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Old August 25th, 2011, 01:29 PM   #1
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How did William III save Holland from defeat?


It is kind of embaressing and I am planning to read more about it in the future, but I want to know how did William III save Holland from defeat during the dissaster year (1672). Although Dutch admiral the Ruyter succeeded to keep the British of shore, the army however was in deep trouble and Louis forces penetrated far north into Holland and troops of Munster and Cologne penetrated Holland in the East.. Until William III resumed command and set a part of the province under water and preventing Louis's troops to advance further. But then? How did William succeed to push back and eventually end the war close to a tie. Although he was capable he wasn't the best commander plus on all sides he was surrounded. But still he managed to save Holland and conclude the war satifactory. How did he accomplish this?

I do not always trust Wikipedia and I find their explanations not satisfactory. So I would appreciate if you would help me with this.
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Old August 25th, 2011, 02:50 PM   #2

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William of Orange wasn't the best tactician out there, but he was a great politician. He came to power after the De Witt brothers were lynched by an angry mob during "Raampjaar". He flooded the countryside, which stopped the French armies from advancing. Using his diplomatic abilities he managed to form a coalition to fight France, and eventualy they succeeded in saving Holland. He was able to get the vital support of France and Brandenburg while De Ruyter's victories at sea convinced the English to abandon the war.
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Old August 25th, 2011, 02:59 PM   #3

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Louis made some grave mistakes, his biggest was taking his opponent lightly, rather then dashing for Amsterdam he had his generals take each part of the country and advanced rather slow. All in all most of the United Provinces were overrun, what saved the rest, namely Holland-Zeeland was the flooding of the watercourses. Yes, it's that simple: the French army could not walk on water . Louis had not taken the Republic seriously, and rightfully so, military they were no match at all, their resistance simply melted away before the French advance. But he underestimated the tenacity of its inhabitants and the just how far they would go to save their land. In his hubris - it's all you can call it - he thought of the war being ended the minute it began and thus he took he sweet time advancing through the United Provinces. Had he not needlessly halted his advance the Republic would have met a terrible disaster, but he did advance slowly and when the Dutch flooded the watercourses he suddenly was pulled back into reality: even advancing slowly was no longer possible, water was blocking the way! In the meantime the Dutch held their own at sea so basically it was a stand-off: neither side could budge, arguably the Republic was losing bigtime but the final blow was and could not be delivered. To add insult to injury the French had been wasting a lot of time, time was in fact what then saved the Dutch. The Republic didn't manage to repell the French nor defeat them at all, they just managed to stop them in their tracks, and while they were stranded in front of the flooded watercourses, the rest of Europe suddenly realised: hey, if the Dutch can stop them, we might beat them!

It didn't turn out quite that way, though in the next years France ended up fighting half of Europe on her own with only Sweden - and Sweden was simply overrun, Fehrbellin and all that - as her loyal ally (England as you know opted out in 1674), and at the peace of Nijmegen it was a smashing French victory, diplomatically that is. Louis himself was also very delighted and saw the peace as a new springboard for future conquests, as madame the Sévigné observed: "the king's triumph is so complete that in the future he will only have to say what piece of Europe he wants. People will be glad to give it him without his having the trouble of marching at the head of his armies". Not entirely correct with our hindsight, yet it is of course only the contemporary zeal that speaks, and that was one of a France who had just tackled half of Europe succesfully, even though the Republic still existed. Priorities, priorities.
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Old August 25th, 2011, 06:12 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by gaius valerius View Post
Louis made some grave mistakes, his biggest was taking his opponent lightly, rather then dashing for Amsterdam he had his generals take each part of the country and advanced rather slow. All in all most of the United Provinces were overrun, what saved the rest, namely Holland-Zeeland was the flooding of the watercourses. Yes, it's that simple: the French army could not walk on water . Louis had not taken the Republic seriously, and rightfully so, military they were no match at all, their resistance simply melted away before the French advance. But he underestimated the tenacity of its inhabitants and the just how far they would go to save their land. In his hubris - it's all you can call it - he thought of the war being ended the minute it began and thus he took he sweet time advancing through the United Provinces. Had he not needlessly halted his advance the Republic would have met a terrible disaster, but he did advance slowly and when the Dutch flooded the watercourses he suddenly was pulled back into reality: even advancing slowly was no longer possible, water was blocking the way! In the meantime the Dutch held their own at sea so basically it was a stand-off: neither side could budge, arguably the Republic was losing bigtime but the final blow was and could not be delivered. To add insult to injury the French had been wasting a lot of time, time was in fact what then saved the Dutch. The Republic didn't manage to repell the French nor defeat them at all, they just managed to stop them in their tracks, and while they were stranded in front of the flooded watercourses, the rest of Europe suddenly realised: hey, if the Dutch can stop them, we might beat them!

It didn't turn out quite that way, though in the next years France ended up fighting half of Europe on her own with only Sweden - and Sweden was simply overrun, Fehrbellin and all that - as her loyal ally (England as you know opted out in 1674), and at the peace of Nijmegen it was a smashing French victory, diplomatically that is. Louis himself was also very delighted and saw the peace as a new springboard for future conquests, as madame the Sévigné observed: "the king's triumph is so complete that in the future he will only have to say what piece of Europe he wants. People will be glad to give it him without his having the trouble of marching at the head of his armies". Not entirely correct with our hindsight, yet it is of course only the contemporary zeal that speaks, and that was one of a France who had just tackled half of Europe succesfully, even though the Republic still existed. Priorities, priorities.
Of course they were not match to the French army. France had 20,000,000 inhabitants versus 2,000,000 Dutch! An army of 20,000 can not possibly win against the 100,000 invading French. I think the Dutch army was capable (as was shown in the Eighty years war), but simply outnumbered. Furthermore I think Louis never underestimated the Republic. It was always a thorn in his side and all his life he never succeeded to beat them. Louis was an arrogant man, but I don't think his ego was that big.

You say the Dutch didn't push bacl the invader but what about the battle of Groningen, the battle of Bonn, the battle of Seneffe etc. Doesn't that clearly shows us that William III did not sit and wait , but advanced into Belgium and in that way had forced the French out of the Republic?
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Old August 26th, 2011, 03:16 AM   #5

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I think you're missing some facts here or misinterpreting what I'm trying to say. First of all: France was suddenly facing half of Europe that allied and stood up against her. One country vs half of Europe. The Republic suddenly wasn't that important anymore. In 1672 France and her allies attacked a Republic that all alone in the world, soon after as the watercourses prevented any further advancing, half of Europe decided to jump Louis in the back. Half of Europe was duly defeated and the Republic certainly wasn't the biggest issue.

As shown in the Eighty Years War, but that's hardly an argument. This would suggest that a country can half army units that accumulate experience as if it were a game, well it's not Total War it's human beings, as it were the Dutch hadn't fought a war since 1648 and had no army (they did have a navy, that turned out well) with sufficient experience, not mentioning they mainly employed mercenaries again. The nature of the Eighty Years War was also completely different. The point of my argument was that against the military machine of the French the Dutch could do nothing unless that military machine was engaged elsewhere, as soon it would be. It's not even about individual prowess of soldiers, but about military elan, overall military structure and capable leaders, and apart from De Ruyter at sea there was no Dutch Turenne at land. Whereas the Dutch had been at peace since 1648, the French had been nearly non-stop at war since 1635.

Louis Invades the Republic: Turenne vs Louvois
Which brings us back to the failed assault on the Republic, let us shed some more light on that. The essence is simple: the Dutch flooded their land and the French were suddenly kneedeep in a pile of... water. Turenne had adviced Louis to attack the Rhine -and Ijselline and follow up that attack with a thrust straight at Amsterdam. Had Louis listened the fate of the Republic would have sealed that day, as the plan of Turenne wouldn't even give the mob time to hang the De Witt brothers so to say. But Louis didn't listen, for humans are still humans and their petty squabbles often intervene with their actions. In this case as you may know, Turenne had a sworn personal enemy in Louvois, Louis' minister of war. Louvois hated Turenne and loved nothing more then to obstruct the best general of France. So when Turenne adviced a quick advance for Amsterdam, Louvois disagreed and convinced Louis that they should first take hold of the fortifications of Groningen and Overijssel.

Louvois wins and pushes through his will, Turenne bites his tongue and follows orders
Louis agreed to the opinion of Louvois and the French army rather then sealing the deal as Turenne had envisioned, began to siege city after city for weeks in a row, waisting valuable time. The French were still apparently winning and succesfully taking town after town, however, in those weeks of june the course of the war was sealed and the French missed their opportunity: in june the Dutch decided to flood their land (this move was not unprecedented, in 1574 when the Spanish were besieging Leiden they'd done the same). In the summer of 1672 Louis couldn't have guessed what this new defence system would entail, nor its ramifications, in fact, the Dutch didn't either since this time they did it on an unprecedented scale.

In essence it was like this: the dikes along rivers and channels were breached, and the entire polderland in the heart of Holland was transformed into an inner sea. Furthermore this wasn't some random plan, it was very well thought out. The Dutch took great care to only breach those waterways that didn't contain salt water as to not destroy the fertility of their land for posterity. Moreover it was done in such away that only the territories between well fortified cities were flooded, thus forming a chain protecting the province of Holland from the Zuiderzee up untill the the rivers Waal and Maas in the south.

Exit De Witt, enter William III
At first the Dutch made overtures to Louis and sued for peace, however, Louis demanded more then they wished to offer, and all in all their offer wasn't that bad. Ultimately Louis demanded large portions of the provinces of Overijssel and Groningen, an indemnity of 24 000 000 livres, the Dutch would no longer demand a toll on French goods and each and every year they would have to sent a deputation to the court of Louis with a medal praising his mildness and benevolence towards the vanquished.

With this message the deputation returned homeward to find that a lot had changed in their absence to go negotiate with Louis. The so-called "Oranje-revolutie" (Orange Revolution) had resulted in the distasteful murder of De Witt brothers and the rise to power of William III, once again acknowledge as Stadholder.

Louis XIV overplays his hand, Europe sets into motion
When Louis assaulted the Republic he brandished openly his cynical imperialism in the face of all of Europe. Where in 1667 he still coated his War of Devolution in the clothes of legitimate claims, his assault on the little Republic was nothing more then an act of unwarranted agression, imperialism pur sang, no legitimate excuse at all and flaunting in the face of the international law as it was at the time (in Europe). In 1672 there was no excuse whatsoever to attack the Republic and this clearly disturbed all of Europe. There wasn't even any precedent such an old controversy, all the Republic aimed for was to live in peace with her surrounding neighbours. In juli 1672 almost all of Overijssel and Groningen had fallen under French control and for 2 years they would suffer under this yoke. Though Louis tried to advocate him everywhere that he came not as an enemy but only to punish the criminal government of the Republic, it didn't really catch on with the Dutch. On the contrary, Louis only rekindled the flames of the Dutch love for freedom. The Dutch will to resist became a signal to all of Europe: if such a little nation can hold of the mighty Louis XIV, then they could tackle him military as well!

Well... that turned out to be very wrong.

Coalition against Louis XIV
One of the lasting consequences of Louis' assault was the lifelong feud with William, who took it as his life's work to thwart Louis and to unite all of Europe against him, often fairly succesful (in uniting them at least). Now in 1672 a new coalition began to form to tackle the imperialism of Louis XIV. The first to join was Frederick-William of Brandenburg, the Great Elector. F-W was bound to France by a treaty but that didn't sit so well with him, since he as an elector with German ambitions for Brandenburg, could not really come to terms with the imperialist plans of Louis in Germany. When that Louis then assaulted without warrant a fellow protestant nation, he had all the cards to switch sides. In may 1672 he had concluded a treaty with the Dutch offering 20 000 men to come to their aid under certain conditions. Supported by the baron von Lisola F-W then succeeded in convincing the emperor to conclude a treaty in light of the defense of the Empire.

It was Turenne who - as he so often did - saved the day for France and Louis: in the fall of 1672 he quickly crossed the Rhine into Germany and in, a series of brilliant military operations he effectively destroyed every attempted coördination between imperial and Brandenburger forces. He then attacked the Westphalian possessions of F-W and inflicted upon him so terrible and humiliating losses. F-W tried to salvage what he could but his plans to liberate the Republic by the end of 1672 had gone up in smoke.

Exit F-W & England, enter Leopold

Brandenburg having overplayed her hand was forced to make peace in 1673. However the emperor wasn't planning on giving up just yet. In august 1673 he concluded an alliance with the Republic, Spain and Lotheringen whoes aim was to restore the map of Europe to the 1659 constellation. For the Republic this alliance was of the utmost importance as William hoped that by the Spanish entry in the war, the French would be forced to halt their operations in the Republic to turn southward. To an extend this wish came true: France now was beleaguered on all sides and the pressure on the Republic was lightened. 1673 which had begun so ominous didn't turn out to be a new "Rampjaar" as the Dutch had feared.

It was now Condé who took the lead of the French troops still in the Republic but even this military genius was stricken over how to solve the deadlock the Dutch had created by flooding their land, while at the same time he was left with less resources and pretty much open to assault from various directions by the coalition partners of the Republic. The key to victory was to capture the inundated lands but this task proved impossible to achieve. In may 1673 the French then began to evacuate their forces out of the occupied Dutch provinces as they had bigger fish to fry and no real advances could be made anymore. Condé realised that staying here anylonger would only detract French forces from where they would be truly needed. The last danger to the Republic was the English Expeditionairy force that would surely proof lethal if they were able to make land, however, the victory of De Ruyter sealed that deal and in 1674 the English were forced out of the war.


The rest of the war was fought out in the southern Netherlands, in the Pyreneës, along the Rhine and in the Franche-Comté. The French were upon against a formidable coalition that was still growing in size and that was fielding very large operational units, forcing the French to counter them in equal terms. In may 1674 the Reichstag declared the whole empire at war (up untill then it had been as it were a coalition of the willing) with France and thus F-W was forced to take up arms again against France even though he had concluded a solemn peace not a year before. The French generals operated vigorously and displayed just why France was the topdog in Europe at this time: in the southern Netherlands Condé stopped a Dutch-Spanish-Imperial effort to invade France (sealed by the bloody battle of Seneffe); Louis XIV led an army into Franche-Comté occupying the territory; an enemy attempt to seize Alsace was halted by Turenne who subsequently invaded and occupied the Palts but fell in 1675 (depriving France of one of her greatest military talents of the century). In 1675 Sweden chose the side of France but was duly bested at Fehrbellin and subsequently her entire Baltic empire was overrun by the coalition.

The peace of Nijmegen (1678-79)
The years 1676 & 1677 were calm years with no real military highlights. In 1678 peace was finally concluded, and what a victory it was for France (especially given the odds they had just tackled). Already in 1675 were talks initiated and all parties involved had then already decided that the peacetalks would be concluded at the city of Nijmegen. In august 1678 the Republic and France concluded peace, much to the dislike of the coalition (and especially Brandenburg felt betrayed) to whom the Dutch simply abandoned their ship before it had safely entered the harbour. The only important concessions in this peace were regarding trade regulations, no territory was claimed nor given. Shortly after peace was concluded with Spain which resulted in the ceding of Spanish territory to France, namely Franche-Comté and a few valuable areas of the Spanish Netherlands. The next year peace was concluded with the rest of the coalition and what a humiliation it was (Louis XIV as good as unilaterally decided the terms, and for example restored the full status quo of 1675 even though Brandenburg and her Baltic allies had completely overrun the Swedish empire, so all that they were left with was... nothing).

The peace in Nijmegen was a resounding French victory, the Republic had survived and it was Spain that paid the price. Nevertheless Louis XIV was not content with this state of affairs, he was quite angry in fact, anger that turned against one of his close advisors Pomponne, the secretary of foreign affairs, Pomponne received a lettre stating quite briefly that his services were no longer required. Whatever Louis himself thought, to his contemporaries there was only joy in seeing how France could singlehandedly tackle Europe and acquire large swaps of land. France was steadily nearing it's zenith.
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Old August 26th, 2011, 08:00 AM   #6

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I found out that Admiral de Ruyter captured St. Johns, the capital of my colony, during the second Anglo-Dutch War. Grrr.

Also, Jeroen, I'm glad to see that you are taking interest in Dutch history alongside Napoleonic French history. Every man should learn and be interested in his own countries history.
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Old August 26th, 2011, 04:35 PM   #7
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I think you're missing some facts here or misinterpreting what I'm trying to say. First of all: France was suddenly facing half of Europe that allied and stood up against her. One country vs half of Europe.
Well you are acting like it was quite a prestation of France to stould up against all his enemies.

If only we look at the demographical numbers we see that Louis had the manpower to indeed face all his enemies combined (estimated):

Kingdom of France: 20,000,000 (without allies!)

vs

The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands: 2,000,000
Kingdom of Spain: 7,000,000
Kingdom of Austria: 6,000,000
Kingdom of Brandenburg: 4,000,000


Quote:
The Republic suddenly wasn't that important anymore. In 1672 France and her allies attacked a Republic that all alone in the world, soon after as the watercourses prevented any further advancing, half of Europe decided to jump Louis in the back. Half of Europe was duly defeated and the Republic certainly wasn't the biggest issue.
How do you mean wasn't that important anymore? To my knowledge the Dutch Republic was at it's hight in the second half of the seventh century. It was the leading naval and trading power in Europe. Louis wars were in fact aimed to stop the Dutch free trade, because almost everywhere else in Europe the Mercanitlistic system was applied and Dutch profited much from being different. Furthermore Louis wanted natural borders and he would love it if France would reach the rhine with its borders.

So I think we could I think say the Dutch Republic was the big issue. Besides what had he to gain by his other enemies?

Quote:
As shown in the Eighty Years War, but that's hardly an argument. This would suggest that a country can half army units that accumulate experience as if it were a game, well it's not Total War it's human beings,
Haha of course not, but it says the Dutch had the will and strength to face a giant. And as long as the flame burns in the hearts of people a country is never defeated as we have seen during the Dutch war for Independence.

Quote:
as it were the Dutch hadn't fought a war since 1648 and had no army (they did have a navy, that turned out well) with sufficient experience, not mentioning they mainly employed mercenaries again.
First of all who's fault was that? Another plus for Orange by always upkeeping the army as well as the navy. Secondly the fact that a country has no army doesn't mean it can't raise one.

You say the Dutch didn't fight a war since 1648, but what about the First Anglo-Dutch war, Second Northern war, Second Anglo-Dutch war and the war of Devolution?

Quote:
The nature of the Eighty Years War was also completely different.
Well I wouldn't say that. Again the enemy was all over the country. Again the enemy had to be fought not only by strength of the army, but by resistance of the local population. Again the goal was the fight for independence.
Quote:
The point of my argument was that against the military machine of the French the Dutch could do nothing unless that military machine was engaged elsewhere, as soon it would be. It's not even about individual prowess of soldiers, but about military elan, overall military structure and capable leaders, and apart from De Ruyter at sea there was no Dutch Turenne at land.
I will never try to defend Dutch military superiority on land since 1648, but the fact the Dutch army faced the French and sometimes defeated them should be praised. The many campaign between 1648 and 1795 may not have always been led by Dutch commanders, but even under foreign commanders like the Duke of Malrborough Dutch soldiers showed their capability (like during the Battle of Ramillies).

Also to respond on you comment that the Dutch didn't had any Turenne I think the members of the House of Orange (especially Maurits and Frederick Henry) were capable commander perhaps no Turenne, but unlike France the Netherlands is a naval power and France a land power like you said.

Also you forget Tromp as naval commander .

I can not thank you enough for the history, but it does not answer my question about the fact that the Dutch did indeed participate in many battles outside the province of Holland. How did the army liberate Groningen for example?

I know you expertiese on Dutch and Belgian history. Can you perhaps tell me anything about William's capability as military commander? I know his tremendous victory at the Boyne and he showed great military competence. But what about the rest of his campaigns against Louis?

And is the statement true that Louis saw William as his greatest advisary and rival?
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Old August 26th, 2011, 04:43 PM   #8
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I found out that Admiral de Ruyter captured St. Johns, the capital of my colony, during the second Anglo-Dutch War. Grrr.
He is our Nelson

Quote:
Also, Jeroen, I'm glad to see that you are taking interest in Dutch history alongside Napoleonic French history. Every man should learn and be interested in his own countries history.
The main reason I like French history so much is because of the amount of interesting subjects and Napoleon will always remain my favorite subject, but the fascinating thing about the Dutch history is how such a tiny country was the supreme naval and trading power for at least half a century. Also the fact that a man as Louis XIV couldn't crush a country with only a tenth of his own populace fascinates me.

It is always nice to see your own country shine in history and have a prominent position for a while. Especially for small countries.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 04:09 AM   #9

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Originally Posted by jeroenrottgering View Post
Well you are acting like it was quite a prestation of France to stould up against all his enemies.

If only we look at the demographical numbers we see that Louis had the manpower to indeed face all his enemies combined (estimated):

Kingdom of France: 20,000,000 (without allies!)

vs

The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands: 2,000,000
Kingdom of Spain: 7,000,000
Kingdom of Austria: 6,000,000
Kingdom of Brandenburg: 4,000,000
This is not completely true, because I can't stress this enough: history is not a game, it doesn't work as simply as comparing numbers to each other. I'm not saying it isn't relevant, the demographics of France gave her an enormous advantage, I mean, she tackled Europe all on her own. Does this mean it was easy? No. Why? Because we're talking about human beings, not total war or anything. France fielded at her hight an army of around 400 000 men, but that army was often engaged on multiple fronts: this is a strain upon any country. France could hardly field more then that number under the constraints of a society that socio-economically was still feudal. The Early Modern military set-up doesn't work as a simple mathematical "for each 10 citizens : 1 soldier", it doesn't work like that at all. Demographic indicators do not tell us anything about military power per se. They can indicate a potential in terms of reserve, a surplus populace fit for service and most of all an increased populace to tax and thus carry the burden of military expenditure. But, undoubtedly no country could have matched France one-on-one, however, wars were as a rule fought by coalitions, the smaller states allied against the larger agressor and combined could very well hold their own.

And since we're talking numbers, in war time countries could often levy more men in the form of mercenaries and a country like Brandenburg was heavily militarised having an army that was comparably much larger then her demographic share. The main point being, France having 20 000 000 subjects did not allow her to raise an infinite amount of troops, when faced with the combined resistance of Europe the only consequence of these wars was an ever mounting burden on the French populace (and as we see towards the end of Louis reign: it wrecked the country, after the 1680's the glory days were over and France was increasingly on the defensive during wartime). While France had to defend all her borders herself, operate both defensively and offensively with her army, her opponents had to pull of a comparably lighter burden since rather then fielding for example 5 armies to counter 5 French armies, they had several constituent members of their alliance each providing enough to equal that number, but while the whole burden of the 5 French armies fell on France, the coalition partners only carried the burden of their own single (for example) army.

And since we're talking numbers, some more info:

1632

Dutch Republic: 70 000
Sweden: 120 000
Russia: 35 000

1661

France: 48 000

1678

France: 280 000 (130 000 by 1679)

1690

France: 338 000
Dutch Republic: 73 000
Sweden: 90 000
Austria: 50 000 (imperial contingents not included)
England: 80 000 (in 1688 this number was still 53 000)

1710

France: 360 000
Dutch Republic: 100 000
Austria: 100 000
Prussia: 39 000

Take into account that these figures as you see only deal with certain states, France often faced these backed up by several others, but 10 smaller states each delivering some 10 000 soldiers would still amount for 100 000 wouldn't they? To given an indication of for example the HRE and the armies she could provide in 1702:

Austria: 110 000
Prussia: 26 000
Saxony: 27 000
Hanover: 18 900
Palatinate: 18 000
Bavaria: 27 000


Quote:
Originally Posted by jeroenrottgering View Post
How do you mean wasn't that important anymore? To my knowledge the Dutch Republic was at it's hight in the second half of the seventh century. It was the leading naval and trading power in Europe.
The peak of the Republic was arguably the mid-17th century. The fabled Dutch Golden Century didn't last a 100 years, not even 50, the Golden Century lasted between 1625-1648 (Gouden Eeuw, "Eeuw" has nothing to do with the exact chronological duration, it's merely pointing out towards a supposed time of splendour and peace, paradise on earth for the people of the Republic). It was still the leading naval and trading power but the war of the 1670's marks a turning point. Whether this was immediately decline or stagnation or something more benign is actually something not even all historians agree upon, but it's quite apparent that change was stirring. Certainly by 1702 (death of William III) the Republic had begun to undeniably decline, politically this would only come to the forefront in 1744 since Europe enjoyed a long period of relative peace after 1714 (at least on the account of France), the most tentative example of the Dutch decline then is the shipping tonnage through the Sont for example. In my opinion the period 1672-1702 were years of stagnation, the Republic was still fabulously wealthy and would remain so, but William and his personal vendetta against Louis led him to pull the country in to a series of costly wars and in the meantime England was ever more emerging as a seafaring nation. The many naval wars with the Dutch although never truly besting the latter, were simply the wearing the Republic down.

I'll quote this from the "Geschiedenis van de Nederlanden" - to the mods it's in dutch, I'll translate it if you want, but this is just specifically for Jeroenrottgering and it's factually the dutch version of the above, so not really something I'm keeping from any other reader:

'Wie deze period van de Nederlandse Geschiedenis beschrijft, moet onvermijdelijk het accent leggen op de politiek-militaire zijde. In deze jaren moest de Republiek haar verantwoordelijkheid als grote mogendheid dragen, en haar bijdrage leveren aan de totstandkoming van een Europees evenwicht, dat de grondslag zou kunnen vormen van een bestendige vrede. Op Willems aansporing heeft zij die taak vervuld, en er duur voor betaald. In de volgende oorlog, die van 1702, zou blijken dat zij boven haar stand leefde. De laatste decennia van de 17e eeuw vertonen dat beeld not niet. Wel beginnen de aanwijzingen zich aan te dienen, dat de grote tijd voorbij is. Handel en scheepvaart zijn weliswaar niet in verval, maar in plaats van groei is er nu stilstand en achteruitgang. De Republiek moet berusten dat buitenlandse concurrenten dank zij de steun van hun machtiger gouvernementen en groter potentieel de Nederlandse markthegemonie verbreken. De militaire inspanning die zij zich moet getroosten om haar positie te handhaven kost haar meer dan zij op de internationale markten terug kan verdienen. Niet alleen politiek, maar ook economisch zal zij weldra tevreden moeten zijn met een plaats op de 2e rang'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeroenrottgering View Post
Louis wars were in fact aimed to stop the Dutch free trade, because almost everywhere else in Europe the Mercanitlistic system was applied and Dutch profited much from being different. Furthermore Louis wanted natural borders and he would love it if France would reach the rhine with its borders.
Well the peace of Nijmegen stipulated new agreements on trade, and France gained the Franche-Comté, look it up to see what a sizeable chunk of land that is + several strategic swaps of land in the Spanish Netherlands, France - given the odds she went up against - truly had achieved a resounding victory here.

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Originally Posted by jeroenrottgering View Post
So I think we could I think say the Dutch Republic was the big issue. Besides what had he to gain by his other enemies?
See the above post and/or check this map:

Click the image to open in full size.

Yes, he gained something allright

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Originally Posted by jeroenrottgering View Post
Haha of course not, but it says the Dutch had the will and strength to face a giant. And as long as the flame burns in the hearts of people a country is never defeated as we have seen during the Dutch war for Independence.
Well that flame certainly got rekindled during the invasion, however, that alone wouldn't have been enough to defeat France, they did effectively stop the French assault in their tracks by flooding their land and that's not a split second decision. Like I said, the Dutch can be lucky that Louvois and Turenne were suchs a-holes to each other and that Louis choose to listen to the former.

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Originally Posted by jeroenrottgering View Post
First of all who's fault was that? Another plus for Orange by always upkeeping the army as well as the navy. Secondly the fact that a country has no army doesn't mean it can't raise one.
Well the fact that country which has none can raise one isn't my point at all, merely pointing out that the Republic was lacking in accumulated military experience for having been at peace for about a generation, France on the other half had been near continuously engaged in conflicts since 1635. This isn't really a judgement, just a fact.

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Originally Posted by jeroenrottgering View Post
You say the Dutch didn't fight a war since 1648, but what about the First Anglo-Dutch war, Second Northern war, Second Anglo-Dutch war and the war of Devolution?
I did specifically include: the story is different at sea ("they did have a navy, that turned out rather well"). The First Anglo-Dutch War, the Second Northern War were all naval conflicts, so thank you for strenghtening my point As for the War of Devolution, the Republic didn't 'fight' in this war (they joined in 1668 and peace was concluded within that year), she concluded a triple alliance with England and Sweden to bring France to the table, and diplomatically they checked France who was suddenly facing the prospect of a European coalition against her and decided to sit it out at the negotiating table, so again, not really an example.

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Originally Posted by jeroenrottgering View Post
Well I wouldn't say that. Again the enemy was all over the country. Again the enemy had to be fought not only by strength of the army, but by resistance of the local population. Again the goal was the fight for independence.
This is only superficial and not what I intended to point out, what I wanted to point out was the tantamount difference in the context of all parties involved. The 80 Years War started out as a rebellion which dragged on in a day and age when states couldn't levy nearly as much troops as Louis XIV could. It was a slugfest that for various reasons dragged on 80 years (with 12 years pausing in between of course) and fought against an empire that was both distant (the Spanish recruitment pool was Castille, Italy and partly Germany - the Southern Netherlands did not deliver contingents nor paid that many taxes), and of course carrying the burden of fighting a pan-European war to ensure Habsburg dominance and utterly burning up her own resources so that by the mid-17th century not only the Netherlands, but also Portugal, Naples (and much of southern Italy/Sicily) and Aragon-Catalonia were in full revolt. The Spanish Habsburg empire was also much poorer then France. That's what I meant with context.

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Originally Posted by jeroenrottgering View Post
I will never try to defend Dutch military superiority on land since 1648, but the fact the Dutch army faced the French and sometimes defeated them should be praised.
To me history isn't about praising anyone.

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Originally Posted by jeroenrottgering View Post
The many campaign between 1648 and 1795 may not have always been led by Dutch commanders, but even under foreign commanders like the Duke of Malrborough Dutch soldiers showed their capability (like during the Battle of Ramillies).
Even better: they bled for an English victory, quite ironic that is.

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Originally Posted by jeroenrottgering View Post
Also to respond on you comment that the Dutch didn't had any Turenne I think the members of the House of Orange (especially Maurits and Frederick Henry) were capable commander perhaps no Turenne, but unlike France the Netherlands is a naval power and France a land power like you said.
Well yes but none of those lived in 1672

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Originally Posted by jeroenrottgering View Post
I can not thank you enough for the history, but it does not answer my question about the fact that the Dutch did indeed participate in many battles outside the province of Holland. How did the army liberate Groningen for example?
Well like I said, Condé abandoned the Republic in the course of 1673 because the coalition had captured Bonn, which had served as the logistic hub for the French invasion force and thus Condé realised that staying put in the Republic (with an already smaller force) would endanger him to be cut of resources to sustain his army altogether. So Groningen wasn't recaptured, it was abandoned by the French. So without much dilly-dallying Groningen, Utrecht, Overijssel & Gelderland could once again sent their deputations to the Estates (Staten-Generaal), note that they did not receive a warm welcome, on the contrary there was a lot of hostility against them and some members even wanted to revoke their membership in the Estates at all because they hadn't put up enough resistance in 1672, they would then only be part of the Republic as "Conquered Lands" (Generaliteitslanden), William III prevented this (which ensured the loyalty of the 3 provinces to his rule in the future). The subsequent reconfiguring of the privileges of these 3 provinces diminished the voice of the Provinces in the United Provinces and gave William III power the previous Stadholders could have only dreamed of (and for which William II actually almost began a civil war).

The most detailed account I have of these events are those of Voltaire. After the king left like I already said the war changed decisively as suddenly became a European conflict. Turenne was called off to fight in Germany and face the Emperor and Frederick-William (and defeating them both), while the Condé was left in the Republic with a smaller army. The Spanish "Landvoogd" in the Netherlands, Monterrey, then without further ado decided to send 10 000 troops to aid William. William in 1673 managed to simply hold the line untill winter. When ice started to cover the flooded waterways Luxembourg, who held Utrecht, started a new sort of warfare which baffled the French and took the Dutch by suprise. One night he assembled 12 000 infantrymen and had them attach iron on their shoes to cross the ice. However, the climate wasn't kindly to the French attempt and it already started to get warmer. So when the French were closing in on den Haag, the ice started to melt and they barely escaped with their lives, to make matters worse they now had to retreat along a very narrow dike (no more then 4 men could walk side by side) that was blocked of by a fortification armed with artillery. But the same luck that saved den Haag now saved Luxembourg as the commander of the fortification upon seeing the French panicked and surrendered.

The Condé knew that to force Holland to surrender he had to cross the water but this proved simply impossible (I already explained how well thought out the flooding was done, interlocking the flooded lands with the largest fortifications) and in the meantime Turenne could not stop the Prince of Orange to join up with Monteculli in Germany and take Bonn, the most important logistic hub for the French army north of the Rhine.

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Originally Posted by jeroenrottgering View Post
I know you expertiese on Dutch and Belgian history. Can you perhaps tell me anything about William's capability as military commander? I know his tremendous victory at the Boyne and he showed great military competence. But what about the rest of his campaigns against Louis?
I can't make any decisive statements on William III, just scratch the surface with general remarks. Arguably, as a diplomatical engineer of alliances he was far superior to anything he ever achieved as a military commander. He was driven yet hardly as talented as say Marlborough, the fact that his name does hardly ever appear related to the conduct of important battles says something about this. He probably wasn't bad, but he lacked the talent of the great generals of this era. Also, warfare in the Netherlands was generally a sieging slugfest, not the most dashing place to wage fancy battles.

Louis XIV and William only met once directly during this war though not in battle, that is to say, they were on opposite sides during an encounter but William refused to engage Louis. This episode was at the siege of Bouchain in may 1676. Both Louis XIV and William III were blamed for not engaging the other and the city fell to Louis. William was not to blame for this since his ally Monterrey, the Spanish Landvoogd, refused to endanger his troops for a decisive battle and thus William and his army of 50 000 were forced to watch as Louis did what he wanted and took the town.

Another episode is far from glorious for William but speaks of his character and especially his hostility towards the French. On the 10th of august 1678, 4 days after the envoys of France and the Republic had concluded their treaty at Nijmegen, William made a last daring move on Louis. Marchal Luxembourg who had blockaded Bergen (southern Netherlands, Mons in French) had just been informed of the peace and was resting in the quaint village of Saint-Denis where he was having dinner. William suddenly fell upon the French camp, managed to break in and started a bloody struggle by which he hoped to end the war (though technically it ended 4 days earlier and it was more then unlikely that William was not informed of this) with one last victory over the French. This hope wasn't that farfetched since he took the French by suprise and the latter were also counting on the immunity because of the peace that had been signed. Luxembourg managed to retreat his troops and William attained somewhat of a blemished victory, contemporaries did not take kindly to this action which they deemed rather dishonourable.

As far as military encounters go, William had many, Voltaire describes it as such: "Louis waged war as a king, William as a soldier". William had encountered the most famous generals of the day such as Luxembourg (at Steenkerke) and Condé (at Seneffe) and generally drew the shorter straw such as at Neerwinden and Steenkerke. In retrospect though these failed operations - such as also the seemingly endless siege of Namur - did leave posterity one thing: they bred the coming generation of English military leaders that would display such vigour in the Spanish War of Succession, though obviously, that didn't matter really to the Republic or to William, but that as a side-note.

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Originally Posted by jeroenrottgering View Post
And is the statement true that Louis saw William as his greatest advisary and rival?
Yes, William a tad earlier then Louis (say 1672), for the latter 1688 must have been quite a shock. Both men were great rivals and it shows in their actions. When the Spanish inheritance had to be carved up initially a deal was struck between Louis and William, since both saw each other as the 2 most viable partners, and when William died in 1702 this was celebrated in France as an official holiday (prior to that when William had gotten wounded at the Boyne, some people thought he died and in Paris this led to a large celebration, which Voltaire described as very unfitting and scandalous, though the king had nothing to do with this). It is also said that William had publically declared "I could not acquire his friendship, I'll deserve his [Louis XIV that is] respect", several people seemed to have taken note of this declaration and abbé De Choisy dates it around 1672.
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Old August 28th, 2011, 03:01 PM   #10
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This is not completely true, because I can't stress this enough: history is not a game, it doesn't work as simply as comparing numbers to each other.
I am not trying to point that out. I am only saying that an advantage in numbers has a great effect on the possibility to win a war. For example what if Stalin had the same amount of people avaliable as Hitler? I think if this was the case we can predict the result of the war: A victory for Nazi-Germany on the east front.

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I'm not saying it isn't relevant, the demographics of France gave her an enormous advantage, I mean, she tackled Europe all on her own. Does this mean it was easy? No. Why? Because we're talking about human beings, not total war or anything.
Again I am not trying to say that it was a easy victory. Certainly not! But I am pointing out that the changes were about even while it seems to me that you are stating that it was a wonder that France could win the war.

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France fielded at her hight an army of around 400 000 men, but that army was often engaged on multiple fronts: this is a strain upon any country. France could hardly field more then that number under the constraints of a society that socio-economically was still feudal.
Still an army devided doesn't mean it can perform with great strength. In this war this was the case. If we devide the army of France into four pieces (one for every enemy) then still would every seperate army outnumber the number.

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The Early Modern military set-up doesn't work as a simple mathematical "for each 10 citizens : 1 soldier", it doesn't work like that at all. Demographic indicators do not tell us anything about military power per se. They can indicate a potential in terms of reserve, a surplus populace fit for service and most of all an increased populace to tax and thus carry the burden of military expenditure.


I think it actually does work like that. As you have stated France had an army of 400,000 man with a population of 20,000,000 doesn't this automatically mean that the army ratio is 1:50?
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But, undoubtedly no country could have matched France one-on-one, however, wars were as a rule fought by coalitions, the smaller states allied against the larger agressor and combined could very well hold their own.
I certainly agree with you here.

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And since we're talking numbers, in war time countries could often levy more men in the form of mercenaries and a country like Brandenburg was heavily militarised having an army that was comparably much larger then her demographic share.
What is you point here? France could hire mercaneries to. Something they certainly did. Still the amount of tax payers in France was higher and so their was more money avaible to pay more mercenaries. Again an advantage for France.

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The main point being, France having 20 000 000 subjects did not allow her to raise an infinite amount of troops, when faced with the combined resistance of Europe the only consequence of these wars was an ever mounting burden on the French populace (and as we see towards the end of Louis reign: it wrecked the country, after the 1680's the glory days were over and France was increasingly on the defensive during wartime).
Indeed France stould under a lot of pressure, but so did the coalition members. The Republic (except for Holland) was overrun, Spain was practically ruined by their wars against the Turks, Dutch and other protestant nations and Brandenburg was at the time still a minor nation. The only true advisary (on military scale) was the Holy Roman Empire. But as you said beating one real enemy wasn't that hard of a job for France.

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While France had to defend all her borders herself, operate both defensively and offensively with her army, her opponents had to pull of a comparably lighter burden since rather then fielding for example 5 armies to counter 5 French armies, they had several constituent members of their alliance each providing enough to equal that number, but while the whole burden of the 5 French armies fell on France, the coalition partners only carried the burden of their own single (for example) army.
I understand you argument, but find it not that strong. If a country has a capable general for each army. A general who can take care of this army on his own with fundings of his government then it isn't much harder to sustain many seperate armies as one big one.

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And since we're talking numbers, some more info:

1632

Dutch Republic: 70 000
Sweden: 120 000
Russia: 35 000

1661

France: 48 000

1678

France: 280 000 (130 000 by 1679)

1690

France: 338 000
Dutch Republic: 73 000
Sweden: 90 000
Austria: 50 000 (imperial contingents not included)
England: 80 000 (in 1688 this number was still 53 000)

1710

France: 360 000
Dutch Republic: 100 000
Austria: 100 000
Prussia: 39 000

Take into account that these figures as you see only deal with certain states, France often faced these backed up by several others, but 10 smaller states each delivering some 10 000 soldiers would still amount for 100 000 wouldn't they? To given an indication of for example the HRE and the armies she could provide in 1702:

Austria: 110 000
Prussia: 26 000
Saxony: 27 000
Hanover: 18 900
Palatinate: 18 000
Bavaria: 27 000
Doesn't this only prove the big advantage France had over his enemies?






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The peak of the Republic was arguably the mid-17th century.
Perhaps the peak, but the Golden Century as a whole to much longer.

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The fabled Dutch Golden Century didn't last a 100 years, not even 50, the Golden Century lasted between 1625-1648 (Gouden Eeuw, "Eeuw" has nothing to do with the exact chronological duration, it's merely pointing out towards a supposed time of splendour and peace, paradise on earth for the people of the Republic).
Wow then you are really looking down on the Dutch Golden Age. It's duration was certainly not just 23 years. Otherwise the people of those days wouldn't have called it a century. Furthermore why would a time of splendour and peace end when one of the biggest wars in national history just ended? I find this quite contradictory don't you? Also the Golden Century was not only a event on national level, but was recognized trough the whole of Europe as the prime of the Republic. The Dutch had both the best working economy and strongest navy with the best quality of Admirals. Who controls the sees had a very prominent position. I think you really understimate the Golden Century. The silver century as it is written in Dutch history books started at the deathbed of William III. Also stagnation can still mean a prominent position. The US is stagnating (if not declining) but it still has the most prominent position in the world. This was also the case for the Dutch.

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It was still the leading naval and trading power but the war of the 1670's marks a turning point.
The war didn't cause a turning point. Yes, France became more powerful, but it was also before it had gained those few pieces of land. England was beaten again and the Dutch still caried out their trade. I see certainly no turning point.

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Whether this was immediately decline or stagnation or something more benign is actually something not even all historians agree upon, but it's quite apparent that change was stirring. Certainly by 1702 (death of William III) the Republic had begun to undeniably decline,
First of all I think it is certainly no decline and as for stagnation read my post above. Because the Dutch only speak of relative decline at the death of William III (and even then the average Dutch citizen was better off then average citizen of France or Spain. Only when the Republic was facing it's end let's say during the reing of the last Stadtholder (William V) the Republic started it's absolute decline. Something we would finally recover from when a King was crowned in 1815.

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politically this would only come to the forefront in 1744 since Europe enjoyed a long period of relative peace after 1714 (at least on the account of France),
Agreed


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the most tentative example of the Dutch decline then is the shipping tonnage through the Sont for example.
Please tell me more. Cause to my knowledge the Dutch navy managed to win every war to keep the Sont open?

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In my opinion the period 1672-1702 were years of stagnation, the Republic was still fabulously wealthy and would remain so, but William and his personal vendetta against Louis led him to pull the country in to a series of costly wars
Is stagnating on a high level still not quite a prestation and doesn't a golden age that started during the Eighty years war that the Dutch managed to keep on the same level until the death of William III still mean it remains a golden age?

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and in the meantime England was ever more emerging as a seafaring nation. The many naval wars with the Dutch although never truly besting the latter, were simply the wearing the Republic down.
True but that only happened from the start of the 18th century. I think (as we can judge from both wars) that the Dutch navy still controlled the (at least the European) sees. But yes it is true that England was coming closer, but didn't beat the Dutch yet in the seventeenth century.

I'll quote this from the "Geschiedenis van de Nederlanden" - to the mods it's in dutch, I'll translate it if you want, but this is just specifically for Jeroenrottgering and it's factually the dutch version of the above, so not really something I'm keeping from any other reader:
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'Wie deze period van de Nederlandse Geschiedenis beschrijft, moet onvermijdelijk het accent leggen op de politiek-militaire zijde. In deze jaren moest de Republiek haar verantwoordelijkheid als grote mogendheid dragen, en haar bijdrage leveren aan de totstandkoming van een Europees evenwicht, dat de grondslag zou kunnen vormen van een bestendige vrede. Op Willems aansporing heeft zij die taak vervuld, en er duur voor betaald. In de volgende oorlog, die van 1702, zou blijken dat zij boven haar stand leefde. De laatste decennia van de 17e eeuw vertonen dat beeld not niet. Wel beginnen de aanwijzingen zich aan te dienen, dat de grote tijd voorbij is. Handel en scheepvaart zijn weliswaar niet in verval, maar in plaats van groei is er nu stilstand en achteruitgang. De Republiek moet berusten dat buitenlandse concurrenten dank zij de steun van hun machtiger gouvernementen en groter potentieel de Nederlandse markthegemonie verbreken. De militaire inspanning die zij zich moet getroosten om haar positie te handhaven kost haar meer dan zij op de internationale markten terug kan verdienen. Niet alleen politiek, maar ook economisch zal zij weldra tevreden moeten zijn met een plaats op de 2e rang'.
Doesn't this quote also proves that the Dutch Golden Age in fact did last for more then 50 years? And yes the Dutch did perform above their capability that is also why it collapsed in the 18th century I think. But this collapse as I said many times only took place in the 18th century and not yet in the 17th.

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Well the peace of Nijmegen stipulated new agreements on trade, and France gained the Franche-Comté, look it up to see what a sizeable chunk of land that is + several strategic swaps of land in the Spanish Netherlands, France - given the odds she went up against - truly had achieved a resounding victory here.
It was indeed quite a prestation. But he didn't hurt his main enemy "William". Spain was already a sunken ship a real advantage on his enemies he didn't gain.



See the above post and/or check this map:

Click the image to open in full size.
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Yes, he gained something allright
He shure did and don't get me wrong I love the history of the Bourbons and especially that of Louis XIV and I find his achievements quite extrodinary. Also in his wars he perfomed very well as politician, but unlike Hannibal, Caesar, Alexander or Napoleon he never faced a foe that was already at the start seen as more powerful then themselfs. But I will never deny the greatness of Louis le Grand. I think he is still the most awesome King ever lived.


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Well that flame certainly got rekindled during the invasion, however, that alone wouldn't have been enough to defeat France, they did effectively stop the French assault in their tracks by flooding their land and that's not a split second decision. Like I said, the Dutch can be lucky that Louvois and Turenne were suchs a-holes to each other and that Louis choose to listen to the former.
Certainly, but everyone needs a bit of luck. Without luck it is much harder to achieve something.

The flooding of the lands certainly took a sacrifice from the Dutch and the fact that the stould as a wall behind their beloved Orange. Except for the provinces that were already overun ofcourse, but what could they do since most Dutch lived in Holland.


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Well the fact that country which has none can raise one isn't my point at all, merely pointing out that the Republic was lacking in accumulated military experience for having been at peace for about a generation, France on the other half had been near continuously engaged in conflicts since 1635. This isn't really a judgement, just a fact.
But do you really think that the experience to fight a war already would vanish after 24 years? Futhermore you told me that it isn't a total war game and of course this is true, but this is also the case for France. Since France also didn't fight a war between 1660-1667. In these 7 years most soldiers (since they are not in active duty) would leave the army and gone is your experience. In 1667 also Louis had to start over again. But I will agree with you if you would say that the experience more counts for generals, king and the country as a whole France had indeed more experience.

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I did specifically include: the story is different at sea ("they did have a navy, that turned out rather well"). The First Anglo-Dutch War, the Second Northern War were all naval conflicts, so thank you for strenghtening my point As for the War of Devolution, the Republic didn't 'fight' in this war (they joined in 1668 and peace was concluded within that year), she concluded a triple alliance with England and Sweden to bring France to the table, and diplomatically they checked France who was suddenly facing the prospect of a European coalition against her and decided to sit it out at the negotiating table, so again, not really an example.
Although the Dutch indeed lost most of it's land experience it kept the experience for the people to sustain the hardship of a war. But like you said most armies recruited mercenaries and so did the Dutch. And mercanaries are in most cases experienced. So in that case when the Dutch mustered 20,000 soldiers in 1672 it would mean that not all those soldiers were unprepared since more then half were mercenaries.

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It was a slugfest that for various reasons dragged on 80 years (with 12 years pausing in between of course) and fought against an empire that was both distant (the Spanish recruitment pool was Castille, Italy and partly Germany - the Southern Netherlands did not deliver contingents nor paid that many taxes), and of course carrying the burden of fighting a pan-European war to ensure Habsburg dominance and utterly burning up her own resources so that by the mid-17th century not only the Netherlands, but also Portugal, Naples (and much of southern Italy/Sicily) and Aragon-Catalonia were in full revolt. The Spanish Habsburg empire was also much poorer then France. That's what I meant with context.
True the political system was tottaly different, but if we look on national level we see that the both the hardships and struggles the Dutch had to sustain are comparable to the situation of 1564-1648.


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To me history isn't about praising anyone.
Some people deserve to be praised to my opinion.


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Even better: they bled for an English victory, quite ironic that is.
Yes the victory was for England, but they bled to drag the Republic savely true the war ;p.


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Well yes but none of those lived in 1672
There was William III? and I was more responding on your comment that the Dutch never knew a Turrene while Maurits and Frederick Henry were very good commanders.
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Well like I said, Condé abandoned the Republic in the course of 1673 because the coalition had captured Bonn, which had served as the logistic hub for the French invasion force and thus Condé realised that staying put in the Republic (with an already smaller force) would endanger him to be cut of resources to sustain his army altogether. So Groningen wasn't recaptured, it was abandoned by the French. So without much dilly-dallying Groningen, Utrecht, Overijssel & Gelderland could once again sent their deputations to the Estates (Staten-Generaal), note that they did not receive a warm welcome, on the contrary there was a lot of hostility against them and some members even wanted to revoke their membership in the Estates at all because they hadn't put up enough resistance in 1672, they would then only be part of the Republic as "Conquered Lands" (Generaliteitslanden), William III prevented this (which ensured the loyalty of the 3 provinces to his rule in the future). The subsequent reconfiguring of the privileges of these 3 provinces diminished the voice of the Provinces in the United Provinces and gave William III power the previous Stadholders could have only dreamed of (and for which William II actually almost began a civil war).
Thanks I appreciate the information.

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The most detailed account I have of these events are those of Voltaire. After the king left like I already said the war changed decisively as suddenly became a European conflict. Turenne was called off to fight in Germany and face the Emperor and Frederick-William (and defeating them both), while the Condé was left in the Republic with a smaller army. The Spanish "Landvoogd" in the Netherlands, Monterrey, then without further ado decided to send 10 000 troops to aid William. William in 1673 managed to simply hold the line untill winter. When ice started to cover the flooded waterways Luxembourg, who held Utrecht, started a new sort of warfare which baffled the French and took the Dutch by suprise. One night he assembled 12 000 infantrymen and had them attach iron on their shoes to cross the ice. However, the climate wasn't kindly to the French attempt and it already started to get warmer. So when the French were closing in on den Haag, the ice started to melt and they barely escaped with their lives, to make matters worse they now had to retreat along a very narrow dike (no more then 4 men could walk side by side) that was blocked of by a fortification armed with artillery. But the same luck that saved den Haag now saved Luxembourg as the commander of the fortification upon seeing the French panicked and surrendered.
Wow I never knew that. But was their no army to defend Den Haag? Where was William for example with his 20,000 man during those days?

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The Condé knew that to force Holland to surrender he had to cross the water but this proved simply impossible (I already explained how well thought out the flooding was done, interlocking the flooded lands with the largest fortifications) and in the meantime Turenne could not stop the Prince of Orange to join up with Monteculli in Germany and take Bonn, the most important logistic hub for the French army north of the Rhine.
Why then did Louis still received such a nice victory while it almost appears it came close to a tie. Or was their more troubling on other fronts that made the coaliton bend?

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I can't make any decisive statements on William III, just scratch the surface with general remarks. Arguably, as a diplomatical engineer of alliances he was far superior to anything he ever achieved as a military commander. He was driven yet hardly as talented as say Marlborough, the fact that his name does hardly ever appear related to the conduct of important battles says something about this. He probably wasn't bad, but he lacked the talent of the great generals of this era. Also, warfare in the Netherlands was generally a sieging slugfest, not the most dashing place to wage fancy battles.
William in fact did live in the wrong country and age to win the military glory he was hoping for .

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Louis XIV and William only met once directly during this war though not in battle, that is to say, they were on opposite sides during an encounter but William refused to engage Louis. This episode was at the siege of Bouchain in may 1676. Both Louis XIV and William III were blamed for not engaging the other and the city fell to Louis. William was not to blame for this since his ally Monterrey, the Spanish Landvoogd, refused to endanger his troops for a decisive battle and thus William and his army of 50 000 were forced to watch as Louis did what he wanted and took the town.

Another episode is far from glorious for William but speaks of his character and especially his hostility towards the French. On the 10th of august 1678, 4 days after the envoys of France and the Republic had concluded their treaty at Nijmegen, William made a last daring move on Louis. Marchal Luxembourg who had blockaded Bergen (southern Netherlands, Mons in French) had just been informed of the peace and was resting in the quaint village of Saint-Denis where he was having dinner. William suddenly fell upon the French camp, managed to break in and started a bloody struggle by which he hoped to end the war (though technically it ended 4 days earlier and it was more then unlikely that William was not informed of this) with one last victory over the French. This hope wasn't that farfetched since he took the French by suprise and the latter were also counting on the immunity because of the peace that had been signed. Luxembourg managed to retreat his troops and William attained somewhat of a blemished victory, contemporaries did not take kindly to this action which they deemed rather dishonourable.
Again thank you so much for the story of William. But in general was he an equal to Louis. Since he did achieve to turn the half of Europe against him, became King of England and saved the Dutch from downfall in 1672. Those are quite achievements are they not?

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As far as military encounters go, William had many, Voltaire describes it as such: "Louis waged war as a king, William as a soldier". William had encountered the most famous generals of the day such as Luxembourg (at Steenkerke) and Condé (at Seneffe) and generally drew the shorter straw such as at Neerwinden and Steenkerke. In retrospect though these failed operations - such as also the seemingly endless siege of Namur - did leave posterity one thing: they bred the coming generation of English military leaders that would display such vigour in the Spanish War of Succession, though obviously, that didn't matter really to the Republic or to William, but that as a side-note.
So we can compare him more to an Archduke Charles or Napoleon III on military level. Not the best commander of his age, but neither a complete dissaster?

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Yes, William a tad earlier then Louis (say 1672), for the latter 1688 must have been quite a shock. Both men were great rivals and it shows in their actions. When the Spanish inheritance had to be carved up initially a deal was struck between Louis and William, since both saw each other as the 2 most viable partners, and when William died in 1702 this was celebrated in France as an official holiday (prior to that when William had gotten wounded at the Boyne, some people thought he died and in Paris this led to a large celebration, which Voltaire described as very unfitting and scandalous, though the king had nothing to do with this). It is also said that William had publically declared "I could not acquire his friendship, I'll deserve his [Louis XIV that is] respect", several people seemed to have taken note of this declaration and abbé De Choisy dates it around 1672.
In fact the two are quite alike. Nor did the posess extrodinary military skills but on political level they had a lot of succes. Louis for his creation of an absolute form of state and keeping the wars in his favor and William for his conquest of England and ability to get the half of Europe behind him. Besides their personalities perhaps they were practically the same.



One last seperate question did the two ever meet in fact (faceto face)?
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