Catalogue


Battle for Europe : how the Duke of Marlborough masterminded the defeat of France at Blenheim./
Charles Spencer.
imprint
Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley, 2004.
description
365 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps, ports.; 25 cm.
ISBN
047171996X (cloth)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley, 2004.
isbn
047171996X (cloth)
catalogue key
5404140
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 349-351) and index.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Galaxy British Book Awards, GBR, 2005 : Nominated
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Plunder, murder, destroy-and if it be possible to commit yet greater cruelties, be not negligent," ordered one of Louis XIV's generals. Another boasted of atrocities his soldiers committed against Dutch civilians: "We lit the town and grilled all the Hollanders in it." Louis XIV had created the largest army Europe had seen since Roman times, and he encouraged his marshals to fight with Roman ruthlessness. For forty years, it was unstoppable-no army and no alliance could stand against the Sun King's soldiers. Then, on August 14, 1704, amidst the pomp and splendor of a court celebration honoring his military conquests, Louis received word that the unthinkable had occurred: his "invincible" army not only had suffered its first defeat in two generations, but had been utterly routed. An entire army of 60,000 men had disappeared and its commander had been taken prisoner by the English. The Battle of Blenheim changed the course of history. Louis's hitherto unbeaten army was destroyed in a day, never to recover. And just as astonishing to contemporary observers was that the British, seemingly overnight, had become a power in Europe for the first time since Henry V beat the French at Agincourt. In Battle for Europe, Charles Spencer recounts how, under the command of the military genius John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, the British army was transformed from an unruly, ragtag collection of misfits and social outcasts into a highly disciplined fighting force. British soldiers made up only a fifth of the victorious allied army at Blenheim, but their contribution was decisive. In the wake of Blenheim, the greatest land victory won under an English commander on foreign soil since 1415, the British took their first faltering steps toward empire. Spencer reveals how Marlborough, aided by his friend and ally Prince Eug+ne of Savoy, brought about this incredible victory despite crushing personal and political pressures. Marlborough's sixteen-year-old son had recently died in his arms; his beloved wife was on the verge of madness; and both parties in Parliament were plotting his impeachment. With his friends and allies urging caution, the Duke gambled everything on a single day of battle. In his remarkable debut as a popular historian, Charles Spencer breathes life into the women and men behind the mannered portraits of the era. From Louis XIV's grisly experience at the hands of his dentists to the violent fury of the battlefield, Battle for Europe is a compelling chronicle of an age and an enthralling story of courage under fire.
Flap Copy
"Plunder, murder, destroy--and if it be possible to commit yet greater cruelties, be not negligent," ordered one of Louis XIV's generals. Another boasted of atrocities his soldiers committed against Dutch civilians: "We lit the town and grilled all the Hollanders in it." Louis XIV had created the largest army Europe had seen since Roman times, and he encouraged his marshals to fight with Roman ruthlessness. For forty years, it was unstoppable--no army and no alliance could stand against the Sun King's soldiers. Then, on August 14, 1704, amidst the pomp and splendor of a court celebration honoring his military conquests, Louis received word that the unthinkable had occurred: his "invincible" army not only had suffered its first defeat in two generations, but had been utterly routed. An entire army of 60,000 men had disappeared and its commander had been taken prisoner by the English. The Battle of Blenheim changed the course of history. Louis's hitherto unbeaten army was destroyed in a day, never to recover. And just as astonishing to contemporary observers was that the British, seemingly overnight, had become a power in Europe for the first time since Henry V beat the French at Agincourt. In Battle for Europe, Charles Spencer recounts how, under the command of the military genius John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, the British army was transformed from an unruly, ragtag collection of misfits and social outcasts into a highly disciplined fighting force. British soldiers made up only a fifth of the victorious allied army at Blenheim, but their contribution was decisive. In the wake of Blenheim, the greatest land victory won under an English commander on foreign soil since 1415, the British took their first faltering steps toward empire. Spencer reveals how Marlborough, aided by his friend and ally Prince Eugene of Savoy, brought about this incredible victory despite crushing personal and political pressures. Marlborough's sixteen-year-old son had recently died in his arms; his beloved wife was on the verge of madness; and both parties in Parliament were plotting his impeachment. With his friends and allies urging caution, the Duke gambled everything on a single day of battle. In his remarkable debut as a popular historian, Charles Spencer breathes life into the women and men behind the mannered portraits of the era. From Louis XIV's grisly experience at the hands of his dentists to the violent fury of the battlefield, Battle for Europe is a compelling chronicle of an age and an enthralling story of courage under fire.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2006-02-01:
Spencer (brother of Princess Diana and a descendant of the Duke of Marlborough) has written an engaging popular history of the 1704 campaign and battle of Blenheim, where allied victory effectively ended Louis XIV's ambitions for European hegemony. The narrative is filled out with background on the wars and major figures of the period 1688-1711, as well as with sections on the nature of early-18th-century warfare including not just strategy and tactics, but logistics and field medicine. Spencer's most original contributions stem from his mining of the Marlborough private papers in Blenheim Palace. Still, this remains a popular history, synthesizing but not significantly adding to specialists' understanding of the period's warfare, and suffering from two notable flaws. The more forgivable is a highly partisan tone (the book may not go over well in France), though this never slips into distortion. The second is that the three maps--one of Europe in 1704 and two tactical maps of Schellenberg and Blenheim--are utterly inadequate. It is impossible to follow the campaign narrative on the maps, and the battle maps could have numbered four or five instead of one, and been interspersed in the text rather than clumped up front. This is a mystifying flaw in a work of popular military history. ^BSumming Up: Optional. Public libraries. S. Morillo Wabash College
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Wondrously enthralling." ( The TImes (London))
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, February 2006
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Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
In 1704, the French armies were poised to extend the French frontiers to the Rhine and install a French prince on the Spanish throne. But as French forces marched towards Vienna, allied armies set out to oppose them. The two forces clashed at Blenheim, in Bavaria. This narrative brings the battle to life.
Main Description
A compelling history of the bloody battle that ended Louis XIV's dream of European domination and changed the course of history "Had it not been for Blenheim, all Europe might at this day suffer under the effect of French conquests resembling those of Alexander in extent and those of the Romans in durability." -Sir Edward Creasy, The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World In 1704, the armies of the French king Louis XIV, undefeated for two generations, were poised to extend the French frontiers to the Rhine and install a French prince on the Spanish throne. But as French forces marched toward Vienna, allied armies under the command of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, and Prince Eug+ne of Savoy set out to oppose them. The two forces met at Blenheim, in Bavaria, and the French were utterly defeated, ending France's dream of European domination. Based on original sources, this page-turning narrative brings the battle to life, effortlessly moving from the deliberations of kings to the travails of the common foot soldier. "Thoughtful, interesting, and well-written. . . . Spencer recovers an approach and authorial voice associated with Winston Churchill, whom indeed he quotes effectively and appropriately. . . . From the excellent scene-setting of the Prologue to the effective battle descriptions, which ably draw on the memoirs of the participants, Charles Spencer successfully combines narrative with analysis." -The Sunday Telegraph "A remarkable debut . . . not to be missed." -Evening Standard "Charles Spencer explores the decisive battle of Blenheim, the campaign that broke Louis XIV's domination of Europe and established the enduring reputation of the British redcoat . . . in this compelling, page-turning narrative . . . of a battle that changed the destiny of Europe." -Soldier
Main Description
A compelling history of the bloody battle that ended Louis XIV's dream of European domination and changed the course of history "Had it not been for Blenheim, all Europe might at this day suffer under the effect of French conquests resembling those of Alexander in extent and those of the Romans in durability." -Sir Edward Creasy, The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World In 1704, the armies of the French king Louis XIV, undefeated for two generations, were poised to extend the French frontiers to the Rhine and install a French prince on the Spanish throne. But as French forces marched toward Vienna, allied armies under the command of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, and Prince Eugene of Savoy set out to oppose them. The two forces met at Blenheim, in Bavaria, and the French were utterly defeated, ending France's dream of European domination. Based on original sources, this page-turning narrative brings the battle to life, effortlessly moving from the deliberations of kings to the travails of the common foot soldier. "Thoughtful, interesting, and well-written. . . . Spencer recovers an approach and authorial voice associated with Winston Churchill, whom indeed he quotes effectively and appropriately. . . . From the excellent scene-setting of the Prologue to the effective battle descriptions, which ably draw on the memoirs of the participants, Charles Spencer successfully combines narrative with analysis." -The Sunday Telegraph "A remarkable debut . . . not to be missed." -Evening Standard "Charles Spencer explores the decisive battle of Blenheim, the campaign that broke Louis XIV's domination of Europe and established the enduring reputation of the British redcoat . . . in this compelling, page-turning narrative . . . of a battle that changed the destiny of Europe." -Soldier
Table of Contents
List of Maps
Preface
Prologue
Louis's Europe
A Rod for His Own Back
An Island No More
John Churchill
France Feels the Strain
The Spanish Succession
The War
Taking Sides
The War in Flanders
Friends Like These
Closing In
The Campaign
Cutting the Gordian Knot
Eleven
Twelve
Thirteen
Fourteen
Fifteen
Sixteen
The Battle
Battle Joined
Blenheim Village
General Engagement
Cavalry Charge
Victory
'Que dira le roi?'
Vindication
Lessons Learned
The Aftermath
Sources
Appendices
The Senior Officers of the Army of the Grand Alliance at Blenheim
British and Irish Regiments who Fought at Blenheim
The Regiments Brought into Bavaria by Marshal Tallard
Bibliography
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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