Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban

Last updated

Sébastien le Prestre, Marquis de Vauban
Sebastien le Prestre de Vauban.png
Sébastien le Prestre, Marquis de Vauban
Born(1633-05-04)4 May 1633
Saint-Léger-Vauban, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Died30 March 1707(1707-03-30) (aged 73)
Bazoches, later reburied in Les Invalides
AllegianceRoyal Standard of the King of France.svg  France
Years of service1651–1703
Rank Maréchal de France 1703
Commands heldCommissaire général des fortifications (1678–1703)
Battles/wars Franco-Spanish War 1635–1659
War of Devolution 1667–1668
Franco-Dutch War 1672–1678
War of the Reunions 1683–1684
Nine Years' War 1688–1697
War of the Spanish Succession 1701–1714
Awards Order of the Holy Spirit
Order of Saint Louis May 1693
Honorary Member French Academy of Sciences

Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, Seigneur de Vauban, later Marquis de Vauban [1] (1 May 1633 30 March 1707) commonly referred to as Vauban (French:  [vobɑ̃] ), was a French military engineer, who participated in each of the wars fought by France during the reign of Louis XIV.

Louis XIV of France King of France and Navarra, from 1643 to 1715

Louis XIV, known as Louis the Great or the Sun King, was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who reigned as King of France from 1643 until his death in 1715. Starting on 14 May 1643 when Louis was 4 years old, his reign of 72 years and 110 days is the longest recorded of any monarch of a sovereign country in European history. In the age of absolutism in Europe, Louis XIV's France was a leader in the growing centralisation of power.


Considered the expert in his field, rivalled only by his Dutch contemporary Menno van Coehoorn his design principles served as the dominant model of fortification for nearly 100 years, while his offensive tactics remained in use until the early twentieth century. He made a number of innovations in the use of siege artillery and founded the Corps royal des ingénieurs militaires, originator of combat engineering units in the French military.

Menno van Coehoorn Dutch military engineer

Menno, Baron van Coehoorn was a Dutch soldier and engineer regarded as one of the most significant figures in Dutch military history. During his lifetime, he and his French counterpart Vauban were the acknowledged experts in siege warfare and the design of fortifications.

He worked on many of France's major ports and harbours, as well as civilian infrastructure projects like the Canal de la Bruche. In addition to publications on engineering design, strategy and training, shortly before his death in 1707 he produced an economic tract entitled La Dîme royale, later destroyed by Royal decree. It contained radical proposals for a more even distribution of the tax burden and the use of statistics to support his arguments makes it a precursor of modern economics. His application of rational and scientific methods to problem-solving, whether engineering or social, anticipated an approach that became common in the Age of Enlightenment.

Canal de la Bruche

The Canal de la Bruche is a canal in eastern France that originally connected Soultz-les-Bains, near Molsheim, to the city of Strasbourg. It was built in 1682 by the famous military engineer Vauban, principally to transport sandstone from the quarries of Soultz for use in the construction of the fortifications of Strasbourg. The last commercial load was carried in 1939 and the canal formally closed in 1957, after bridges damaged during World War II were rebuilt with insufficient headroom for navigation.

Age of Enlightenment European cultural movement of the 18th century

The Age of Enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century, the "Century of Philosophy".

Finally, one of the most significant and enduring aspects of Vauban's legacy was his view of France as a geographical and economic entity; the boundaries established in the north and east as a result have changed very little in the four centuries since. [2]


Chateau de Bazoches, acquired by Jacques Le Prestre in 1570, purchased by Vauban in 1675 Vauban chateau de Bazoches (Nievre).JPG
Château de Bazoches, acquired by Jacques Le Prestre in 1570, purchased by Vauban in 1675

Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban was born on 4 May 1633 in the village of Saint-Léger-de-Foucheret, in the modern French province of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, then known as the Nièvre. His birthplace was renamed Saint-Léger-Vauban in 1867, through an Imperial decree issued by Napoleon III. [3]

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Administrative region of France

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is a region of France created by the territorial reform of French Regions in 2014, from a merger of Burgundy and Franche-Comté. The new region came into existence on 1 January 2016, after the regional elections of December 2015, electing 100 members to the regional council of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.

Nièvre Department of France

Nièvre is a department in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in the centre of France named after the River Nièvre.

Saint-Léger-Vauban Commune in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France

Saint-Léger-Vauban is a commune in the Yonne department in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in north-central France.

Vauban's mausoleum in Les Invalides Vaubaninvalides01.JPG
Vauban's mausoleum in Les Invalides

His parents, Urbain le Prestre (ca 1602-1652) and Edmée de Comignolle (?-ca 1651), were members of the minor nobility, who took their name from Vauban in Bazoches. His grandfather Jacques acquired Château de Bazoches when he married Françoise de la Perrière in 1570, an illegitimate daughter of the Comte de Bazouches. The Count died intestate and the resulting 30 year legal battle by the Le Pestre family to retain the property proved financially ruinous.

Bazoches Commune in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France

Bazoches is a commune in the Nièvre department in central France.

Château de Bazoches

The Château de Bazoches is located in Bazoches, the modern department of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, historically part of the Burgundy region of France.


Intestacy is the condition of the estate of a person who dies without having made a valid will or other binding declaration. Alternatively this may also apply where a will or declaration has been made, but only applies to part of the estate; the remaining estate forms the "intestate estate". Intestacy law, also referred to as the law of descent and distribution, refers to the body of law that determines who is entitled to the property from the estate under the rules of inheritance.

Like previous generations, Urbain became a forestry-worker, a role he combined with the design and maintenance of gardens for the local gentry. One of these was the Château de Ruère in Saint-Léger-de-Foucheret, owned by the Huguenot De Bricquemaut family; Vauban spent his early years here and later opposed the expulsion of Protestants from France in 1685. [4]

In 1660, Vauban married Jeanne d'Aunay d'Epiry (ca 1640-1705); they had two daughters, Charlotte (1661-1709) and Jeanne Françoise (1678-1713) as well as a short-lived infant son. [5] He also had a long-term relationship with Marie-Antoinette de Puy-Montbrun, daughter of an exiled Huguenot officer, referred to as la Belle Mademoiselle de Villefranche. [6]

He had only one sister, Charlotte (1638-1645?) but a large number of relatives; his cousin Paul le Prestre (ca 1630-1703) was an army officer, who supervised construction of Les Invalides. [7] Three of Paul's sons became military engineers, one of whom died at Aire-sur-la-Lys in 1676 and another at Cambrai in 1677. The third, Antoine (1654-1731), became Vauban's assistant and later a Lieutenant-General; his defence of Béthune in 1710 was rewarded by being appointed its Governor for life, while he inherited Vauban's titles and the bulk of his lands. [8]

Vauban died in Paris on 30 March 1707 and was buried near his home in Bazoches, the grave being destroyed during the French Revolution. In 1808, Napoléon Bonaparte ordered his heart to be reburied in the church of Les Invalides, resting place for many of France's most famous soldiers, including Turenne and Napoléon himself. [9]


Louis, Prince of Conde (1621-1686); Vauban began his career with Conde during the 1650-1653 Fronde des nobles Louis, Grand Conde.PNG
Louis, Prince of Condé (1621–1686); Vauban began his career with Condé during the 1650–1653 Fronde des nobles

The first half of the 17th century in France was a period of intense civil strife; the 1598 Edict of Nantes ended the French Wars of Religion but a series of Huguenot rebellions broke out in the 1620s. French support for the Protestant Dutch Republic in its rebellion against Catholic Spain led to the 1635–1659 Franco-Spanish War, accompanied by a 1648-1653 civil war known as the Fronde. Like many others, Vauban's family was impacted by these events; the Le Prestre family was Catholic but his grandfather Jacques served Huguenot leader Admiral Coligny and his first wife was a Protestant from La Rochelle, while two of his uncles were killed in 1635 during the war with Spain. [10]

When he was 10, Vauban was sent to the Carmelite college in Semur-en-Auxois, where he was taught the basics of mathematics, science and geometry. His father's work was also relevant, since neo-classical garden design and the layout of fortifications were closely linked and many engineers worked on both, including Vauban. [11] Other examples include Marlborough's Irish engineer John Armstrong (1674–1742), who in the 1720s designed and constructed a lake at his former general's home, Blenheim Palace. [12]

In 1650, Vauban enrolled in forces led by the duc d'Enghien, later the Grand Condé where he met Charles, Comte de Montal; a close neighbour from Nièvre, the two were colleagues for many years. Louis XIV reportedly remarked sieges should ideally be conducted by Vauban and defended by de Montal, but could only happen once, since they would kill each other. [13]

Louis XIV at Maastricht, 1673, by Pierre Mingard; this shows the importance Louis attached to the propaganda value of siege warfare. Louis XIV of France being crowned by victory after the 1673 Siege of Maastricht by Pierre Mignard.jpg
Louis XIV at Maastricht, 1673, by Pierre Mingard; this shows the importance Louis attached to the propaganda value of siege warfare.

Condé was a leader of the 1650–1653 Fronde des nobles, which opposed the Royalist party headed by Louis XIV's mother Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin. When the July 1652 Battle of the Faubourg St Antoine ended the Fronde as a serious military threat, Condé and some of his followers allied with the Spanish. [14] His possessions included Clermont-en-Argonne and in 1652, Vauban's first engineering role was constructing defences at its capital, Sainte-Menehould. [15]

Captured by a Royalist patrol in early 1653, he changed sides and came to the attention of Louis Nicolas de Clerville as part of the Royalist force that took Sainte-Meenhould in November. Clerville, later Commissaire general des fortifications, employed him on siege operations and the repair or construction of fortifications and in May 1655, he was appointed an Ingénieur du Roi or Royal Engineer. When the Franco-Spanish War ended in 1659, he had a reputation as a talented engineer of energy and courage, having been wounded on numerous occasions. [16]

Under the terms of the Treaty of the Pyrenees, Spain ceded much of French Flanders and Vauban was put in charge of fortifying newly-acquired towns such as Dunkirk. This pattern of French territorial gains, followed by fortification of new strongpoints was followed in the subsequent 1667–1668 War of Devolution, 1672–1678 Franco-Dutch War and 1683-1684 War of the Reunions. In the course of his career, Vauban supervised or designed the fortification of over 300 locations, [lower-alpha 1] and by his own estimate conducted over 40 sieges, starting with Sainte-Menehould in 1653 and ending at Ath in 1697. [17]

The Siege of Maastricht in 1673 was the first time Vauban directed siege operations, rather than providing technical advice, although the role had no military rank and he was subordinate to the senior officer present. [18] This meant Louis took credit for its capture but Vauban was rewarded with a large sum of money, which he used to purchase the Château de Bazouches from his cousin in 1675. [19]

Vauban's proposal for creating a Pre carre or 'duelling zone' on France's northern border, defended by a line of fortresses known as the Ceinture de fer (marked in red and green) Low Countries 1700 and entrenched lines.png
Vauban's proposal for creating a Pré carré or 'duelling zone' on France's northern border, defended by a line of fortresses known as the Ceinture de fer (marked in red and green)

Post-1673, French strategy in Flanders was largely based on a memorandum from Vauban to Louvois, Minister of War, setting out a proposed line of fortresses known as the Ceinture de fer or iron belt (see map). [20] One suggestion for Vauban's increased prominence was the death of Turenne in 1675, followed by Condé's retirement; both were aggressive commanders and arguably the most talented French generals of the 17th century. [21]

He was made Maréchal de camp in 1676 and Commissaire general des fortifications after Clerville died in 1677 but the 1678 Treaty of Nijmegen was the highpoint of French expansion under Louis XIV, while Louvois' death in 1691 deprived Vauban of much of his influence at Court. [22] Nevertheless, he supervised the capture of Namur in 1692, the major French achievement of the Nine Years' War in the Spanish Netherlands and that of Ath in 1697, often considered his offensive masterpiece. [23]

In addition to substantial financial rewards, Vauban became Comte de Vauban, a member of the Order of the Holy Spirit and Order of Saint Louis, and an Honorary Member of the French Academy of Sciences. [24] However, the demands of siege warfare meant armies of the Nine Years' War often exceeded 100,000 men, a size unsustainable for the pre-industrial economies of its participants. [25] The War of the Spanish Succession saw a much greater emphasis on mobile warfare; Vauban was promoted Maréchal de France in 1703 and held his first military command at the siege of Alt-Breisach but this was the end of his active career. His advice was now ignored; asked his opinion of French strategy at the Siege of Turin in 1706, he responded success was so unlikely, he would have his throat cut if Turin fell using this approach, an assessment that proved correct. [26]

The Ceinture de fer proved its worth after the French defeat at Ramillies in 1706; under pressure from superior forces on multiple fronts, France's northern border remained largely intact despite repeated efforts to break it. The capture of Lille alone cost the Allies 12,000 casualties and most of the 1708 campaigning season; the lack of progress between 1706–1712 enabled Louis to reach an acceptable deal at Utrecht in 1713, as opposed to the humiliating terms presented in 1707. [27]

Vauban; note scar on left cheek, from wound suffered at Douai in 1655, one of 16 in his career. Vauban.jpg
Vauban; note scar on left cheek, from wound suffered at Douai in 1655, one of 16 in his career.

As he grew older, Vauban took an increasingly broad view of his role; his fortifications were designed for mutual support, so he built or planned infrastructure, including roads, bridges and canals. They required supplies, so he prepared maps showing location and quantity of resources eg forges, forests, farms etc, even instructions on how to breed pigs. This inevitably led onto taxation; by 1705, the French economy was exhausted, a combination of the cost of Louis' wars and the impact of the Little Ice Age, a period of colder and wetter weather during the second half of the 17th century that drastically reduced crop yields. [28] The Great Famine of 1695-1697 killed between 15-25% of the population in present-day Scotland, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Norway and Sweden, with an estimated two million deaths in France and Northern Italy. [29]

Shortly before his death in 1707, he published La Dîme royale, which documented the economic misery of the lower classes. His upbringing made him unusually sympathetic to the impact of war on the poor; on one occasion, he requested compensation be paid a man with eight children whose land was taken to build one of his forts. [30] However, it should also be noted his siege works required the conscription of large numbers of unpaid workers, with severe punishments for those who tried to evade service; 20,000 at Maastricht in 1673 and Mons in 1691, 12,000 at Charleroi in 1693. [31]

Vauban's solution was to levy a flat 10% tax on all agricultural and industrial output, while eliminating tax exemptions, which meant the vast majority of the nobility and clergy paid no taxes. Although confiscated and destroyed by Royal decree, the use of statistics to support his arguments ... establishes Vauban as a founder of modern economics and a precursor of the Enlightenment's socially concerned intellectuals. [32]

Doctrines and legacy

Twelve of Vauban's fortifications are categorised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Carte des sites majeurs de Vauban.svg
Twelve of Vauban's fortifications are categorised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Offensive doctrines; siege warfare

While his modern fame rests on the fortifications he built, Vauban's greatest innovations were in the field of offensive operations, an approach he summarised as 'More powder, less blood.' Initially reliant on existing concepts, he later adapted them, which he set out in a memorandum of March 1672 entitled Mémoire pour servir à l'instruction dans la conduite des sièges. [33]

In this period, sieges became the dominant form of warfare; during the 1672–1678 Franco-Dutch War, three battles were fought in the Spanish Netherlands, of which only Seneffe was unrelated to a siege. Their importance was heightened by Louis XIV, who viewed them as low-risk opportunities for demonstrating his military skill and increasing his prestige; he was present at 20 of those conducted by Vauban. [34]

The 'siege parallel' had been in development since the mid-16th century but Vauban brought the idea to practical fulfilment at Maastricht in 1673. [35] Three parallel trenches were dug in front of the walls, the earth thus excavated being used to create embankments screening the attackers from defensive fire, while bringing them as close to the assault point as possible (see Diagram). Artillery was moved into the trenches, allowing them to target the base of the walls at close range, with the defenders unable to depress their own guns enough to counter this; once a breach had been made, it was then stormed. This approach was used in offensive operations well into the 20th century. [36]

The 'siege parallel'; three parallel trenches, linked by communication lines. The first trench is out of range of the defenders and can withstand an assault from the rear, the third brings the assault troops to the foot of the glacis; redoubts protect the ends of each. Tranchees paralleles Vauban.jpg
The 'siege parallel'; three parallel trenches, linked by communication lines. The first trench is out of range of the defenders and can withstand an assault from the rear, the third brings the assault troops to the foot of the glacis; redoubts protect the ends of each.

However, Vauban emphasised flexibility; after its debut at Maastricht, he did not use the siege parallel again until Valenciennes in 1677. His willingness to challenge accepted norms was further demonstrated when he proposed storming the breach in daylight, rather than at night. He argued this would reduce casualties by surprising the defenders and allow better co-ordination among the assault force; this was opposed by Marshall Luxembourg but approved by Louis and the attack proved successful. [37]

In addition, an often overlooked feature of French tactics in this period was weakening towns in advance by severely restricting supplies. During the winter of 1676/1677, the French imposed a tight blockade on Cambrai, Valenciennes and Saint-Omer; Spanish officers had to disguise themselves as peasants to evade it and one French commander was reprimanded for allowing a Spanish official to slip into Cambrai in late January. [38]

Vauban made several important innovations in the use of siege artillery, including ricochet firing and concentrating fire on specific parts of the fortifications, rather than the previous practice of targeting multiple targets. The same principle was employed by his Dutch rival Menno van Coehoorn; the 'Van Coehoorn method' sought to overwhelm defences with massive firepower, such as the Grand Battery of 200 guns at Namur in 1695, while Vauban preferred a more gradual approach. [39] Both had their supporters; Vauban argued his was more efficient and less costly in terms of casualties but it took more time, an important consideration in an age when far more soldiers died from disease than in combat. [40]

Defensive doctrines; fortifications

Vauban's design principles were used for decades after his death; Bourtange in the Netherlands, restored to its 1742 condition. Fortbourtange.jpg
Vauban's design principles were used for decades after his death; Bourtange in the Netherlands, restored to its 1742 condition.

Military engineers and generals accepted that given time, even the strongest fortifications would fall; the process was so well understood by the 1690s that betting on the length of a siege became a popular craze. [41] As few states could afford large standing armies, defenders needed time to mobilise; to provide this, fortresses were designed to absorb the attackers' energies, similar to the use of crumple zones in modern cars. [42] The French defence of Namur in 1695 showed "how one could effectively win a campaign, by losing a fortress but exhausting the besiegers." [43]

As with the siege parallel, the strength of Vauban's defensive designs was his ability to synthesise and adapt the work of others to create a more powerful whole; throughout his career, he used the famous 'star-shape' bastion fort design or trace Italienne, based largely on the work of Antoine de Ville (1596–1656) and Blaise Pagan (1603–1665). [44] Subsequent adaptations, or 'systems', strengthened their internal works with the addition of casemated shoulders and flanks. [45]

The principles of his 'second system' were set out in the 1683 work Le Directeur-Général des fortifications, and used at Landau and Mont-Royal, near Traben-Trarbach; both were advanced positions, intended as stepping-off points for French offensives into the Rhineland. [46] Located 200 metres above the Moselle, Mont-Royal had main walls 30 metres high, three kilometres long and space for 12,000 troops; this enormously expensive work was demolished when the French withdrew after the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick and only the foundations remain today. [47] Fort-Louis was another new construction, built on an island in the middle of the Rhine; this allowed Vauban to combine his defensive principles with town planning, although like Mont-Royal, little of it remains. [48]

The French retreat from the Rhine after 1697 required new fortresses; Neuf-Brisach was the most significant, designed on Vauban's 'third system' and completed after his death by Louis de Cormontaigne. Using ideas from Fort-Louis, this incorporated a regular square grid street pattern inside an octagonal fortification; tenement blocks were built inside each curtain wall, strengthening the defensive walls and shielding more expensive houses from cannon fire. [49]

Infrastructure; harbours, canals and town planning

Canal de la Bruche; one of Vauban's many civilian infrastructure projects Canal de Bruche bei Ergersheim.jpg
Canal de la Bruche; one of Vauban's many civilian infrastructure projects

Infrastructure projects are a less acknowledged feature of Vauban's legacy and he worked on many of France's major ports, including Brest, Dunkerque and Toulon. His fortifications were designed for mutual support, making roads and waterways an essential part of their design. [50] These include the Canal de la Bruche in 1682, a 20-kilometre (12 mi) canal built to transport materials for the fortification of Strasbourg. [51] He also provided advice and direction on the repair and enlargement of the Canal du Midi in 1686. [52]

His holistic approach to urban planning, which integrated defences with the city layout and infrastructure is most obvious at Neuf-Brisach. This element of his legacy is recognised in the Vauban district in Freiburg, developed as a model for sustainable neighbourhoods post-1998. [53]

Neuf-Brisach, a product of Vauban's third system, where civilian buildings formed part of the defence system Neuf-Brisach 007 850.jpg
Neuf-Brisach, a product of Vauban's third system, where civilian buildings formed part of the defence system

Vauban's 'scientific approach' and focus on large infrastructure projects strongly influenced American military and civil engineering and inspired the creation of the US Corps of Engineers in 1824. [54] Until 1866, West Point's curriculum was modelled on that of the Ecole Polytechnique and as in France, was designed to produce officers with skills in engineering and mathematics. [55]

Training engineers

During the second half of the 17th century, the military became increasingly professional and one of Vauban's chief concerns was the shortage of skilled engineers. One way to manage this was reducing casualties, another increasing supply and in 1690, he established the Corps royal des ingénieurs militaires. This school was the origin of modern French combat engineering units and until his death, potential candidates had to pass an examination administered by Vauban himself. [56] Many of his publications, including Traité de l'attaque des places, a summary of the fully developed Vauban attack, and Traité des mines on military mining were written at the end of his career in order to provide a training curriculum for his successors. [57]


Viet Minh troops at Dien Bien Phu, 1954, in one of Vauban's parallel trenches Vietminh a Dien Bien Phu.jpg
Việt Minh troops at Dien Bien Phu, 1954, in one of Vauban's parallel trenches

Vauban's offensive tactics remained relevant for centuries; many of his principles were used by the Việt Minh at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. [58] His defensive fortifications dated far more quickly, one reason being the enormous investment required to first build, then defend them; Vauban himself estimated that in 1678, 1694 and 1705, between 40 and 45% of the French army was assigned to garrison duty. [59] As early as 1701, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, argued winning one battle was more beneficial than taking 12 fortresses, an argument supported by Van Coehoorn. [60]

Vauban's reputation was such that even after developments in artillery made them obsolete, his designs remained in use decades later, such as Bourtange, built in the Netherlands in 1742. His prominence was also driven by his emphasis on scientific method, a common theme of the Age of Enlightenment, which held every activity could be expressed in terms of a universal system, including tactics. [61] The Corps des ingénieurs militaires was based on his teachings; between 1699 and 1743, only 631 new candidates were accepted, the vast majority relatives of existing or former members. [62]

As a result, French military engineering became ultra-conservative, while many 'new' works used his designs, or professed to do so, such as those built by Louis de Cortmontaigne at Metz in 1728–1733. This persisted into the late 19th century; Fort de Queuleu, built in 1867 near Metz, was a Vauban-style strongpoint, despite being obsolete decades previously. [63]

Ironically, a small minority of French engineers continued to be innovators in the field, most notably the Marquis de Montalembert, who in 1776 began publication of La Fortification perpendiculaire. A rejection of the principles advocated by Vauban and his successors, his ideas were dismissed in France but became prevailing orthodoxy in much of Europe. [64]


Related Research Articles

Toul Subprefecture and commune in Grand Est, France

Toul is a commune in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department in north-eastern France.

Erik Dahlbergh Swedish soldier

Count Erik Jönsson Dahlbergh was a Swedish military engineer, Governor-general and Field marshal. He was born of peasant stock but he eventually rose to the level of nobility through his military competence. As an architect and draftsman, he was renowned for fortification works.

Siege of Maastricht (1673) Action during the Franco-Dutch War (1672–1678)

The Siege of Maastricht on 15 - 30 June 1673 took place during the Franco-Dutch War of 1672–1678, when a Dutch garrison surrendered to a French army nominally commanded by Louis XIV. The siege is now chiefly remembered for the introduction of the 'siege parallel' by French military engineer Vauban, a concept that remained in use until the mid 20th century.

Louis de Cormontaigne (1696-1752) was a French military engineer, who was the dominant technical influence on French fortifications in the 18th century. His own designs and writings constantly referenced the work of Vauban (1633-1707) and his principles formed the basis of the curriculum used by the École royale du génie, established at Charleville-Mézières in 1744.

Huningue Commune in Grand Est, France

Huningue is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department of Alsace in north-eastern France. Huningue is a northern suburb of the Swiss city of Basel. It also borders Germany. In 2008 it had a population of 6503 people. The main square of the town is the Place Abbatucci, named after the Corsican-born French general Jean Charles Abbatucci who unsuccessfully defended it in 1796 against the Austrians and died here. Huningue is noted for its pisciculture and is a major producer of fish eggs.

Siege of Turin battle

The Siege of Turin lasted from June to September 1706 when a French-led force besieged Victor Amadeus' capital of Turin during the War of the Spanish Succession. The siege was broken when a combined Savoyard/Imperial army relieved the city in September; this was a major turning point for the war in Italy.

Mont-Louis Commune in Occitanie, France

Mont-Louis is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France.

Louis dAubusson de La Feuillade French military officer and a Marshal of France

Louis d'Aubusson de la Feuillade, duc de Roannais was a French military officer and courtier who fought in the Nine Years War and the War of the Spanish Succession.

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.

Siege of Namur (1695) siege

The 1695 Siege of Namur or Second Siege of Namur took place during the Nine Years' War between 2 July and 4 September 1695. Its capture by the French in the 1692 and recapture by the Grand Alliance in 1695 are often viewed as the defining events of the war; the second siege is considered to be William III's most significant military success.

Battle of Camaret

The Battle of Camaret was an amphibious landing at Camaret Bay on 18 June 1694 by the English and Dutch in an attempt to seize the French port of Brest and destroy part of the French fleet stationed there, as part of the Nine Years' War. It was successfully opposed by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban.

Saint-Pierre-de-Vassols Commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Saint-Pierre-de-Vassols is a commune in the Vaucluse département in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of southeastern France. Its inhabitants are known as vassoliens (male) and vassoliennes (female).

Siege of Luxembourg (1684) siege

The Siege of Luxembourg, in which Louis XIV of France laid siege to the Spanish-controlled Fortress of Luxembourg from 27 April to 7 June 1684, was the most significant confrontation between France and Spain of the War of the Reunions. The action caused alarm among France's neighbours and resulted in the formation of the League of Augsburg in 1686. In the ensuing war France was forced to give up the duchy, which was returned to the Habsburgs by the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697.

Siege of Besançon

The Siege of Besançon took place between 25 April to 22 May 1674 during the Franco-Dutch War, when French forces invaded Franche-Comté, then under Spanish rule. Under the 1678 Treaties of Nijmegen, the province was annexed by France and Besançon replaced Dole as the regional capital.

The Arsenal de Rochefort was a French naval base and dockyard in the town of Rochefort. It was founded in 1665 and it was closed in 1926.

Jean-Baptiste Martin French painter

Jean-Baptiste Martin, known as "Martin des Batailles" was a French painter, decorator and designer who specialized in drawings for tapestries. He was best known for battle scenes, hence his nickname.

Blaise Francois Pagan French military engineer

Blaise François Pagan (1603–1665) was a French soldier and military engineer who served in the army of Louis XIII. His military career ended in 1642 when he lost his sight and in 1645, he published Les Fortifications; this became the dominant text of its era on military fortifications and significantly influenced Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban.

Siege of Kaiserswerth

The Siege of Kaiserswerth, was a siege of the War of the Spanish Succession. Prussian and Dutch troops numbering 38,000 men and 215 artillery pieces and mortars under the command of Imperial Field Marshal Walrad, Prince of Nassau-Usingen, besieged and captured the small French fortress on the Lower Rhine, which the French had occupied without resistance the previous year. The Dutch regarded the capture of this fortification as more important than an advance into the French-held Spanish Netherlands.


  1. Sébastien Le Prestre Vauban (marquis de, 1633-1707), Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 30 April 2019.
  2. Langins, Janis, Buchwald, Jed Z. (2003). Conserving the Enlightenment: French Military Engineering from Vauban to the Revolution. MIT Press. p. 11. ISBN   978-0262122580.
  3. "Vauban 1633-1707". Histoire pour Tous. Retrieved 5 January 2019.(in French)
  4. Pujo, Bernard (1991). Vauban. Albin Michel. ISBN   978-2226052506.
  5. Homs, George J. "Sébastien Le Prestre, marquis de Vauban". Geni.com. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  6. "F Marie-Antoinette du PUY-MONTBRUN la Belle Mademoiselle de Villefranche". Geneanet. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  7. LePage, Jean-Denis (2009). Vauban and the French Military Under Louis XIV: An Illustrated History of Fortifications and Sieges. McFarland & Company. p. 17. ISBN   978-0786444014.
  8. Desvoyes, Léon-Paul (1872). "Genealogie de la famille Le Prestre de Vauban" (PDF). Bulletin de la Société des Sciences Historiques et Naturelles de Semur: 13. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  9. "Dome des Invalides". Musée de l'Armée Invalides. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  10. Pujo, Bernard |url=https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=tRoZvbVZF2kC&pg=PT278&lpg=PT278&dq=antoine+de+vauban+1654-1731+Bethune&source=bl&ots=5rpsizKRQ7&sig=8RsYOITvT1hIWGc03EiMv-AmM_k&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjszpu75dbfAhVUuHEKHdtYBRQQ6AEwD3oECAMQAQ#v=onepage&q=antoine%20de%20vauban%201654-1731%20Bethune&f=false}}
  11. Wolfe, Michael (2009). Walled Towns and the Shaping of France: From the Medieval to the Early Modern Era. AIAAA. p. 151. ISBN   978-0230608122.
  12. Latcham, Paul (2004). "Armstrong, John". doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/659.
  13. Moreri, Louis (1749). Le grand dictionnaire historique ou Le melange curieux de l'Histoire sacrée; Volume I. Libraires Associes, Paris. p. 690. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  14. Tucker, Spencer C. (2009). A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East 6V: A Global Chronology of Conflict [6 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 654. ISBN   978-1851096671.
  15. Duffy, Christopher (1995). Siege Warfare: The Fortress in the Early Modern World 1494–1660. Routledge. p. 136. ISBN   978-0415146494.
  16. LePage, Jean-Denis p. 9
  17. LePage, Jean-Denis pp. 57–58
  18. LePage, Jean-Denis p. 57
  19. "Château de Bazoches". Chemins de Mémoires. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  20. Wolfe, Michael p. 149
  21. Starkey, Armstrong (2003). War in the Age of Enlightenment, 1700–1789. Praeger. p. 38. ISBN   978-0275972400.
  22. Wolfe, Michael p. 149
  23. Ostwald, Jamel (2006). Vauban Under Siege: Engineering Efficiency and Martial Vigor in the War of the Spanish Succession. Brill. p. 47. ISBN   978-9004154896.
  24. Leridon, Henri (2004). "The Demography of a Learned Society: the Académie des Sciences (Institut de France), 1666–2030". Population. 59 (1): 85. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  25. Childs, John (1991). The Nine Years' War and the British Army, 1688–1697: The Operations in the Low Countries (2013 ed.). Manchester University Press. p. 2. ISBN   978-0719089961.
  26. Lynn, John (1999). The Wars of Louis XIV, 1667–1714 (Modern Wars In Perspective). Longman. p. 309. ISBN   978-0582056299.
  27. Kamen, Henry (2001). Philip V of Spain: The King Who Reigned Twice. Yale University Press. pp. 70–72. ISBN   978-0300180541.
  28. White, I.D. (2011). Lynch, Michael (ed.). Rural Settlement 1500–1700 in The Oxford Companion to Scottish History. OUP. pp. 542–543. ISBN   978-0199693054.
  29. de Vries, Jan (2009). "The Economic Crisis of the 17th Century" (PDF). Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies. 40 (2): 151–194.
  30. Holmes, Richard (2001). Vauban, Marshal Sebastien le Prestre de (1633–1707). doi:10.1093/acref/9780198606963.001.0001. ISBN   9780198606963.
  31. LePage, Jean-Denis p. 56
  32. Dejean, Joan (2005). "Vauban, Sébastien le Prestre, seigneur de". In France, Peter (ed.). The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French. OUP. doi:10.1093/acref/9780198661252.001.0001. ISBN   9780191735004 . Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  33. LePage, Jean-Denis p. 43
  34. Holmes, Richard; Vauban, Oxford Reference
  35. Duffy, Christopher p. 10
  36. Vesilind, P Aame (2010). Engineering Peace and Justice: The Responsibility of Engineers to Society. Springer. p. 23. ISBN   978-1447158226.
  37. De Périni, Hardÿ (1896). Batailles françaises. Ernest Flammarion, Paris. p. 186.
  38. Satterfield, George (2003). Princes, Posts and Partisans: The Army of Louis XIV and Partisan Warfare in the Netherlands (1673–1678). Brill. pp. 304–305. ISBN   978-9004131767.
  39. Ostwald, Jamel pp. 285–286
  40. Afflerbach & Strachan, pp. 159–160
  41. Manning, Roger (2006). An Apprenticeship in Arms: The Origins of the British Army 1585–1702. OUP. pp. 413–414. ISBN   978-0199261499.
  42. Afflerbach, Holger; Strachan, Hew, eds. (2012). How Fighting Ends: A History of Surrender. OUP. p. 159. ISBN   978-0199693627.
  43. Lynn, John pp. 248–249
  44. LePage, Jean-Denis pp. 69–72
  45. Holmes, Richard
  46. Duffy p. 20
  47. "Fortress Mont Royal". Traben-Tarbach Tourist Information. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  48. "Fort Louis". The Fortifications of Vauban. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  49. Dobroslav, Libal (1992). An Illustrated History of Castles. Hamlyn. p. 221. ISBN   978-0600573104.
  50. Wolfe, Michael p. 151
  51. "La gestion du Canal de la Bruche" [The management of the Canal Bruche] (in French). Conseil Départemental du Bas-Rhin. Archived from the original on 16 September 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  52. Lt-Colonel Allende, A (1805). Histoire du Corps impérial du génie: Volume 1. Magimel, Paris. pp. 688–691.
  53. Schiller, Preston (2010). An Introduction to Sustainable Transportation: Policy, Planning and (e-book ed.). Box 10.7: Routledge. ISBN   978-1844076659.
  54. Klosky, J Ledlie, Klosky, Wynn E (2013). "Men of action: French influence and the founding of American civil and military engineering". Construction History. 28 (3): 69–87. JSTOR   43856053.
  55. Baldwin, James. "Engineering, military". The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  56. Mousnier, Roland (1979). The Institutions of France Under the Absolute Monarchy, 1598-1789. University of Chicago Press. pp. 577–578. ISBN   978-0226543277.
  57. Ostwald, Jamel pp. 123–124
  58. LePage, Jean-Denis p. 56
  59. Lynn, John (1997). Giant of the Grand Siècle: The French Army, 1610-1715 (2008 ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 62. ISBN   978-0521032483.
  60. Van Hoof, Jaep (2004). Menno van Coehoorn 1641–1704, Vestingbouwer – belegeraar – infanterist. Instituut voor Militaire Geschiedenis. p. 83.
  61. Gay, Peter (1996). The Enlightenment: An Interpretation. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN   978-0393008708.
  62. Mousnier, Roland (1979). The Institutions of France Under the Absolute Monarchy, 1598–1789. University of Chicago Press. pp. 577–578. ISBN   978-0226543277.
  63. LePage, Jean-Denis pp. 283–284
  64. Picon, Antoine (2001). Delon, Michel (ed.). Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment. Routledge. pp. 540–451. ISBN   978-1579582463.

Sources and bibliography

French nobility
Preceded by
first creation
Comte de Vauban
Succeeded by
Antoine le Prestre 1707-1754
Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap  
Download coordinates as: KML  ·  GPX