Siege of Philippsburg (1734)

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Siege of Philippsburg
Part of the War of the Polish Succession
a 1734 French map depicting the siege positions
Datelate May 18 July 1734
Philippsburg, near present-day Karlsruhe, Germany
Result French victory
Royal Standard of the King of France.svg  Kingdom of France Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Austria
Commanders and leaders
Royal Standard of the King of France.svg James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick  
Royal Standard of the King of France.svg Claude François Bidal d'Asfeld
Royal Standard of the King of France.svg Adrien-Maurice, 3rd duc de Noailles
Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Gottfried Ernst von Wuttgenau (garrison)
Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Prince Eugene of Savoy (relief army)
60,000 4,200 (garrison)
70,000 (relief army)
Casualties and losses
10,000 337 killed
359 wounded
321 captured or deserted

The Siege of Philippsburg was conducted by French forces against forces in the fortress of Philippsburg in the Rhine River valley during the War of the Polish Succession. The Duke of Berwick led 100,000 men up the Rhine Valley in opposition to Austrian forces, of which 60,000 were detached to invest the fortress at Philippsburg, beginning on 1 June 1734. A relief column of 35,000 under the aging Prince Eugene of Savoy (accompanied by Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia) was unsuccessful in actually relieving the siege. On 12 June Berwick was killed by a cannonball while inspecting the trenches, and command of the besiegers fell to Marshals d'Asfeld and Noailles. The fortress surrendered one month later, and the garrison withdrew to the fortress of Mainz with the honours of war.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Philippsburg Place in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Philippsburg is a town in Germany, in the district of Karlsruhe in Baden-Württemberg.

War of the Polish Succession war in Europe 1734–1738

The War of the Polish Succession (1733–35) was a major European war sparked by a Polish civil war over the succession to Augustus II, which the other European powers widened in pursuit of their own national interests. France and Spain, the two Bourbon powers, attempted to check 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 slight amount of fighting in Poland resulted in the accession of Augustus III, who in addition to Russia and Saxony, was politically supported by the Habsburgs.


D'Asfeld was promoted to Marshal of France for his role in the campaign; Wuttgenau was promoted to lieutenant general for his spirited defense of the fortress.


On the death of Augustus II on 1 February 1733, the Polish throne was claimed by both his son, Augustus III, and by Stanislas I, father in law of King Louis XV of France. Whilst a body double ostensibly left Brest by sea, Stanislas crossed Germany incognito and arrived at Warsaw on 8 September. On 12 September Stanislas was elected king of Poland by the diet.

Augustus III of Poland King of Poland, Elector of Saxony

Augustus III was King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1734 until 1763, as well as Elector of Saxony in the Holy Roman Empire from 1733 until 1763 where he was known as Frederick Augustus II.

Louis XV of France Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre 1715–1774

Louis XV, known as Louis the Beloved, was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who ruled as King of France from 1 September 1715 until his death in 1774. He succeeded his great-grandfather Louis XIV at the age of five. Until he reached maturity on 15 February 1723, the kingdom was ruled by Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, as Regent of France. Cardinal Fleury was his chief minister from 1726 until the Cardinal's death in 1743, at which time the young king took sole control of the kingdom.

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On his election Russia and Austria, both of whom backed Augustus III, invaded Poland. By 22 September Stanislas, who did not have a proper army, had to take refuge in Danzig (now known as Gdańsk), there to await the French help he had been promised. On 5 October, Augustus III was proclaimed king, protected by Russian forces at Warsaw. Great Britain, the Dutch Republic, Sweden, Denmark and the Republic of Venice recognised that Austro-Russian aggression against Poland was the casus belli and pledged to remain neutral. Spain, coveting the Kingdom of Naples and Sardinia, which the Duke of Milan wanted, sided with France.

Gdańsk City in Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast. With a population of 464,254, Gdańsk is the capital and largest city of the Pomeranian Voivodeship and the capital of Kashubia. It is Poland's principal seaport and the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.

Great Britain island in the North Atlantic off the north-west coast of continental Europe

Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi), it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. In 2011, Great Britain had a population of about 61 million people, making it the world's third-most populous island after Java in Indonesia and Honshu in Japan. The island of Ireland is situated to the west of Great Britain, and together these islands, along with over 1,000 smaller surrounding islands, form the British Isles archipelago.

Dutch Republic republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795

The Dutch Republic or United Provinces was a republic that existed from the formal creation of a confederacy in 1581 by several Dutch provinces until the Batavian Revolution in 1795. It was the predecessor state of the modern Netherlands and the first nation state of the Dutch people.

Louis XV's courtiers (including the princes of Conti and Eu, the counts of Clermont, Charolais and Belle-Isle, the duc de Richelieu, but also Maurice de Saxe, Augustus III's half-brother and the former lover of Anna Ivanovna, now the tsarina of Russia) joined up under marshal James FitzJames, Duke of Berwick to form an army for invading the Rhineland with the objectives of gaining the Duchy of Lorraine and distracting Austria from events in Poland.

Maurice de Saxe Marshal General of France

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James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick Anglo-French military leader

James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick, 1st Duke of Liria and Jérica, 1st Duke of Fitz-James, GE, KOGF was an Anglo-French military leader, illegitimate son of King James II of England by Arabella Churchill, sister of the 1st Duke of Marlborough. Berwick was a successful general in the pay of Louis XIV of France.

In the fall of 1733 the French army crossed the Rhine and besieged Kehl, near Strasbourg. Although they captured and occupied the fortress, most of the army was withdrawn to the west bank of the Rhine due to the onset of winter in December. During the winter, Austrian field marshal Prince Eugene of Savoy began gathering forces of the empire at a camp near Heilbronn to oppose the French. By the spring of 1734 these forces were still significantly smaller than those of France, which had nearly 70,000 men in the field.

Siege of Kehl (1733)

The Siege of Kehl was one of the opening moves of the French Rhineland campaign in the War of the Polish Succession, at the fortress town of Kehl in the upper Rhine River valley. A large French army under the command of the Duke of Berwick besieged and captured the fortress, which was lightly garrisoned and in poor condition.

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Prince Eugene of Savoy Austrian marshall

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Freiherr Gottfried Ernst von Wuttgenau was given command of the fortress at Philippsburg in December 1733. The fortress was in deplorable condition, and its moat had in places been filled to the point where the ramparts could easily be approached. He focused defensive preparations on the fortress' flood controls, a significant defense against besiegers who were required to work in the swampy terrain below the fortress, while his engineer, Gerhard Cornelius von Walrave, directed repairs and improvements to the fortress' eastern works, where attacks had been focused in the past. By the spring of 1734 these preparations were largely complete, although the garrison was short of ammunition and experienced artillery personnel and engineers. The defenders consisted of a battalion of Walseggers, companies from the Kaiser's regiments of Württemberg, Max Hessen, Kettler, Müfflingen, Sachsen-Gotha, Wolfenbüttel, Walsegg, and Bevern, the Frankish Höltzl regiment, and companies from the Frankish Bassewitz and Heller regiments.


In late May 1734, the French began surrounding the fortress at Philippsburg. A total of 46 battalions were deployed, with 14 on the left bank of the Rhine, and the balance on the right bank, cutting the land approaches to the fortress. Of the troops on the right bank, half were dedicated to the siege, while the rest were detailed to defend the siege camp against any attempts to relieve the siege. On May 26 they began digging the outer trench surrounding the fortress with a complement of 12,000 men.

The siege works progressed under Berwick until June 12, when he was felled by a lucky shot while examining siege works at a forward position. Command of the besieging army then came to d'Asfeld. On June 19, Eugene, under orders from the Kaiser, began moving his army, which had since grown to over 70,000 men, toward Philippsburg with the goal of relieving the siege. On June 27 the army reached Bruchsal. D'Asfeld responded by building additional boat-bridges over the Rhine to speed the movement of cavalry across the river, and redirected some of the siege personnel to face Eugene's threat. The French position was further inconvenienced when heavy rains on July 5 caused portions of their position to be flooded. Despite these difficulties, Eugene failed to act decisively to capitalize on the situation, and withdrew his army.

By July 17 the French had penetrated the fortress' defenses to its inner moat, and were threatening the heart of the fortress. After failing to establish contact with Eugene, Wuttgenau and d'Asfeld agreed to terms of capitulation early on July 18.

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Coordinates: 49°14′12″N8°27′15″E / 49.23667°N 8.45417°E / 49.23667; 8.45417