Marlborough

Sep 2016
1,141
Georgia
#21
Cromwell would have had to contend with the creme of the time ......Gustav Adolph , Wallenstein , Tilly , Mansfeld , Torstensson
Not Gustav Adolph, Wallenstein or Tilly. All of them were dead before Cromwell's military career even started.

During 1640's he would have to face Turenne, Conde, Franz von Mercy, Torstensson and etc.

Not to mention, that in 17th/early 18th century there were also Montecuccoli, Luxembourg, Eugene of Savoy and Villars. Marlborough was not some ,, undisputed genius '' of his era.
 
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Nov 2011
4,742
Ohio, USA
#22
Cromwell would have had to contend with the creme of the time ......Gustav Adolph , Wallenstein , Tilly , Mansfeld , Torstensson
I am sure he would have been up there , he had the gift like Marlborough
some things can be taught
some things can be shown
some things can only be known
Ehh, I always found Cromwell to be somewhat overrated as an independent commander. Some of the commanders he fought, such as David Leslie, were good, but the enemy army quality was almost always pitifully weak. The hilarious ease with which he won at both Preston and Dunbar speaks to this. Put a dog in command of the English army against the Scots at Preston and the English still would have swept the field. Cromwell was actually out-maneuvered by Leslie during the operations leading up to Dunbar and it was only the Covenanter overseers overruling Leslie's more thoughtful approach which lead the Scots to fighting the much better quality New Model Army on the field and getting quashed as a result. Cromwell's tactics here were quite good but its hard to say how things would have gone against better opposition. His best campaign was undoubtedly Worcester, where he completely out-maneuvered Charles Stuart into an un-winnable situation. It was a harder fight than usual but even here it was hopeless for the Scots, since the New Model elements of Cromwell's army alone already out-numbered Charles's army.

Cromwell was good all-around but I think it was as a subordinate cavalry leader that he truly shined.

Against all of those guys except perhaps Mansfeld (not really a winner in the field but at least tenacious in keeping up a war effort and an army in being, sort of like Washington) I think he would have found himself out of his league. Same if he faced Turenne, Louis le Conde, Montecuoccoli, Marlborough, Frederick, Eugene, Villars, etc. All of these guys faced truly excellent enemy armies and opponents at one time or another and still usually emerged victorious.
 

Mangekyou

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
7,915
UK
#23
I can see that. Louis was not Napoleon, who refused several sound peace offers in 1813 and 1814. However, Allies must be careful and not humiliate him or France. Louis would never tolerate that, which Allies failed to recognize in 1709 and made a foolish mistake.
Totally agree. They made a huge mistake. It's funny, because the trumped up charges Marlborough was accused of, of prolonging the war, in his personal correspondence to his wife during that period, he wanted peace and to return home.


Yes, that is what I find most impressive about. It is very hard to find a military commander, that would be good in so many aspects. For example, Suvorov never was a good diplomat and didn't have an ability to manage a multi-national coalition.
Yes, that is what is impressive, I agree. He was highly competent in all areas of soldiering and excelled in maneouvre warfare, which probably heralds back to his time under Turenne.


Yes, it shouldn't detract from his skill as a soldier. I just wish that Eugene, Maurice de Saxe, Villars and Suvorov would get more attention.
They all get attention from me. I actually think a lot of the French generals of the Spanish succession were very very good. For example, Boufflers was exceptional. They just came up against a brilliant combination of Marlborough and Eugene, who instinctively thrived off each other. I think all of them were slightly below Marlborough in overall ability though.

Saxe was a very good general, though he should never have won the battle of Fontenoy. That was due more to the inept positioning of Cumberland, rather than superior tactics or quality of troops. The difference between that and Malplaquet, was that even though there was one or two mistakes in advancement at Malplaquet, Marlborough'' overall tactics and plan still worked and he still punched a hole through an extremely strong French position and drove them into retreat. The overall braveness of the Dutch in that particular battle and of the tactical acuteness of Marlborough always gets overlooked in favour of the casualty rate, and also the fact he was facing extremely strong opponents. What also gets overlooked is that Marlborough would never make that mistake of going against an entrenched position again for the rest of his command, as Villars tried it again later, and Marlborough simply bypassed him (which also proves he wasn't just trying to prolong the war and fight needless fights).

Danube march certainly is amazing feat in Logistics.
It's amazing all around. The sheer boldness of the plan and deception led the French to confusion. If they attacked his flanks during the march, Marlborough may have been beaten, but the plan was so bold, they never expected it nor knew how to react. Even more problematic seems they had to always permission from Versailles before making any moves.

Marlborough was good , very good
but Cromwell was his equal and possibly his better , a pity he never had to fight on the continent
Cromwell was good and a natural, but he had weaknesses Marlborough didn't, like siege warfare and limitations in maneouvre (he didn't stray far form the coast in Ireland)
 
Jan 2019
259
Montreal, QC
#24
It is telling about the man's character that he was so ready and willing to betray a true and fast friend.

Marlborough is a bit too far into the 18th century to captivate my whole interest. I do know about him in relation to James VII/II, however. That never fails to tug at the heartstrings.
 
Sep 2013
321
SouthWest USA
#25
Here's an old post of mine with repaired links:

August 6, 2014:
Duke of Marlborough: Brilliant general but a traitor?

John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough: Brilliant general (youthful scoundrel, possibly a duplicitous miserly opportunist)…but a traitor?

First, one should be thankful that England had an effective and brilliant a general as John Churchill (later Duke of Marlborough). He assured the survival of England’s newly-formed and fragile constitutional parliamentary democracy. Led by Churchill’s military genius, England and the Grand Alliance benefited from a series of stunning victories, including Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenaarde (1708), among others.


It can certainly be said, however, that Churchill was a scoundrel in his youth. When he was caught in the bed of one of the mistresses of King Charles II, Charles joked, "You are a rascal, but I forgive you because you do it to get your bread."

Churchill was also notoriously frugal to the point of being miserly. His alleged avarice was the target of endless taunts from such writers as Jonathan Swift, numerous colleagues, and politicians. Tory politician Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke wrote to a friend, “I am sorry that my Lord Marlborough gives you so much trouble; it is the only thing he will ever give you.”

Churchill’s greatest criticism was for his treacherous acts, however. His possible complicity in the English fiasco at Brest could have been considered an act of treason.

Here are some other examples of Churchill’s possible acts of treachery:

-John Churchill betrayed King James II. In 1688 when William III arrived from Holland to supplant James, Churchill quickly abandoned his longtime patron and friend, giving his support to William. Churchill had pledged his support to James only a few days before the invasion.

-During the reign of William and Mary, Churchill continued his relationship thru letters with the exiled James II in France. He did this possibly as an insurance policy for a possible return of the deposed James. In fact, it was these letters, as well as fabricated ones, that earned Churchill a stint as a prisoner in the Tower of London in 1692.

-Later in Queen Anne’s reign, Churchill invited the Elector of Hanover to invade England with Dutch naval support while Queen Anne was still alive but seriously ill. He possibly did this to assure a successful Hanoverian succession upon Anne’s death.

-In 1715 with his typical duplicity, Churchill sent the Jacobite Pretender money (£4000) while simultaneously directing British forces against a failed Jacobite insurrection.

It is Churchill’s possible treachery during the failed attack on Brest, however, that is most alarming.

First, some background story is necessary. The amphibious attack on the French port of Brest in 1694 (known as the Battle of Camaret) was a fiasco for the English and Dutch in the Nine Years War.

Battle of Camaret - Wikipedia

Suspiciously, the French were well prepared for the attack, resulting in significant English and Dutch casualties and losses, including the death of the English commanding general. There was a rumor that Churchill, who had fallen out of favor at that time with William III, had alerted the French to the attack. In fact, a letter allegedly written by Churchill was later found and was thought to be an example of his treachery. The offending letter states:

It is only today that I have just learned the news I now write to you; which is, that the bomb-ketches and the twelve regiments encamped at Portsmouth, with the two regiments of marines, all commanded by Talmash [the ill-fated English general] are destined for burning the port of Brest, and destroying all the men-of-war that are there.
The letter only exists in a French translation, however. In fact, more than two centuries later, Winston Churchill made a great effort to vindicate his famous but maligned ancestor by claiming that the letter was a forgery fabricated to damage John Churchill’s reputation. It appears certain, nevertheless, that the planned attack on Brest had long been an open secret at that time with little chance of surprise or success. No single act of treachery would have changed the outcome of that ill-fated venture.

Fortunately for Churchill and England, Queen Anne’s reign was later able to utilize Churchill’s genius. His remarkable success on the battlefield helped to solidify his reputation as one of the greatest military minds in modern history. It was Churchill’s military successes that helped to guarantee a stable and secure British Empire. It was these successes that would also assure a constitutional parliamentary (Protestant) monarchy.

These episodes of treachery, however, might taint the otherwise spectacular career of the brilliant English General John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough.





guy also known as gaius


Addendum:

June 24, 2019:

After further study of this period of time, I have concluded that Marlborough and many of his Whig allies in parliament had a vested interest in seeing the War of the Spanish Succession continue. There were many financial and political gains from a war which could have ended in 1709 or earlier (instead of 1713-14).

Marlborough: Great general? Certainly. But both he and his despicable wife Sarah Churchill should be reassessed by history. I would love to talk about the cultural background of this period anytime.
 
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Sep 2013
321
SouthWest USA
#27
A quick but incomplete answer: Without Marlborough, it is doubtful that Britain and its allies would have been able to stop Louis XIV and his hegemonic aspirations for continental Europe during the War of the Spanish Succession. Louis XIV would probably have used his unmitigated power and influence against the British to interfere with the (Protestant) inheritance of the British throne by preventing George I from coming to power. Louis XIV would have replaced him with a compliant and grateful James III (the old Pretender).

James III, not only being a rigid authoritarian and Catholic, was a firm believer in "the divine right of Kings" with its arbitrary rule. This would have weakened an already divided Parliament. A weakened Parliament would not have been able to promote a nascent and fragile financial revolution (which was essential to support the war efforts). It was this success of the financial revolution that fueled British exploration and, later, the industrial revolution. These economic and social forces helped to stabilize and promote further financial growth. This virtuous cycle helped strengthen the British economy and gave support to a relatively enlightened and flexible constitutional parliamentary monarchy.

A King James III would most probably have reversed the freedoms promised by the Glorious Revolution (1688) and his autocratic rule would have stunted the economic growth that helped transform Great Britain.

Without this catalyst for growth and the parliamentary protection of the liberties and freedoms associated from the Glorious Revolution, Britain may have degenerated into a rigid autocratic state unable to meet future economic and social challenges. A bloody revolution (similar to the French Revolution) would almost have been inevitable.



guy also known as gaius
 
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Jan 2019
259
Montreal, QC
#28
A quick but incomplete answer: Without Marlborough, it is doubtful that Britain and its allies would have been able to stop Louis XIV and his hegemonic aspirations for continental Europe during the War of the Spanish Succession. Louis XIV would probably have used his unmitigated power and influence against the British to interfere with the (Protestant) inheritance of the British throne by preventing George I from coming to power. Louis XIV would have replaced him with a compliant and grateful James III (the old Pretender).

James III, not only being a rigid authoritarian and Catholic, was a firm believer in "the divine right of Kings" with its arbitrary rule. This would have weakened an already divided Parliament. A weakened Parliament would not have been able to promote a nascent and fragile financial revolution (which was essential to support the war efforts). It was this success of the financial revolution that fueled British exploration and, later, the industrial revolution. These economic and social forces helped to stabilize and promote further financial growth. This virtuous cycle helped strengthen the British economy and gave support to a relatively enlightened and flexible constitutional parliamentary monarchy.

A King James III would most probably have reversed the freedoms promised by the Glorious Revolution (1688) and his autocratic rule would have stunted the economic growth that helped transform Great Britain.

Without this catalyst for growth and the parliamentary protection of the liberties and freedoms associated from the Glorious Revolution, Britain may have degenerated into a rigid autocratic state unable to meet future economic and social challenges. A bloody revolution (similar to the French Revolution) would almost have been inevitable.



guy also known as gaius
Are you aware that Macaulay and that old, tired, Whiggish narrative is wildly outdated? Maybe it's time to consider James VII/II away from the context of Wikipedia and old histories. Also, one should tread lightly when dealing with William of Orange and his promised "freedoms", regarding his Declaration. We can, perhaps, agree that William's main objective in invading England was to create an Anglo-Dutch alliance against burgeoning French absolutism. Yet, as soon as King James fled in December 1688, following his queen and the baby heir to France, William seized the opportunity and went in for the kill. William was made king through circumstance, as he threatened to pack up and leave if he wasn't proclaimed king. His presence - and his army's presence - would be the only guarantor of stability. He was king by default, then. And even at this point, what he was saying and doing did not gel well with his manifesto. From Tony Claydon's essay on the same subject, emphasis all mine:

"There was nothing in [the Declaration] to justify his treatment of James, or his increasingly obvious desire for the throne… This gap was extremely damaging. It effectively deprived the Orange camp of a constitutional justification for what they were doing... In the later months of the 1688-9 winter, it became clear that the manifesto was not just a hindrance to the prince’s elevation. As Schwoerer herself has pointed out, it also threatened a reduction of the powers he wished to exercise as king… The Declaration had been written before it was clear that James would fall... William [threw] his propaganda machine into gear-crunching reverse… Now he showed open distaste for the implications of his original arguments... It is not surprising that William’s self-destructive constitutional propaganda was put to bed… Later, William blocked moves to increase parliamentary autonomy and protect the liberties of the subject, even though their proponents cited original Orange principles in support of their schemes.

It seems, then, the liberties and goals that William espoused were incredibly situational! This was, in the end, an opportunistic power-grab. William, from the beginning, wanted to limit James' powers. When he came to that very same office, he found that the limitations that he so strongly defended were a hindrance to his aims. We can hardly call William a great deliverer, then! The cut and thrust of your entire argument seems to be an intense dislike for Catholics, as it always has whenever I have had encounters with you. And please, this time, don't cite Wikipedia at me. Don't bring up Macaulay or Trevelyan. Find an academically sound, up-to-date source. Whiggish histories are always problematic, and operate on phony triumphalist suppositions.

Edit: Also, we shouldn't consider the Revolution of 1688-89 as bloodless. Not only is it untrue, but it's unwaveringly Anglocentric.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,710
Sydney
#29
If James had returned to the throne , he would have had to deal with realities
Protestantism had become the faith of the land , parliament couldn't be just ignored

as for wars being a driver of state credit system , it had been present in many other countries before
certainly the founding of the private venture called the Bank of England turned out to be fortunate
other financial venture failed in spectacular fashion

the economic success of England is mostly due to the charcoal crisis
England was sitting on more fossil carbon than Saudi Arabia was
available energy always is the key

Abraham Darby kicking the industrial revolution by using coked coal for smelting
on the 10th of January 1709 , the old furnace came on line
the rest is history

Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron – The Ironbridge Gorge Museums
 
Jan 2019
259
Montreal, QC
#30
If James had returned to the throne , he would have had to deal with realities
Protestantism had become the faith of the land , parliament couldn't be just ignored
James had every intention of restoring his Parliament before William invaded. It was the advent of William himself that prevented James from calling another Parliament!
 

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