Battle of Bitonto

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Battle of Bitonto
Part of the War of the Polish Succession
Battle of Bitonto by Giovanni Luigi Rocco.jpg
The Battle of Bitonto by Giovanni Luigi Rocco
Date25 May 1734
Location
near Bitonto, Kingdom of Naples (present-day southern Italy)

Coordinates: 41°07′N16°41′E / 41.117°N 16.683°E / 41.117; 16.683
Result Decisive Spanish victory
Belligerents
Bandera de Espana 1701-1748.svg  Spain Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Austria
Commanders and leaders
Bandera de Espana 1701-1748.svg Duke of Montemar Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Giuseppe Antonio, Prince of Belmonte
Strength
14,000 infantry and cavalry 8,000 infantry
2,500 cavalry
Casualties and losses
99 dead
196 wounded
1,000 dead
1,000 wounded
2,500 captured

The Battle of Bitonto (25 May 1734) was a Spanish victory over Austrian forces near Bitonto in the Kingdom of Naples (in southern Italy) in the War of Polish Succession. The battle ended organized Austrian resistance outside a small number of fortresses in the kingdom.

Bitonto Comune in Apulia, Italy

Bitonto is a city and comune in the Metropolitan City of Bari, Italy. It lies to the west of Bari. It is nicknamed the "City of Olives," due to the numerous olive groves surrounding the city.

Kingdom of Naples former state in Italy

The Kingdom of Naples comprised that part of the Italian Peninsula south of the Papal States between 1282 and 1816. It was created as a result of the War of the Sicilian Vespers (1282–1302), when the island of Sicily revolted and was conquered by the Crown of Aragon, becoming a separate Kingdom of Sicily. Naples continued to be officially known as the Kingdom of Sicily, the name of the formerly unified kingdom. For much of its existence, the realm was contested between French and Spanish dynasties. In 1816, it was reunified with the island kingdom of Sicily once again to form the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Italian Alps and surrounded by several islands. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and traversed along its length by the Apennines, Italy has a largely temperate seasonal climate. The country covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and shares open land borders with France, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.

Contents

Prelude

King Philip V of Spain had always aimed to reconquer Naples and Sicily, which Spain lost to the Habsburgs as a consequence of the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1714 he married Elisabeth Farnese, who had dynastic interests in Italy. Under her influence he had attempted without success to recover the Italian holdings in the War of the Quadruple Alliance. When the War of the Polish Succession broke out in 1733, he saw an opportunity to act against the Habsburgs, who had no military support among western European powers (Great Britain and the Dutch Republic opting to remain neutral), with active opposition by France and Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia. In the fall of 1733 Spain and France signed the Treaty of the Escorial, the first of several Bourbon Family Compacts. The treaty pledged mutual protection and aid, and provided for the allies to work together for the conquest of Habsburg territories on the Italian peninsula.

Philip V of Spain 18th-century King of Spain

Philip V was King of Spain from 1 November 1700 to his abdication in favour of his son Louis on 14 January 1724, and from his reaccession of the throne upon his son's death on 6 September 1724 to his own death on 9 July 1746.

Habsburg Monarchy former Central European empire (1526–1804)

The Habsburg Monarchy, also Austrian Monarchy or Danube Monarchy, is an unofficial umbrella term among historians for the kingdoms and countries in personal union with the Habsburg Archduchy of Austria between 1526 and 1804, when it was succeeded by the Austrian Empire. The Monarchy was a composite state of territories within and outside the Holy Roman Empire, united only in the person of the monarch. The dynastic capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague. From 1804 to 1867 the Habsburg Monarchy was formally unified as the Austrian Empire, and from 1867 to 1918 as the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

War of the Spanish Succession 18th-century conflict in Europe

The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) was a European conflict of the early 18th century, triggered by the death of the childless Charles II of Spain in November 1700, eventually evolving into a global conflict due to overseas colonies and allies. His closest heirs were members of the Austrian Habsburg and French Bourbon families; acquisition of an undivided Spanish Empire by either threatened the European balance of power.

The Spanish fleet under Luis de Córdova y Córdova landed a Spanish army in Genoa, which joined forces with the troops of Charles of Parma, ruler of Parma in northern Italy and the eldest son of Philip and Elisabeth. From there, 21,000 men marched unopposed through the Papal States towards Naples, where Charles entered the city virtually uncontested, and proclaimed himself king of the Two Sicilies on May 7, 1734. Austrian garrisons in the fortresses at Gaeta and Capua were blockaded by 6,000 men, and Montemar led 12,000 Spanish troops after the retreating Austrian viceroy.

Luis de Córdova y Córdova Spanish admiral

Admiral Luis de Córdova y Córdova, OCIII, KOC was a Spanish admiral. He is best known for his command of the Spanish fleet during the Anglo-Spanish War. His best remembered actions were the capture of two British convoys totalling 79 ships between 1780 and 1782, including the capture of 55 ships from a convoy composed of Indiamen, and other cargo ships 60 leagues off Cape St. Vincent. In 1782 he battled the Royal Navy to a stalemate at the Battle of Cape Spartel, but failed to prevent the British relieving the Great Siege of Gibraltar.

Genoa Comune in Liguria, Italy

Genoa is the capital of the Italian region of Liguria and the sixth-largest city in Italy. In 2015, 594,733 people lived within the city's administrative limits. As of the 2011 Italian census, the Province of Genoa, which in 2015 became the Metropolitan City of Genoa, counted 855,834 resident persons. Over 1.5 million people live in the wider metropolitan area stretching along the Italian Riviera.

Charles III of Spain King of Spain and the Spanish Indies from 1759 to 1788

Charles III was King of Spain (1759–1788), after ruling Naples as Charles VII and Sicily as Charles V (1734–1759). He was the fifth son of Philip V of Spain, and the eldest son of Philip's second wife, Elisabeth Farnese. A proponent of enlightened absolutism, he succeeded to the Spanish throne on 10 August 1759, upon the death of his half-brother Ferdinand VI, who left no heirs.

The Habsburg Viceroy, Guido Visconti, first fled to Bari in Apulia before the advancing Spanish, and then fled by ship on May 21 with one of his generals, leaving Giuseppe Antonio, Prince of Belmonte in command of the Austrian forces. The retreating Austrians were reinforced by troops that arrived from the island of Sicily, and a shipload of recruits that arrived at Taranto. Belmonte, aware that the Spanish were likely to get reinforcements from their fleet, moved to Bitonto on May 24 to force an action with Montemar before that army grew even larger. Placing inexperienced troops in the town itself, he adapted low walls and two monasteries as a defensive line and awaited the Spanish. Montemar was, according to reports Belmonte received later, reinforced by 3,000 men, raising his troop count to about 14,000 experienced and well-equipped troops.

Bari Comune in Apulia, Italy

Bari is the capital city of the Metropolitan City of Bari and of the Apulia region, on the Adriatic Sea, in southern Italy. It is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples and Palermo, a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas. The city itself has a population of 326,799, as of 2015, over 116 square kilometres (45 sq mi), while the urban area has 750,000 inhabitants. The metropolitan area has 1.3 million inhabitants.

Apulia Region of Italy

Apulia is a region in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea to the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Otranto and Gulf of Taranto to the south. The region comprises 19,345 square kilometers (7,469 sq mi), and its population is about four million.

Prince of Belmonte

Prince of Belmonte is a noble title created in 1619 by the Spanish crown for the Barons of Badolato and Belmonte. The name of the title is taken from the fortress town of Belmonte in Calabria, historically important for the defence of the Italian coast from Saracen invasion. Belmonte has been known since the Risorgimento as Belmonte Calabro.

Battle

When the Spanish arrived on the scene at daybreak on May 25, Montemar lined his troops up to face the Austrians, infantry facing infantry, cavalry facing cavalry; as the Spanish cavalry significantly outnumbered the Austrian, some of them were held in reserve on the right flank. After a few feints in which the Spanish attempted to draw the Austrians out of their defenses, the attack commenced. Around 10 am the Austrian cavalry finally gave way, with most of it beginning a disorganized retreat toward Bari, followed shortly after by Belmonte. The rest of the Austrian collapsed, with some companies following the cavalry and others trying to escape to the north and into Bitonto. Defenders in the two monasteries held their ground, and those defenses were taken by storm. The garrison in the city surrendered the next day, owing to a shortage of ammunition and provisions.

Feint is a French term that entered English via the discipline of swordsmanship and fencing. Feints are maneuvers designed to distract or mislead, done by giving the impression that a certain maneuver will take place, while in fact another, or even none, will. In military tactics and many types of combat, there are two types of feints: feint attacks and feint retreats.

Aftermath

Commemorative obelisk erected on the battlefield Obcarolino.png
Commemorative obelisk erected on the battlefield

Belmonte attempted to reorganize the remaining forces at Bari, but opposition from the local population, which was mobilizing in favor of the Spanish, made this virtually impossible. He ended up surrendering 3,800 men to the local authorities. Several hundred troops that escaped the battle to the north managed to reach Pescara, which had not yet been taken by the Spanish.

Pescara Comune in Abruzzo, Italy

Pescara is the capital city of the Province of Pescara, in the Abruzzo region of Italy. It is the most populated city in Abruzzo, with 119,217 (2018) residents. Located on the Adriatic coast at the mouth of the Aterno-Pescara River, the present-day municipality was formed in 1927 joining the municipalities of the old Pescara fortress, the part of the city to the south of the river, and Castellamare Adriatico, the part of the city to the north of the river. The surrounding area was formed into the province of Pescara.

Other cities in the kingdom recognized Spanish rule, with only two Austrian-held fortresses continuing resistance until autumn. Gaeta, blockaded early in the conflict, was placed under siege and held out until August. Traun defended Capua until November 30; when he finally surrendered, his garrison marched out with full honours of war.

The return of the Two Sicilies to Spain was confirmed by the Treaty of Vienna in 1738, which ended the war. Charles named Montemar Duke of Bitonto and commissioned Giovanni Antonio Medrano to erect an obelisk on the battlefield to commemorate the battle.

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References