woensdag 17 maart 2010


The "Decisive" Battle of Ramillies, 1706: Prerequisites for Decisiveness in Early Modern Warfare by Jamel Ostwald, The Journal of Military History, Vol. 64, No. 3 (Jul., 2000), pp. 649-677, Published by: Society for Military History

The English-speaking world's understanding of the War of the Spanish Succession has progressed little since the days of Winston Churchill. Minor changes have been made to the campaign narratives, but the underlying assumptions persist: the same partisan biographical format, the same narrow reliance on British sources, the same faith in battle's potential for decisiveness. Confronted with the reality of Marlborough's dismissal at the end of 1711, supporters must fall back on a litany of excuses in order to maintain their belief that battle could have won the war.

The laudatory literature forgets, however, that both sides had to willingly accept battle for it to occur, that Dutch contributions to the war effort far outweigh the minor squabbles they engaged in over military strategy, and that even when Marlborough fought his battles, the results were usually indecisive. The campaign of 1706 may have been Marlborough's most successful, but it also reinforced the limitations which even a general of his caliber could not overcome. The early battle led to the temporary elimination of the French field army. But the only towns that surrendered were those whose fortifications were in a state of disrepair or whose inhabitants actively opposed French rule.

Mirroring the 1704 campaign in Germany and the 1707 campaign in Spain,118 the 1706 Allied advance in Flanders after a successful battle stalled when they encountered adequately prepared fortresses which refused to submit. Ramillies did not eliminate the need for sieges in areas where sieges could otherwise be expected, and Marlborough was forced to embrace the strategy his supporters so detest.

A reexamination of Marlborough's campaigns reaffirms that the desire for battle and pursuit was not enough; battle could be decisive only in theaters which met the prereq- uisites of a willing opponent and indefensible towns. Placing Marlbor- ough's battles back into their operational context highlights the significant limitations a battle-seeking strategy faced in early modern Europe.

118. After the successful battle of Almansa in 1707, the Duke of Berwick's advance quickly stalled in Catalonia, while two lengthy sieges were required to recover Valencia.

6 opmerkingen:

  1. Mooi gezegd door Ostwald! Nu ik meer en meer bezig ben met de Spaanse Successieoorlog, hoe meer ik constateer dat de Engelse bijdrage toch wat gerelativeerd mag worden en gunste van de Nederlandse bijdrage aan het geheel. (Net of Blenheim werd gewonnen door Engelsen alleen, met behulp van wat onwillige Nederlanders en Duitsers...) Maar ook toen al leken sommige Engelse politici Europa een beetje 'eng' te vinden, en vooral iets om je vooral niet teveel mee te bemoeien.

  2. En dit is nog het vriendelijke gedeelte van het artikel! Erg leuk blad dat Journal overigens. Je komt er in via Jstor en daar zitten nog wel meer leuke dingen bij.

    Een italiaanse historicus heeft nog op dit artikel gereageerd en Ostwald reageerde daar ook weer op, ik zal dat zsm gaan posten. Ostwald is overigens UHD (dat heet daar dan 'assistent professor') in Ohio en is nu bezig met een dissertatie over belegeringen.

  3. Misschien al bekend, maar Ostwald heeft een aardige website: http://www.jostwald.com/
    Niet alles lijkt even regelmatig bijgewerkt te worden, maar ik vond er een leuke site naar historische kaarten: http://www.historyonmaps.com/Main.html

    Voor mijn project ben ik wat op zoek naar kaarten, en dat lijkt wel iets. Suggesties zijn natuurlijk welkom.

  4. - de KB?
    - Digitales Archiv Marburg?
    - De RUG heeft wat kaarten van Nederland/buitenland (op de site van de UB)
    - deze site:

  5. Ah, ik bedoelde niet zozeer oude kaarten, maar meer moderne kaarten van oude tijden.

  6. There are alternative voices in the English-speaking world of literature, but they are both irritating and annoying to much of their audiences. Some revisionist history is a welcome breath of fresh air and some goes too far, and it is up to us to think about why we draw a line where we do. That being said, I reluctantly mention two professors who emerged in 1975-76 who do present such revisionism appropriate to the period covered in rampjaar. Personally I partly agree and am partly annoyed by them both, in some ways. Stephen Saunders Webb is closer to the topic of the worship of the Duke of Marlborough, but both apply overall to rampjaar's epoch. Jennings' racism is more annoying, between the two.

    Steven Saunders Webb, Lord Churchill's Coup: the Anglo-American Empire and the Glorious Revolution Reconsidered, 1995
    Also, 1676: The End of American Independence
    Early: 1976, The Governors-General

    Francis Jennings, the Covenant Chain trilogy:

    1975-The Invasion of America
    1984-The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire
    1988-Empire of Fortune


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