Battle of Bitonto

Last updated
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.

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.

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 7 May 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.

The Habsburg Viceroy, Guido Visconti, first fled to Bari in Apulia before the advancing Spanish, and then fled by ship on 21 May 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 24 May 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.

Battle

When the Spanish arrived on the scene at daybreak on 25 May, 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.

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.

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 30 November, 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.

Related Research Articles

War of the Polish Succession War in Europe 1734–1738

The War of the Polish Succession was a major European conflict sparked by a Polish civil war over the succession to Augustus II of Poland, which the other European powers widened in pursuit of their own national interests. France and Spain, the two Bourbon powers, attempted to test the power of the Austrian Habsburgs in western Europe, as did the Kingdom of Prussia, whilst Saxony and Russia mobilized to support the eventual Polish victor. The fighting in Poland resulted in the accession of Augustus III, who in addition to Russia and Saxony, was politically supported by the Habsburgs.

War of the Austrian Succession Dynastic war in Austria

The War of the Austrian Succession was a war that involved most of the great powers and lesser powers of Europe over the issue of Maria Theresa's succession to the Habsburg Monarchy. The war included peripheral events such as King George's War in British America, the War of Jenkins' Ear, the First Carnatic War in India, the Jacobite rising of 1745 in Scotland, and the First and Second Silesian Wars.

Charles III of Spain King of Spain

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.

Kingdom of Naples Former state in Italy

The Kingdom of Naples, officially known as the Kingdom of Sicily, comprised that part of the Italian Peninsula south of the Papal States between 1282 and 1816. It was established by 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 also called the Kingdom of Sicily. For much of its existence, the realm was contested between French and Spanish dynasties. In 1816, it reunified with the island of Sicily to form the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Battle of Pavia 1525 battle during the Italian War of 1521–1526

The Battle of Pavia, fought on the morning of 24 February 1525, was the decisive engagement of the Italian War of 1521–26 between the Kingdom of France and the Habsburg empire of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor as well as ruler of Spain, Austria, the Low Countries, and the Two Sicilies.

Neapolitan War conflict

The Neapolitan War was a conflict between the Napoleonic Kingdom of Naples and the Austrian Empire. It started on 15 March 1815 when King Joachim Murat declared war on Austria and ended on 20 May 1815 with the signing of the Treaty of Casalanza. The war occurred during the Hundred Days between Napoleon's return from exile and before he left Paris to be decisively defeated at the Battle of Waterloo. The war was triggered by a pro-Napoleon uprising in Naples, and ended with a decisive Austrian victory at the Battle of Tolentino after which Bourbon monarch Ferdinand IV was reinstated as King of Naples and Sicily. However, the intervention by Austria caused resentment in Italy, which further spurred on the drive towards Italian unification.

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.

Maria Sophie of Bavaria Queen consort of the Two Sicilies

Maria Sophie Amalie, Duchess in Bavaria was the last Queen consort of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. She was one of the ten children of Maximilian Joseph, Duke in Bavaria and Princess Ludovika of Bavaria. She was born as Duchess Maria Sophia in Bavaria. She was the younger sister of the better-known Elisabeth of Bavaria ("Sisi") who married Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria.

Battle of Villaviciosa battle

The Battle of Villaviciosa was a battle between a Franco-Spanish army led by Louis Joseph, Duke of Vendôme and Philip V of Spain and a Habsburg-allied army commanded by Austrian Guido Starhemberg. The battle took place during the War of the Spanish Succession, one day after a Franco-Spanish victory at Brihuega against the British army under James Stanhope. Both Philip V of Spain and the Archduke Charles of Austria claimed victory, but the number of dead and wounded, the number of artillery and other weapons abandoned by the Allied army and the battle's strategic consequences for the war confirmed victory for Philip.

Siege of Gaeta (1734) siege

The Siege of Gaeta was a siege during the War of Polish Succession fought at Gaeta, Italy. The Habsburgs at Gaeta withstood four months of siege from the Bourbon armies under the Duke of Parma.

José Carrillo de Albornoz, 1st Duke of Montemar Spanish nobleman and military leader

José Carrillo de Albornoz y Montiel, 1st Duke of Montemar, 3rd Count of Montemar was a Spanish nobleman and military leader, who conquered the Two Sicilies, Oran and Mazalquivir. He was a member of the Carrillo family, a Spanish noble house, and was Viceroy of Sicily from 1734 to 1737.

Norman conquest of southern Italy Historical event in the European Middle Ages

The Norman conquest of southern Italy lasted from 999 to 1139, involving many battles and independent conquerors. In 1130 these territories in southern Italy united as the Kingdom of Sicily, which included the island of Sicily, the southern third of the Italian Peninsula, the archipelago of Malta and parts of North Africa.

The Treaty of Casalanza, which ended the Neapolitan War, was signed on 20 May 1815 between the pro-Napoleon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies on the one hand and the Austrian Empire, as well as the United Kingdom, on the other. The signature occurred in a patrician villa, owned by the Lanza family, in what is now the commune of Pastorano, Campania, southern Italy

Siege of Gaeta (1806)

The Siege of Gaeta saw the fortress city of Gaeta and its Neapolitan garrison under Louis of Hesse-Philippsthal besieged by an Imperial French corps led by André Masséna. After a prolonged defense in which Hesse was badly wounded, Gaeta surrendered and its garrison was granted generous terms by Masséna.

Battle of Castiglione (1706) Battle of 1706 during the War of Spanish Succession

The Battle of Castiglione took place near Castiglione delle Stiviere in Lombardy, Italy on 8 September 1706 during the War of the Spanish Succession. A French army of 12,000 attacked a Hessian corps of 10,000 that was besieging the town, forcing them to retreat with heavy losses.

The Siege of Capua was the last major military action of the War of the Polish Succession in the Kingdom of Naples. Austrian forces of the Habsburg Monarchy, under the command of the Austrian Marshal Otto Ferdinand von Abensberg und Traun, withstood for seven months a blockade begun in April 1734 by Spanish and French forces under Count Marsillac. General Traun surrendered the fortress of Capua in November 1734 with full honors of war, primarily because of exhausted provisions and ammunition, but also because it was clear no relief was coming to the isolated garrison.

Spanish conquest of Sardinia

The Spanish conquest of Sardinia, also known as the Spanish expedition to Sardinia, took place between the months of August and November 1717. It was the first military action between the Kingdom of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire after the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714), and was the direct cause of the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718–1720). The Spanish troops commanded by the Marquis of Lede and Don José Carrillo de Albornoz, 1st Duke of Montemar, supported by the Spanish fleet, defeated the Emperor's troops easily, and conquered the entire island of Sardinia, which had been ruled by the Emperor since the Treaty of Rastatt (1714), returning it again and for the final time to Spain.

Invasion of Naples (1806)

The Invasion of Naples in January 1806 saw a French army led by Marshal André Masséna march from northern Italy into the Kingdom of Naples which was ruled by King Ferdinand IV. The Neapolitan army was vanquished at Campo Tenese and rapidly disintegrated. The invasion was eventually successful despite some setbacks, including the prolonged Siege of Gaeta, the British victory at Maida, and a stubborn guerrilla war by the peasantry against the French. Total success eluded the French because Ferdinand withdrew to his domain in Sicily where he was protected by the Royal Navy and a British Army garrison. In 1806 Emperor Napoleon appointed his brother Joseph Bonaparte to rule over southern Italy as king.

References