Historyzine 012: The Battle of Blenheim

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In Historyzine 12 our main feature is 1704 and the battle of Blenheim. John Churchill (Duke of Marlborough) is rampaging around Bavaria with the Dutch, Hesse, Austrian, Hanoverian and English troops. Gathering against him under the command of Marshall Tallard, Marshall Marsin and the Elector of Bavaria are the troops of France and Bavaria accompanied by various mercenaries.

Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria.

Despite his careful planning Marlborough finds no siege train waiting for him in Germany. The food he requested is not there and various troops have been diverted into Italy and Hungary. Undaunted the Duke and the Prince (Prince Eugene of Savoy) bring the Franco Bavarian forces to battle at Blenheim. In this history podcast I describe the battle of Blenheim and try to show how the various general’s decisions made the difference on that fateful day.

Salamander Cutts

Salamander Cutts

1st Baron Lord Cutts was nicknamed Salamander due to his penchant for always being where the fire was hottest. He was referred to by the Satirist Jonathan Swift as being as ‘brave and brainless as the sword by his side.’ Cutts lead Marborough’s left wing attack upon the village of Blenheim.

In the more general section of this podcast we look at the word Jacobean and attempt to straighten out a few myths regarding the Jacobite cause.
The history podcast review this time concerns the Stanford University series of lectures on Hannibal.
Some of the sources I use for this podcast can be found at Amazon.co.uk in the UK
or at Amazon.com in the United States.

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7 Responses to Historyzine 012: The Battle of Blenheim

  1. anna says:

    Great podcast. I enjoyed it from the first to the last second.

  2. Benny says:

    Thank you for the show. I wonder how decisive Blenheim was, perhaps you could say a few words about the aftermath of the battle.

    Anyway, charge on to the next episode, quickly!


  3. jimmowatt says:

    I shall indeed.
    Rather than decisive it was a turning point and proved that the mighty French forces were actually beatable. It had been a long time since they had been so soundly beaten in a major battle.

  4. Bill says:

    Thanks for an engaging and clear account of Blenheim.

    I’m interested in what comes next. Will we get an answer to Robert Southey’s question in his poem ‘The Battle of Blenheim’?
    “But what good came of it at last?”
    Quoth little Peterkin.
    “Why, that I cannot tell,” said he,
    “But ’twas a famous victory.”

    I also enjoyed the piece about the Jacobites, although I disagree with the conclusions. I think I heard you imply that in 1745 Charles Edward Stuart was trying to claim the throne for himself, when in fact the ‘true king’ was still his father James VIII and III, and Charlie was still ‘Prince of Wales’.

    I hadn’t realised this until I visited Glenfinnan a few weeks ago, a site which should be on every visitor’s itinerary in the West of Scotland. The real problem with Jacobitism is of course that it is possible to discredit almost every monarch: Richard II and Richard III were illicitly usurped. And William I hardly acquired the throne by legal means! But the Dutch seizure of the throne in 1688 is surely the most inglorious moment.

  5. jimmowatt says:

    Grrrrr and other angry cartoon style noises.
    Southey’s poem is just one example of the vicious party politicking going on in England at the time. Many people tried to downplay the success at Blenheim and then when that didn’t seem to work they switched to the tactic of saying, yes, but what use is it?
    Mostly, the politicking was all about pulling down Marlborough and Godolphin from their positions of power and influence.
    I suppose there may be an element of trying to avoid the loss of more British lives in an ‘unnecessary war’. Possibly similar to opinion today on forces in Iraq but I’m more inclined to believe that it was mainly power play.
    Was the war unnecessary?
    I don’t believe so.
    I think France would have continued to expand and Britain would have found its trade cut off and possibly would have had to fight an even bloodier war on its own soil had they not got involved in the War of the Spanish Succession on the continent.

    I’ve just had a look at the web site for Glenfinnan.
    It looks really beautiful. I’m quite tempted to go see it for myself especially if I combined it with a visit to Fort William which isn’t all that far away from there.

    1688 is, I think, one of the best things that has happened to the British government system. It gave us a new line of kings who owed their position to Parliament. OK, we get stuck with that diabolical party politics stuff I mentioned earlier but we pave the way for a proper representative democracy.
    Whether you think that democracy stuff is a good thing tho’ is another matter

  6. Bill says:

    Thanks Jim
    It’s interesting to see that there are some similarities with our own age. I hadn’t realised that Southey was reflecting the polemics – though of course he was writing many years later. We may look back at the victory of Blenheim and not realise that there was controversy at home about the campaign. The dilemma of whether to get involved in a conflict abroad and the consequences of doing so or not doing so remains a challenge to many countries still today.
    I suppose the question I was asking (with Southey), rather as you promised above, is what difference it did really make. It seems to me that France was still a threat to the rest of Europe (not to mention in India and the Americas) for a long time after this. I’m looking forward to hearing how some of that works out in the next episodes.

  7. Robert Scott says:

    James !!

    Beautiful and well done

    ( I think now I might now know more than an Irish-American should know about British History )

    Great job with the sound enhancements …. well done !!!

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