Text on the Column of Victory in the grounds of Blenheim Palace
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The Castle of BLENHEIM was founded by Queen ANNE,
In the Fourth Year of her Reign,
in the Year of the Christian Æra, One thousand seven hundred and five;
A Monument designed to perpetuate the Memory of the Signal Victory
Obtained over the FRENCH and BAVARIANS.
Near the Village of BLENHEIM,
On the Banks of the DANUBE,
By IOHN Duke of MARLBOROUGH:
The Hero not only of his Nation, but his Age:
Whose Glory was equal in the Council and in the Field:
Who by Wisdom, Justice, Candour, and Address,
Reconciled various and even opposite Interests;
Acquired an Influence, which no Rank, no Authority can give,
Nor any Force, but that of Superior Virtue;
Became the fixed, important Center,
Which united in one common Cause,
The Principal States of EUROPE.
Who by military Knowledge, and irresistible Valour,
In a long Series of uninterrupted Triumphs,
Broke the Power of FRANCE,
When raised the highest, when exerted the most;
Rescued the EMPIRE from Desolation;
Asserted and confirmed the Liberties of EUROPE.
PHILIP, a Grand-son of the House of FRANCE, united to the Interest, directed by the Policy, supported by the Arms of that Crown, was placed on the Throne of SPAIN. King WILLIAM the Third beheld this formidable Union of two Great, and once Rival, Monarchies. At the End of a Life spent in defending the Liberties of EUROPE, He saw them in their greatest Danger. He provided for their Security in the most effectual Manner: He took the Duke of MARLBOROUGH into his Service.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
To the STATES-GENERAL of the United Provinces,
The Duke contracted several Alliances, before the Death of King WILLIAM. He confirmed and improved These, He contracted Others, after the Accession of Queen ANNE; and re-united the Confederacy, which had been dissolved at the End of a former War, in a stricter and firmer League.
Captain General and Commander in Chief
Of the Forces of GREAT BRITAIN,
The Duke led to the Field the Army of the Allies. He took with surprising Rapidity VENLO, BUREMONDE, STEVENSWAERT, LIEGE. He extended and secured the Frontiers of the DUTCH. The Enemies, whom he found insulting at the Gates of NIMECHEN were driven to seek for Shelter behind their Lines. He forced BONNE, HUY, LIMBOURG, in another Campaign. He opened the Communication of the RHINE, as well as the MAES. He added all the Country between these Rivers to his former Conquests.
The Arms of FRANCE, favoured by the Defection of the Elector of BAVARIA, had penetrated into the Heart of the EMPIRE. This mighty Body lay exposed to immediate Ruin. In that memorable Crisis, the Duke of MARLBOROUGH led his Troops with unexampled Celerity, Secrecy, Order, from the OCEAN to the DANUBE. He saw. He attacked, nor stopped, but to conquer the Enemy. He forced the BAVARIANS, sustained by the FRENCH, in their strong intrenchments at SCHELLENBERG. He passed the DANUBE. A second Royal Army, composed of the best Troops of FRANCE, was sent to re-inforce the first. That of the Confederates was divided, with one Part of it the Siege of INGOLSTADT was carried on: With the other the Duke gave Battle to the united Strength of FRANCE and BAVARIA. On the Second Day of AUGUST, One thousand seven hundred and four, He gained a more glorious Victory than the Histories of any Age can boast. The Heaps of Slain were dreadful Proofs of his Valour: A Marshal of FRANCE, whose Legions of FRENCH, his Prisoners, proclaimed his Mercy. BAVARIA was subdued. RATISMON, AUGSBOURG, ULM, MEMINGHEN, All the Usurpations of the Enemy were recovered. The Liberty of the DIET, the Peace of the EMPIRE were restored. From the DANUBE the Duke turned his victorious Arms towards the RHINE and the MOSELLE, LANDAU, TREVES, TRAERBACH were taken. In the Course of one Campaign the very nature of the War was changed. The invaders of other States were reduced to defend their own. The Frontier of FRANCE was exposed in its weakest part to the Efforts of the Allies.
That He might improve this Advantage, that He might push the Sum of things to a Speedy Decision, the Duke of MARLBOROUGH led his Troops early in the following Year once more to the MOSELLE. They whom He had saved a few Months before, neglected to second Him now. They who might have been his Companions in Conquest refused to join Him. When He saw the generous Designs He had formed frustrated by private Interest, by Pique, by Jealousy, He returned with speed to the MAES. He returned; and Fortune and Victory returned with Him. LIEGE was relieved; HUY retaken. The FRENCH, who had pressed the Army of the STATES-GENERAL with Superior Numbers, retired behind Intrenchments which they deemed impregnable. The Duke forced these Intrenchments, with Inconsiderable Loss, on the Seventh Day of IULY, One thousand seven hundred and five. He defeated a great Part of the Army which defended them. The Rest escaped by a precipitate Retreat. If Advantages proportionable to his Success were not immediately obtained, let the Failure be ascribed to that misfortune which attends most Confederacies, a Division of Opinions were One alone should judge, a Division of Powers where One alone should command. The Disappointment it-self did Honour to the Duke. It became the Wonder of Mankind, how He could do so much under those Restraints which had hindered Him from doing more.
Powers more absolute were given Him afterwards. The Increase of his Powers multiplied his Victories. At the opening of the next Campaign, when all his Army was not yet assembled, when it was hardly known that He had taken the Field, the Noise of his Triumphs was heard over EUROPE. On the Twelfth Day of MAY, One thousand seven hundred and six, He attacked the FRENCH at RAMELLIES. In the space of two Hours their whole Army was put to flight. The Vigour and Conduct with which He improved this Success, were equal to those with which He gained it. LOUVAIN, BRUSSELS, MALINES, LIERE, GHENT, OUDENARDE, ANTWERP, DAMME, BRUGES, COURTRAY surrendered. OSTEND, MENIN, DENDERMONDE AETH were taken. BRABANT and FLANDERS were recovered. Places which had resisted the greatest Generals for Months, for Years; Provinces disputed for Ages, were the Conquests of a Summer.
Nor was the Duke content to triumph alone. Solicitous for the general Interest, his Care extended to the remotest Scenes of the War. He chose to lessen his own Army, that He might enable the Leaders of other Armies to conquer. To this it must be ascribed, that TURIN was relieved, the Duke of SAVOY re-instated, the FRENCH driven with Confusion out of ITALY.
These Victories gave the Confederates an Opportunity of carrying the War on every side into the Dominions of FRANCE. But She continued to enjoy a kind of peaceful Neutrality in GERMANY. From ITALY she was once alarmed, and had no more to fear. The entire Reduction of this Power, whose Ambition had caused, whose Strength supported the War, seemed reserved to Him alone who had so triumphantly begun the Glorious Work.
The Barrier of FRANCE on the side of the LOW-COUNTRIES, had been forming for more than half a Century. What Art, Power, Expence could do, had been alone to render it impenetrable. Yet here She was most exposed: For here the Duke of MARLBOROUGH threatened to attack Her.
To cover what they had gained by Surprise, or had been yielded to them by Treachery, the FRENCH marched to the Banks of the SCHELDE. At their Head were the Princes of the Blood, and thir most fortunate General, the Duke of VENDOME. Thus commanded, thus posted, they hoped to check the Victor in his Course. Vain were their Hopes. The Duke of MARLBOROUGH passed the River in their sight. He defeated their whole Army. The Approach of Night concealed, the Proximity of GHENT favoured their Flight. They neglected nothing to repair their Loss, to defend their Frontier. New Generals, new Armies appeared in the NETHERLANDS. All contributed to enhance the Glory, none were able to retard the Progress of the Confederate Arms.
LISLE, the Bulwark of this Barrier, was besieged. A numerous Garrison and a Marshal of FRANCE defended the Place. Prince EUGENE of SAVOY commanded, the Duke of MARLBOROUGH covered and sustained the Siege. The Rivers were seized, and the Communication with HOLLAND interrupted. The Duke opened new Communications, with great Labour, and greater Art, through Countries over-run by the Enemy, the necessary Convoys arrived in Safety, one alone was attacked. The Troops which attacked it, were beat. The defence of LISLE was animated by Assurances of Relief. The FRENCH assembled all their Forces. They marched towards the Town. The Duke of MARLBOROUGH offered them Battle, without suspending the Siege. They abandoned the Enterprise. They came to save the Town: They were Spectators of its Fall.
From this Conquest the Duke hastened to others. The Posts taken by the Enemy on the SCHELDE were surprised. That River was passed the second time, and notwithstanding the great Preparations made to prevent it, without opposition, BRUSSELS, besieged by the Elector of BAVARIA, was relieved. GHENT surrendered to the Duke in the middle of a Winter remarkably severe. An Army little inferior to his own, marched out of the Place.
As soon as the Season of the Year permitted Him to open another Campaign, the Duke besieged and took TOURNAY. He invested MONS. Near this City, the FRENCH Army, covered by thick Woods defended by treble Intrenchments, waited to molest, nor presumed to offer Battle. Even this was not attempted by them with Impunity. On the last Day of AUGUST, One thousand seven hundred and nine, the Duke attacked them in their Camp. All was employed, nothing availed against the Resolution of such a General, against the Fury of such Troops. The Battle was bloody: The Event decisive. The Woods were pierced: The Fortifications trampled down. The Enemy fled. The Town was taken.
DOWAY, LETHUNE, AIRE, St VENANT, BOUCHAIN, underwent the same Fate in two succeeding Years. Their vigorous Resistance could not save them. The Army of FRANCE durst not attempt to relieve them. It seemed preserved to defend the Capital of the Monarchy.
The Prospect of this extreme Distress was neither distant nor dubious. The FRENCH acknowledged their Conqueror, and sued for Peace.
These are the Actions of the Duke of MARLBOROUGH,
Performed in the Compass of few Years,
Sufficient to adorn the Annals of Ages.
The Admiration of other Nations
Will be conveyed to latest Posterity,
In the Histories even of the Enemies of BRITAIN.
The Sense which the BRITISH Nation had
Of his Transcendent Merit,
In the most solemn, most effectual, most durable Manner.
The ACTS of PARLIAMENT inscribed on this Pillar,
Shall stand as long as the BRITISH Name and Language last,
Of MARLBOROUGH'S Glory
Of BRITAIN'S Gratitude.
Anno Tertio et Quarto
An Act for the better Enabling Her Majesty to Grant the Honor and Manor of WOODSTOCK with the Hundred of WOOTTON to the Duke of MARLBOROUGH and his Heirs, in Consideration of the Eminent Services by him Performed to Her Majesty and the Publick
Most Gracious Sovereign, Whereas the Eminent and Unparalleled Services Performed to Your Majesty and the Crown of ENGLAND by the most Noble IOHN Duke of MARLBOROUGH are well known not only to Your Majesty and all Your Subjects but to all EUROPE, who will always Remember That the Alliances which Your Majesty's Royal Brother King WILLIAM the Third of Glorious Memory, had, in a little time before His Death Contracted by the Ministry of the said Duke of MARLBOROUGH as His Majesty's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the STATES-GENERAL of the United-Provinces for Preserving the Liberties of EUROPE against the Ambition of FRANCE, were immediately after Your Majesty's Happy Accession to the Throne by the said Duke, then Imployed by Your Majesty in the same Character, Confirmed and Improved, and others were Contracted, whereby the Confederacy which had been Dissolved at the End of the last War, was Reunited in a Stricter and Firmer League; And that in the First Year of Your Majesty's Reign, the said Duke of MARLBOROUGH did so well execute the Commission and Orders which He received from Your Majesty as Captain-General and Commander in Chief of Your Majesty's Forces, That He not only Secured and Extended the Frontier of HOLLAND by Taking the Towns and Fortresses of VENLO, RUREMOND, STEVENSWAERT and LIEGE, but soon obliged the Enemy (who had been at the Gates of NIMEGHEN) to seek Shelter behind their Lines.