Monday, July 29, 2019

What happened during the Franco-Dutch War (1672 – 1678)? - Part 2

As Louis made advances against the war, the shift in balance of power in favor of France threatening other European monarch that forced them to act.

Year of Transition

1675 marked the 3rd year of the war. Turenne’s advance secured Lorraine for Louis, while the King himself took part in the war in May and June of the year. Louis led the French army in taking control of the Meuse River and the province of Limburg as well as major cities such as Liege.

Meanwhile, French operations also began against Spain that went hand in hand with operations in Sicily to distract the Spaniards. Frederick, duc de Schomberg, led attacks in Catalonia though with limited success.

On the Rhine, the battle of maneuvers between commanders prevailed. Turenne continued to march against his imperial adversary Riamond Montecucculi who had replaced Frederick William as commander of the coalition forces. The French and coalition forces clashed against each other between Philipsburg and Strasbourg. Rivalry between the 2 commanders reached its climax on July 27, 1675 when they fought in the Battle of Sasbach. During the battle, Turenne suffered injuries from a cannon blast. Later on, the illustrious French Marshall succumbed to his wombs ending decades of service to the French crown.

The loss of Turenne pushed the French back from the Rhine. On August 11, 1675, Turenne’s successor, Marshal Francois de Crequy suffered a defeat in the hands of Charles IV, Duke of Lorraine, in the Battle of Konzer Brucke. The French Marshall even faced further humiliation with his capture in the battle’s end. By September 6, 1675, the major city of Trier, near Luxembourg, fell to the coalition.
Marshall de Crequy
Though the French saw setbacks in the Rhine, the Prince de Conde redeemed the Kingdom. De Conde marched into Alsace and took over the forces that retreated from the Rhine. His uncontested excellent skills in battle and boldness regained the lands lost from the coalition and the Rhine became once again the front lines of the war.

Following de Conde’s success, the war saw the retirement of many great commanders of the war. By 1675, de Conde suffered from ailments and sickened by old age decided to retire leaving decades of energetic presence in the battlefield. On the other hand, In the same year, the imperial commander Riamond Montecucculi also retired. Hence, the war fell on the hands of new and younger commanders.

French Advances

After Louis saw the curtains drop on the careers of many of his competent commanders, new Marshalls proved their worth and French successes continued. News of success in Sicily reached Versailles as Marshall Louis Victor de Rochechouart de Mortemart or the Marshall de Vivonne took control of the Italian island being rewarded with the title of Viceroy of Sicily.

Afterwards, French forces repulsed attempts of William III’s advance. Despite this successes, imperial forces chased out the French in Philipsburg on September 17, 1676 threatening French gains in the Rhine and Alsace. Marshal Duc de Luxembourg saw to it that imperial forces under Charles IV of Lorraine failed to capitalize with his victories.

Battle against the Dutch and the Spanish Netherlands intensified. Louis himself besieged Valenciennes with the advice from Sebastien Vauban. The King’s brother Philippe, Duc de Orleans, led valiantly the French army against the Dutch army in the Battle of Cassel on April 11, 1677. Philippe’s victory blocked any of Dutch attempts to take cities of St. Omer and Charleroi.
Attack on Valenciennes, 1677
In the Rhine, Marshall de Crequy returned to the battlefield after his humiliating defeat and capture in 1675. He fought once again his nemesis Charles IV, Duke of Lorraine and foiled the latter’s invasion to retake his Duchy of Lorraine. On October 7, he won the Battle of Kochersberg defeating a combine army of Lorraine and the Holy Roman Empire. By November 14, Freiburg fell to the French.

In 1678, France continued its advance. They gained ground in the Spanish Netherlands while the cities of Ghent and Ypres fell in between February and March. Finally on August 14, 1678, Marshall Luxembourg proved his capability by defeating the armies of William III.

End of Hostillities

The Franco-Dutch War proceeded for almost a decade, France made extensive gains but failed in its primary objective of annihilating the Dutch Republic. Pressure to end hostilities mounted as England turned its back on France and threatened to join the Grand Alliance.

By 1678, the so-called Treaties of Nijmegen began. A series of treaties signed with different belligerents of the war from 1678 until 1679. Negotiations with the Dutch began as far as 1676, but it lasted until August 10, 1678. France agreed to return Maastricht. Agreement with the Spaniards followed on September 17, 1678 where France gained the Franche-Comte, Artois, and 16 towns in the Flanders, giving France a buffer state for its security. In exchange for gains, France agreed to fix the border with the Spanish Netherlands and withdraw its forces from Sicily.

An agreement with the Holy Roman Empire came on February 5, 1679. France gave Philipsburg the city of Freiburg in Breisgau. It also gained the coveted the Duchy of Lorraine. Additional agreements with other belligerents followed in 1679. A peace with Brandenburg-Prussia cemented in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Another followed with the Peace of Fontainebleau with Denmark.

In Summary

The French-Dutch War demonstrated the might of King Louis XIV and his determination to forge a new French Empire. Against insurmountable odds and with most of Europe stood in opposition, his army and will remained. Much of the French success laid with the effectivity of French commanders such as Turenne and de Conde and the French army as well. Nevertheless, Louis’ triumphs in the field brought countless deaths on both sides. Germany and the Low Countries once again suffered from destruction as it served as the battleground for contest of supremacy. The war cemented Louis’ reputation as a head of a great army, but also one of Europe’s most notorious war mongers. Yet, the war did not marked the end of his series of war.

See also:


“Dutch War (1672 – 1678).” Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. Accessed on June 10, 2019. URL:

“Dutch Wars: War of 1672 – 1678.” The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. Accessed on June 11, 2019. URL:

Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Treaty of Dover.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed on July 28, 2019. URL:

Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Treaties of Nijmegen.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed on July 28, 2019. URL:

Field, Jacob. “Siege of Masstricht.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed on July 28, 2019. URL:

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