Vauban and the French Military Under Louis XIV

An Illustrated History of Fortifications and Strategies


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About the Book

A man of inventiveness, versatility and reformist ideas, Marshal Sébastien Le Preste de Vauban built a formidable ring of fortresses to protect France’s national frontiers. More than just a fortification designer, Vauban was also a gifted economist, author, and political strategist. This book tells the complete story of Vauban’s exceptional career, placing him within the framework of Louis XIV’s reign and revealing his lasting influences in France and other nations. With the aid of numerous detailed drawings, 17th century bastioned fortification, artillery, and seige warfare are described in detail. Vauban’s fortifications that are still standing today are particularly highlighted.

About the Author(s)

Historian, writer and illustrator Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage is the author of numerous books. His interests include World War II and medieval and French history. He lives in Groningen, Netherlands.

Bibliographic Details

Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 300
Bibliographic Info: 324 illustrations, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4401-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5698-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      iv
Introduction      1

1. The Reign of Louis XIV and Vauban’s Life and Career      5
Vauban’s Personality      5
Youth (1633–1651)      7
The Rebellious Frondeur (1651–1653)      8
Captain Vauban (1653–1659)      9
King’s Engineer (1659–1667)      9
War of Devolution (1667–1668)      11
Four Years of Peace (1668–1672)      14
Dutch War (1672–1678)      15
Commissioner General of Fortifications (1678–1688)      18
Nine Years’ War (1688–1697)      21
War of the Spanish Succession (1702–1714)      24
Marshal Vauban’s Last Combats (1700–1707)      26
Louis XIV’s Death (1714)      28

2. Artillery and Engineering Corps      30
Artillery      30
Matchlock Musket      38
Engineering Corps      39

3. Siege Warfare      42
Siege Warfare Advocated by Vauban      42
Advantages and Disadvantages of Vauban’s Method      54
Sieges Directed by Vauban      57

4. Vauban’s Bastioned Fortifications      59
Italian Bastioned Fortifications      59
Vauban’s Predecessors      65
Vauban’s Three “Systems”      72
Bastioned Front      78
Bastion      78
Curtain      86
Ditch      90
Gatehouse      92
Outworks      98
Covered Way and Place of Arms      106
Advance Works      110
Detached Works      115
Flooding      122
Entrenched Camp      123
Military Buildings      124
Design of Fortifications      134
Construction of Fortifications      135
The Relief Maps Collection      139

5. France Fortified by Vauban      141
Northeast Frontier      143
Ardennes and Lorraine      170
Alsace      180
Franche-Comté      188
Dauphiné and Savoy      193
Mediterranean Coast      206
Roussillon      218
Western Pyrenees      229
Defenses of Bordeaux      234
Defenses of the Pertuis      240
Bretagne (Brittany) and Normandy      255

6. Vauban’s Oisivetés      274
Agriculture and Inland Navigation      274
Colonies      275
Religion      277
Politics and Organization of the State      278
Fiscal Considerations      279
List of Vauban’s Written Works      280

Conclusion      282
Vauban’s Legacy in France 282 Vauban’s Influence Abroad      284
Bibliography      287
Index      289

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Well laid out and lavishly illustrated…a fine book…the best book I’ve come across on Vauban in the English language…pack in an enormous amount of information copiously illustrated, encompass a diverse range of fortification aspects and will grace the shelves of any fortification enthusiast”—Casemate
  • “The book is well laid out and lavishly illustrated…if you only have one book about Vauban then this is it…a fine book…the best book I’ve come across on Vauban in the English language”—FORT—The International Journal of Fortifications and Military Architecture.