The Battle of Blenheim, 13 August 1704
Oil on canvas, by John Wootton, (1682-1764), 1743 (c).
Today, Blenheim or Blindheim is a small town in Bavaria, on the north bank of the River Danube. In 1704, during the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1713), it was the site of the decisive defeat of a French and Bavarian force, under Marshals Tallard and Marsin, by the allied English, Dutch and Austrian armies commanded by the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy. The battle was a model example of allied co-ordination and co-operation, with the two forces attacking simultaneously. Though Marlborough's force initially suffered great losses, he ordered a feigned attack to keep the French from advancing, before launching all his available force at the centre of Tallard's army. The enemy was shattered and Tallard taken prisoner. Many of the fleeing troops were drowned in the Danube. Allied casualties were 4,500 killed and 7,500 wounded, whereas the enemy suffered losses of 38,600 killed, wounded or taken prisoner.
The scene depicted is towards the close of battle. Marlborough, on a prancing chestnut horse, is shown with his staff, while the captured French commander, Marshal Tallard, can be seen beyond, leaving the field in Marlborough's carriage.
By way of reward for the victory, Parliament passed an Act enabling Queen Anne to grant Marlborough and his heirs the Royal manor of Woodstock. The Queen also gave a grant for the construction of a palace on the site. Blenheim Palace, designed by Sir John Vanburgh in an Italianate style, is one of the finest examples of English Baroque architecture.
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Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund.
National Army Museum, London
National Army Museum, Battle gallery
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