William III of England
William III widely known as William of Orange, was sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder of Holland, Utrecht and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from 1672 and King of England and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II, he is sometimes informally known in Northern Ireland and Scotland as "King Billy". William inherited the principality of Orange from his father, William II, who died a week before William's birth, his mother, was the daughter of King Charles I of England. In 1677, William married his fifteen-year-old first cousin, the daughter of his maternal uncle James, Duke of York. A Protestant, William participated in several wars against the powerful Catholic King of France, Louis XIV, in coalition with Protestant and Catholic powers in Europe. Many Protestants heralded him as a champion of their faith. In 1685, William's Catholic uncle and father-in-law, became king of England and Ireland. James's reign was unpopular with the Protestant majority in Britain.
William, supported by a group of influential British political and religious leaders, invaded England in what became known as the Glorious Revolution. On 5 November 1688, he landed at the southern English port of Brixham. James was deposed and William and his wife became joint sovereigns in his place. William and Mary reigned together until Mary's death on 28 December 1694, after which William ruled as sole monarch. William's reputation as a staunch Protestant enabled him to take power in Britain when many were fearful of a revival of Catholicism under James. William's victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 is still commemorated by loyalists in Northern Ireland and Scotland, his reign in Britain marked the beginning of the transition from the personal rule of the Stuarts to the more Parliament-centred rule of the House of Hanover. William III was born in The Hague in the Dutch Republic on 4 November 1650. Baptised William Henry, he was the only child of stadtholder William II, Prince of Orange, Mary, Princess Royal.
Mary was the eldest daughter of King Charles I of England and Ireland and sister of King Charles II and King James II and VII. Eight days before William was born, his father died of smallpox. A conflict ensued between his mother and paternal grandmother, Amalia of Solms-Braunfels, over the name to be given to the infant. Mary wanted to name him Charles after her brother, but her mother-in-law insisted on giving him the name William to bolster his prospects of becoming stadtholder. William II had appointed his wife as his son's guardian in his will. On 13 August 1651, the Hoge Raad van Holland en Zeeland ruled that guardianship would be shared between his mother, his paternal grandmother and Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg, whose wife, Louise Henriette, was William II's eldest sister. William's mother showed little personal interest in her son, sometimes being absent for years, had always deliberately kept herself apart from Dutch society. William's education was first laid in the hands of several Dutch governesses, some of English descent, including Walburg Howard and the Scottish noblewoman, Lady Anna Mackenzie.
From April 1656, the prince received daily instruction in the Reformed religion from the Calvinist preacher Cornelis Trigland, a follower of the Contra-Remonstrant theologian Gisbertus Voetius. The ideal education for William was described in Discours sur la nourriture de S. H. Monseigneur le Prince d'Orange, a short treatise by one of William's tutors, Constantijn Huygens. In these lessons, the prince was taught that he was predestined to become an instrument of Divine Providence, fulfilling the historical destiny of the House of Orange-Nassau. From early 1659, William spent seven years at the University of Leiden for a formal education, under the guidance of ethics professor Hendrik Bornius. While residing in the Prinsenhof at Delft, William had a small personal retinue including Hans Willem Bentinck, a new governor, Frederick Nassau de Zuylenstein, his paternal uncle. Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt and his uncle Cornelis de Graeff pushed the States of Holland to take charge of William's education and ensure that he would acquire the skills to serve in a future—though undetermined—state function.
This first involvement of the authorities did not last long. On 23 December 1660, when William was ten years old, his mother died of smallpox at Whitehall Palace, while visiting her brother, the restored King Charles II. In her will, Mary requested that Charles look after William's interests, Charles now demanded that the States of Holland end their interference. To appease Charles, they complied on 30 September 1661; that year, Zuylenstein began to work for Charles and induced William to write letters to his uncle asking him to help William become stadtholder someday. After his mother's death, William's education and guardianship became a point of contention between his dynasty's supporters and the advocates of a more republican Netherlands; the Dutch authorities did their best at first to ignore these intrigues, but in the Second Anglo-Dutch War one of Charles's peace conditions was the improvement of the position of his nephew. As a countermeasure in 1666, when William was sixteen, the States made him a ward of the government, or a "Child of State".
All pro-English courtiers, including Zuylen
Spanish Netherlands was the collective name of States of the Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries, held in personal union by the Spanish Crown from 1556 to 1714. This region comprised most of the modern states of Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as parts of northern France, southern Netherlands, western Germany with the capital being Brussels; the Imperial fiefs of the former Burgundian Netherlands had been inherited by the Austrian House of Habsburg from the extinct House of Valois-Burgundy upon the death of Mary of Burgundy in 1482. The Seventeen Provinces formed the core of the Habsburg Netherlands which passed to the Spanish Habsburgs upon the abdication of Emperor Charles V in 1556; when part of the Netherlands separated to form the autonomous Dutch Republic in 1581, the remainder of the area stayed under Spanish rule until the War of the Spanish Succession. A common administration of the Netherlandish fiefs, centred in the Duchy of Brabant existed under the rule of the Burgundian duke Philip the Good with the implementation of a stadtholder and the first convocation of the States General of the Netherlands in 1437.
His granddaughter Mary had confirmed a number of privileges to the States by the Great Privilege signed in 1477. After the government takeover by her husband Archduke Maximilian I of Austria, the States insisted on their privileges, culminating in a Hook rebellion in Holland and Flemish revolts. Maximilian prevailed with the support of Duke Albert III of Saxony and his son Philip the Handsome, husband of Joanna of Castile, could assume the rule over the Habsburg Netherlands in 1493. Philip as well as his son and successor Charles V retained the title of a "Duke of Burgundy" referring to their Burgundian inheritance, notably the Low Countries and the Free County of Burgundy in the Holy Roman Empire; the Habsburgs used the term Burgundy to refer to their hereditary lands until 1795, when the Austrian Netherlands were lost to the French Republic. In 1522 Holy Roman Emperor Charles V concluded a partition treaty with his younger brother Archduke Ferdinand I of Habsburg, whereby the House of Habsburg split into an Austrian and a Spanish branch.
By the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549, Charles declared the Seventeen Provinces a united and indivisible Habsburg dominion. The division was consummated when he announced his abdication in 1555 and left the Spanish branch heritage to his son Philip II of Spain, while his brother Ferdinand succeeded him as Holy Roman Emperor; the Seventeen Provinces, de jure still fiefs of the Holy Roman Empire, from that time on de facto were ruled by the Spanish branch of the Habsburgs as part of the Burgundian heritage. Philip's stern Counter-Reformation measures sparked the Dutch Revolt in the Calvinist Netherlandish provinces, which led to the outbreak of the Eighty Years' War in 1568. In January 1579 the seven northern provinces formed the Protestant Union of Utrecht, which declared independence from the Spanish branch of the Habsburgs as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands by the 1581 Act of Abjuration; the Spanish branch of the Hapsburgs could retain the rule only over the Catholic Southern Netherlands, completed after the Fall of Antwerp in 1585.
Better times came, when in 1598 the Spanish Netherlands passed to Philip's daughter Isabella Clara Eugenia and her husband Archduke Albert VII of Austria. The couple's rule brought a period of much-needed peace and stability to the economy, which stimulated the growth of a separate South Netherlandish identity and consolidated the authority of the House of Habsburg reconciling previous anti-Spanish sentiments. In the early 17th century, there was a flourishing court at Brussels. Among the artists who emerged from the court of the "Archdukes", as they were known, was Peter Paul Rubens. Under Isabella and Albert, the Spanish Netherlands had formal independence from Spain, but always remained unofficially within the Spanish sphere of influence. With Albert's death in 1621 they returned to formal Spanish control, although the childless Isabella remained on as Governor until her death in 1633; the failing wars intended to regain the'heretical' northern Netherlands meant significant loss of territories in the north, consolidated in 1648 in the Peace of Westphalia, given the peculiar inferior status of Generality Lands: Zeelandic Flanders, the present Dutch province of Noord-Brabant and Maastricht.
As the power of the Spanish branch of the Habsburgs waned in the latter decades of the 17th century, the territory of the Netherlands under Habsburg rule was invaded by the French and an increasing portion of the territory came under French control in successive wars. By the Treaty of the Pyrenees of 1659 the French annexed Artois and Cambrai, Dunkirk was ceded to the English. By the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle and Nijmegen, further territory up to the current Franco-Belgian border was ceded, including Walloon Flanders, as well as half of the county of Hainaut. In the War of the Reunions and the Nine Years' War, France annexed other parts of the region. During the War of the Spanish Succession, in 1706 the Habsburg Netherlands became an Anglo-Dutch condominium for the remainder of the conflict. By the peace treaties of Utrecht and Rastatt in 1713/14 ending the war, the Southern Netherlands returned to the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy for
Capitulation of Diksmuide
The Capitulation of Diksmuide or Dixmuide took place in 1695 during the Allied campaign to recapture the strategic city of Namur during the Nine Years' War. Part of the Spanish Netherlands, Diksmuide is now in the modern Belgian province of West Flanders, its surrender to the French on 28 July, after only two days, resulted in the court martial of the garrison commander Major General Ellenberg and other senior officers, Ellenberg's subsequent execution. By 1694, the war in Flanders was at a stalemate. France had failed to force the Dutch Republic out of the war, despite victories at Steinkirk and Landen, the capture of fortresses like Namur, Mons and Charleroi; the enormous costs of these offensives exhausted the French economy, while crop failures in 1693 and 1694 caused widespread famine in France and Northern Italy. Helped by William's role as head of state for the Netherlands and Scotland, the Alliance had held together through four years of war, with losses that were damaging but not critical.
In 1694, they recaptured towns like Huy and Diksmuide, for the first time had a numerical advantage in Flanders. The 1690s marked the lowest point of the so-called Little Ice Age, a period of cold and wet weather affecting Europe in the second half of the 17th century. Famine in France and Italy was mirrored elsewhere, including Spain and Scotland, where the harvest failed in 1695, 1696, 1698 and 1699 and an estimated 5-15% of the population starved to death; the Allies had reached the limit of their resources and retaking Namur became the key objective for 1695. This theatre is referred to as Flanders but most campaigns took place in the Spanish Netherlands, a compact area 160 kilometres wide, the highest point only 100 metres above sea level, dominated by canals and rivers. In the 17th century and supplies were transported by water and the war was fought for control of rivers such as the Lys and Meuse; the Dutch viewed Namur as a vital link in the chain of fortresses needed to defend against French invasion and holding it would be advantageous in peace negotiations.
Due to the limited number of crossing points places like Deinze, little more than a large village but the site of a bridge across the Lys, were of greater significance than size indicates. In April 1695, Louis ordered Boufflers to build entrenchments between the Scheldt and Lys, from Coutrai or Kortrijk to Avelgem. William marched on these in June, with the bulk of the Allied forces, but secretly detached Frederick of Prussia to Namur. Once Frederick was in place on 2 July, William joined him. Vaudémont's task was to keep his army between Namur, it was accepted that places like Namur would fall given time and one reason for putting garrisons in places like Diksmuide was to absorb the attackers' attention for as long as possible. Diksmuide sits on the Yser River, which begins in France runs through the town before entering the North Sea at Nieuwpoort. French defences followed the Yser via Ypres and Comines to Espierres and hardly changed between 1689-1694; the garrison commander at Diksmuide was Major-General Ellenberg, an experienced Dane who served William in Ireland and elsewhere.
The town was taken by the Allies in 1694, although the defences were in a poor state, it was held by a strong garrison of eight battalions of infantry plus several squadrons from Lloyd's Dragoons. Vaudémont's covering army had been reduced by the need to bolster the assault forces at Namur and by stripping garrisons from Ypres and Menin, Villeroi achieved local superiority of 90,000 men to 37,000. However, the French attack on 14 July failed to break the Allied line and Vaudémont was able to conduct an orderly retreat, using the bridge across the Lys at Deinze. Shortly after this, a force under the Comte de Montal appeared before Diksmuide; this meant Diksmuide could only be assaulted from the east and while this was the weakest part of the defences, the position was considered'serious but not desperate.' Diksmuide was'invested' or cut off on 25 July and Montal began firing on the town defences on the 26th. After only two days, Ellenberg held a council with his senior officers and proposed they surrender the town, arguing resistance was pointless.
Eight others, including Sir Charles Graham, Colonel of a regiment in the Dutch Scots Brigade, signed the articles of surrender, the only exception being Major Robert Duncanson of Lorne's Regiment. On 29 July, Colonel O'Farrell, commander of the garrison at Deinze capitulated to a French force under Feuquières without a shot being fired. By now, siege warfare was an exact art, the rules of which were so well understood that wagering on the outcome and duration of a siege became a popular craze. Experienced officers could estimate how long a siege should take and contemporaries felt Diksmuide should have been held for at least eight days. Professional honour demanded a defence but so long as they followed the convention of surrendering when'a practicable breach' had been made, garrisons were given generous terms. Since sieges could be conducte
Siege of Mons (1691)
The Siege of Mons, 15 March–10 April 1691, was a major operation fought during the Nine Years' War, was the main French objective for the 1691 campaign in the Spanish Netherlands. The city was besieged and captured before the normal commencement of the campaigning season with minimal losses; the outcome was not in doubt, but in a conflict dominated by siege warfare, neither the French army of King Louis XIV, nor the forces of the Grand Alliance under King William III, could bring about a decisive battle. After the siege the duc de Boufflers bombarded the neutral city of Liege, whilst the duc de Luxembourg captured Halle, scored a minor victory against the Prince of Waldeck at the Battle of Leuze in September. Strategically, little had changed in the war, both combatants returned to winter quarters at the end of the campaigning season. French forces had secured considerable success in 1690. In July Luxembourg fought and won his tactical masterpiece at the Battle of Fleurus, nullifying any Allied hopes of invading France, whilst at sea, Admiral Tourville defeated an Anglo-Dutch fleet off Beachy Head.
In August Catinat had triumphed at the Battle of Staffarda in northern Italy. The only bright spot for the Grand Alliance in 1690 was King William’s victory over James II in Ireland at the Battle of the Boyne, yet despite the battlefield successes, French forces in 1690 had failed to break the coalition ranged against the ambitions of King Louis. In 1691 the French had planned for a double strike: Nice in northern Italy, Mons in the Spanish Netherlands; the Netherlands were again where France would concentrate its main war effort, was a theatre where Louis’ war minister, had striven to bring together an larger army than had been assembled the year before. These attacks on Nice and Mons were planned for early in the campaign season, illustrating Vauban’s dictum that "It is a favourable circumstance to be able to attack before the enemy takes the field in strength … "Meanwhile, in Ireland the war continued into 1691, but William now felt secure enough on his new throne in the British Isles to return to the war on the Continent.
William entered The Hague on 5 February to organise his army for the coming campaign. After securing forces totalling 220,000 men, the Stadtholder-King retired to his country home. In mid-March, surrounded by representatives of the Grand Alliance, he received news that Mons was under siege. Louvois engineered the considerable preparations for the siege throughout the preceding winter: stores were filled with supplies in Namur, Philippeville and Givet, no less than 21,000 labourers were gathered for the construction of the lines of circumvallation. Louis, accompanied by members of his court, joined his army in the Spanish Netherlands to take control of the armies in theatre, arriving at the front on 21 March; the King's besieging army of 46,000 surrounded its garrison of some 4,800 men. The Allies had formed an army of 38,000 under William to relieve the city, but Luxembourg’s army of observation 46,000 strong, denied the Allies any possibility of disrupting the operation. Marshal Boufflers began the investment on 15 March.
In one of the most intense attacks of all King Louis’ wars, two batteries, each consisting of 12 mortars, bombarded the city in preparation for the assault. At 17:00 on 8 April, the besieged inhabitants beat the chamade; the siege had ended before the normal commencement of campaigning. Louis returned to Versailles on 12 April, whilst William, after distributing his troops to various garrisons, returned to The Hague; the French now prepared for the rest of the 1691 campaign season with the creation of five large armies bound for five major fronts: Flanders, the Moselle, the Rhine and Roussillon. The largest of these forces, 49 battalions and 140 squadrons under the command Luxembourg, took station in Flanders, but little was accomplished after the siege by either the French or the Grand Alliance. Luxembourg devastated Halle at the end of May, whilst Boufflers bombarded neutral Liege in early June, but these aggressive acts had no political results. Louis’ personal military advisor and expert in the art of war, the Marquis de Chamlay, argued that these victories should be followed by a field battle that would destroy the Allied army and force a conclusion to the conflict.
Louvois, suggested a bombardment of Brussels would force the issue, but was opposed by Luxembourg and Vauban. William, arrived at Anderlecht on 2 June to take command of the Allied army of 63 battalions and 180 squadrons, totalling 56,000 men. Luxembourg manoeuvred to prevent William besieging Dinant, but subsequent manoeuvres produced little action. After William left his troops in the command of the Prince of Waldeck, Luxembourg’s cavalry routed part of the Allied army at Leuze on 18 September, before all combatants returned to winter quarters. Chandler, David; the Art of Warfare in the Age of Marlborough. Spellmount Limited. ISBN 0-946771-42-1 Lynn, John A; the Wars of Louis XIV, 1667–1714. Longman. ISBN 0-582-05629-2 Wolf, John B; the Emergence of the Great Powers: 1685–1715. Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-139750-4 Wolf, John B. Louis XIV. Panther Books. ISBN 0-586-03332-7
Kingdom of France
The Kingdom of France was a medieval and early modern monarchy in Western Europe. It was one of the most powerful states in Europe and a great power since the Late Middle Ages and the Hundred Years' War, it was an early colonial power, with possessions around the world. France originated as West Francia, the western half of the Carolingian Empire, with the Treaty of Verdun. A branch of the Carolingian dynasty continued to rule until 987, when Hugh Capet was elected king and founded the Capetian dynasty; the territory remained known as Francia and its ruler as rex Francorum well into the High Middle Ages. The first king calling himself Roi de France was Philip II, in 1190. France continued to be ruled by the Capetians and their cadet lines—the Valois and Bourbon—until the monarchy was overthrown in 1792 during the French Revolution. France in the Middle Ages was a feudal monarchy. In Brittany and Catalonia the authority of the French king was felt. Lorraine and Provence were states of the Holy Roman Empire and not yet a part of France.
West Frankish kings were elected by the secular and ecclesiastic magnates, but the regular coronation of the eldest son of the reigning king during his father's lifetime established the principle of male primogeniture, which became codified in the Salic law. During the Late Middle Ages, the Kings of England laid claim to the French throne, resulting in a series of conflicts known as the Hundred Years' War. Subsequently, France sought to extend its influence into Italy, but was defeated by Spain in the ensuing Italian Wars. France in the early modern era was centralised. Religiously France became divided between the Catholic majority and a Protestant minority, the Huguenots, which led to a series of civil wars, the Wars of Religion. France laid claim to large stretches of North America, known collectively as New France. Wars with Great Britain led to the loss of much of this territory by 1763. French intervention in the American Revolutionary War helped secure the independence of the new United States of America but was costly and achieved little for France.
The Kingdom of France adopted a written constitution in 1791, but the Kingdom was abolished a year and replaced with the First French Republic. The monarchy was restored by the other great powers in 1814 and lasted until the French Revolution of 1848. During the years of the elderly Charlemagne's rule, the Vikings made advances along the northern and western perimeters of the Kingdom of the Franks. After Charlemagne's death in 814 his heirs were incapable of maintaining political unity and the empire began to crumble; the Treaty of Verdun of 843 divided the Carolingian Empire into three parts, with Charles the Bald ruling over West Francia, the nucleus of what would develop into the kingdom of France. Charles the Bald was crowned King of Lotharingia after the death of Lothair II in 869, but in the Treaty of Meerssen was forced to cede much of Lotharingia to his brothers, retaining the Rhone and Meuse basins but leaving the Rhineland with Aachen and Trier in East Francia. Viking advances were allowed to increase, their dreaded longships were sailing up the Loire and Seine rivers and other inland waterways, wreaking havoc and spreading terror.
During the reign of Charles the Simple, Normans under Rollo from Norway, were settled in an area on either side of the River Seine, downstream from Paris, to become Normandy. The Carolingians were to share the fate of their predecessors: after an intermittent power struggle between the two dynasties, the accession in 987 of Hugh Capet, Duke of France and Count of Paris, established the Capetian dynasty on the throne. With its offshoots, the houses of Valois and Bourbon, it was to rule France for more than 800 years; the old order left the new dynasty in immediate control of little beyond the middle Seine and adjacent territories, while powerful territorial lords such as the 10th- and 11th-century counts of Blois accumulated large domains of their own through marriage and through private arrangements with lesser nobles for protection and support. The area around the lower Seine became a source of particular concern when Duke William took possession of the kingdom of England by the Norman Conquest of 1066, making himself and his heirs the King's equal outside France.
Henry II inherited the Duchy of Normandy and the County of Anjou, married France's newly divorced ex-queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, who ruled much of southwest France, in 1152. After defeating a revolt led by Eleanor and three of their four sons, Henry had Eleanor imprisoned, made the Duke of Brittany his vassal, in effect ruled the western half of France as a greater power than the French throne. However, disputes among Henry's descendants over the division of his French territories, coupled with John of England's lengthy quarrel with Philip II, allowed Philip II to recover influence over most of this territory. After the French victory at the Battle of Bouvines in 1214, the English monarchs maintained power only in southwestern Duchy of Guyenne; the death of Charles IV of France in 1328 without male heirs ended the main Capetian line. Under Salic law the crown could not pass through a woman (Philip IV's daughter
Siege of Ath (1697)
The Siege of Ath, was a siege of the Nine Years' War. The French stockpiled 266,000 French pounds of gunpowder for the siege and used less than half of it. Consumption of other material amounted to 34,000 pounds of lead, 27,050 cannonballs, 3,400 mortar bombs, 950 grenades and 12,000 sandbags; the financial costs were 89,250 French livres. After the garrison's capitulation, 6,000 peasant workers filled up the trenches. Under the terms of surrender, the Allied garrison was not taken prisoner. Of the 62 French engineers present, two were killed and seven wounded; this demonstration of French military potency, combined with the successful storming of Barcelona the same year, convinced the Allies to come to terms with France in the treaty of Ryswick, thus ending the war. The siege was hailed by contemporaries as Vauban's masterpiece and the most efficient siege conducted, owing to its speed, low costs and the modernity of the eight-bastion fortress, designed by Vauban himself 25 years earlier; when the War of the Grand Alliance broke out in 1688 the modern Spanish fortress of Ath stood on the sidelines of the fighting.
The French armies of Louis XIV menaced the more important fortified towns of Brussels and Oudenarde, while leaving untouched the medium-sized Ath with its 6,000 inhabitants. Peace negotiations to end the war got underway in 1695 in Ryswick but the absence of a knockout blow on either side encouraged the participants to continue the struggle; when the Duchy of Savoy defected from the Grand Alliance in late 1696, Louis XIV saw that the time had come decide the issue on the Spanish Netherlands front. In mid-April 1697 French forces began the campaign and prepared to besiege the strong fortress of Ath to demonstrate France's military pre-eminence to the Allied negotiators. In 1540 Ath's medieval walls and château had been upgraded by the Spanish. Upon the French capture of the fort during the War of Devolution in June 1667 when the Spanish garrison fled the town without fighting, the walls were razed by Vauban in 1668. From 1668–1674 he replaced the ancient fortifications with eight new trace italienne angled bastions.
In 1678 the modern fort was handed back to the Spanish as part of the Treaties of Nijmegen. The fort's curtain wall was surrounded by a ditch that made the top of the wall 30-feet high to someone standing at the bottom; when opened, a sluice gate added eight feet to the water's height, only several feet high. The bastions were within effective musket range of each other or no more than 600 feet apart; the bastions were separated by chevron-shaped outworks called tenailles located above the ditch. In front of the outworks were huge, triangular ravelin islands with masonry fortifications that could house hundreds of soldiers and several small-caliber guns; the outer wall of the ditch was known as the counterscarp, which served as the covered way around the fort. At Ath it was located 120 feet beyond the ravelins; the angled salients of the open-air walkway were the first to be captured but smaller re-entry angles between and behind the salients could be packed with dozens of troops to prevent the besieger from exploiting the capture of one section of the counterscarp.
Two of the Ath bastions had reinforced bulwarks in front of them for additional protection. The sloped glacis was the final piece of the outer perimeter, it presented the besiegers with murderous interlocking fields of fire from the defenders, who had a double line of palisades at the top of the slope. A contemporary journal called Vauban's creation a "perfect model of the Art"; the French engineer himself had given some thought to the matter of besieging the fort since he had designed it. The commander of the siege force, Marshal Nicolas Catinat and his chief engineer Marshal Vauban had a strong working relationship and would cooperate seamlessly during the siege. Catinat had 50 battalions and as many squadrons of some 40,000 men in total. Vauban was assisted by 62 select engineers. Marshals Boufflers and Villeroi commanded the two covering forces, whose combined strength amounted to 140,000 men; the under-strength Allied garrison of 3,850 men was commanded by the lethargic 65-year old Comte de Roeux.
Due to Roeux's frequent inactivity, command devolved to Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst. The Marquis de Conflans had been ordered to take command of the fortress' regiments but was captured by the French on 16 May before he could make the journey; the Allies had prioritized the more important forts of Brussels and Oudenarde and would be caught by surprise when the siege of Ath began. A 12,000-man French cavalry force arrived before Ath on the morning of 16 May, securing all roads, river crossings and buildings within a several-kilometer radius. Catinat's main force left Helchin the same day, crossed the Scheldt river and established itself in three camps about 10 kilometers from the fortress; the camps were separated by the Western and Eastern branches of the River Dender, which meet at Ath, the French got to work setting up siege lines and regimental quarters and building bridges to facilitate communications. Boufflers' and Villeroi's armies took up covering positions on Catinat's flanks. Wealthy women inside the fort were let go by the French the same day.
On 17 May, the Allied garrison indiscriminately burned down the buildings outside the fort to deny the French of cover and concealment, without giving any thought to the most French avenues of approach. They failed to burn down the hedgerows and gardens, of which the French would make use; the Allies directed inaccurate cannon fire at the far too distant French camps. All of this was noted by Vauban. Civilian surgeons
Battle of Steenkerque
The Battle of Steenkerque was fought on 3 August 1692, as a part of the Nine Years' War. It resulted in the victory of the French under Marshal François-Henri de Montmorency, duc de Luxembourg against a joint English-Scottish-Dutch-German army under Prince William of Orange; the battle took place near the village of Steenkerque in the Southern Netherlands, 50 kilometres south-west of Brussels. Steenkerque is now part of the Belgian municipality of Braine-le-Comte; the French had achieved their immediate object by capturing of Namur. The French, not wishing to fight, took up a strong defensive position in accordance with the strategical methods of the time; the French army lay facing north-west with its right on the Zenne at Steenkerque and its left towards Enghien. Their supposition was. William III had replaced Waldeck as supreme allied commander; the allied army was encamped about Halle. Of the 20 British regiments in the Allied army, 8 were Scottish, including the famed Mackay Regiment, who had landed with William at Torbay in 1688.
The Allies, who would otherwise have done as the French marshal desired, were by the fortune of war afforded the opportunity of surprising a part of the enemy's forces. Accordingly, William set his army in motion before dawn on 3 August and surprised the French right about Steenkerque, he misled the enemy by forcing a defected spy to give Luxemburg false news. In the 17th century when the objects of a war were, as far as possible, secured without the loss of valuable lives and general decisive battles were in every way considered undesirable, a brilliant victory over a part, not the whole, of the enemy's forces was the tactical idea of the best generals; the Allied advanced guard of infantry and pioneers, under the Duke of Wurttemberg, deployed silently around 5:00 a.m. close to the French encampments. Luxembourg was taken by surprise because an attack on such a strong position seemed so unlikely. However, the experienced Comte de Montal held off the initial Allied attack long enough to enable Luxembourg to bring up his main force.
The march of the Allies' main body was mismanaged. Valuable time was lost. At 9:00 a.m. Wurttemberg started methodically cannonading the enemy while waiting for support and for the order to advance; the French worked with feverish energy to form a strong and well-covered line of battle at the threatened point. The allied main body had marched in the usual order with one wing of cavalry leading, the infantry following, the other wing of cavalry at the tail of the column. On arrival at the field they were hastily sorted out into infantry and cavalry, for the ground was only suitable for the former. Only a few Allied battalions had come up to support the advanced guard when the real attack opened at 12:30. Although the advanced guard had been under arms for nine hours and the march had been over bad ground, its attack swept the first French line before it; the British and Danes stubbornly advanced and the second and third lines of the French infantry gave ground before them. However, Luxembourg was massing his whole force to crush them.
During this time the confusion in the allied main body had reached its height. Count Solms ordered the cavalry he commanded forward, but the mounted men, scarcely able to move over the bad roads and heavy ground, only blocked the way for the infantry; some of the British foot, with curses upon Solms and the Dutch generals, broke out to the front, Solms and excited, thereupon refused to listen to all appeals for aid from the front. No attempt was made to engage and hold the centre and left of the French army, which hurried, regiment after regiment, to take part in the fighting at Steenkerque. William's counter-order that the infantry was to go forward, the cavalry to halt, was opposed by General Hugh Mackay, who urged an ordered withdrawal, to effect a consolidation of the infantry; when directly ordered by William to advance he said "the will of the Lord be done", was killed at the head of the Mackay Regiment, men of his own clan, after taking his place, on foot, at their head. At the crisis Luxembourg had not hesitated to throw the whole of the French and Swiss guards into the fight, led by the princes of the royal house.
More and more French troops under command of Boufflers appeared from side of Enghien. During and after this supreme effort the Allies were driven back, contesting every step against the weight of numbers; the foot and dragoons of the main body which succeeded in reaching the front, served only to cover and to steady the retreat of Wurttemberg's force. The coup having manifestly failed, William ordered a general retreat; the Allies retired as they had come, their rear-guard under the Dutch Marshal Ouwerkerk showing too stubborn a front for the French to attack. The French army disordered and suffering heavy casualties, was in no state to pursue. Over 8,000 men out of only about 15,000 engaged on the side of the Allies were killed and wounded; the losses of the French out of a much larger force were at least equal. Contemporary soldiers affirmed that Steenkirk was the hardest battle fought by the infantry in that war. Five British regiments were destroyed, their commander, general Hugh Mackay, was killed.
Mackay's division, including the Mackay Regiment, composed of clansmen of his own name, bore the brunt of the day unsupported and the general himself was killed. John Cutts, was one of the few survivors; the British blamed their great losses on the ineptitude of the Dutch general Count Solms in command of the Allied cavalry. An article of dress was named after the battle. A