Isidro de la Cueva-Benavides Marquis de Bedmar

20 May 1652 - 2 June 1723

Bedmar's background

Bedmar was the son of Don Gaspar de la Cueva Benavides third marquis of Bedmar. He was born in Madrid on 20 May 1652 and baptized on 5 June. On 15 January 1667 his older brother Don Melchor died and Bedmar became Marquis of Bedmar.

Bedmar's early career

In January 1667 Bedmar became captain of the cavalry company of the Guardias Viejas of Castilla. This was perhaps an honorary appointment, but in 1671 Bedmar's career became serious. That year he left for Italy and on 1 March 1673 he became a captain in the Tercio of Lombardy. On 3 June 1675 he was offered to command the provincial Tercio of Toledo in the Catalonian army.

On 17 July 1675 Bedmar became Maestro de Campo of the Spanish 'Valladares' tercio serving in the Spanish Netherlands. Here Bedmar was present at a lot of the defeats suffered by the Spanish forces. His own career went a lot better. On 14 September 1680 he was appointed as Sergeant General and in 1681 as governor of the city and fortress of Brussels. On 18 September 1682 he was appointed as captain general of the artillery in the Spanish Netherlands.

In 1685 Bedmar returned to Spain and became Captain General of the Spanish artillery. He was however soon recalled to Flanders by the viceroy Gastañaga. He was then appointed as ambassador ectraordinary in order to carry Charles II's condolences to James II on account of the death of his mother. Meanwhile his enemies accused him of defrauding the state on account of the payment of his tercio. However, on 2 September 1687 the king declared him not guilty and so the proceedings against him ended.

On 12 December 1689 Bedmar was appointed as governor of Flanders and on 30 March 1690 as Maestre de Campo General of the Flanders army. With this rank Bedmar then participated in the battle of Fleurus. Later on he commanded a corps in the battle of Neerwinden (Landen). De Quiros then commended him to Charles II and on 30 December 1697 Bedmar was appointed as supreme commander in the Spanish Netherlands.

Bedmar under Felipe V

On account of the accession of Felipe V to the throne of Spain the governor of the Spanish Netherlands, Max Emanuel of Bavaria appointed Bedmar as ambassador extraordinary to Felipe V. Bedmar's mission was to communicate the adhesion of the Spanish Netherlands to the rule of Felipe V. Because Felipe V was still in Paris at the time Bedmar did not have to travel very far and had the advantage of being one of the first to greet the new king. Max Emanuel of Bavaria then left Brussel on 26 March 1701 and handed the government to Bedmar. Felipe then appointed Bedmar as Comandante General of the Spanish Netherlands on 26 June 1701 and ordered him to reorganize the army.

Bedmar thus became commander of the Spanish part of the Bourbon armies in the Spanish Netherlands. In 1702 he directly commanded a force of 15 battalions and 19 squadrons near Antwerpen which were to guard against Dutch activity in the County of Flanders and against the city. He furthermore commanded 63 battalions and 18 squadrons of garrison troops1. Bedmar was however not able to prevent Coehoorn from taking the fortress of St. Donaas. In August 1702 he commanded in the attack against Hulst. This attack was meant to lift the alliance sieges on the Meuse, but the town was so strong that the Bourbon forces had no chance of success and failed in their design.

Bedmar at Ekeren

In June 1703 Bedmar's army of 33 battalions and 23 squadrons was again in the vicinity of Lier. At the end of June Bedmar and Boufflers then decided to attack the Dutch army at Ekeren. On 30 June Bedmar therefore marched to Ekeren and the battle started according to a well made plan. In the end the Dutch infantry however proved to be far better than the Bourbon infantry. The result was that the Bourbon armies were not victorious and lost in terms of the casualties they suffered.

While the main armies were operating in Germany Bedmar commanded the forces which had been left behind in 1704. This meant that Bedmar commanded against Ouwerkerk in July 1704. The campaign did not lead to any results on either side, but the Dutch were more dissatisfied than the Bourbons. Somewhat after the battle of Ekeren Bedmar became sick and had to leave the army despite that fact that Boufflers would have liked to keep him. On 12 February 1705 Bedmar left Brussel to go to Paris.

Bedmar in Italy

On 2 March 1705 Bedmar arrived in Paris. On 5 April Harcourt then sent his appointment as vice-roy and captain-general of Sicily. On 5 July 1705 Bedmar arrived in Sicily. Here he reorganized the army, ended the banditry and convoked the states on 10 February 1707 in order to get money for the war. After this he repeatedly asked his leave and was replaced buy the Marquis de Balbases. Thereupon he left for Spain on 23 July 1707.

Bedmar in Spain

Back in Spain he was recognized as grandee and in 1709 he was made minster of war. Bedmar was furthermore made Captain General of the Ocean and got some other posts which gave him a nice salary. In Madrid he allied himself with the Count of Aguilar. By this time Bedmar's health was failing and he wanted to resign, but the king succeeded in letting him stay on by showering Bedmar with gifts and honors. After a long and successful career Bedmar died on 2 June 1723.

Bedmar as a general

Bedmar's qualities as a commander have often been qualified as average or just below average. In such a judgement about a general one should however always take the troops of the general into account. When one appreciates the poor quality of the troops Bedmar had under his command the judgement should be that Bedmar was rather competent. A judgement which is in line with his career.

Career

Service record

Sources

This page is mainly based on a thesis by José Manuel Troyano Chicharro. For the 1700's details were added from 'Het Staatse Leger'.

Notes

1) Staatse Leger VIII/I page 45-46