Battle of Malplaquet


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Malplaquet, battle of

(mälpläkā`), a major engagement in the War of the Spanish Succession (see Spanish Succession, War of theSpanish Succession, War of the,
1701–14, last of the general European wars caused by the efforts of King Louis XIV to extend French power. The conflict in America corresponding to the period of the War of the Spanish Succession was known as Queen Anne's War (see French and
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). On Sept. 11, 1709, the combined forces of England and the Holy Roman emperor, led by the Duke of MarlboroughMarlborough, John Churchill, 1st duke of
, 1650–1722, English general and statesman, one of the greatest military commanders of history.
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 and Prince Eugene of SavoyEugene of Savoy,
1663–1736, prince of the house of Savoy, general in the service of the Holy Roman Empire. Born in Paris, he was the son of Eugène, comte de Soissons of the line of Savoy-Carignano, and Olympe Mancini, niece of Cardinal Mazarin.
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 met the French army under Marshal VillarsVillars, Claude Louis Hector, duc de
, 1653–1734, marshal of France, the last of the great generals of Louis XIV. He fought in the Dutch War (1672–78) and in 1687 went to Bavaria, where he helped strengthen the new French alliance with the elector of Bavaria; he
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. Although the French were forced to retreat, the Anglo-imperial army, attacking strongly fortified positions, suffered more than 20,000 casualties, twice the number of French casualties. The battle was a strategic victory for France as it prevented an allied advance to Paris.
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Godert de Ginkel's Dutch army at Nijmegen (June 11), but was driven out of the area by Marlborough's maneuvers (June-July); commander of the Royal Bodyguard (1704); next saw major action as commander of Lille during the siege by Marlborough and Prince Eugene (August 13-December 9, 1708), and marched out with his garrison under full honors of war; placed himself under the command of Marshal Villars, his junior (1709); when Villars was wounded at the bloody battle of Malplaquet (September 11), Boufflers took command and directed the French army with great skill, abandoning the field after stout resistance but preserving the army's cohesion; died at Fontainebleau (August 22, 1711).
Though vain, ambitious, and boastful, Villars was a valiant and able commander, vigorous, energetic, and resourceful; despite defeat, his direction of the battle of Malplaquet was masterful.