Eugene of Savoy
CKM 2019-20 / Aziz Yardımlı



Eugene of Savoy


  Prince Eugene of Savoy 1663-1736

Prince Eugene of Savoy

Prince Eugene of Savoy 1663-1736 (W)


Prince Eugene Francis of Savoy–Carignano (18 October 1663 – 21 April 1736) was a field marshal in the army of the Holy Roman Empire and of the Austrian Habsburg dynasty during the 17th and 18th centuries. He was one of the most successful military commanders of his time, and rose to the highest offices of state at the Imperial court in Vienna.

Born in Paris. Eugene grew up around the court of King Louis XIV of France. Based on his poor physique and bearing, the Prince was initially prepared for a clerical career, but by the age of 19 he had determined on a military career. Following a scandal involving his mother Olympe. he was rejected by Louis XIV for service in the French army. Eugene moved to Austria and transferred his loyalty to the Habsburg Monarchy.

Spanning six decades, Eugene served three Holy Roman Emperors: Leopold I, Joseph I, and Charles VI. He first saw action against the Ottoman Turks at the Siege of Vienna in 1683 and the subsequent War of the Holy League, before serving in the Nine Years' War, fighting alongside his cousin, the Duke of Savoy. However, the Prince's fame was secured with his decisive victory against the Ottomans at the Battle of Zenta in 1697, earning him Europe-wide fame. Eugene enhanced his standing during the War of the Spanish Succession, where his partnership with the Duke of Marlborough secured victories against the French on the fields of Blenheim (1704), Oudenarde (1708), and Malplaquet (1709); he gained further success in the war as Imperial commander in northern Italy, most notably at the Battle of Turin (1706). Renewed hostilities against the Ottomans in the Austro-Turkish War consolidated his reputation, with victories at the battles of Petrovaradin (1716), and the decisive encounter at Belgrade (1717).

Throughout the late 1720s, Eugene's influence and skillful diplomacy managed to secure the Emperor powerful allies in his dynastic struggles with the Bourbon powers, but physically and mentally fragile in his later years, Eugene enjoyed less success as commander-in-chief of the army during his final conflict, the War of the Polish Succession. Nevertheless, in Austria, Eugene's reputation remains unrivalled. Although opinions differ as to his character, there is no dispute over his great achievements: he helped to save the Habsburg Empire from French conquest; he broke the westward thrust of the Ottomans, liberating central Europe after a century and a half of Turkish occupation; and he was one of the great patrons of the arts whose building legacy can still be seen in Vienna today. Eugene died in his sleep at his home on 21 April 1736, aged 72.

Great Turkish War (W)

By May 1683, the Ottoman threat to Emperor Leopold I's capital, Vienna, was very real. The Grand Vizier, Kara Mustafa Pasha — encouraged by Imre Thököly's Magyar rebellion — had invaded Hungary with between 100,000-200,000 men; within two months approximately 90,000 were beneath Vienna's walls. With the 'Turks at the gates', the Emperor fled for the safe refuge of Passau up the Danube, a more distant and secure part of his dominion. It was at Leopold I's camp that Eugene arrived in mid-August.

Although Eugene was not of Austrian extraction, he did have Habsburg antecedents. His grandfather, Thomas Francis, founder of the Carignano line of the House of Savoy, was the son of Catherine Michelle — a daughter of Philip II of Spain — and the great-grandson of the Emperor Charles V. But of more immediate consequence to Leopold I was the fact that Eugene was the second cousin of Victor Amadeus, the Duke of Savoy, a connection that the Emperor hoped might prove useful in any future confrontation with France. These ties, together with his ascetic manner and appearance (a positive advantage to him at the sombre court of Leopold I), ensured the refugee from the hated French king a warm welcome at Passau, and a position in Imperial service. Though French was his favored language, he communicated with Leopold in Italian, as the Emperor (though he knew it perfectly) disliked French. But Eugene also had a reasonable command of German, which he understood very easily, something that helped him much in the military.

Eugene was in no doubt where his new allegiance lay — "I will devote all my strength, all my courage, and if need be, my last drop of blood, to the service of your Imperial Majesty." This loyalty was immediately put to the test. By September, the Imperial forces under the Duke of Lorraine. together with a powerful Polish army under King John III Sobieski, were poised to strike the Sultan's army. On the morning of 12 September, the Christian forces drew up in line of battle on the south-eastern slopes of the Vienna Woods, looking down on the massed enemy camp. The day-long Battle of Vienna resulted in the lifting of the 60-day siege, and the Sultan's forces were routed and in retreat. Serving under Baden, Eugene distinguished himself in the battle, earning commendation from Lorraine and the Emperor; he later received the nomination for the colonelcy of the Dragoon Regiment Kufstein.

Zenta (W)

The distractions of the war against Louis XIV had enabled the Turks to recapture Belgrade in 1690. In August 1691, the Austrians, under Louis of Baden, regained the advantage by heavily defeating the Turks at the Battle of Slankamen on the Danube, securing Habsburg possession of Hungary and Transylvania. However, when Baden was transferred west to fight the French in 1692, his successors, first Caprara, then from 1696, Frederick Augustus, the Elector of Saxony, proved incapable of delivering the final blow. On the advice of the President of the Imperial War Council, Rüdiger Starhemberg, Eugene was offered supreme command of Imperial forces in April 1697. This was Eugene's first truly independent command — no longer need he suffer under the excessively cautious generalship of Caprara and Caraffa, or be thwarted by the deviations of Victor Amadeus. But on joining his army, he found it in a state of 'indescribable misery'. Confident and self-assured, the Prince of Savoy (ably assisted by Commercy and Guido Starhemberg) set about restoring order and discipline.

Leopold I had warned Eugene to act cautiously, but when the Imperial commander learnt of Sultan Mustafa II's march on Transylvania, Eugene abandoned all ideas of a defensive campaign and moved to intercept the Turks as they crossed the River Tisza at Zenta on 11 September 1697. It was late in the day before the Imperial army struck. The Turkish cavalry had already crossed the river so Eugene decided to attack immediately, arranging his men in a half-moon formation. The vigour of the assault wrought terror and confusion amongst the Turks, and by nightfall, the battle was won. For the loss of some 2,000 dead and wounded, Eugene had inflicted approximately 25,000 casualties on his enemy — including the Grand Vizier, Elmas Mehmed Pasha — annihilating the Turkish army. Although the Ottomans lacked western organisation and training, the Savoyard prince had revealed his tactical skill, his capacity for bold decision, and his ability to inspire his men to excel in battle against a dangerous foe.

After a brief terror-raid into Ottoman-held Bosnia, culminating in the sack of Sarajevo, Eugene returned to Vienna in November to a triumphal reception. His victory at Zenta had turned him into a European hero, and with victory came reward. Land in Hungary, given him by the Emperor, yielded a good income, enabling the Prince to cultivate his newly acquired tastes in art and architecture (see below); but for all his new-found wealth and property, he was, nevertheless, without personal ties or family commitments. Of his four brothers, only one was still alive at this time. His fourth brother, Emmanuel, had died aged 14 in 1676; his third, Louis Julius (already mentioned) had died on active service in 1683, and his second brother, Philippe, died of smallpox in 1693. Eugene's remaining brother, Louis Thomas — ostracised for incurring the displeasure of Louis XIV — travelled Europe in search of a career, before arriving in Vienna in 1699. With Eugene's help, Louis found employment in the Imperial army, only to be killed in action against the French in 1702. Of Eugene's sisters, the youngest had died in childhood. The other two, Marie Jeanne-Baptiste and Louise Philiberte, led dissolute lives. Expelled from France, Marie joined her mother in Brussels, before eloping with a renegade priest to Geneva, living with him unhappily until her premature death in 1705. Of Louise, little is known after her early salacious life in Paris, but in due course, she lived for a time in a convent in Savoy before her death in 1726.

The Battle of Zenta proved to be the decisive victory in the long war against the Turks. With Leopold I's interests now focused on Spain and the imminent death of Charles II, the Emperor terminated the conflict with the Sultan, and signed the Treaty of Karlowitz on 26 January 1699.

Austro-Turkish War (W)

Eugene's main reason for desiring peace in the west was the growing danger posed by the Turks in the east. Turkish military ambitions had revived after 1711 when they had mauled Peter the Great's army on the river Pruth: in December 1714 Sultan Ahmed III's forces attacked the Venetians in the Morea. To Vienna it was clear that the Turks intended to attack Hungary and undo the whole Karlowitz settlement of 1699. After the Porte rejected an offer of mediation in April 1716, Charles VI despatched Eugene to Hungary to lead his relatively small but professional army. Of all Eugene's wars this was the one in which he exercised most direct control; it was also a war which, for the most part, Austria fought and won on her own.

Eugene left Vienna in early June 1716 with a field army of between 80,000-90,000 men. By early August 1716 the Ottoman Turks, some 200,000 men under the sultan's son-in-law, the Grand Vizier Damat Ali Pasha, were marching from Belgrade towards Eugene's position west of the fortress of Petrovaradin on the north bank of the Danube. The Grand Vizier had intended to seize the fortress; but Eugene gave him no chance to do so. After resisting calls for caution and forgoing a council of war, the Prince decided to attack immediately on the morning of 5 August with approximately 70,000 men. The Turkish janissaries had some initial success, but after an Imperial cavalry attack on their flank, Ali Pasha’s forces fell into confusion. Although the Imperials lost almost 5,000 dead or wounded, the Turks, who retreated in disorder to Belgrade, seem to have lost double that amount, including the Grand Vizier himself who had entered the mêlée and subsequently died of his wounds.

Eugene of Savoy during the Battle of Belgrade 1717, by Johann Gottfried Auerbach (1697-1753).

Eugene proceeded to take the Banat fortress of Timișoara (Temeswar in German) in mid-October 1716 (thus ending 164 years of Turkish rule), before turning his attention to the next campaign and to what he considered the main goal of the war, Belgrade. Situated at the confluence of the Rivers Danube and Sava, Belgrade held a garrison of 30,000 men under Mustapha Pasha. Imperial troops besieged the place in mid-June 1717, and by the end of July large parts of the city had been destroyed by artillery fire. By the first days of August, however, a huge Turkish field army (150,000-200,000 strong), under the new Grand Vizier, Halil Pasha, had arrived on the plateau east of the city to relieve the garrison. News spread through Europe of Eugene's imminent destruction; but he had no intention of lifting the siege. With his men suffering from dysentery, and continuous bombardment from the plateau, Eugene, aware that a decisive victory alone could extricate his army, decided to attack the relief force. On the morning of 16 August 40,000 Imperial troops marched through the fog, caught the Turks unaware, and routed Halil Pasha’s army; a week later Belgrade surrendered, effectively bringing an end to the war. The victory was the crowning point of Eugene’s military career and had confirmed him as the leading European general. His ability to snatch victory at the moment of defeat had shown the Prince at his best.

The principal objectives of the war had been achieved: the task Eugene had begun at Zenta was complete, and the Karlowitz settlement secured. By the terms of the Treaty of Passarowitz, signed on 21 July 1718, the Turks surrendered the Banat of Temeswar, along with Belgrade and most of Serbia, although they regained the Morea from the Venetians. The war had dispelled the immediate Turkish threat to Hungary, and was a triumph for the Empire and for Eugene personally.


Prince Eugene Savoy at the Siege of Belgrade (1717).


Assessment (W)

Napoleon considered Eugene one of the seven greatest commanders of history. Although later military critics have disagreed with that assessment, Eugene was undoubtedly the greatest Austrian general. He was no military innovator, but he had the ability to make an inadequate system work. He was equally adept as an organizer, strategist, and tactician, believing in the primacy of battle and his ability to seize the opportune moment to launch a successful attack. "The important thing," wrote Maurice de Saxe in his Reveries, "is to see the opportunity and to know how to use it. Prince Eugene possessed this quality which is the greatest in the art of war and which is the test of the most elevated genius." This fluidity was key to his battlefield successes in Italy and in his wars against the Turks. Nevertheless, in the Low Countries, particularly after the battle of Oudenarde in 1708, Eugene, like his cousin Louis of Baden, tended to play safe and become bogged down in a conservative strategy of sieges and defending supply lines. After the attempt on Toulon in 1707, he also became very wary of combined land/sea operations. To historian Derek McKay, however, the main criticism of him as a general is his legacy—he left no school of officers nor an army able to function without him.

Recapture of Buda castle in 1686 by Gyula Benczúr.

Eugene was a disciplinarian — when ordinary soldiers disobeyed orders he was prepared to shoot them himself — but he rejected blind brutality, writing "you should only be harsh when, as often happens, kindness proves useless". On the battlefield Eugene demanded courage in his subordinates, and expected his men to fight where and when he wanted; his criteria for promotion were based primarily on obedience to orders and courage on the battlefield rather than social position. On the whole his men responded because he was willing to push himself as hard as them. However, his position as President of the Imperial War Council proved less successful. Following the long period of peace after the Austro-Turkish War, the idea of creating a separate field army or providing garrison troops with effective training for them to be turned into such an army quickly was never considered by Eugene. By the time of the War of the Polish Succession, therefore, the Austrians were outclassed by a better prepared French force. For this Eugene was largely to blame — in his view (unlike the drilling and manoeuvres carried out by the Prussians which to Eugene seemed irrelevant to real warfare) the time to create actual fighting men was when war came. But although Frederick the Great had been struck by the muddle of the Austrian army and its poor organisation during the Polish Succession war, he later amended his initial harsh judgements. "If I understand anything of my trade," commented Frederick in 1758, "especially in the more difficult aspects, I owe that advantage to Prince Eugene. From him I learnt to hold grand objectives constantly in view, and direct all my resources to those ends." To historian Christopher Duffy it was this awareness of the 'grand strategy' that was Eugene's legacy to Frederick.

To his responsibilities Eugene attached his own personal values—physical courage, loyalty to his sovereign, honesty, self-control in all things—and he expected these qualities from his commanders. Eugene's approach was dictatorial, but he was willing to co-operate with someone he regarded as his equal, such as Baden or Marlborough. Yet the contrast to his co-commander of the Spanish Succession war were stark. "Marlborough," wrote Churchill, "was the model husband and father, concerned with building up a home, founding a family, and gathering a fortune to sustain it"; whereas Eugene, the bachelor, was "disdainful of money, content with his bright sword and his lifelong animosities against Louis XIV". The result was an austere figure, inspiring respect and admiration rather than affection. The huge equestrian statue in the centre of Vienna commemorates Eugene's achievements. It is inscribed on one side, 'To the wise counsellor of three Emperors', and on the other, 'To the glorious conqueror of Austria's enemies'.


📹 Eugene of Savoy — One of the Greatest Generals of Early Modern Europe (VİDEO)

📹 Eugene of Savoy — One of the Greatest Generals of Early Modern Europe (LINK)

Eugene of Savoy is remembered as Austria's greatest general and helped lay the foundation for Hapsburg power in central Europe. He became one of the richest men in Europe throughout his career from the spoils of his battlefield victories and relationship with the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.



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