Historyzine 014: Forcing the lines of Brabant (1705)

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Family History – connecting up with large scale history. I’ve recently spent a considerable amount of time delving into my family history and been quite delighted by the reflection of large scale events such as the industrial revolution, highland clearances and the potato blight of 1846 that are to be found in the movements of my ancestors.

Exploring the phrase – Fork it over. Is it a man with a pitchfork handing over his produce to the landlord or is it a pickpocket thing?

A review of ‘In Our Time’. The BBC radio 4 series ‘In Our Time’ is placed under the Historyzine microscope.

The War of the Spanish Succession, 1705 – Forcing the Lines of Brabant.
The Duke of Marlborough after his successes in Bavaria in 1704 is gathering his forces for a push up the Moselle into France. The allies from Baden, Hanover and Austria are not ready for the start of the campaign so the plans are thrown into disarray. The French generals Villars and Villeroi lead Marlborough a merry dance as they make the most of their advantage.
VilleroiVillars - Field Marshall Then Marlborough formulates a plan to attack the Lines of Brabant feinting toward the weakest part of the lines and then changing direction under cover of darkness to attack the lines at their strongest point. The plan works brilliantly. The lines are dismantled and the forces of England, the Netherlands and Austria once more hold the upper hand against those of France, Spain and Bavaria.

Attack on the lines of Brabant

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8 Responses to Historyzine 014: Forcing the lines of Brabant (1705)

  1. anna says:

    Wonderful podcast again!

  2. Mr. E says:

    I’m not exactly sure who those two men are in the above portraits (the one on the right looks like Louis XIV), but they sure knew how to strike a pose! 😀

    Seriously though, I’ve often wondered why Marlborough isn’t rated higher by historians (other than Winston Churchill…lol) amongst the great Captains. IMO, he ranks along with Alexander, Napoleon and Caesar.

    Great episode…looking forward to the next.

    P.S. I really like this podcast. I wrote a 5 star review and posted it on iTunes. 😉

  3. jimmowatt says:

    Villeroi and Villars.
    If you hover your mouse pointer over them it should reveal their identity.

    Marlborough’s record is astounding isn’t it.
    ‘never fought a battle he didn’t win. Never besieged a town he did not take.’

    There are very few generals who can claim as much.
    As for why he isn’t rated so highly – hmmm, several reasons not least of which is the Whig party who so hated him. He was hated partly because he was a Tory, partly because he was seen as in league with Queen Anne who was keeping the Whigs out of power. The Whigs were in power for many years after Marlborough and there were many histories written during that time all of which were quite convinced that the Whig way was the true way and anything which had seemingly obstructed the Whigs was to be condemned.
    Our man Marlborough was also held in low regard by many (even the supporters of William of Orange) for betraying his master, James II and switching sides at the crucial moment during the Glorious revolution. It’s all too easy to write him off as an opportunist.
    I think he ranks as a more significant general than Wellington and he certainly had more to deal with than Wellington. I’ll be going into some detail in the next episode concerning his round of winter diplomacy (1705/1706) to show just how much work he needed to put in to hold the alliance together. He needed to be ambassador and courtier as well as warrior.

  4. Richard says:

    Thank you Jim for the podcast.

    The question of Marlborough’s reputation is an interesting one. He had military genius and acquired political supremecy (thanks to his clever wife). Alexander, Caesar, Frederick II, Napoleon et cetera, have always had contested reputations. But perhaps the recent memory of Cromwell shaped how the English saw him. Especially after his later request to Anne to be captain general for life. Also modern “journalism” was created at the start of the 18th century in London, and created by politicians (e.g. Harley getting Addison to write the “Campaign” to celebrate Blemheim. Maybe Swift’s polemics for the Tory interest have influenced historians. And as W. Churchill argues, Macauley unjustly recycled the most scurrilous contemporary accusations against Marlborough. Perhaps he is not considered in the first rank because of the shadow of Napoleon, who is the greater and more personally engaging figure by far.

    Anyway, I look forward to your next instalment.

  5. Benny says:

    Its time for another show, Jim! Please dont leave us waiting much longer.



  6. jimmowatt says:

    I can’t promise anything just yet I’m afraid as my laptop is completely broken (cracked motherboard). The next episode is all written and ready to go so as soon as I get access to another suitable machine then recording will commence.
    I’m missing the experience of creating the podcast very much indeed. I feel quite bereft.
    Hope to be back soon – fingers crossed, toes crossed, eyes crossed etc etc etc

  7. jwoliver says:

    In regard to your enthusiasm about your genealogical research in this episode, it infected me to go over and check out Lisa Louise Cooke’s podcasts and tackle my own mound of research. I love how we can relate our personal histories with larger historic events and am looking forward to discovering more as I pursue my research.

  8. jimmowatt says:

    Lisa does a fine podcast which is fair brimming over with excellent tips and an abundance of enthusiasm. I’m sure you’ll find much to enjoy there.

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