13 August 2016
The Battle of Blenheim was fought on 13 August 1704
On this day in history, 1704: The Battle of Blenheim is fought. Seen as a key battle in the War of the Spanish Succession, canny tactics by the Duke of Marlborough meant that he led his troops of 40,000 men 250 miles unchallenged to the River Danube. (Winston Churchill later referred to his 6x great-grandfather’s troops as a ‘scarlet caterpillar’ that crawled ‘across the map of Europe’.)
Here, near the Danube, Marlborough goaded the French-Bavarian forces into fighting. Initially they withheld, awaiting reinforcements, but soon the two armies clashed in battle near the small village of Blindheim (aka Blenheim). The battle resulted in the defeat of King Louis XIV’s forces. Marlborough went to win famous battles at Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708) and Malplaquet (1709).
A derelict royal residence at Woodstock, near Oxford, was given to John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough by a grateful Queen Anne for securing her nation’s victory in the War of the Spanish Succession and seeing the defeat of the enemy French king, Louis. The place was to become Blenheim Palace, which stands as a testament to the extraordinary wealth and international power that Britain was gathering pace with in the early 18th century.
Pictured: Beautiful map of grounds of Blenheim Palace, part of the British Library collection of images available via Flickr.