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Succeeding With Vigor

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Chapter Summary

Despite the claims of engineering incompetence, despite the numerous complaints about delays, and despite the explicit rejection of many of Vauban’s sound techniques, besieging forces in the Low Countries were still surprisingly effective. Three factors were of critical importance: the besiegers’ trenchworks of course, but just as importantly, their reliance on overwhelming firepower, coupled with their political masters’ abilities to continually resupply their armies with the men and materiel needed to maintain this vigorous approach in siege after siege. Attackers supplemented Vauban’s imperfectly-implemented attack with overwhelming power, enabling them to succeed while ignoring Vauban’s appeal for finesse and efficiency. As Vauban and other contemporaries attested, brute force sieges were a much more expensive option in both armaments and lives. Yet the growing ability of the fiscal-military state to mobilize resources for its war-waging was not immediately obvious to observers.

Keywords: besiegers; Flanders sieges; Vauban’s sound techniques; Vauban’s trench tactics



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