1710, Continuing negotiations and Douai


The United Kingdom

The fall of 1709 saw Abigail Masham and Harley (in secret) as the favorites of Queen Anne, but the Whigs still solidly in power. When Parliament met on November 15th everything still seemed to go well, with Marlborough's conduct getting loud acclaim. The Whigs then started an attack on Admiral Churchill, and about the same time Prince George of Denmark died vacating admiral Churchill's post. George of Denmark was succeeded by Pembroke. A full Whig government was now formed and Marlborough's power broken.

But underneath Harley, Abigail and the queen were plotting to oust the government and install a Tory government, even against the Whig majority. Anne insisted on appointing Hill, the brother of Abigail Masham as commander of a regiment, an action that would undermine Marlborough's command of the army.

With Marlborough leaving to represent England in the Hague, the process against Sacherevell now started. He had preached in St. Paul's against the dissenters, leading to the Whig parliament drawing up an act of prosecution. The process started in February and ended February 23th with his suspension for three years and a public burning of his preach. This trial proved a disaster for the Whigs as public opinion united behind the Tories, the queen and the Church of England.

On this sentiment the queen now acted: On 14 April she fired the Lord Chamberlain the viscount of Kent, and replaced him by Shrewsbury, who, though a Whig did not belong to the Junto, and had supported Harley and the Tories during the trial. On 14 June (Marlborough's son in law) Sunderland, one of the secretaries of State, was sacked and replaced by the Tory Lord Dartmouth. An affair that immediately stiffened the French negotiators at Geertruidenberg. On 7 August Godolphin was sacked by Anne. Harley became Chancellor of the Exchequer and head of government. It seems to me that the prime reason for the lack of resistance by the Whigs was the possibility of elections that would lead to a Tory parliament.

On 20 September the queen decided to dissolve parliament and appointed a Tory government. On 30 September parliament was disbanded, and elections led to a strong Tory parliament and immediate financial problems. The new government also saw St. John as secretary of State. One of the first things the new government did was appointing enemies of Marlborough in his army.

The United Provinces

With the barrier treaty signed the Dutch could feel somewhat at ease. For the coming negotiations they named two leaders of the peace-party; Buijs and Van der Dussen as negotiators.

The empire

The empire was right on track in reaching its war goals, only having to conquer Spain itself.

The Hungarian affairs were made easier because the last serious Hungarian army was routed on 22-01-1710 at Romhány/Vadkert. This year there were however indications that Turkey could go to war, and the seapowers were again pressing Joseph to come to an agreement with the Hungarians. This time Joseph did not give in and trusted his military to do the job.


Though officially willing to make peace the French were now on the defensive, hoping the coalition would break apart before they had to give in. This was anyhow the way Heinsius appreciated their peace attempts.


The year opened up with D'Iberville arriving in Madrid to ask Felipe to hand over his last possessions in the Spanish Netherlands, namely Luxembourg, Charleroi, Namur and Nieuport to the elector of Bavaria in order to recompense him for his losses. Felipe did not want to give in to this mainly because there was no advantage in it for him. In domestic policy Felipe had the duke of Medina-Celi arrested for treason on 15 April.

The Spanish plans at the beginning of the year were mainly centered on capturing Gerona. After the heavy defeats at Almenera and Saragossa the duc de Noailles was sent to Spain in order to persuade Felipe to give up Spain in order to get at least some land by signing a partition treaty. Noailles arrived at approximately the same moment as Felipe who had abandoned Madrid to the allies. The remarkable thing about this abandonment is that the most important parts of the population also left Madrid. Even in the situation he was now in Felipe did not want to abandon his kingdom for some compensation in Italy and so he wrote to Louis XIV on 25 September.

The allied plans

The allied plan was breaking through the French lined in Flanders in order to march on Paris.

Peace negotiations

With the allies obviously preparing for war in 1710 the French had again agreed to the preliminaries of 1709 in January 1710 as long as an agreement could be reached about handing over Spain. Between themselves the United Kingdom and the United Provinces signed the barrier treaty.

A peace conference in Geertruidenberg was then opened in March. There are different opinions about why they failed, there is however little doubt that they finally broke down because the French were confident that English politics would soon change.


Situation of the front in June 1710

In Flanders the allies had about xxx men consisting of 155 battalions and 262 squadrons concentrated near Gent. The French officially had xxx men consisting of 204 battalions and 308 squadrons concentrated under Villars.

The opening of the Flanders campaign of 1710

The allies now had two choices: the first was marching up the Lys to the coast. The second was marching up the Scarpe to Douai and finally Arras (Atrecht). It was decided to go for Douai.

The Flanders campaign of 1710: march to Douai

The French army was commanded by Marshall d'Artagnan duc de Montesquiou but could not do much against Marlborough's surprise advance to Douai, that crossed the lines the French had constructed so carefully.

The Flanders campaign of 1710: Douai

The garrison of Douai was led by Albergotti commanding 8,000 men (20 battalions) On 28 April the city was sealed off, the siege led by the princes of Orange and Anhalt and covered by Marlborough and Eugen. On 11 may the siege guns started firing. Villars performed some good maneuvering but thought himself to weak to attack the besiegers. On 26 May the capitulation of Douai was signed. Albergotti retreating with 4,500 men, the allies having lost 8,000, also to disease.

The Flanders campaign of 1710 Béthune

The allies were now free to march on Arras, a key-point of the third and final French line of fortifications (the 'ne plus ultra lines'). Arriving at this line they found an about equally sized French army under Villars behind the lines and wisely decided not to attack. The allies then decided to besiege B�thune, besieging it from 15 July to its capitulation on 29 August, costing 3,500 casualties

The Flanders campaign of 1710 Aire and St. Venant

On 6 September Anhalt started the siege of Aire, and Orange that of St. Venant. On 30 September St. Venant fell, on 9 November Aire (costing 7,000 men).

The Hungarian campaign of 1710

Rákóczy who wanted to raise the siege of Nové Zámky (Neuhäusel) was defeated on 22-01-1710 at Romhany/Vadkert. The Austrians captured Nové Zámky (Neuhäusel) 24-09-1710, and at the end of the year Bardejov (Bartfeld/Bártfa) and Presov (Eperies) were also captured. In the rest of Hungary the imperialists had also made big advances. This meant that only Kosice (Kaschau), Uzgorod (Ungvár), Mukacevo (Munkács) and Chust (Huszt) were still in rebel hands by the end of 1710. With successful negotiations coming in January 1711 the Hungarian had ended.

The Spanish Campaign

Starhemberg had 18,000 men while Philips had 22,000 under marquis de Villadarias at Lerida. Stanhope then crossed the Segre at Balaguer (north of Lerida) marching to the bridge of Alfarras, crossing it on 27 July. Both armies then met that day at Almenara, a few kilometers from the bridge, where the allies inflicted a defeat on Philip, who was almost captured by the allies.

Felipe then retreated to Saragossa, with Bay taking command. Here a battle was fought August 20th that scattered the Spanish army. Its remnants retreated into Castilia, and a lot of it was reassembled. Saragossa immediately fell to the archduke. Vendome heard of all this while on his way to Spain. Churchill gives all credit for these early victories to Stanhope, Saint Simon gives them to Starhemberg.

A Council of war was then held in which Stanhope was for marching on Madrid. Starhemberg was for first defeating the 18,000 survivors of the Spanish army that were at Tudela under general Bay, and then recapturing Valencia and capturing the Spanish border with France. A strategy that would have restored the situation of early 1707. Stanhope got his way however. Churchill makes no mention of Starhemberg wanting to defeat Bay's army.

In September the allies arrived at Madrid, but now Vendome with some French troops had also arrived and had joined general Bay. The main Spanish army then numbered 4,000+ guards, 5,000 cavalry and 8,000 infantry, the army of Estremadura numbered 32 battalions and 35 squadrons The allies then tried to unite their forces but failed in doing so. Felipe on the other succeeded in uniting his forces bringing them to 24,000.

The allies left Madrid 6 December. Stanhope with 4,500 men was then beaten in Brihuega and surrendered there. Saint Simon states that Stanhope was blamed for being at fault in Brihuega, Churchill blames Starhemberg for arriving to late. Starhemberg on arriving beat Vendome (according to Churchill) or was beaten (according to Saint Simon) at nearby Villa Viciosa and retreated back to Aragon. Noailles then came from France to invest Gerona on 15 December. Philip's authority in Spain was now very solid, and removing him would clearly be difficult.