The Battle of Blenheim
13 August 1704
The Battle of Blenheim, a major battle in the War of the Spanish Succession, was fought on this day in British history, 13 August 1704. French King Louis XIV hoped to seize Vienna and ransom it in return for peace with Austria, a result that would weaken the Grand Alliance. Instead, the Duke of Marlborough managed to march a massive army south to the Danube and engage Marshall Tallard’s Franco-Bavarian army that had effectively surrounded Vienna.
Marlborough’s force numbered slightly over 50,000, while the Franco-Bavarian army came in just under 60,000. Tallard did not expect Marlborough’s slightly outnumbered force to launch an attack, but when they did the French troops were caught unprepared. Marlborough led a brave charge that broke the soft center of the French line at Blenheim, splitting Tallard’s force in half and leading to its defeat. At a cost of 12,000 casualties, the Allies captured 13,000 Franco-Bavarian troops (including Tallard) and killed, wounded, or caused to be drowned approximately 18,000 more. Vienna was saved, and the French had suffered their worst defeat in over 50 years in what ultimately became a turning point in the War of the Spanish Succession.
Image: The Duke of Marlborough at the Battle of Blenheim: The Surrender of Maréchal Tallard (National Trust)