Saturday, February 28, 2009

Abbreviations and Acronyms

The following is a draft list of abbreviations used in Dur Écu’s blog projects. Since many of these have already been employed in posts, it’s about time the list was posted here.


ADB Allegemeine deutsche Biographie

DBI Dizionario biografico degli Italiani

DBL Dansk Biografisk Leksikon

DNB The Dictionary of National Biography

KL Bodart. Kriegs-Lexikon

KSB Kleine slavische Biographie

RIHM Revue Internationale d’Histoire Militaire

SK Sveriges Krig

TE Theatrum Europaeum

National or Other Forces

Bdn Baden

Bav Bavaria; Catholic League

Boh Bohemian Rebels

Dnk Denmark

Eng England

Fr France

Hol Holland

Imp Imperial; Imperialist

Lge Catholic League

Man Mansfelders

Pol Poland; Poland-Lithuania

Sp Spain

Sw Sweden

Swz Switzerland

PrU Protestant Union

Wei Weimarian


CR Cavalry regiment

DR Dragoon regiment

IR Infantry regiment


FM Feldmarschall; field marshal

FML Feldmarschall Leutnant

FZM Feldzeugmeister

GdI General der Infanterie

GdK General der Kavallerie

GFZM General Feldzeugmeister

GL Generalleutnant

Gen Qu Generalquartiermeister [Quartermaster General]

GWM Generalwachtmeister

kt knight

LG Lieutenant General (Fr)

mdc maréchal de camp (Fr); maestre de campo (Sp)

mdcg maestre de campo general (Sp)

mdF maréchal de France (Fr); marshal of France

Dur Écu: Blog Projects (in addition to La Florida)

One of the reasons that Dur Écu began this blog was to use it as a cyber workspace for his planned online encyclopedias of the Wars of Louis XIV, the Thirty Years’ War, and Early Modern Warfare. In part, this is an attempt to encourage others to participate in these nascent projects. So, if anyone wishes to contribute, either by comment or by authoring draft entries, please do so. All contributions will be gratefully acknowledged. (If you wait for Dur Écu to finish these projects on his own, you’ll be waiting a long time.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bucquoy, Charles Bonaventure de Longueval, comte de (Part 1)

Bucquoy, Charles Bonaventure de Longueval, comte de (Arras, 1571- Neuhäusel July 10, 1621). Imperialist GL [“General Obrister Leuttenandt”] and oberbefehlshaber (commander-in-chief) in the Bohemian War. The victor of White Mountain (1620) was KIA or MWIA at Neuhäusel less than a year later.

Bucquoy was descended from an ancient noble family of the Spanish Netherlands. His father had been killed at the Siege of Tournai (1581) serving under the Duke of Parma, and he himself made his first campaigns in the Spanish army under the Cardinal-Archduke Albert of Austria beginning in 1596. At Albert’s defeat by Prince Maurice of Orange in the Battle of Nieuport (July 2, 1600), he was a GWM and WIA at the head of his Walloon IR Bucquoy. In 1602, he was promoted GFZM. Subsequently, he served under Spinola in campaigns in the Low Countries and along the Rhine (1602-1609), which were terminated by the Twelve-year Truce between Spain and Holland. During this time he married Maria Magdalena Gräfin von Biglia of Milan, by whom he had a son, Charles Albert (q.v.).

In 1618, Bucquoy was promoted FM and awarded command of the Imperial army that was organized to put down the rebellion of the Bohemian Estates against the Emperor Matthias. The command was as much a recognition of Bucquoy’s military reputation as it was of the massive and timely intervention of Hapsburg Spain (and initially of the veteran troops of the Spanish Netherlands, which Bucquoy led into the war theater) in support of the near-defenseless emperor.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sources for the Battle of Saint-Gotthard, 1664

Austrian-Imperialist Field Marshal Raimondo Montecuccoli's triumph over the Turkish Army of the Grand Vizier Achmed Koprulu at The Raab (St. Gotthard-Mogersdorf) on Apr. 1, 1664, ended decisively the latest Turkish threat to Christian Europe and was followed in ten days by the signing of the Peace of Vasvar, by which Austria and Turkey agreed to a 20-year truce.

Two (aging) German-language sources on this battle are:

Peball, Dr. Kurt. "Die Schlacht bei St. Gotthard-Mogersdorf 1664." Militärhistorische Schriftenreihe, 1 (1964). Publication of the Militärwissenschaftliche Abteilung des Bundesministeriums für Landesverteidigung, Vienna.

Wagner, Georg. "Das Türkenjähr 1664: Eine Europäische Bewährung." Burgenländische Forschungen, 48 (1964).

These articles were, quite obviously, written in the 300th anniversary year of the battle. Despite their commemorative character, they exhibit high scholarly qualities.

I recently learned of a new book devoted to the battle by the Hungarian scholar Ferenc Tóth that has received praise in the historical journal of the French army.

Saint-Gotthard 1664: une bataille européenne. Panazol: Lavauzelle, 2007.

For those who read French, the review from the Revue historique des armées is linked here:

Monday, February 23, 2009

Amundsen on Luck

Victory awaits those who have everything in order.
People call that luck.
Defeat is certain for those who have forgotten to take the necessary precautions in time.
This is called bad luck. -- Roald Amundsen, My Life As a Polar Explorer

(The great Norwegian polar explorer disappeared in June 1928.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sword-and-Bucklermen: How They (Are Supposed to Have) Fought

(Above: Obelisk Miniatures WOS 001 10mm Conquistador Sword and Bucklermen from Obelisk's website)

Given the nature of Renaissance scholarship, it was perhaps inevitable that the Spanish sword-and-bucklermen, from the moment of their appearance on the battlefields of Italy, should have been equated with the sword-armed legionaries of ancient Rome. The analogy, of course, was reinforced and extended by the fact that the Spanish in Italy faced French armies with the usual complement of Swiss pikemen, who fought in a phalanx formation like the Greek infantry so often bested in combat by the legionaries. Renaissance scholars--chief among them the Florentine Machiavelli--viewed the confrontation of swordsman and pikeman in their own time as a repetition of the ancient confrontation of Roman legion and Greek phalanx.

Machiavelli, who was a military theoretician, not a soldier, well understood from his reading of the Greek historian Polybius that the ancient confrontation of swordsman and pikeman had been settled decisively in favor of the swordsman. The classical examples were numerous and included chiefly battles at Cynosephalae (197 B.C.), Magnesia (190 B.C.), and Pydna (168 B.C.).

The reason for the ascendancy of the swordsman was perceived to be his ability to exploit the cumbersome weapon and tactical formation of his pike-armed opponent to his advantage. The swordsman, if he could penetrate beyond the hedgehog-like front of the presented pikes (and this he did by throwing himself under the pike heads or thrusting them aside with his shield), would find the game easy enough. He could then rush into the formation of pikemen, whose pikes were useless encumbrances once the swordsman had infiltrated beyond their heads, and lay about with his sword. In this situation the pikeman had to drop his primary weapon and resort to his sword. The swordsman, with his shield and special sword training, would inevitably defeat the pikeman, who had neither shield nor particular training in the use of the sword. This, reduced to its simplest form, was the choreography of any individual duel between swordsman and pikeman in the classical age or during the Renaissance.

Worth Reading: Fortescue on the Nature of War

The English military historian Sir John Fortescue is best known for his monumental 13-volume History of the British Army. I found his views on the nature of war and its persistence in human history in his introduction to Taylor’s The Wars of Marlborough, 1702-1709 (1921).

And let us not be told that we have had enough of war and wish to hear no more about it. Above all, let us not be deluded by saying that the late—or rather the present—war is “a war to end war.” A war that could end war is a war that could change human nature; and the prime cause of war is that human nature obstinately refuses to be changed. We cannot even maintain domestic peace without the help of a standing army, called the police. The abolition of private property would not end domestic broils; the dissolution of nations could not end external quarrels. As long as one man excels another in body or mind, as long as one woman is even comelier than another, so long will there be envy, jealousy, strife, and violence, or, in one word, War.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Thirty Years' War Army on the March

This very interesting print from Dur Écu’s collection shows the Spanish army under the command of FM Ottavio Piccolomini marching to the relief of Thionville (Diedenhofen), which was besieged by the French Army of Lorraine under Manassés de Pas, marquis of Feuquières, in 1639. At the subsequent Battle of Thionville (June 7/17, 1639) Piccolomini destroyed the French army, lifting the siege.

One can see at a glance that the order of march can translate very quickly into a line of battle and that the artillery and baggage is protected by the fighting formations. Also, the wedge-like form of the advance guard is suitable for attack or defense to front and both flanks in a meeting engagement. Indeed, the entire order of march is reminiscent of formations adopted by modern armored units in movement to contact in desert warfare.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Dragoons, according to Turner, were "Musketeers mounted on horses, appointed to march with the cavalry..." (p. 236). Dr. Johnson defined a dragoon as "a man who serves indifferently either on foot or on horseback." However, despite the fact that they shared certain attributes of each, dragoons at this period were neither infantry nor cavalry but were a distinct combat arm (one is immediately reminded of the familiar, ancient division of the combat arms, omitting the artillery, into "horse, foot, and dragoons").

Since they combined the firepower of the infantry with the cavalry's mobility, dragoons were very useful troops, capable of performing a variety of missions. Turner summarized these as follows:

Dragoons then go not only before to guard passes (as some imagine) but to fight in open field; for if an enemy rencounter with a cavalry in a champaign or open heath, the dragoons are obliged to alight [dismount], and mix themselves with the squads of horse, as they shall be commanded; and their continuate firing; before the horse come to the charge, will, no doubt, be very hurtful to the enemy: If the encounter be in close countrey, they serve well to line hedges, and possess enclosures, they serve for defending passes and beating the enemy from them (Ibid.).

The origin of dragoons and, indeed, the derivation of the term itself are obscure. Some French military historians, notably Susane and Père Daniel, have discerned their origin in the mounted infantry employed by Maréchal Brissac in the occupation of Piedmont (1550-1560), but others, principally Choppin, have correctly expressed disagreement with this view. Brissac's "dragoons" (the term postdates the mid 16th Century) were most certainly infantry pure and simple who were given horses captured from the enemy to increase their mobility and who were employed chiefly in raids and ambushes. They appear to be dragoons in the context of Turner's definition, but they were not organized or trained as such, and their existence as quondam dragoons was ephemeral, due entirely to their commander's adaptive genius. Indeed, Taylor, 53, points out that mounting infantry to increase mobility was not uncommon during the Italian Wars, and that the Venetians, Spanish, and Imperials had all piggy-backed infantry on the crupper behind light cavalry during 1509-1516.

The first true French dragoons emerged at the beginning of French military involvement in the Thirty Years' War (1635). (However, the ephemeral "Griffons" of the Gardes francaises predated this apparition.)

These units originated in the reorganization of 1635, when, as we have seen, the French cavalry was first organized on a regimental basis. Choppin indicates that at this time the carabins were dispersed, and three of the 12 new regiments formed were dragoons. These included one regiment of mousquetaires à cheval and two regiments of fusiliers à cheval. Choppin states that these units were dragoons in all but name.

Ambert, 1:330, states that there were no dragoons in the French army in the decade following the Siege of La Rochelle, but that in the reorganization of 1635 a 1,200-man unit, the dragoons of Cardinal Richelieu, was formed.

On 27 May 1635, just one day after the publication of the royal ordinance reorganizing the cavalry, the Marquis d'Alègre received a commission to raise a regiment of dragoons which was to consist of five 100-man companies. This regiment was in existence until 30 July 1636 (Courcelles, I:71).

Thereafter, for about a decade, the history of the French dragoons becomes somewhat murky. One regiment of the fusiliers à cheval was most certainly at Rocroi (1643), but the fusiliers do not appear to have survived the war. A new regiment of dragoons, that of the Marquis de la Ferté Senneterre, was raised in 1645 and served at the Sieges of Mardyck and Quesnoy (1646) and at the Battle of Lens (1648). It would appear that at the Peace of Westphalia and until l656 this regiment was the only unit of dragoons in the French army.

In 1656 a second regiment of dragoons, designated the Dragons étrangers du Roi and commanded by a certain Count Oddi, was raised. This unit passed to the Duc de Lauzun in 1658 and performed distinguished service at the Battle of the Dunes (1659). Thus, at the conclusion of the French Spanish War in 1659, there were just two dragoon regiments in the French army.

In 1660 the companies of La Ferté Senneterre were amalgamated with those of the Dragons étrangers du Roi, and the designation "étrangers" was dropped by the latter. Then, in 1668, the Dragons du Roi was divided, and two new regiments were created from it. These were Colonel général and Royal dragons, which ranked first and third, respectively, among the famous quatorze vieux ("old fourteen") of the French dragoon regiments created between 1668 and 1676.

In 1668 the duc de Lauzun was named Colonel général des dragons, and the corps was formally established as a separate arm. In 1669 there were 14 regiments. This number was augmented by 12 in 1688 (War of the League of Augsburg). In 1690 the number of regiments stood at 43. These had 6 companies, each of 35-45 horse, giving the regiment 210-270 men. The squadron was composed of three or four companies. In 1697, at the Peace of Ryswick, 28 regiments were disbanded. There were 30 regiments in 1704, following augmentations in 1701 and 1702; each regiment consisted of 12 companies.

There is little evidence that French dragoons were uniformed before c. 1680. Leliepvre states that there is fragmentary evidence that about that date dragoons were uniformed in blue and blue, red and blue, green and red, and yellow (where the second color is the facing color). His plate shows French dragoons of 1665 in yellow coat with red cuffs and of 1670 (du Roi) in blue coat with red facings.

Dragoons were normally armed with a wheel- or flintlock musket, one or two pistols, sword, and a hatchet or entrenching tool (these last not used in combat except in extremis).

Worth a Listen: Gay Woods

Among the many “voices” of Celtic women, I think it would be hard to find one more hauntingly beautiful than that of Gay Woods providing the vocals on Steeleye Span’s evocation of The Water Is Wide. The cherished old folk song that is so evocative of the yearning of separated lovers is rescued from the possibility of “in yer cups” melancholy by the soaring violin of Peter Knight and Woods’ tour de force that seems capable of reaching the more remote limits of a weathered soul.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Chronology of the Bohemian War, 1618-1623

Among my (many) projects is that for an online Thirty Years' War encyclopedia. I hope to use this blog as a kind of workspace for that venture, and I invite any of my readers to participate, either by commenting on entries, proposing entries, or by authoring articles, however brief. To begin at the beginning, here is an outline of a chronology of the first phase of the war. As you can see, I can provide very little on some of the events, so if anyone can flesh them out--at least the labels--I'd appreciate it.

Bohemian War, 1618-1623

Pilsen, Capture of (Nov. 11/21, 1618). Mansfeld took the town.

Záblat [Sablat], Battle of (June 10, 1619). Complete victory of the Imperialists, commanded by Bucquoy, over the Bohemian rebels, commanded by Mansfeld.

Bautzen, Capture of (Sep. 23, 1620). The town was taken by the Elector of Saxony.

Langen-Loys, Combat of (1620).

White Mountain, Battle of (Oct. 28/Nov. 8, 1620). Victory of the combined Imperial and League armies, commanded by Bucquoy and Tilly, over the army of the Bohemian Estates, commanded by Christian of Anhalt.

Neuhäusel [Érsekujvár], Battle of (July 10, 1621). Victory of the Hungarians, commanded by Thurzó, over the Imperialists, commanded by Bucquoy.

Nickolsburg, Treaty of (1623). Peace treaty ending the Bohemian War.

Monday, February 2, 2009

La Florida: Fighting Vessels (2)

Dur Écu has just previously lauded Albert Manucy’s biography of Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. One useful appendix of that book (although not labeled as such) is the author’s description of “Some 16th Century Vessels.” This includes two pages of text describing various types of ships and boats of the period and two pages of profile line drawings showing showing the appearance of several types.

This section of Manucy’s book will prove quite useful in working-out naval aspects of LF. Here are the types described:

Narrow Hulls: Galera; Galeota; Bergantin; Fragata; Galeaza; and Galeón.

Broad-beamed Ships: Nao, návio; Caravela.

Smaller Craft: Barco; Patache; Zabra; Chalupa; Pinaza; and Lancha.

Source: Manucy, Albert C. Florida's Menéndez: Captain General of the Ocean Sea. St. Augustine, Fla.: St. Augustine Historical Society, 1983.