James Falkner is an author and a historian.
Marshal Vauban and the Defence of Louis XIV's Franceby James Falkner
Sebastien Le Prestre, Marshal Vauban, was one of the greatest military engineers of all time. His complex, highly sophisticated fortress designs, his advanced theories for the defense and attack of fortified places, and his prolific work as a writer and radical thinker on military and social affairs, mark him out as one of the most influential military minds of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Yet no recent study of this extraordinary man has been published in English.
James Falkner, in this perceptive and lively new account of Vauban's life and work, follows his career as a soldier from a dashing and brave young cavalry officer to his emergence as a masterful military engineer. And he shows that Vauban was much more than simply a superlative builder of fortresses, for as a leading military commander serving Louis XIV, he perfected a method for attacking fortifications in the most effective way, which became standard practice until the present day.
James Falkner's new study will add significantly to the understanding of Vauban's achievements and the impact his work has had on the history of warfare.
- Pen & Sword Books Limited
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- Product dimensions:
- 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)
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Marshall Vauban and the Defence of Louis XIV's France, by James Falkner. Pen & Sword, 2011. 226 pages. ISBN 1844159277. Vauban was undoubtedly one of greatest military engineers in history and left a legacy that influenced fortifications and siege warfare for centuries. As Falkner rightly said, "Vauban had died, and his like would not be seen again." In the service of France, he created in three decades a system known as the "Fence of Iron" to secure the northern frontier. His work eventually extended to all the frontiers of France and its coastal ports. He laid down the groundwork for defence system of France from the North Sea to the Rhine that lasted well into the twentieth century. In addition to building fortifications, Vauban developed siege methods and established guidelines for them. The word "impregnable" was anathema to him even though he created the most impressive forts and fortresses of the era. He was fully conscious of the fact that any of them could be taken. In his day, it was almost unheard that a man such a modest family background could rise to the status of Marshall of France. In the 1650s, the young Vauban joined Condé's army in the Fronde-a civil war-fighting against the young King Louis XIV. After he was captured, he joined the royal army and became a loyal servant of the king for the remainder of his life. The king was impressed with Vauban's skills in siege warfare, but cautioned him not to expose himself to danger in the siege lines, which did not keep him from continuing to take risks. He received numerous rewards from the king who appointed him Marshall of France in 1703. Today, when asked to name a Marshall of France, many can only name a couple who served under Napoleon and about the same number from the World Wars, but almost everyone knows of the great Vauban. Falkner's book follows the life of Vauban and covers the many wars of Louis XIV centering on the role of this great military engineer in building fortresses, capturing them, and even reconstructing those he breached. Falkner introduces the reader to the basics of fortress design and Vauban's guide to siege warfare in which he established the methods and time required to conduct a successful siege. Vauban was involved with work on over 180 fortresses and participated in over 30 sieges. The seventeenth and even much of the eighteen century was dominated by positional warfare in which armies usually maneuvered to engage in a few decisive battles. This period saw the development of a code of conduct more humane than the medieval code of chivalry. A defeated enemy could receive the honors of war and be allowed to march away with weapons in hand and flags flying. If a fortress commander withstood the enemy assault according to Vauban's guidelines, he was allowed to surrender honorably. The author covers Vauban's double line of the "Fence of Iron" and its role. He describes the French and Dutch conflict for control of fortresses in the Spanish Netherlands to further secure their own borders. Often to the dismay of his king, Vauban also wrote about other topics such as a fair system of taxation or ways to improve the quality of infantry. He treated his subordinates well, and was not concerned with wealth. All this, and more, is covered by the author. Falkner's excellent work is a must for anyone with an interest in military history. Faulkner's book is one of the best and most readable on Vauban. -- Review by Kaufmann