Siege of Maastricht


Siege of Maastricht

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Siege of Maastricht
partof=the Franco-Dutch War


caption=The basilica of Onze Lieve Vrouw ten Hemelopneming, in Maastricht.
(Early construction is Romanesque and later is Gothic).
date=June 13 - June 26 1673
place=Maastricht, Netherlands
result=French victory
combatant1=flagicon|France|royal France
combatant2=flagicon|Netherlands|pri United Provinces
flag|Spain|1506
commander1=Louis XIV
Sebastien Vauban
commander2=Jacques de Fariaux
strength1=24,000 infantry
16,000 cavalry
58 guns
strength2=5,000 infantry
1,200 cavalry
casualties1=Unknown
casualties2=6,000 dead, wounded, or captured

The Siege of Maastricht was one of the key elements in King Louis XIV's plans to attack the Netherlands, in order to revenge the humiliating conditions enforced on him by the Triple Alliance when he tried to fully conquer the Spanish Netherlands. After making a feint for Ghent and Brussels, Louis marched his army past Maastricht, a condominium of the United Provinces and the Bishopric of Liège, in May 1672, not bothering to take the fortress. In 1673, when his supply lines became threatened he decided to capture the city; the siege began on June 11, 1673.

Maastricht would be the first major city to be attacked by Sebastien Vauban, the master of siegecraft in his time. In addition to firing upon the city walls with cannon, Vauban ordered the building of trenches, in a zigzag pattern, parallel to the walls. These trenches made it more difficult for the defenders from having a clear shot at the attackers and, in addition, allowed for the protection of military miners to allow them to reach the base of the fortifications and plant mines to make a breach.

June 24 was the feast day of St. John the Baptist, and so King Louis attempted to finish conquering the city in time to celebrate Mass in Maastricht's cathedral. The trenches were completed, and so the King's Regiment, and the Company of the Grey Musketeers led the march into the city, under the command of Captain-Lieutenant Charles de Batz de Castelmore, also known as Comte d'Artagnan. The French, after some difficult fighting, crossed the moat and seized a crescent-shaped fortification which would become the scene of the toughest fighting of the siege.

Most of the French were driven out by the Spanish auxiliaries soon afterwards, but about 30 men held out the entire night. James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, tried to take a covered road protecting the moat, and withdrew after suffering the loss of 300 men. The Dutch recaptured the crescent fortification soon afterwards, and when the Duke of Monmouth rallied his troops to a second assault, they were driven back once more, and Count d'Artagnan was killed.

Finally, the French King ordered the artillery back into action, eliciting a surrender from the Dutch within a week.

When the Treaty of Nijmegen ended the war between France and the Dutch, Maastricht was returned, though Louis kept a number of Habsburg cities. What is generally regarded as more significant about this battle were the revolutionary advances in siegecraft engineered by Sebastien Vauban.

References

*Davis, Paul K. (2001). "Besieged: 100 Great Sieges from Jericho to Sarajevo." Oxford: Oxford University Press.

External links

* [http://www.fortified-places.com/sieges/maastricht1673.html Siege of Maastricht at fortified-places.com]


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