chap 3 1-2(1) - THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY discover by...

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Unformatted text preview: THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY discover by empirical inquiry constant principles, which, if correctly ap- plied, would make war a scientific progress with predictable results. In his introduction to Deil’arte militate, he wrote that “I have attempted within this concise framework, to encompass the vast areas of the only science vital for the monarch, and I have done my utmost to discover basic rules on which every science is based .. . and, having considered the entire range of world history, I dare to say that l have n0t found a single norable military exploit which w0uld not fit in with these rules?“ His investigation, moreover, was not limited to purely mechanistic aspects of the art of war, but included moral, psychological, social, and economic considerations. Montecuccoli’s approach then was both scientific and humanistic, with the additional advantage that he brought to his writings the expe- rience and the concise style of a veteran soldier. If his attempt to define and delineate war as a scientific enterprise in the end was futile, and he himself chose to designate it as the “art of war,” it nonetheless was a major intellectual undertaking. One German historian, highly critical of Montecnccoli as a commander, described him as “towering above all military thinkers of the second half of the seventeenth century,” and another asserted that “what Bodin represented for the science of politics or Bacon for philosophy, Montecuccoli represented for the science of war?” Perhaps this is claiming too much. Still, Montecuccoli was both an impressive practitioner and an imaginative theorist of war. He inte— grated his own experience with the ideas of Machiavelli and Lipsius, as adapted by Maurice and further developed by Gustavus Adolphus, into a comprehensive intellectual structure. By synthesizing the many different parts of the military revolution and transmitting its major concepts to the next century, his writings form a significant link in the evolution of modern strategy. 91 Raimondo Montecuccoli, “Dell’arte militate," in Ausgewfibh‘e Scbrifien, ed. Veltzé, i:xlvi—x|vii. 9‘ jihns, Gescbichte, 2.:1 I61; Stadelmann, Sckamhorst, 95~96. 63 3. Vauban: The Impact of Science on War HENRY GUERLAC N ALM O S T uninterrupted state of war existed in Europe from the time of Machiavelli to the ciose of the War of the Spanish Succes- sion. The French invasion of Italy which had so roused Machi- aveili proved to be but a prelude to two centuries of bitter international rivalry, of Valois and Bourbon against Hapsburg. For a good part of this period epidemic civil wars cut across the dynastic struggle, never quite arresting it, and often fusing with it to produce conflicts of unbridled bitterness. Toward the end of the seventeenth century, when civil strife had abated and the chief states of Europe were at last consolidated, the oid struggle was resumed as part of Louis XIV’s bid for European su- premacy, but with a difference: for now the newly risen merchant powers, Holland and England, which had aided France in bringing the Spanish dominion to an end, were arrayed against it. The Peace of Utrecht (I71 3} was an English peace. It set the stage for England’s control of the seas, but by the same token it did not weaken France as much as its Continental rivals had fervently desired. It left France’s most important conquests virtually intact; it scarcely altered the instrument of Westphalia that was its charter of security; and above all it left its army—the first great national army of Europe—weakened but still formidable, and its prestige as the leading military power of the Continent virtually undiminished. The military progress of two hundred years was embodied in that army. And this progress had been considerable.l in the first place armies were larger. Impressed as we are by the first appearance of mass armies during the Wars of the French Revolution, we are prone to forget the steady increase in size of European armies that took place during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. When Richelieu, for example, built up France’s military establishment to about 100,000 men in .163 5, he had a force nearly double that of the later Valois kings; yet this force was only a quarter as large as that which Louvois raised for Louis XIV. ' In this and the following section I have relied heavily upon Edgard Boutaric, Institutions miiiraires de in France awn: les armées permanenres (Paris, 1363); Camille Rousset, H isroire de Low/0:3 at de son administration politique et miiimire, 4 vols. {Paris, $61-64); and General Susane, Hisroire de i’ancienne infanterie fiangaise (Paris, r849), Histoire de in cavalerie frangar'se (Paris, I874}, and Histoire de i’artr'ilerie francaise (Paris, 1874). Louis Andre, Michel Le Teiir'er e: i’orgam'zation de i’armée monarchqu (Paris, 1906} proved the most valuable single work concerned with army reform in the seventeenth century. 64 VAUBAN This expansion of the military establishment was primarily due to the growing importance of the infantry arm, which was only twice as numerous as the cavalry in the army with which Charles VIII invaded Italy, but five times as great by the end of the seventeenth century. The customary explanation for this new importance of infantry is that it resulted from the improvement in firearms; and it is true that the invention of the musket, its evolution into the fiintlock, and the invention of the bayonet, all led to a pronounced increase in infantry firepower, and hence to an extension of foot soldiery. But this is only part of the story. The steadily mounting importance of siege warfare also had its effects, for here—whorl] as a hesieging force and in the defense of permanent forti- fications——infantry performed functioris impossible to cavalry. European armies in the seventeenth century were bands of profes— sionaIS, many of them foreigners, recruited by voluntary enlistment. Ex- cept for infrequent recourse to the artiste-ban, a feudal relic more often ridiwled than employed, and except for the experiment of a revived militia late in the reign of Louis XIV, there was nothing in France re- sembling universal service. In still another respect this “national” army seems, at first glance, hardly to have been representative of the nation. Whereas the nobility competed for admission into the elite corps of the cavalry and provided officers for the infantry, and whereas the common infantryman was drawn from the lowesr level of society—though not always or preponderantly from the moral dregs as is sornetimes implied— the prosperous peasant freeholder and the members of the bourgeoisie escaped ordinary military service whether by enlistment, which they avoided, or through the revived militia, from which they were exempt. Did one whole segment of society, then, fail to contribute to the armed strength of the country? By no means. The bourgeoisie made important contributions to French military strength, even though they did not serve in the infantry or the cavalry. Their notable contributions fell into two main categories. First, they were important in the technical services, that is to say in artillery and engineering and in the application of science to warfare; and second, they were prominent in the civilian administration of the army that developed so strikingly during the sev- enteenth century, and to which many other advances and reforms are attributable. These technical and organizational developments are per- haps the most important aspects of the progress that has been noted abOve. In both, the French army led the way. I The army that Louis XIV passed on to his successors bore little resemblance to that of the Valois kings. The improvement in organization, discipline, and equipment was due chiefly to the development of the 65 ORIGINS OF MODERN WAR civilian administration at the hands of a succession of great planners— Richelien, Le Tellier, Louvois, and Vauban—whose careers span the sev- enteenth century. Until the seventeenth century army affairs were almost exclusively administered by the military themselves, and there was very little central control. The various infantry companies, which had at first been virtually independent under their respective captains, had, it is true, been coor- dinated to some extent by uniting them into regiments, each commanded by a mesrre dc camp, subject to the orders of a powerful officer, the colonel générai de i’infanten'e. But the prestige and independence of this high office was such as to weaken, rather than to strengthen, the hold of the crown over the newly regimented infantry. The cavalry, in the sixteenth century, had likewise been only imperfectly subjected to the royal will. By virtue of their prestige and tradition, the cavalry companies resisted incorporation into regiments until the seventeenth century. The elite corps of the gendarmerie, representing the oldest cavalry units, were controlled only by their captains and by a superior officer of the crown, the constable, who was more often than not virtually independent of the royal will. The light cavalry, after the reign of Henry II, was placed under a colonel génémi’ like that of the infantry. Only the artillery provided something of an exception. Here bourgeois influence was strong, a tra- dition dating back to the days of the Bureau brothers, and the effective direction was in the hands of a commissafre génémi d’arriiierie, usually a man of the middle class. But even here the titular head was the grand master of artillery who, since the beginning of the sixteenth century, was invariably a person of high station. Thus, the army manifested a striking lack of integration. Other than the person of the king, there was no central authority. And except in the artillery there were no important civilian officials. Richelieu laid the foundations of the civil administration of the army by extending to it his well-known policy of relying upon middle—class agents as the be3t means of strengthening the power of the crown. He created a number of intendants d’emée who were usually provincial intendants selected for special duty in time of war, one to each field army. Responsible to the intendants were a number of commissaires who were to see to the payment of troops, the storage of equipment, and other similar matters. Finally it was under Richelieu that the important post of minister of war was to all intents and purposes created. Under two great ministers, Michel Le Tellier (1643-1668} and his son, the Marquis de Louvois (I668-r691), the prestige of this office and the complexity of the civilian administration associated with it increased mightily. Around the person of the minister there grew up a genuine departmen- 66 VAUBAN talized government office complete with archives. By 1680 five separate bureaus had been created, each headed by a chef de bureau provided with numerous assistants. It was to these bureaus that the intendents, the commissioners, and even commanding officers Sent their reports and their requests. From them emanated the orders of the minister of war; for only persons of great importance dealt directly with the minister, who had thus become, in all that pertained to important military deci- sions, the king’s confidential advisor. judged by modern, or even Napoleonic, standards, the French army of Louis XIV was by no means symmetrically organized. There were gross defects of all sorts, anomalies of organization and administration, vices of recruitment and- officering. But this army was no longer an anarchic collection of separate units, knowing no real masrer but the captain or colonel who recruited them. If it possessed a clearly defined military hierarchy with clearly defined powers, and if the royal authority could no longer with impunity be evaded by underlings or challenged by rebellious commanders—this was made possible by the painstaking work of the civilian administration during the seventeenth century. The great, semi-independent offices of the crown were abolished or brought to heel. Reforms were effected within the hierarchy of general officers to make powers more clear-cut and to eliminate vagueness of function and in- cessant rivalry among the numer0us marshals and lieutenant generals. The principle of seniority was introduced. Unity of command was possible by creating the temporary and exceptional rank of marécbal general des armées, held for the firsr time by Turenne in 1660. A host of minor reforms were also put through during this creative period, touching such diverse matters as the evil of plurality of office within the army, which was severely checked, venality of office, which proved ineradicable, the introduction of uniform dress and discipline, and improvements in the mode of recruiting, housing, and paying the troops. Doubtless this sustained effort to systematize and order the structure of the army reflected what was taking place in other spheres. Throughout French political life traditional rights and confusions sanctified by long usage were being attacked in the interest of strengthening the central power. This cult of reason and order was not merely an authoritarian expedient, not just an aesthetic ideal imposed by the prevailing classicism. Impatience with senseless disorder, wherever encountered, was one expression, and not the least significant expression, of the mathematical neorationalism of Descartes, of the esprit géométrique detected and re- corded by Pascal. It was the form in which the scientific revolution, with its attendant mechanical philosophy, first manifested itself in France. And it reSulted in the adoption of the machine-“where each part fulfilled its 67 ORIGINS OF MODERN WAR prescribed function, with no waste motion and no supernurnerary cogs— as the primordial analogy, the model not oniy of man’s rational con- struction, but of God’s universe. In this universe the cogs were Gassendi’s atoms or Descartes’ vortices, while the primum mobile was Fontenelle’s divine watchmaker. We often speak as though the eighteenth or the nineteenth century discovered the worship of the machine, but this is a half-truth. It was the seventeenth century that discovered the machine, its intricate precision, its revelation—as for example in the calculating machines of Pascal and Leibnitz—of mathematical reason in action. The eighteenth century merely gave this notion a Newtonian twist, whereas the nineteenth century worshiped not the machine but power. So in the age of Richelieu and Louis XIV the reformers were guided by the spirit of the age, by the impact of scientific rationalism, in their efforts to modernize both the army and the civiiian bureaucracy, and to give to the state and to the army some of the qualities of a well-designed machine. Science, however, was exerting other and more direct effects upon mil- itary affairs, and to these we must now turn. II Science ant;1 warfare have always been intimately connected. In an- tiquity this alliance became strikingly evident in the Hellenistic and Ro« man periods. Archimedes’ contribution to the defense of Syracuse im- mediately springs to mind as the classic illustration. The cultural and economic rebirth of western Europe after the twelfth century shows that this association was not fortuitous, for the revival of the ancient art of war was closely linked with the recovery and development of ancient scientific and technical knowledge.: Few of the early European scientists were soldiers, but many of them in this and later centuries served as consulting technicians or even as technical auxiliaries of the army. A number of military surgeons have their place in the annals of medical or anatomical science; while still more numerous were the engineers, literally the masters of the engines, whose combined skill in military architecture, in ancient and modern artillery, and in the use of a wide variety of machines served equally to advance the art of war and to contribute to theoretical science. Leonardo da Vinci, the first great original mind en- countered in the history of modern science, was neither the first nor the last of these versatile military engineers, although he is probably the greatest. Throughout the Sixteenth century and most of the seventeenth, be— t In this section I have relied chiefly upon my own unpublished doctoral dissertation, “Science and War in the Old Regime” (Harvard University, r941). 68 VAUBAN fore the technical corps of the army had really developed, a number of the greatest scientists of Italy, France, and England turned their attention to problems bearing upon the technical side of warfare. By the year 1600 it was generally realized that the service of outside specialists must be supplemented by some sort of technical training among the officers them» selves. All the abortive projects for systematic military education, such as the early plans of Henry [V and of Richelieu, gave some place to elementary scientific training.‘ The great Galileo outlines in a little-known document a rather f0rmidable program of mathematical and physical studies for the future officer. Although organized military education, to say nothing of technical education, had to await the eighteenth century, nearly every officer of any merit by the time of Vauban had some smat- tering of technical knowledge, or regretted that he had not. The devel« 0pments of science that brought this about are best described by a brief survey of the changes in military architecture and in artillery. The art or science of military architecture suffered a violent revo- lution in the century following the Italian wars of Machiavelli’s time. The French artillery—using the firSt really effective siege cannon—had battered down with ridiculous ease the high—walled medieval fortifica- tions of the Italian towns. The Italians’ reply was the invention of a new model enceinte—the main enclosure of a fortresswwhich, improved by a host of later modifications, was that which prevailed in Europe until the early nineteenth century. It was characterized primarily by its outline or trace: that of a polygon, usually regular, with bastions projecting from each angle, in such a manner as to subject the attacker to an effective cross fire. As it was perfected by the later Italian engineers this enceinte consisred of three main divisions: a thick low rampart, with parapet; a broad ditch; and an outer rampart, the glacis, which sloped gently down to the level of the surrounding countryside. Designing these fortresses became a learned art, involving a fair amount of mathematical and architectural knowledge. A number of sci- entists of the first rank were experts in this new field of applied science. The Italian mathematician Niccolo Tartaglia, and the great Dutch sci- entist, Simon Stevin, were as famous in their own day as engineers as they are in ours for their contributions to mathematics and mechanics. Even Galileo taught fortification at Padua.4 Francis I of France, aware of the skill of the Italian engineers, took a number of them into his service, using them in his pioneer efforts to fortify his northern and eastern frontiers against the threat of Charles V. 1 F. Art-z, Les debuts de l’éducarioa technique en France, {goo-r700 (Paris, r938). 4 J. J. Fable, “The Scientific Works of Galileo," in Studies in the History and Method of Science, ed. Charles Singer (Oxford, 1921; repr. New York, {93:5}, 1:217. 69 ORIGINS OF MODERN WAR This first burst of building activity lasted throughout the reign of Henry II, only to be brought to a halt by the civil wars. When the work was resumed under Henry IV and Sully, the Dutch were beginning to contest the primacy of the Italians in this field, and French engineers like Errard de Bar-le—Duc were available to replace the foreigners.5 Errard is the titular founder of the French school of fortification, which may be said to date from the publication of his Fortification ré— duicte an art (1594). In the course of the seventeenth century there ap- peared a number of able engineers, some of them soldiers, others civilian scientists of considerable distinction. Among the men in the latter cate- gory can be mentioned Gerard Desargues, the great mathematician, Pierre Petit, a versatile scientist of the second rank, and jean Richer, astronomer and physicist. In the development of the theory of fortification the great precursor of Vauban, one might almost say his master, was the Count de Pagan. Blaise de Pagan (1604-1665) was a theorist, not a practical engineer. So far as is known he never actually directed any important construction. In engineering, as in science where he fancied himself more than the dilettante that he really was, his contributions were made from the arm- chair. He succeeded, however, in reforming in several important respects the type of fortresses built by the French in the later seventeenth century. Vauban’s famous “first system” was in reality nothing but Pagan’s style, executed with minor improvements and flexibly adapted to differences in terrain. Pagan’s main ideas were embodied in his treatise Les fortifi- cations do comte de Pagan (1645). They all sprang from a single primary consideration: the increased effectiveness of cannon, both for offense and in defense. To Pagan the bastions were the supremely important part of the outline, and their position and shape were determined by the help of simple geometrical rules that he formulated, with respect to the outside, rather than the inside, of the enceinte. In the deveIOpment of artillery there was the same interplay of sci- entific skill and military needs during the sixteenth and seventeenth cen- turies. Biringuccio’s De la pirotecbnia [1540), now recognized as one of the classics in the history of chemistry, was for long the authoritative handbook of military pyrotechnics, the preparation of gunpowder, and the metallurgy of cannon. The theory of exterior ballistics similarly was worked out by two of the founders of modern dynamics, Tartaglia and Galileo. Perhaps it would nOt be too much to assert that the foundations of modern physics were a by-product of solving the fundamental bal- listical problem. Tartaglia was led to his criticisms of Aristotelian dy- ‘ Lt. Col. Antoine Augoyat, Aperqa historiqae sur les fortifications, 1:15-zi. 70 VAUBAN namics by experiments—perhaps the earliest dynamical experiments ever performed—on the relation between the angle of fire and the range of a projectile. His results, embodying the discovery that the angle of maxi- mum range is forty-five degrees, brought about the widespread use of the artillerist’s square or quadrant. But to Galileo is due the fundamental discovery that the trajectory of a projectile, for the ideal case that neglects such disturbing factors as air resistance, must be parabolic. This was made possible only by his three chief dynamical discoveries, the principle of inertia, the law of freely falling bodies, and the principle of the com— position of velocities. Upon these discoveries, worked out as steps in his ballistic investigation, later hands erected the structure of classical physics. By the end of the seventeenth century the progress of the “New Learning” had become compelling enough to bring about the first ex- periments in technical military education and the patronage of science by the governments of England and France. The Royal Society of London received its charter at the hands of Charles II in 1662, while four years later, with the encouragement of Colbert, the French Académie Royale des sciences was born. In both of these organizations, dedicated as they were at their feundation to “useful knowledge,” many investigations were undertaken of immediate or potential value to the army and navy. Ballistic investigations, studies on impact phenornena and recoil, researches on improved gunpowder and the properties of saltpeter, the quest for a satisfaCtory means of determining longitude at sea: these, and many orher subjects, preoccupied the members of both academies. In both countries able navy and army men are found among the diligent members. In France especially the scientists were frequently called upon for their advice in technical matters pertaining to the armed forces. Under Colbert’s Super vision scientists of the Academia des sciences carried out a detailed coast and geodetic survey as part of Colbert’s great program of naval expan- sion, and what is perhaps more important, they laid the foundations for modern scientific cartography so that in the following century, with the completion of the famous Cassini map of France, an army was for the first time equipped with an accurate topographic map of the country it was charged to defend. III If we ask how these developments are reflected in the military lit- erature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the answer is simple enough: the volume is, on the average, greater than the quality. Antiquity was still the great teacher in all that concerned the broader aspects of military theory and the secrets of military genius. Vegetius and Frontinus 71 ORIGINS OF MODERN WAR were deemed indispensable; and the most popular book of the century, Henri de Rohan’s Parfait capitaine, was an adaptation of Caesar’s Gallic Wars. Without doubt the most important writing concerned with the art of war fell into two classes: the pioneer works in the field of international law; and the pioneer works of military technology. Machiavelli had been the theorist for the age of unregulated warfare, but his influence was waning by the turn of the seventeenth century. Francis Bacon was perhaps his last illustrious disciple; for it is hard to find until our own day such unabashed advocacy of unrestricted war as can be found in certain of the Essays. But by Bacon’s time the reaction had set in. Men like Grotius were leading the attack against international anarchy and against a war of unlimited destructiveness. These founding fathers of international law announced that they had found in the law of nature the precepts for a law of nations, and their central principle, as Talleyrand put it once in a strongly worded reminder to Napoleon, was that nations ought to do one another in peace, the meet good, in war, the least possible evil. It is easy to underestimate the influence of these generous theories upon the actual realities of warfare, and to cite Albert Sorel’s black picture of international morals and conduct in the period of the Old Regime. Actually the axioms of international law exerted an undeniable influence on the mode and manner of warfare before the close of the seventeenth century.“ If they did not put an end to political amoralism, they at least hedged in the conduct of war with a host of minor prescriptions and prohibitions that contributed to making eighteenth-century warfare a relatively humane and well—regulated enterprise. These rules were known to contending commanders and were quite generally fol10wed. Such, for example, were the instructions concerning the treatment and exchange of prisoners; the condemnation of certain means of destruction, like the use of poison; the rules for the treatment of nonCornbatants and for arranging parleys, truces, and safe-conducts; or those concerned with despoiling or levying exactions upon conquered territory and with the mode of terminating sieges. The whole tendency was to protect private persons and private rigits in time of war, and hence to mitigate the evils. In the second class, that of books on military technology, no works had greater influence or enjoyed greater prestige than those of Sébastien Le Prestte de Vauban, the great military engineer of the reign of Louis XIV. His authority in the eighteenth century was immense, nor had it 6 The notion has been stressed by Hoffman Nickerson, The Armed Horde, 1-793-1939 (New York, t94o), 34-40. 72 VAUBAN appreciably dimmed after the time of Napoleon.7 And yet Vauban’s lit- erary legacy to the eighteenth century was scanty and highly specialized, consisting almost solely of a treatise on siegecraft, a work on the defense of fortresses, and a short work on mines.3 He published nothing on military architecture, and made no systematic contribution to strategy or the art of war in general; yet his influence in all these departments is undeniable. It was exerted subtly and indirectly through the memory of his career and of his example, and by the exertions and writings of a number of his disciples. But by this process many of his contributions and ideas were misunderstood and perverted, and much that he accom- plished was for a long time lost to view. Thanks to the work of scholars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, who have been able to publish an appreciable portion of Vauban’s letters and manuscripts, and to peruse and analyze the test, we have a clearer understanding of Vauban’s career and of his ideas than was possible to his eighteenth-century admirers. He has increased in stature, rather than diminished, in the light of modern studies. We have seen the Vauban legend clarified and documented; we have seen it emended in many important points; but we have not seen it exploded. The Vauban legend requires some explanation. \Vhy was a simple engineer, however skillful and devoted to his task, raised so swiftly to the rank of a national idol? Why were his specialized publications on siegecraft and the defense of fortresses sufficient to rank him as one of the mosr influential military writers? The answers are not far to seek: these works of Vauban were the authoritative texts in what was to the eighteenth century a most impor- tant, if not the supremely important, aspect of warfare. In the late sev- enteenth century and throughout the eighteenth century, warfare often appears to us as nothing but an interminable succession of sieges. Almost always they were the focal operations of a campaign: when the reduction of an enemy fortress was not the principal objective, as it often was, a -' An eighteenth-century writer on the education of the nobility suggests that the five most important authors a student should study are Rohan, Santa Cruz, Feuquiéres, Montecuccoli, and Vauban. Cf. Chevalier de Brucourt, Essai' sur l’éd‘ncrtrr'on de la noblesse, nouvelle edition corrt'ge‘e er augmenrée (Paris, 1748], 1:162:63. " The works published in his lifetime were two: a work on administrative problems, called the Direcreur généml ales fortificatioris (The Hague, I 68 5, reprinted in Paris, ‘I 3&5], and his Dixme Royals {The Hague [?}, 1707). A number of spurious works, however, had appeared before his death, purporting to expound his methods of fortification. His three treatises best known to the eighteenth century were printed for the first time in a slovenly combined edition titled Traité de l’attaque et de la défense ties places suivi d'mt truité des mines (The Hague, 1737]. This was reprinted in I74: and again in 1771. The Traité de in defense des places was published separately by Jombert in Paris in 1769. No carefully prepared editions were published until [795. 73 ORIGINS OF MODERN WAR siege was the inevitable preliminary to an invasion of enemy territory. Sieges were far more frequent than pitched battles and were begun as readily as battles were avoided. When they did occur, battles were likely to be dictated by the need to bring about, or to ward off, the relief of a besieged fortress. The strategic imagination of all but a few exceptional commanders was walled in by the accepted axioms of a war of siege. In an age that accepted unconditionally this doctrine of the strategic primacy of the siege, Vauban’s treatises were deemed indispensable and his name was necessarily a name to conjure with. Yet only a part of the aura and prestige that surrounded Vauban’s name arose from these technical writings. He has appealed to the imag- ination because of his personal character, his long career as an enlightened servant of the state, his manifold contributions to military progress out- side of his chosen speciality, and his liberal and humanitarian interest in the public weal. From the beginning it was Vauban the public servant who aroused the greatest admiration. With his modest origin, his diligence and honesty, his personal courage, and his loyalty to the state, he seemed the reincarnation of some servitor of the Roman Republic. Indeed, Fon— tenelle, in his famous éioge, describes him as a “Roman, whom the century of Louis XIV seems almost to have stolen from the happiest days of the Republic." To Voltaire he was “the finest of citizens.” Saint—Simon, not content with dubbing him a Roman, applied to him, for the first time with its modern meaning, the word patriorefl In Vauban, respected public servant, organizational genius, enlightened reformer, seemed to be em- bodied all the traits which had combined, through the efforts of countless lesser persons, to forge the new national state. Still more felicitously did Vauban’s technical knowledge, his skill in applied mathematics, his love of precision and order, and his membership in the Academic des sciences, symbolize the new importance of scientific knowledge for the welfare of the state. Cartesian reason, the role of applied science in society both for war and peace, the esprit géome’trique of the age: all these were incarnated in the man, visible in the massive outline of the fortresses he designed. V Vauban’s career was both too long and too active for anything but a summary account in an essay of this sort. Scarcer any other of Leuis XIV’s ministers or warriors had as long an active career. He entered the royal service under Mazarin when he was in his early twenties and was 9 Sebastien Le Prestre de Vauban, Letrres intimes inédites edressées are Marquis de Pay— ziettix (1699-1705}. Introduction er notes de Hymoix de Landosle (Paris, 1914}, 16—I7. 74 VAUBAN Still acrive in the field only a few months before his death at the age of seventy~three. During this half century of ceaseless effort he conducted nearly fifty sieges and drew the plans for well over a hundred fortresses and harbor installations. He came from the indeterminate fringe between the bourgeoisie and the lower nobility, being the descendant of a prosperous notary of Ba- zoches in the Morvan who in the mid-sixteenth century had acquired a small neighborhood fief. He was born at Saint-Leger in 1633, received his imperfect education—a smattering of history, mathematics, and draw- ing—in nearby Semur-en-Auxois; and in 1651, at the age of seventeen enlisted as a cadet with the troops of Condé, then in rebelliOn against the king. Sharing in Condé’s pardon, he entered the royal service in 1653 where he served with distinction under the Chevalier de Clerville, a man of mediocre talents who was regarded as the leading military engineer of France. Two years later he earned the brevet of fngénieur ordinaire du rot; and soon after acquired as a sinecure the captaincy of an infantry company in the regiment of the Maréchal de La Ferté. During the interval between the cessation of hostilities with Spain in 1659 and Louis XIV’s first war of conquest in 1667, Vauban was hard at work repairing and improving the fortifications of the kingdom under the direction of Clerville. In 1667 Louis XIV attacked the Low Countries. In this brief War of Devolution Vauban so distinguished himself as a maSter of siegecraft and the other branches of his trade that Louvois noticed his distinct superiority to Clerville and made him the virtual director, as commissaire genera}, of all the engineering work in his department. The acquisitions of the War of Devolution launched Vauban on his great building pro- gram. Important towns in Hainaut and Flanders were acquired, the out- posts of the great expansion: Bergues, Furnes, Tournai, and Lille. These and many other important positions were fortified according to the so- called first system of Vauban, which will be discussed below. This, then, was to be the ceaseless rhythm of Vauban’s life in the service of Louis XIV: constant supervision, repairs, and new construcrion in time of peace; in time of war, renewed sieges and further acquisitions; then more feverish construction during the ensuing interval of peace. In the perfOrmance of these duties Vauban was constantly on the move until the year of his death, traveling from one end of France to the other on horseback or, later in life, in a famous sedan chair borne by horses. There seem to have been few intervals of leisure. He devoted little time to his wife and to the country estate he acquired in 1675, and he sedulously avoided the court, making his stays at Paris and Versailles as short as possible. The greatest number of his days and nights were spent in the 75 ORIGINS OF MODERN WAR inns of frontier villages and in the execution of his innumerable tasks, far from the centers of culture and excitement. Such free moments as he was able to snatch in the course of his engineering work he devoted to his official correspondence and to other writing. He kept in constant touch with Louvois, whom he peppered with letters and reports written in a pungent and undoctored prose. As though this were not enough Vauban interested himself in a host of diverse civil and military problems only indirectly related to his own specialty. Some of these subjects he discussed in his correspondence, while he dealt with others in long mem- oirs which make up the twelve manuscript volumes of his Oisivetés. These memoirs treat the most diverse subjects. Some are technical, others are not. But in nearly all of them he answers to Voltaire’s de- scription of him as “un homme toujours occupé de sujets les uns utiles, les autres peu practicables et t0us singuliers.”'° Besides discussing military and naval problems, or reporting on inland waterways and the interocean Canal of Languedoc, he writes on the need for a program of reforestation, the possible methods of improving the state of the French colonies in America, the evil consequences of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, andwin a manner that foreshadowed Napoleon’s creation of the Legion of Honor—the advantages of instituting an aristocracy of merit Open to all classes, in place of the senseless and archaic nobility of birth and privilege. The Oisr'vetés reveal their origin and belie their name. They were written at odd times, in strange places and at various dates. They are often little more than notes and observations collected in the course of his travels over the length and breadth of France; at other times they are extended treatises. What gives the writings a certain unity is the human— itarian interest that pervades them all and the scientific spirit which they reveal. The writings and the career of Vauban illustrate the thesis sug- gested earlier in this paper that in the Seventeenth century scientific ra- tionalism was the wellspring of reform. Vauban’s proposals were based on first-hand experience and observation. His incessant traveling in the performance of his professional duties gave him an unparalleled oppor— tunity to know his own country and its needs. His wide Curiosity and his alert mind led him to amass facts, with the pertinacity known only to collectors, about the economic and social conditions of the areas where he worked; and his scientific turn of mind led him to throw his obser— vations, where possible, into quantitative form. These considerations help us to answer the question whether Vauban deserves, in any fundamental sense, the label of scientist, or whether he "‘- Voltaire, Le siécle de Louis XIV, ch. 21. 76 VAUBAN was merely a soldier and builder with a smattering of mathematics and mechanical knowledge. Was membership in the Acade’mz'e des sciences accorded him in 1699 solely to honor a public servant and was Fonteneile thus obliged to devote to him one of his immortal éioges of men of science? Vauban’s achievements are in applied science and simple applied mathematics. He was not a distinguished mathematician and physicist like the later French military engineer, Lazare Carnot. He made no great theoretical contributions to mechanical engineering, as did Carnot’s con- temporary, Coulomb. He invented no steam chariot like Cugnor. Aside from the design of fortresses, scarcely a matter of pure science, his only contribution to engineering was an empirical study of the proper pro- portions of retaining walls.” Vauban’s chief claim to scientific originality is that he sought to extend the quantitative method into fields where, except for his English contemporaries, no one had yet seriously ventured. He is, in facr, one of the founders of systematic meteorology, an honor that he shares with Robert Hooke, and one of the pioneers in the field of statistics, where the only other contenders were John Graunt and Sir William Petty.” His statistical habit is evident in many of his military and engineering reports. Many of these are filled with apparently irrel- evant detail about the wealth, population, and resources of various re- gions of France. From his harried underlings he exacted the same sort of painstaking survey. In a letter to Hue de Caligny, who was for a time director of fortifications for the northwest frontier from Dunkirk to Ypres, he ex- pressed annoyance at the incomplete information he received in reports about that region. He urged Caligny to supply a map, to describe in detail the waterways, the wood supply with the date of cutting, and to provide him with detailed statistical information on population, broken down according to age, sex, profession, and rank. In addition Caligny was to give all the facrs he could mass about the economic life of the region.‘3 It was by information of this sort, painstakingly acquired as a byproduct of his work as an army engineer, that Vauban sought to extend into civilian affairs the same spirit of critical appraisal, the same love of logic, order, and efficiency, that he brought to bear on military problems. " Abraham Wolf, i'ifstory of Scieme, Technology and Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century [New York, 1939}, s i [-32, Bernard Forest dc Bélidor, La science des i'ngéniciirs (1759). bk- h 6?“?9- ‘1 His tight to pioneer status in [meteorology rests upon a memoir on rainfall that he submitted to the Academic). des sciences. Cf. Bélidor, La science des ingém'eurs, bk. 4, 87— 88. ” Georges Michel, Histoire de Vauban (Paris, [879], 447-51. 77 ORIGINS OF MODERN WAR VI Vauban was one of the most persistent of the military reformers of the century. His letters and his Oisz'vetés are filled with his proposals. There were few aspects of military life or of the burning problems of military organization and military technology where Vauban did not intervene with fertile suggestions or projects for overall reorganization.I4 The incorporation of his engineers into a regularly constituted arm of the service, possessed of its own officers and troops and its distinctive uniform, was something for which he struggled, thOugh with little success, throughout his career.15 His recommendations, however, bore fruit in the following century, as did also his efforts in the matter of scientific education for the technical corps. He enthusiastically praised the earliest artillery schools which were created toward the end of the reign of Louis XIV; and though he never succeeded in creating similar schools for the engineers, he established a system of regular examinatioris to test the preparation of candidates for the royal brevet, and took some steps to see that they were adequately prepared by special instructors. Improvement of the artillery arm was a matter in which, as an expert on siegecraft, he was deeply interested. His studies and innOvations in this field were numerous. He experimented with sledges for use in trans- porting heavy cannon. He found fault with the bronze cannon then in use, and tried to persuade the army to emulate the navy in the use of iron. He made numerous, but unsatisfactory, experiments on a new stone- throwing mortar. And finally he invented ricochet fire, first used at the siege of Philipsbourg, where the propelling charge was greatly reduced so that the ball would rebound this way and that after striking the target area, a peril to any man or machine in the near vicinity. Vauban found space in his correspondence and in the Oisivetés to suggest numerous fundamental reforms for the infantry and for the army as a whole. He was one of the most tireless advocates of the fiintlock musket for the infantry and was the inventor of the first satisfactory bayonet. As early as 1669 he wrote to Louvois strongly urging the general use of flintlocks and the abolition of the pike; and shortly thereafter he specifically proposed to substitute for the pike the familiar bayonet with a sleeve or socket that held the blade at the side of the barrel, permitting the piece to be fired with bayonet fixed. He was preoccupied with the condition and welfare of the men as well as with their equipment. He sought to improve still further the mode ” Pierre Elizier Lazard, Vaubair, 1633-1707 (Paris, 1934}, 44 5—500. ‘5 H. Chotard, “Louis XIV, Louvois, Vauban et les fortifications du nord de la France, d’apres les lettres inédites de Louvois adressees a M. de Chazerat, (Eentilhomme d‘Au- vergne,” Amules da Comité Flamand de France [8 (1889-90), [6-ch. VAUBAN of recruiting and paying the troops. To him is due in part the limitation of the practice of quartering soldiers on the civilian population which, after the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, was supplemented by the creation of caisrzrnes.I6 These special barracks, many of them designed and built by Vauban, were chiefly used in frontier regions and recently conquered territory. Vauban made no systematic study of naval construction, and what he knew seems to have been learned from Clerville who was skilled in this sort of work.‘7 His first effort was at Toulon, where he improved the harbOr installations, but his masterpiece was the port of Dunkirk. He devoted an interesting study to the naval role of galleys, in which he envisaged extending their use from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic coast, where they could serve as patrol vessels, as a mobile screen for heavier ships close to shore, or for swift harassing descents upon the Orkneys, or even upon the English coast. Closely related to these studies was his advocacy of the gazette ale course, which be deemed the only feasible strategy after the collapse of the French naval power painstak- ingly built up by Colbert. VII Vauban’s most significant contributions to the art of war were made, as was to be expected, within his own specialties: siegecraft and the science of fortification. It was characteristic of Vauban’s dislike of un- necessary bloodshed, as much as of the new spirit of moderation in warfare that was beginning to prevail in his day, that his innovations in Siegecraft were designed to regularize the taking of fortresses and above all to cut down the losses of the besieging force. Before his perfection of the system of parallels, which he probably did not invent, attacks on well-defended permanent fortifications took place only at a considerable cost to the attackers.”l Trenches and gabions were employed without sysrem, and as often as not the infantry was thrown against a presumed weak point in a manner that left them exposed to murderous fire. Vauban’s system of attack, which was followed with but little varia- tion during the eighteenth century, was a highly formalized and leisurely procedure. The assailants gathered their men and stores at a point beyond the range of the defending fire and adequately concealed by natural or artificial cover. At this point the sappers would begin digging a trench ”‘ Belidor, Lu science dc ingém'ems, bk. 4, 73. ‘7 [.azatd, Vauban, 501-14; La Ronciere, Histoire de in marine frangaise (1931), 6::64— 69. "‘ For a description of early methods, cf. Gaston Zeller, L’organisation defensive des {mums du nerd at dc Fest and XV”! siéci'e [1928}, 54-55. 79 ORIGINS OF MODERN WAR that moved slowly toward the fortress. After this had progressed some distanCe, a deep trench paralleling the point of future attack was flung out at right angles to the trench of approach. This sowcalled first parallel was filled with men and equipment to constitute a place d’armes. From it, the trench of approach was moved forward again, zigzagging as it approached the fortress. After it had progressed the desired distance, the second parallel was constructed, and the trench was moved forward once more, until a third and usually final parallel was constructed only a short distance from the foot of the glacis. The trench was pushed ahead stiil further, the sappers timing their progress so as to reach the foot of the glacis just as the third parallel was occupied by the troops. The perilous task of advancing up the glacis, exposed to the enemy’s raking fire from their covered way, was accomplished with the aid of temporary structures called cavaliers de trancbées, which were high earthworks, provided with a parapet, from which the besiegers could fire upon the defenders of the c0vered way. This outer line of defense could be cleared par industrie, that is, by subjecting the defenders to the effects of a ricochet bombard- ment, or by sending up grenadiers to take the position by assault under cover of a protecting fire from the cavaliers. Once the enemy’s covered way was seized, siege batteries were erected and an effort was made to breach the main defenses. The essential feature of Vauhan’s system of siegecraft, then, was the use he made of temporary fortifications, trenches, and earthworks in protecting the advancing troops. His parallels were first tried out at the siege of Maestricht in 1673, and the cavaliers dc trancbe’es at the siege of Luxembourg in I684. The perfected system is described at length in his Traité des stages, written for the Due de Bourgogne in r705. Vauban’s work in military architecture has been the subject of con- sidcrable dispute, first as to whether the style of his fortresses showed great originality, second as to whether in placing them he was guided by any master plan for the defense of France. Until very recently even Vauban’s most fervent admirers have agreed that he showed little originality as a military architect and added almost nothing to the design of fortresses he inherited from Pagan. Lazare Carnot admired Vauban in the manner characteristic of other eighteenth-century engineers, yet he could find few signs of originality. “The fortification of Vauban reveals to the eye only a succession of works known before his time, whereas to the mind of the good observer it offers sublime results, brilliant combinations, and masterpieces of industry?“ Alient echoes *9 Didot—I—loefer, Nowelle Bfogmphie Gérte’rale (Paris, r870}, s.v. “Vauban. Sébastien Le Prestre.” 80 VAUBAN him: “A better cross section, a simpler outline, outworks that are bigger and better placed: these are the only modifications that he brought to the syStem then in use.”m This judgment remained in vogue until very recent times. The most recent serious study, that of Lieutenant Colonel Lazard, has modified in Vauban’s favor this somewhat unfavorable opinion}l Lazard has made important changes in our interpretation of Van- ban’s methods of fortification. Whereas earlier writers have had the habit of referring to Vauban’s three systems, Lazard points out that, strictly speaking, Vauban did not have sharply defined systems; rather, he had periods in which he favored distinctly different designs, all modifications of the bastioned trace discussed above. With this restriction in mind, it is convenient to retain the old classification. Vauban’s first system, according to which he built the great majority of his fortified places, consisted in using Pagan’s trace almost without modification. The outlines of these forts were, whenever possible, regular polygons: octagonal, quadrangular, even roughly triangular, as at La Kenoque. The bastions were still the key to the defensive system, though they tended to be smaller than those of Vauban’s predecessors. Except for impr0vements of detail and the greater use of detached exterior de- fenses (such as the tenaiiies and the demi—iune, and other items in Uncle 'I'oby’s lexicon), little had altered since the days of Pagan. Since, therefore, most of Vauban’s structures were built according to this conservative design, and since this was taken as characteristic of Vauban’s work, it is not to he wondered at that later critics could find there little or no originality. The originality, according to Lazard, is evident rather in those other two styles that had little influence on Vauban’s successors and that were exemplified in only a few samples of his work. The second system, used for the first time at Belfort and Besangon, was an outgrowth of that previously used. The polygonal structure was retained, but the curtains (the region between the bastions) were length- ened, and the bastions themselves were replaced by a small work or tower at the angles, these being covered by so-called detached bastions con- structed in the ditch. The so-called third system is only a modification of the second. It was used for only a single work, the great masterpiece of Vauban at Neuf-Brisach. In this scheme the curtain is modified in shape to permit an increased use of cannon in defense, and the towers, the detached bastions, and demi—lunes are all increased in size. =° find, but cf. A. Allent, Hisroire dz: Corps lmpériale du Game {[805}, 1309-10 [only one volume published). ‘-‘ Lazard, Vauban, 377-94. 81 ORIGINS OF MODERN WAR It is the second system that deserves our attention. Here, although his contemporaries could not see it, Vauban had made an important, even revolutionary improvement: he had freed himself from reliance on the main enceinte and taken the first steps toward a defense in depth. He had gained a new flexibility in adapting his design to the terrain without imperiling the main line of defenSe. in all previous cases adap- tation had been through projecting crown works or horn works that were merely spectacular appendages to the primary enceinte; and when these were taken the main line was directly affected. The second system was rejected by Cormontaigne and later by the staff of the Ecole de Méziéres, whose ideas dominated the eighteenth century, and whose schemes of fortification were based squarely upon Vauban’s first system. To them this second system seemed only a crude return to medieval methods. Only late in the eighteenth century do we find a revival of Vauban’s second system: the revolt of Montalernbert, which the Germans accepted long before the French, consisted chiefly in substituting small detached forts in place of the conventional projecting outworks, in reality part of the main enceinte.“ Montalembert’s great revolution, like the later advocacy of fortification in depth, was implicit in Vauban’s second system, though whether Montalembert was inspired by it may well be doubted. The confusion about his ideas that has existed until recently results from the fact that Vauban never wrote a treatise on the art of permanent fortification, never expounded it systematically as he did his theories of the art of attack and of defense. All the books that appeared in his own lifetime and thereafter, purporting to summarize his secrets, were the baldest counterfeits. Only the great work of Bélidor, which treated not of basic design or the problems of military disposition, but only of con- structional problems and administrative detail, was directly inspired by Vauban.‘3 There are, however, two treatises remaining in manuscript that deal with basic principles of fortification and that were directly inspired by him. One of these was written by Sauveur, the mathematician whom Vauban chose to instruct and to examine the engineer candidates; the other by his secretary, Thomassin. These are the best sources, aside from the works themselves, for learning Vauban’s general principles of fortification. It is possible to speak only of general principles, not of a dogmatic system, and these principles are exemplified equally well by all three of the Vauban styles. They are few enough and quite general. First of all, every part of the fort must be as secure as every other, with security provided both through sturdy construction of the exposed points (bas- == Lazard, Vtmbrm, 38990; A. de Zastrow, Histoire de la fortification pemmente (3d ed., {856), 9462-208 (trans. from the German by Ed. de La Batre Du Parcq). 2‘ Belidor, La science des ingéniews. bk. 5,, 29-34, 55-45, 90-96. 82 VAUBAN tions) and by adequate coverage of the curtains. In general these con- ditions will be provided for if (1) there is no part of the enceinte not flanked by strong points, (1} these strong points are as large as possible, and {3.) they are separated by musket range or a little less. These strong points should be so designed that the parts which flank should always confront as directly as possible the parts they are protecting; conversely, the flanking parts should be visible only from the protected parts. A little thought will show that these basic principles are applicable to all of Vauban’s schemes. The actual problem of building a permanent fortifi- cation consisted in so adapting the bastioned trace {or the polygonal trace with detached bastions) to the exigencies of a particular terrain that none of the basic principles was violated. Clearly this left the engineer a wide range of freedom and an admirable flexibility. It was by this method of work that the second style was developed, for Vauban himself tells us that it was not arrived at as a result of theoretical considerations but was forced on him by the terrain conditions at Belfort.“ VIII To what extent was the military building program of Louis XIV guided by some unifying strategic concepti0n; and what is the evidence that his conception, if in truth there was such a thing, was due to the genius of Vauban? These are two of the most important quesrions, but they are not the easiest to answer. The earlier biographers of Vauban, with characteristic impetuosity on behalf of their hero, leave us sometimes with the distinct impression that before Vauban France had no system of fortification worthy of the name, and that the ring of fortresses girding the kingdom by the end of his career represented the execution of some cleverly conceived master plan sprung from the mind of the great engineer. To these writers it was just as incredible that anyone besides Vauban could have had a hand in organizing this defensive system as it was that this system itself might have been the result of a slow historical growth. Of late we have drifted perhaps too far in the other direction. Al~ though, as we have seen, Vauban’s technical reputation as a military architect has been enhanced by recent studies, there has been a simul- taneous tendency on the part of certain writers to reduce him to the level of a great craftsman devoid of strategic imagination. He has been rep- resented as a brilliant technician, executing blindly the tasks dictated by historical necessity or by the orders of superiors who alone did all the strategic thinking. ‘4 Letter to Louvois, October 7, 1637, cited by Zeller, L’organisation defensive, I44. 83 ORIGINS OF MODERN WAR Who was there who was capable of challenging Vauban’s authority in the field of his speciality? The answer is, the king himself. Louis XIV, it has been shown, was more than decently proficient in the art of for tification. He had studied it in his youth, and, during the early part of the reign, he had profited by the advice and instruction of Turenne, Villeroi, and Condé. Throughout his career he showed a constant interest in the most humble details connected with the art of fortification and on a number of occasions he resolutely opposed insistent recommendations of Vauban. Two important forts, Port Louis and Mont-Royal, were cre- ated on the initiative of the king, and one at least of these was against the express advice of Vauban.ZS To one author, Louis the Diligent was in everything, even in these technical matters, the unquestioned master. Louvois was only an “excellent servant, not to say clerk,” while Vauban in his turn “was never anything but the executor of his orders, albeit . . . an excellent one?“ Another writer describes Vauban as “the chief work— man of a great undertaking, the direction of which was never fully en- trusted to him?” This interpretation is in fact inescapable. Vauban drew or corrected all plans for fortresses that had been decided upon; he submitted technical memoirs and recommendations; he gave his opinion on crucial matters when asked and sometimes when he was not asked. But his presence was not deemed necessary when the decisions were being debated. He was not a policy maker; his was only a consultative voice. This should not lead us to underestimate his influence upon the royal decisions. Yet even if Vauban had had a master plan for the defense of France, it could only have been imperfectly executed. Many recommen- dations dear to Vauban’s heart were rejected; many of his schemes were shattered by the realities of war and diplomacy. The Peace of Ryswick in t697, for example, marked Louis XlV’s first withdrawal from the high watermark of conquest. To Vauban, who was not directly Consulted about its terms, this treaty, though not as bad as he feared, was a great deception. Much work had to be done over to make up for the loss of Luxembourg—which he considered one of the strongest places in Eu- rope-and of Brisach, Fribourg, and l‘iancy.l3 Did Vauban in reality have a master plan? On this question there is almost complete disagreement. The writers of the last century took it for granted that Vauban had a strategic pattern for his fortresses, though they were not altogether certain in what it consisted. One writer described H (Lhotard, “Louis XIV, Louvois, Vauban,“ 30—35; Zeller, L‘organisatitm defensive, 96- I17; Lazard, Vanban, 49-3o, 201-104. 1“ (Zhotard, “Louis XIV, Louvois, Vauhan," 36. F Zeller, L’organisation defensive, I 18. -'" lbid., log-104; Th. Lavallée, Les firmrieres de France (Paris, 1864}, 83-85. 84 VAUBAN it as “an assemblage of works sufficiently close to one another so that the intervals between them are nOt unprotected. Each of these works is strong enough and well provisioned enough to impose upon the enemy the obligation of a siege, yet Small enough to demand only a small number of defenders."=9 With this interpretation Gaston Zeller is in categorical disagreement. He points out that Louis XIV and Vauban did not start work with a clean canvas, that neither of these men could have imposed a doctrinaire plan of defense without reference to the work that had gone before; and he indicates that many of the characreristics of the defense system were due to Francis I, Sully, Richelieu, and Mazarin, to their building programs and their treaties. just as the actual frontier of the France of Louis XIV was the culmination of a long-sustained national policy, just so the disposition of the fortress t0wns was “the resultant of a long succession of efforts to adapt the defensive organization of the kingdom to the changing outline of the frontier.”-”° In support of Zeller’s contention that the fortress system was the work of historical evolution, nOt the work of a single man, is the evidence from the career of Vauban himself. The greatest number of strongholds that we associate with him were n0t places near/es but older fortresses, some dating back to Errard or his Italian predecessors, that Vauban modernized and strengthened. The fortresses did mm in any sense constitute a syStem as Vauban found them; they were important only as separate units. There was no liaisOn between them and they were almost always too far apart. Each situation, moreover, had been chosen for its local importance: to guard a bridge, a crossmads, or the confluence of two rivers. Their total value depended not on their relative positions but rather upon their number}I Zeller and Lazard both agreed that Vauban’s general scheme resulted from a process of selection from among these fortresses. He made order out of prevailing chaos by choosing certain forts whose positions made them worth re- taining and strengthening, and by suggesting that Others be razed. His strategic vision could not work with complete freedom; he was limited“ largely for reasons of public economy—to working with what France already possessed. It is easy to discover the principles that guided his process of selection and thus to find the key to his strategic thinking. To Zeller there is nothing outstanding about these principles; the “order” that Vauban effected fell far short of a great strategic conception. But Lazard is much more flattering. He takes the view that Vauban was the first man in history to have an overall notion of the strategic role of fortresses. He was not only an engineer but a stratége, and one with ideas '-"' Helinehert. cited by Chorard. “Louis XIV, Louvois, Vauban," 41. “’ Zeller, i. organisation defensive, 1. ” lbid., 1:3. 85 ORIGINS OF MODERN WAR far in advance of his own day.“1 Only Vauban’s own writings can allow the reader to decide between these two interpretations. It should be remembered that as a result of the War of Devolution against Spain, his first war of conquest, Louis XIV extended his holdings along the northweSt frontier deep into Spanish-held Flanders. The new positionswfrom Fumes near the coast eastward through Bergues and Courtrai to Charleroi—gave France a number of strong points scattered among the Spanish garrisons. Vauban’s first great task was to strengthen and refortify these new acquisitions, and this occupied most of his time during the peaceful years from 1668 to 1672. In the spring of 1672, however, Louis launched his war against the Dutch. Vauban took the opportunity to raise for the first time the question of the general organ- ization of the frontier. In a letter to Louvois, dated January 10, 1673, he wrote: “Seriously, my lord, the king should think seriously about rounding out his domain [songer ti fairs son pré carré]. This confusion of friendly and enemy fortresses mixed up pell-mell with one another does not please me at all. You are obliged to maintain three in the place of one.”33 In 1673, a year that saw him busy consolidating French conquests in Franche Comte and elsewhere, Vauban made more specific suggestions. In September of that year he proposed the sieges of Condé, Bouchain, Valenciennes, and Cambrai. The capture and retention of these places would, he said, assure Louis’s conquests and produce the pré carré that was so desirable. These towns were accordingly taken: Condé and BOu- chain in 1676, Valenciennes and Cambrai in 1677. The Peace of Nim~ wegen, signed in August of the following year, gave France a frontier approximating the pré carré. FranCe gave up some Flemish holdings but acquired instead Saint-Diner, Cassel, Aire, Ypres, and a half-dozen other important strongholds. To the eastward were gained Nancy in Lorraine and Fribourg across the Rhine. But Vauban was not satisfied with the western end of the frontier; he felt that the recent peace had disrupted it and left it open toward the Lowlands. In November 1678, three months after Nimwegen, he wrote the first of a series of important general state- ments on the organization of the northern frontier from the Channel to the MeuseflHi Vauban opens by discussing the purposes of a fortified frontier: it should close to the enemy all the points of entry into the kingdom and ‘1 Lazard, Wuhan, 408—11. “ Ibid., 155; Albert de Rochas d‘Aiglun, Vauban, 5a famille et ses écrirs, ses oisiuetcs. er sa correspondence, 2. vols. {Pm-is, 19m], z:89. *4 Lazard, Vauban, 40914; Zeller, L’orgam‘satz'on defensive, 96-98. This important mem- oir is printed in extenso in Rochas Vaubrm, 5a famille et ses écrits, 1:189f. 86 ...
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This note was uploaded on 01/25/2012 for the course HIST 202 taught by Professor Smith during the Fall '11 term at University of Maryland Baltimore.

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chap 3 1-2(1) - THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY discover by...

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