File Under: Didn’t get the memo

From a chapter on the early modern laws of war in an 2012 edited collection from Oxford University Press:

By 1700, siege warfare was managed according to a well-established ritual. Sieges were politico-military theatre on a grand scale, open-air stages where states could strut and demonstrate their prowess, huge advertisements of a monarch’s power, and the fate that awaited those who failed to take heed. Kings, queens, courts, and governments attended sieges as spectators – Louis XIV, his ladies and ministers watched the sieges of Lille in 1667 and Mastricht in 1673 – whereas they were not present at battles, unless by accident, and young gentlemen on a grand tour sought to widen their horizons by witnessing a great siege. …. The  ‘siege in form’ achieved its full maturity at the siege of Maastricht in 1673. It was a deadly and sanguinary martial operation conducted according to a script and sequence of actions understood by all participants, similar to the popular court masques: everyone knew the course of events, the timetable, and the dénouement. It was said that the great Vauban could predict the length of a siege, almost to the day.*

* This was relatively simple task because Vauban designed and built many of the fortresses he subsequently captured. [Cites Reginald Bloomfield’s 1938 biography of Vauban]


I could go on and on (and on and on) about this – heck, feels like I already have – but if anyone ever wondered why I wrote my Vauban under Siege book, or whether I was creating a straw man, here ya go.



One response to “File Under: Didn’t get the memo”

  1. Erik Lund says :

    Well, obviously, back when Cardinal Richelieu was running the country with the help of the Inquisition and everyone being stupid because of reverse Catholic eugenics, you’re going to get weird stuff going on, like with aristocrats deflowering newlyweds and trampling the crops under heedless hooves and like that.

    If you just have patience, Voltaire will invent the Scientific Method in a minute, causing democracy.

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