arrived at Vienna in, February to allay the suspicions of the Imperial Government, and now pressed this solution upon it, were only met by Count Wratislaw, the confidential adviser of Leopold I, by the suggestion of an English guarantee of the Habsburg tenure of Hungary. The estrangement between the English and Imperial Governments continued to increase. In July Count Gallas, the Imperial envoy at St James’, demanded official information on the subject of the negotiations with France, and, when he was furnished with a copy of the preliminaries agreed upon with Mesnager, treated them with incredulous contempt. Meanwhile, Heinsius and his colleagues had early in May been informed of the French proposals; and an active correspondence soon ensued between the English and the Dutch Government, which revealed the fears of the latter for their “Barrier”; while Lord Strafford took up a high tone, and his Government kept in secret touch with the Dutch peace party through John Drummond, an English merchant at Amster­dam. Though Count Goess, who had in September arrived at the Hague as Imperial envoy, made one more attempt to keep the Alliance together, he could not prevent the acceptance by the Dutch on November 21, 1711, of a Peace Congress to be held at Utrecht in the following January, with the French proposals as its preliminaries. Early in December the Emperor Charles VI crossed the German frontier on his way from Barcelona, where he had left his young Empress Elizabeth behind him as a pledge of his determination not to abandon Spain; on his journey through northern Italy he had had an interview with Victor Amadeus. At Innsbruck the Emperor, after deliberating the situation with Prince Eugene and Counts Gallas, Wratislaw, and Sinzendorf, resolved to adopt the suggestion of Marlborough that Prince Eugene should be sent to England on a special mission, and that in the meantime no plenipotentiary should be sent to the proposed Congress.

Yet its approaching meeting was announced in the Queen’s Speech of December 11, in terms implying the existence of the most perfect harmony of purpose between the members of the Grand Alliance. It has been seen elsewhere how the address of the House of Lords declaring against any peace which should leave Spain and the Indies in the possession of the House of Bourbon was answered by the creation of twelve new Peers (December 31). Prince Eugene landed in London January 16, 1712; but he soon began to doubt the probability of success, though he continued his efforts to secure joint action on the part of the Emperor, the States General, Hanover, and the Whigs, and presented memorandum upon memorandum to the English Government. The last of these demanded a change in the Preliminaries of the Congress which—as a succession of contrary winds had prevented him from being informed— had already assembled at Utrecht.

It was on January 1, 1712, that the open negotiations between the Allies and France began at Utrecht. The efforts of Count Gallas, the over-impetuous Austrian ambassador, had failed to shake the determination of the Tories and only produced his own recall; and Eugene’s two months in London had been spent to no purpose. However, the meeting of the Conferences was not accompanied by an armistice, and in planning his operations for the summer Eugene still counted on the assistance of the English and their auxiliaries, now under the Duke of Ormond. His scheme was to turn the French lines at the head of the Sambre, besiege Quesnoy and Landrecies, and so open up the way to Paris by the valley of the Oise. In May he proceeded to put this plan into operation, and laid siege to Quesnoy, Ormond’s corps covering the siege. Quesnoy fell on July 4; but, just as Eugene was about to invest Landrecies, he was informed by Ormond (July 16) that an armistice had been concluded between Great Britain and France, and that in conformity with its terms he was about to withdraw his troops to Dunkirk, which was to be handed over to Great Britain as a pledge of French good faith. But when Ormond gave orders to his corps to quit the Allied camp only the contingents of Holstein, Liege and Saxe-Coburg, little more than 3000 men, followed him; the rest of the auxiliaries, some 118 squadrons and 44 battalions, of whom 6200 men were Danes, 10,400 Hanoverians, 4000 Hessians, 8700 Prussians and 5900 Saxons, all refused to leave Eugene and remained with him to the end of the campaign, although, on learning of their refusal to obey Ormond, England at once ceased to pay the subsidies for their support. Thanks to this action on the part of the German auxiliaries, Eugene, who had about 150 squadrons and 80 battalions of Austrians and Dutch, felt himself strong enough to continue his operations, and accordingly invested Landrecies (July 18). It was a somewhat hazardous proceeding; for the departure of the English transferred the numerical superiority to Villars, who was able to safely call up troops from other points thus made secure; moreover, the refusal of the Dutch deputies to let the principal depot of the Allies be moved from Marchiennes to Quesnoy compelled Eugene to extend his lines beyond prudent limits. Still, to have remained inactive would have certainly discouraged his men, and it would have equally encouraged the French had he seemed disheartened. Villars was not slow to see his opportunity, and, after drawing off Eugene’s attention by feinting at the main position of the Allies on the Escaillon, he hurled strong forces against the Dutch, who were guarding the bridge at Denain (July 24), and thereby covering the great magazine at Marchienne. Surprised and outnumbered, the Dutch made but a feeble resistance to Villars’ vigorous attack, and, long before Eugene could bring up reinforcements, they had given way in disorder and were in full flight. The collapse of a bridge of boats over the Scheldt completed the disaster, and, at a cost to the victors of barely 500 men, the whole Dutch division of 12,000 strong was annihilated and Eugene’s position forced. The first fruits of Villars’ victory were the destruction of the Allied lines between the Scheldt and the Scarpe (July 25 and 26), the capture of the great magazine at Marchiennes (July 80), and the investment of Douay (July 81). Eugene had to raise the siege of Landrecies (July 29), to retire over the Scheldt at Toumay and to watch in inactivity the reduction (September 8) of Douay. Before the close of the campaign Quesnoy (October 8) and Bouchain (October 19) also passed into the hands of the French, and the year 1712 thus ended with the successes of the Allies checked and the prestige of French arms some­what restored. Eugene, if perhaps ill-advised in investing Landrecies, was little to blame for the disastrous turn affairs had taken; he had been ill-served by his allies, for the Dutch made a poor resistance at Denain, and the value of the English alliance was never more apparent than in the hour when it was withdrawn.

The change of affairs in the field naturally affected the course of the negotiations at Utrecht. The Dutch were already weary of the war, and intent upon ending it if satisfied as to their “Barrier.” The conclusion of a peace was further advanced, when Louis induced his grandson to abandon formally his claims on France, which had recently acquired increased importance through the deaths of the Dauphin (April, 1711) and of the Dukes of Burgundy (February, 1712) and Britanny (March, 1712). With this renunciation Bolingbroke (St John) also had to be content; though he would probably have preferred to see Victor Amadeus at Madrid. But Philip’s hold on Spain was too secure to be shaken; and, in August, 1712, a suspension of hostilities in the Peninsula was arranged, though it was not till the following autumn that Starhemberg and his men finally evacuated Catalonia. Long before this the Peace of Utrecht had been signed. The patent divisions in the Allied camp, the knowledge that the English Ministry had made up their minds to conclude peace, and the improvement in his position wrought by Villars’ success, allowed Louis to assume a stiffer attitude and to reduce the concessions he had to make; and, though the Emperor—Charles had been duly elected in October, 1711—was somewhat unreasonable in refusing to give up his claims on Spain and to content himself with the ample possessions offered him in Italy, it is easier to sympathise with his obstinacy than to condemn it. Finally, on April 11, 1713, the Peace (which is analysed elsewhere) was signed without the Emperor’s assent.

On the conclusion of the Peace Eugene removed the Austrian forces, 67 squadrons of cavalry and 14 battalions of infantry, from the Netherlands to the upper Rhine to cooperate with the army of the Empire, which he found very much below its proper strength. Almost the only contingents present were those of the “Associated Circles”—six in number—for, now that the subsidies of the Maritime Powers had ceased, the “Armed Members” were very backward. The great parade of zeal made by Prussia and other States was hardly borne out by their actual performances; instead of providing 9000 men over and above the 8000 promised by the “Crown Treaty,” Prussia only sent 5000, who refused to proceed beyond Cologne; and she also claimed that the garrisons she had placed in Gelders and other newly acquired lands should count as acquitting part of her obligation. Similarly Hesse- Cassel and Mecklenburg would only allow their contingents to cover Mainz, while other States professed themselves willing to send men but unable to stir without funds. In vain Eugene pledged his personal credit: the army of the Empire, on paper 120,000 men, had only reached 25,000in May, and never exceeded 40,000. Nor was the Austrian army in much better plight: Starhemberg’s corps from Spain was not yet available; Hungary and the Italian lands held by Austria absorbed large garrisons; and, though the German provinces contributed readily enough, scarcely any financial assistance was forthcoming from Hungary, so that the Emperor’s treasury was in its usual condition of vacuity. Thus it was that, with an army of only 115 squadrons and 85 battalions, Eugene was powerless against the 300 squadrons and 240 battalions of Villars.

In June French detachments pushed over the Rhine, occupying Speier and Mannheim, and so covering the siege of Landau, which Villars began on June 24. It proved a protracted affair; for, despite Eugene’s inaction, the fortress held out till August 26 before surrendering. Villars then crossed the river at Strassburg, stormed the lines constructed to cover the Freiburg Pass over the Black Forest (September 20), and, pressing hard on the heels of the fugitives, invested the town. Again Eugene, too weak to risk a battle, had to be a passive spectator of a gallant but unavailing defence. Freiburg resisted till well into October; the castle held out till November 17. To blame Eugene for his inactivity would be absurd; like Wellington on the Portuguese frontier in 1810, he could not risk a fight because for political reasons he could not afford to be beaten; and the slackness of the German Princes, which left him in so hopeless a numerical inferiority, condemned him without appeal to the defensive.

But it was not on Austria only that the strain of war was telling; France was equally in need of a rest, and it was actually from Louis XIV that the next overtures for peace came. This time Eugene managed to wring from Charles VI permission to negotiate; and, thanks to the good offices of the Elector Palatine, a conference was ultimately opened at Rastatt on November 26 between Eugene and his old opponent, Villars. The negotiations were long and complicated, the chief obstacles to peace being the questions of the fortifications on the Rhine, of the treatment of the Emperor’s faithful Catalan partisans, and of the reinstatement of the two Wittelsbach Electors, on which Louis insisted, although Maximilian Emanuel of Bavaria seems to have been not disinclined to accept the Spanish Netherlands in lieu of his hereditary possessions. However, the Dutch would not hear of having an adherent of Prance on their frontier, and in the end his restoration to Bavaria was agreed upon, while Charles had reluctantly to:abandon Catalonia to the tender mercies of Philip. On the Rhine, Louis kept Landau and Strassburg, but gave up Alt-Breisach, Freiburg, and Kehl. And so at last an agreement was reached, and on March 7, 1714, the plenipotentiaries signed the Peace of Rastatt, the provisions of which will be detailed below. One step yet remained before peace could be completely restored, the ratification of its terms by the Diet of the Empire—a more or less formal step which was finally taken at Baden in October, 1714.

Rastatt and Baden.—Marlborough as a general, [1714

In the War which thus, after many vicissitudes, at last came to an end there is one figure which certainly stands out preeminent. Marlborough had been the bond which had held the Grand Alliance together; and, if England can with some justice claim to have had the chief share in the defeat of Louis, it is on her great general’s account. His army had, as a rule, contained but a modest contingent of Englishmen, averaging about 20,000 and at times rising to 25,000, though they had shown themselves by no means the least efficient portion of his motley host, and had distinguished themselves repeatedly. But the personal part of Marlborough in the long roll of successes had been a contribution of even greater value towards the revival of the prestige of the British arms. Eugene’s repu­tation, happily for his memory, is unstained by the faults which tarnish Marlborough’s glory; but it is no disparagement to Eugene’s admittedly great merits to point out that Marlborough never suffered a Denain or a Freiburg, and that both in the originality and width of his strategic conceptions, as well as in tactical adroitness and resource, the English­man surpassed even his accomplished and experienced colleague. His handling of all three arms showed how well he had grasped their possibilities, and seen how combination of all three would increase the efficiency of each. His use of his artillery was masterly; at Maiplaquet in particular it was manoeuvred to support both infantry and cavalry in a most daring manner, while the great successes which the British cavalry achieved in so many decisive charges were due to his urgent insistence on the importance of shock-tactics, whereas the French horse, adhering to the vicious system of the seventeenth century, relied not on momentum but on firing from the saddle. But, when the difficulties under which Marlborough had to plan and carry out his campaigns are remembered, the need for accommodating his plans to the interference of ignorant and timid Dutch deputies, and to the selfishness and obstinacy of petty German Princes, his strategic achievements appear even more meritorious. Again and again he showed his capacity for rising above the limitations which fettered his contemporaries; his plans were laid to secure positive results, to gain victories, and not merely to avoid defeats. Where a Lewis of Baden spent weeks and months in the construction of the most elaborate fortified lines, looking upon them as the most important thing in war, Marlborough never let such erections detain or check him, and illustrated on many occasions the maxim that a vigorous offensive is often the soundest defence. Had he been so fortunate as to have secured a free hand from the beginning, the War might have been brought to a conclusion years before the overthrow of the Whigs left Marlborough at the mercy of his domestic enemies and prevented him from carrying to a successful conclusion his marvellous series of campaigns.