Raimondo Montecuccoli

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Raimondo Montecuccoli
HGM Griessler Montecuccoli.jpg
Raimondo Montecuccoli, Duke of Melfi by Elias Grießler
Born(1609-02-21)21 February 1609
Pavullo nel Frignano, Duchy of Modena and Reggio
Died16 October 1680(1680-10-16) (aged 71)
Linz, Archduchy of Austria
AllegianceBanner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg  Holy Roman Empire
Service/branch Imperial Army
Years of service1628–1678
Rank Generalfeldmarschall
Battles/wars Thirty Years' War

First War of Castro
Second Northern War
Austro-Turkish War


Dutch War Rhineland Campaign

Awards Order of the Golden Fleece

Raimondo, Count of Montecuccoli (Italian pronunciation:  [raiˈmondo monteˈkukkoli] ; German : Raimondo Graf Montecuccoli; 21 February 1609 – 16 October 1680) was an Italian-born professional soldier who served the Habsburg Monarchy. He was also a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire and Duke of Melfi, [1] in the Kingdom of Naples.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Habsburg Monarchy former Central European country (1526–1804)

Habsburg Monarchy is an umbrella term used by historians for the lands and kingdoms of the House of Habsburg, especially for those of the Austrian branch. Although from 1438 until 1806 the head of the House of Habsburg was also Holy Roman Emperor, the empire itself is not considered a part of the Habsburg Monarchy.

Princes of the Holy Roman Empire

Prince of the Holy Roman Empire was a title attributed to a hereditary ruler, nobleman or prelate recognised as such by the Holy Roman Emperor.

Montecuccoli was considered as the only commander to be the equal of the French general Turenne, (1611–1675), and like him, was closely associated with the post-1648 development of linear infantry tactics. [2]

Early life

Montecuccoli was born on 21 February 1609 in the Castello di Montecuccolo in Pavullo nel Frignano, near Modena.

Castello di Montecuccolo building in Pavullo nel Frignano, Italy

The Castello di Montecuccolo is a castle in Pavullo nel Frignano, Modena, Italy.

Pavullo nel Frignano Comune in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Pavullo nel Frignano is a town and comune in the province of Modena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy, in the Modenese Apeninnes. It is home to the medieval Castle of Montecuccolo, birthplace of the 17th century condottiero Raimondo Montecuccoli, and of the pieve of San Giovanni Battista di Renno. The town was extensively damaged during World War II due to its proximity to the Gothic Line.

Modena Comune in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Modena is a city and comune (municipality) on the south side of the Po Valley, in the Province of Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy.

Early military service

At the age of sixteen Montecuccoli began as a private soldier under his uncle, Count Ernest Montecuccoli (died 1633), a distinguished Austrian general. Four years later, after much active service in Germany and the Low Countries, he became a captain of infantry. He was severely wounded at the storming of New Brandenburg, and again in the same year (1631) at the first battle of Breitenfeld, where he fell into the hands of the Swedes. [1]

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Infantry military service branch that specializes in combat by individuals on foot

Infantry is a military specialization that engages in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and tank forces. Also known as foot soldiers or infanteers, infantry traditionally relies on moving by foot between combats as well, but may also use mounts, military vehicles, or other transport. Infantry make up a large portion of all armed forces in most nations, and typically bear the largest brunt in warfare, as measured by casualties, deprivation, or physical and psychological stress.

Battle of Breitenfeld (1631) the Protestants’ first major victory of the Thirty Years War

The Battle of Breitenfeld or First Battle of Breitenfeld, was fought at a crossroads near Breitenfeld approximately 8 km north-west of the walled city of Leipzig on September 17, or September 7, 1631. It was the Protestants’ first major victory of the Thirty Years War.

He was again wounded at Lützen in 1632, and on his recovery was made a major in his uncle's regiment. Shortly afterwards he became a lieutenant-colonel of cavalry. He did good service at the first battle of Nordlingen (1634), and at the storming of Kaiserslautern in the following year won his colonelcy by a feat of arms of unusual brilliance, a charge through the breach at the head of his heavy cavalry. [1]

Battle of Lützen (1632) battle during the Thirty Years War, 1632

The Battle of Lützen was one of the most important battles of the Thirty Years' War.

Cavalry soldiers or warriors fighting from horseback

Cavalry or horsemen are soldiers or warriors who fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the most mobile of the combat arms. An individual soldier in the cavalry is known by a number of designations such as cavalryman, horseman, dragoon, or trooper. The designation of cavalry was not usually given to any military forces that used other animals, such as camels, mules or elephants. Infantry who moved on horseback, but dismounted to fight on foot, were known in the 17th and early 18th centuries as dragoons, a class of mounted infantry which later evolved into cavalry proper while retaining their historic title.

Battle of Nördlingen (1634) German battle 6 September 1634

The Battle of Nördlingen was fought in 1634 during the Thirty Years' War, on 27 August or 6 September. The Roman Catholic Imperial army, bolstered by 15,000 Spanish soldiers, won a crushing victory over the combined Protestant armies of Sweden and their German-Protestant allies.

He fought in Pomerania, Bohemia and Saxony (surprise of Wolmirstadt, battles of Wittstock and Chemnitz), and in 1639 he was taken prisoner at Melnik and detained for two and a half years in Stettin and Weimar. In captivity he studied military science, and also geometry by the way of Euclid, history of Tacitus, and Vitruvius' architecture, all the while planning his great work on war. [1]

Pomerania Place

Pomerania is a historical region on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea in Central Europe, split between Germany and Poland.

Bohemia Historical region in the Czech Republic

Bohemia is the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech lands in the present-day Czech Republic. In a broader meaning, Bohemia sometimes refers to the entire Czech territory, including Moravia and Czech Silesia, especially in a historical context, such as the Lands of the Bohemian Crown ruled by Bohemian kings.

Saxony State in Germany

Saxony is a landlocked federal state of Germany, bordering the federal states of Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, and Bavaria, as well as the countries of Poland and the Czech Republic. Its capital is Dresden, and its largest city is Leipzig.

Commanding officer

Returning to Italy and to the field in 1642, Montecuccoli commanded mercenaries loyal to the Duke of his native Modena during the First War of Castro, [3] [4] but when that conflict ground to an unproductive stalemate he departed.[ citation needed ] His involvement, though understandable given his allegiance to Modena, was nonetheless unusual in that his service pitted him against the papal forces of Pope Urban VIII.[ original research? ]

The Castello Montecuccoli in Modena Pavullo-Castello Montecuccoli01.jpg
The Castello Montecuccoli in Modena

In 1643 he was promoted to lieutenant-field-marshal and obtained a seat in the Council of War. In 1645–46 he served in Hungary against Prince Rákóczy of Transylvania, on the Danube and Neckar against the French, and in Silesia and Bohemia against the Swedes. The victory of Triebel in Silesia won him the rank of General of Cavalry, and at the battle of Zusmarshausen in 1648 his stubborn rearguard fighting rescued the imperials from annihilation. [1]

For some years after the Peace of Westphalia Montecuccoli was chiefly concerned with the business of the council of war, though he went to Flanders and England as the representative of the emperor, and to Sweden as the envoy of the pope to Queen Christina, and at Modena his lance was victorious in a great tourney. [1]

In 1657, soon after his marriage with Countess Margarethe de Dietrichstein, he was ordered by the Emperor to take part in the Habsburg expedition (as agreed between the King of Poland and the Emperor) against Prince Rákóczy, Charles X Gustav of Sweden and the Cossacks, who had already, in 1655, attacked the Kingdom of Poland in the war known in Poland as The Deluge or elsewhere as the Second Northern War . During the conflict he was promoted to commanding officer of the division. [1]

He became field-marshal in the imperial army and his division, along with Stefan Czarniecki's division, Frederick William's army and Danish forces, participated in the struggle in Denmark against the invading Swedes. Eventually the war ended with the Peace of Oliva in 1660 and Montecuccoli returned to his sovereign. [1]

From 1661 to 1664 Montecuccoli, with inferior numbers, defended Austria against the Turks but at St. Gotthard Abbey, on the Rába, he and Carl I. Ferdinand Count of Montenari defeated the Turks so comprehensively that they entered into a twenty-year truce. They were given the Order of the Golden Fleece, and Montecuccoli became president of the council of war and director of artillery. He also devoted much time to compiling his various works on military history and science. He opposed the progress of the French arms under Louis XIV, and when the inevitable war broke out he received command of the imperial forces. In the campaign of 1673 he completely outmanoeuvred his rival Turenne on the Neckar and the Rhine, captured Bonn and joined his army with that of William III, the prince of Orange on the lower Rhine. [1]

He retired from the army when, in 1674, the Great Elector was named command in chief, but the brilliant successes of Turenne in the winter of 1674 and 1675 brought him back. For months the two famous commanders manoeuvred against each other in the Rhine valley, but on the eve of a decisive battle Turenne was killed and Montecuccoli promptly invaded Alsace, where he engaged in another war of manoeuvre with the Great Condé. The siege of Philippsburg was Montecuccoli's last achievement in war. [1]

Retirement and death

The rest of Montecuccoli's life was spent in military administration and literary and scientific work at Vienna. In 1679 the emperor made him a prince of the empire, and shortly afterwards he received the dukedom of Melfi from the King of Spain. [1]

Montecuccoli died in an accident at Linz in October 1680. [1]


Count Raimondo Montecuccoli Raimondo-montecuccoli.jpg
Count Raimondo Montecuccoli

As a general, Montecuccoli shared with Turenne and Condé the first place among European soldiers of his time. For his success in halting the Turkish advance he had been hailed the savior of Europe. He was also influential as a military theorist, with perhaps his most famous quote being "For war you need three things: 1. Money. 2. Money. 3. Money." [5] His Memorie della guerra profoundly influenced the age which followed his own. [1] "Unequalled as a master of 17th-century warfare, Montecuccoli excelled in the art of fortification and siege, march and countermarch, and cutting his enemy’s lines of communications. In advocating standing armies, he clearly foresaw future trends in the military field".


In 1657, Montecuccoli married Countess Margarethe de Dietrichstein. [1] With the death of his only son Leopold Philip Montecuccoli in 1698 the principality became extinct, but the title of count descended through his daughters to two branches, Austrian and Modenese. [1]


The Memorie della guerra was published at Venice in 1703 and at Cologne in 1704. A French edition was issued in Paris in 1712 and a Latin edition appeared in 1718 at Vienna, and the German Kriegsnachrichten des Fürsten Raymundi Montecuccoli was issued at Leipzig in 1736. Of this work there are manuscripts in various libraries, and many memoirs on military history, tactics, fortification, written in Italian, Latin and German, remain still unedited in the archives of Vienna. The collected Opere di Raimondo Montecuccoli were published at Milan (1807), Turin (1821) and Venice (1840), and include political essays and poetry. [1]


In 1934 the Italian navy launched the Raimondo Montecuccoli , a Condottieri class light cruiser named in his honour which served with the Regia Marina during World War II.[ citation needed ]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Chisholm 1911, p. 764.
  2. Guthrie, William (2003). The Later Thirty Years War: From the Battle of Wittstock to the Treaty of Westphalia (Contributions in Military Studies). Praeger. p. 239. ISBN   978-0313324086.
  3. Black 2002, p. 162.
  4. Paoletti 2008, p. 28.
  5. See Chapter 6 of Book 3, A Warriors Life (2013), Roger Gard's translation of Servitude et grandeur militaires by Alfred de Vigny along with Gard's notes.

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