Monday, July 13, 2009

The Battle of Záblat

Above: The Battle of Záblat by Abraham Hogenberg.
[“Schlacht von Zablat, 1619,” in Hogenbergsche Geschichtsblätter (ca. 1630)]

This is an interesting contemporary depiction of the complete defeat of a contingent of the Bohemian rebels commanded by the freebooter Peter Ernst, Graf Mansfeld by an Imperialist army under Charles Bonaventure de Longueval, comte de Bucquoy. It shows at a glance the problem of the rebels in the fight: their cavalry, brave but wholly inadequate numerically and in terms of its military efficiency, was swept from the field, and the infantry was left to fend for itself.

Mansfeld escaped the disaster with the remnant of his cavalry, and the infantry, after a brief resistance in a wagenburg (wagon fortress formed by laagering the 200 pack wagons of the army), surrendered and took service with Bucquoy’s army.

The battle was a major turning point of the Bohemian Phase of the Thirty Years’ War as it was a severe check that marked the beginning of the inexorable decline of the rebel army. The Imperialists lost a handful of men, while Mansfeld’s contingent had probably 400 KIA and 1,200 CMIA of the 3,000 with which it began the fight. (Although Mansfeld himself believed he had lost 4,000 men!)

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