Vauban, Sébastien Le Prestre De

Vauban, Sébastien Le Prestre De

 

Born May 1, 1633, in Saint-Leger-de-Fougeret, Nivernais; died Mar. 30, 1707, in Paris. Marquis, military engineer, marshal of France (1703), honorary member of the French Academy of Sciences (1699).

Vauban joined the military service in 1651 and took part in 53 campaigns and 104 battles. He directed the siege of 53 fortresses, the construction of 33 new fortresses, and the reconstruction of more than 300 old ones. According to F. Engels, the scientific and systematic description of the art of fortification begins with Vauban (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 14, p. 339). He worked out a method of gradual attack of fortresses employing parallel lines, a method that was used up to the 20th century. Vauban applied this method of attack for the first time in 1673 during the siege of the fortress of Maastricht. He introduced the concept of artillery attack whereby the fire was directed not at the city under siege but at the defenders of the fortifications. Vauban was a founder of the theory of mine demolition tactics and techniques and created the first sapper and mine companies, thereby laying the foundation for the creation of a military engineers corps in 1676. After 1677 he was in charge of all engineering projects in France, surrounding the country with a ring of fortresses that played an important role in future wars. He left a large number of works on military affairs, engineering, and economics; two volumes of his works were published in 1842-45 under the title Monsieur de Vauban’s Leisure. In 1707 he drew up a plan for taxing all subjects without distinction according to estate, which drew upon him the ire of the king and the court; this book was confiscated and burned.

REFERENCES

Engels, F. “Fortifikatsiia.” K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 14.
Kiui, Ts. Kratkii istoricheskii ocherk dolgovremennoi fortifikatsii. St. Petersburg, 1897.

A. I. IVOLGIN