Battle of Landen

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Battle of Landen
Part of the Nine Years' War
Schlacht bei Neerwinden (1693).jpg
Map of the battle. The Allied armies are in red
Date29 July 1693
Location Neerwinden, present-day Belgium
Result French victory
Belligerents
Royal Standard of the King of France.svg  France Flag of England.svg  England
Flag of Scotland (traditional).svg  Scotland
Statenvlag.svg  Dutch Republic
Commanders and leaders
Royal Standard of the King of France.svg Duc de Luxembourg William III of England and II of Scotland
Strength
66,000 [1] 50,000 [1]
Casualties and losses
9,000 - 15,000
killed, wounded, missing or captured
12,000 - 19,000
killed, wounded, missing or captured
La Hogue, May 1692; defeat ended French hopes of a decisive blow against England. The Battle of La Hogue, 23 May 1692.png
La Hogue, May 1692; defeat ended French hopes of a decisive blow against England.

The Battle of Landen or Neerwinden was fought in present-day Belgium on 29 July 1693 during the Nine Years' War. A French army under Marshal Luxembourg assaulted positions held by William III's Allied army three times before driving them from the field. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and the French were unable to follow up their victory, allowing William to escape.

Belgium Federal constitutional monarchy in Western Europe

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,688 square kilometres (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège.

Nine Years War major war (1688–97) between King Louis XIV of France, and a European-wide "Grand Alliance"

The Nine Years' War (1688–97)—often called the War of the Grand Alliance or the War of the League of Augsburg—was a conflict between Louis XIV of France and a European coalition of the Holy Roman Empire, the Dutch Republic, Spain, England and Savoy. It was fought in Europe and the surrounding seas, North America and in India. It is sometimes considered the first global war. The conflict encompassed the Williamite war in Ireland and Jacobite risings in Scotland, where William III and James II struggled for control of England and Ireland, and a campaign in colonial North America between French and English settlers and their respective Indigenous allies, today called King William's War by Americans.

François-Henri de Montmorency, duc de Luxembourg general

François Henri de Montmorency-Bouteville, Duke of Piney-Luxembourg, called Luxembourg, was a French general, marshal of France, famous as the comrade and successor of the great Condé.

Contents

Background

Since 1689, the French generally had the better of the war in Flanders, capturing several major cities in the Spanish Netherlands but without dealing a decisive blow. Dutch objectives were essentially defensive so this amounted to a strategic victory particularly after William's successful invasion of England in 1688. [2] In 1692, French success at Namur and Steinkirk were offset by defeat at the Battle of La Hogue that ended hopes of restoring James II.

Spanish Netherlands Historical region of the Low Countries (1581-1714)

Spanish Netherlands was the collective name of States of the Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries, held in personal union by the Spanish Crown from 1556 to 1714. This region comprised most of the modern states of Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as parts of northern France, southern Netherlands, and western Germany with the capital being Brussels.

William III of England 17th-century Stadtholder, Prince of Orange and King of England, Scotland and Ireland

William III, also widely known as William of Orange, was sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from 1672 and King of England, Ireland and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II. He is sometimes informally known in Northern Ireland and Scotland as "King Billy".

Siege of Namur (1692)

The Siege of Namur, 25 May–30 June 1692, was a major engagement of the Nine Years' War, and was part of the French grand plan to defeat the forces of the Grand Alliance and bring a swift conclusion to the war. Namur, sitting on the confluence of the Meuse and Sambre rivers, was a considerable fortress, and was a significant political and military asset. French forces, guided by Vauban, forced the town's surrender on 5 June, but the citadel, staunchly defended by Menno van Coehoorn, managed to hold on until 30 June before capitulating, bringing an end to the 36-day siege. Concerned that King William III planned to recapture the stronghold, King Louis XIV subsequently ordered his commander-in-chief, the duc de Luxembourg, to join battle with the Allies in the field, resulting in the bloody Battle of Steenkerque on 3 August.

The huge costs of the war meant France was facing economic crisis while harvest failures led to widespread famine in 1693 and 1694; Louis needed peace but took the offensive once more as a prelude to offering terms. After some debate, the main French offensive for 1693 focused on Germany as this provided the best chance of forcing Austria out of the war, with subsidiary efforts in Italy and Flanders to tie down the Allies. [3] In support of this objective, the French commander in Flanders Marshall Luxembourg began a series of marches in June 1693 designed to confuse William as to his main objective by simultaneously appearing to threaten the fortresses of Liège, Huy and Charleroi. [4]

Liège Municipality in French Community, Belgium

Liège is a major Walloon city and municipality and the capital of the Belgian province of Liège.

Huy Municipality in French Community, Belgium

Huy is a municipality of Belgium. It lies in the country's Walloon Region and Province of Liege. Huy lies along the river Meuse, at the mouth of the small river Hoyoux. It is in the sillon industriel, the former industrial backbone of Wallonia, home to about two-thirds of the Walloon population. The Huy municipality includes the sub-municipalities of Ben-Ahin, Neuville-sous-Huy, and Tihange.

Charleroi Municipality in French Community, Belgium

Charleroi is a city and a municipality of Wallonia, located in the province of Hainaut, Belgium. By January 1, 2008, the total population of Charleroi was 201,593. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 1,462 square kilometres (564 sq mi) with a total population of 522,522 by January 1, 2008, ranking it as the 5th most populous in Belgium after Brussels, Antwerp, Liège, and Ghent. The inhabitants are called Carolorégiens or simply Carolos.

The battle

To maximise his field army, Luxembourg removed garrisons from French-controlled Maritime Flanders including Dunkirk and Ypres and William sent 15,000 men under the Duke of Wurtemberg to attack their lines. On 18 July, Luxembourg detached Marshall Villeroy to besiege Huy which forced William to march to its relief. He was still en route when it surrendered on 23 July, so he halted and reinforced the vital fortress of Liege with an additional ten battalions, bringing the total garrison up to 17,000. [5] His remaining forces established a line running in a rough semicircle from Eliksem on the right to Landen or Neerlanden on the left; this allowed flexibility of response depending on Luxembourg's next move but left them with the Little Geete River only three kilometres to the rear. [3]

Westhoek (region)

Westhoek or Maritime Flanders is a region in Belgium and France and includes the following areas:

  1. Belgian Westhoek including the West Flanders arrondissements of Diksmuide, Ypres, and Veurne including the cities of Veurne, Poperinge, Wervik, Ypres, De Panne, Langemark-Poelkapelle, Diksmuide and Koekelare. However, the three Belgian coast municipalities of De Panne, Koksijde, and Nieuwpoort are frequently considered a separate region known as the Belgian or Flemish West Coast (Westkust).
  2. French Westhoek, roughly the arrondissement of Dunkirk, including the cities of Dunkirk, Gravelines, and Hazebrouck, itself part of a larger area known as French Flanders.
Dunkirk Subprefecture and commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Dunkirk is a commune in the Nord department in northern France. It lies 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from the Belgian border. The population of the city (commune) at the 2016 census was 91,412 inhabitants.

Ypres Municipality in Flemish Community, Belgium

Ypres is a Belgian municipality in the province of West Flanders. Though the Flemish Ieper is the official name, the city's French name Ypres is most commonly used in English. The municipality comprises the city of Ypres and the villages of Boezinge, Brielen, Dikkebus, Elverdinge, Hollebeke, Sint-Jan, Vlamertinge, Voormezele, Zillebeke, and Zuidschote. Together, they are home to about 34,900 inhabitants.

Duc de Luxembourg Le Tapissier de Notre-Dame Marshal luxembourg.jpg
Duc de Luxembourg Le Tapissier de Notre-Dame

These manoeuvrings meant Luxembourg had achieved a local numerical advantage over William of 66,000 to 50,000; [lower-alpha 1] on 28 July, he reversed his route and reached Landen in the evening after a forced march of 30 kilometres. William was aware of the French approach by mid-afternoon but decided to stand and fight rather than risk a river crossing at night. His situation was extremely dangerous; [lower-alpha 2] outnumbered, withdrawal restricted by the river behind his lines while the area enclosed by his troops was too shallow to allow reinforcements to be easily shifted from one flank to the other. William's right flank was key to the position as it protected the only line of retreat across the Geete; this section was anchored by the villages of Laar and Neerwinden and strongly held. In the centre, the open ground between Neerwinden and Neerlanden was solidly entrenched with the village of Rumsdorp as an advance post. The left rested on Landen brook and was the hardest to attack; as at Steinkirk the year before, this meant a large portion of the two armies i.e. those on the Allied left saw very little action.

Battle of Steenkerque battle

The Battle of Steenkerque was fought on 3 August 1692, as a part of the Nine Years' War. It resulted in the victory of the French under Marshal François-Henri de Montmorency, duc de Luxembourg against a joint English-Scottish-Dutch-German army under Prince William of Orange. The battle took place near the village of Steenkerque in the Southern Netherlands, 50 kilometres (31 mi) south-west of Brussels. Steenkerque is now part of the Belgian municipality of Braine-le-Comte.

Luxembourg concentrated his main assault force of 28,000 men on the Allied right with secondary attacks to 'pin' the Allied left and centre to prevent it being reinforced. The subsidiary attacks would be carried out by three lines of cavalry, supported by two lines of infantry and a further three lines of cavalry behind while a strong force of infantry and dragoons attacked Rumsdorp.

On 29 July, after a long cannonade 28 French battalions attacked along the line from Laar and Neerwinden; after fierce house to house fighting, they captured Laar and the 9 Allied battalions in Neerwinden were driven to the very edge of the village. The right flank was close to collapse but the diversionary attacks on the centre and left had not materialised, allowing the Allies to reinforce their right, counter-attack and expel the French from Laar and Neerwinden.

A second assault was repulsed but Luxembourg used the 7,000 men from the two lines of largely unused French infantry on the centre and left to launch a third assault, once again forcing William to move units from the centre. The Allied right finally began to retreat; observing this, the French cavalry commander Feuquières charged the Allied centre and over-ran the entrenchments, catching them in the open and inflicting heavy casualties. The Allies were forced to conduct a hurried retreat over the Geete; only a stubborn rearguard action and repeated cavalry charges led by William himself allowed the bulk of his army to escape. [7] > The number of standards captured by the French and sent for display in Notre-Dame de Paris earned Luxembourg the nickname 'Le Tapissier de Notre-Dame.'

Antoine de Pas, Marquis de Feuquières was a French writer and soldier, who served in the wars of Louis XIV. He was the son of diplomat Isaac de Feuquières and grandson of Isaac Manasses de Pas, Marquis de Feuquieres.

Notre-Dame de Paris Church in Paris, France

Notre-Dame de Paris, also known as Notre-Dame Cathedral or simply Notre-Dame, is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. The cathedral is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. The innovative use of the rib vault and flying buttress, the enormous and colorful rose windows, and the naturalism and abundance of its sculptural decoration all set it apart from earlier Romanesque architecture.

Aftermath

Luxembourg might have won a crushing victory at Landen if the simultaneous attacks on the Allied left and centre had been made as planned; that delay plus stubborn resistance by his rearguard allowed William to salvage a very dangerous position. The Allies lost most of their artillery and suffered heavy casualties, estimated as between 12,000 - 19,000, with the French losing 9,000 - 15,000 [8] William had a silver medal struck to celebrate his success in 'saving Liege' and escaping with the bulk of his troops; this was partly propaganda for a Dutch audience beginning to question his military skills but credible enough to remain current 150 years later. [9] There is some truth in this since it was yet another French tactical success that left them no nearer victory; William simply replaced his losses by recalling Württemberg from Maritime Flanders.

Luxembourg has been criticised for failing to exploit his victory; his troops were exhausted but it was also the consequence of French strategic confusion caused by Louis' constantly shifting focus. In June, a large part of his army was sent to Germany and he was tasked with preventing the Allies from ending reinforcements there; having achieved that, his next steps were unclear.In the end, Luxembourg and Louis agreed on the capture of Charleroi leading to Vauban besieging a fortress he designed himself a few years earlier. [10] Charleroi surrendered in October 1693 but once again the French had failed to land a decisive blow despite enormous expenditure, victory at Landen and the capture of two major fortresses. Their campaigns in Flanders would in future essentially be defensive.

Casualties

Among the casualties on the French side were

Among the casualties on the Allied side were


Other

Laurence Sterne's famous picaresque novel Tristram Shandy of 1759 contains a number of references to the Nine Years' War, including the 1695 Second Siege of Namur. The character Corporal Trim refers to the Battle of Landen as follows:

Your honour remembers with concern, said the corporal, the total rout and confusion of our camp and army at the affair of Landen; every one was left to shift for himself; and if it had not been for the regiments of Wyndham, Lumley, and Galway, which covered the retreat over the bridge Neerspeeken, the king himself could scarce have gained it - he was press'd hard, as your honour knows, on every side of him... [12]

Notes

  1. Some sources claim 80,000 to 50,000.
  2. Per Childs, he was 'caught with his trousers down.' [6]

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References

  1. 1 2 Childs 1991, p. 233.
  2. Childs 1991, p. 27.
  3. 1 2 Martin 2003.
  4. Childs 1991, pp. 221-234.
  5. de la Pause, Guillaume Plantavit (1738). The Life of James Fitz-James Duke of Berwick (2017 ed.). Andesite Press. p. 104. ISBN   1376209276 . Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  6. Childs 1991, p. 234.
  7. Childs 1987, pp. 235-247.
  8. Childs 1987, p. 241.
  9. Bright, James Pierce (1836). A History of England;Volume III (2016 ed.). Palala Press. p. 841. ISBN   135856860X . Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  10. Goode, Dominic. "Charleroi 1693". Fortified-places.com. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  11. Patrick Sarsfield Wild Geese Heritage Museum and Library
  12. Sterne, Laurence (1782). The beauties of Sterne: including all his pathetic tales, and most distinguished observations on life. Selected for the heart of sensibility (2018 ed.). Forgotten Books. p. 79. ISBN   0259231916 . Retrieved 10 September 2018.

Sources

Further reading

Coordinates: 50°46′00″N5°03′00″E / 50.7667°N 5.0500°E / 50.7667; 5.0500