Eugenius prince of Savoy-Carignan

A.K.A. Prinz Eugen or Eugenio von Savoye

18 October 1663-1736


Below is Eugen's family tree. It starts with Thomas Francis of Savoy Carignan, who founded the cadet branch of the princes of Savoy Carignan. This family was then split when his fourth child Eugenio Maurice stayed in France to become a French prince and Count of Soissons. This came about in 1657 with his marriage of convenience to Olympia Mancini, a niece of Mazarin. This Olympia had long been a favorite of the young Louis XIV and her marriage was meant to sanction her position at the court. Thus Eugenio Maurice and Olympia lived together at the Hotel Soissons in Paris, but Louis XIV visited there conspicuously often.

Childhood and adolescence

Our Prince Eugen thus grew up at the palace of Soissons, but did not have a very happy childhood. His mother was primarily engaged in getting the attention of Louis XIV and in plotting against her rivals and various sources claim her children were neglected. His father Eugenio Maurice was often absent on royal missions or at war and would die in 1673. What made Eugen's childhood extra rough was that he was ugly and appeared to be very weak physically. This and the fact that he was the fourth son made that he was destined for the clergy at age 15, getting the nickname 'le petit abbé'. It would be Eugen's own decision to refuse this kind of a career.

Eugen's mother was implicated in a poisoning scandal and had to leave France in January 1680, leaving Eugen 'alone' in Paris at age 16. Now Eugen's wild side got free reign, he was very popular with the princes and other young nobility, engaged with them in orgies and even homosexual practices causing a scandal. At age 19 Eugen was anxious to do something with his life and in the spring of 1683 he asked for an audience with Louis XIV in order to join the army. Louis however, who could not stand the sight of Eugen, refused to let him enter the military. A coincidence then occurred that made Eugen make a drastic move.

To Vienna

On 13 July 1683 Eugen's older brother Louis Julius died from wounds received in battle on the Danube. Louis Julius had been the commander of the regiment Savoyer Dragoner and as such the regiment was 'part of his inheritance' Eugen thus had a chance to claim its command. This coincided with a Turkish move on Vienna that was an open invitation to all the European nobility to get to Vienna and signal themselves in the defense of Christianity. Not caring about the moral implications, Louis XIV forbade his citizens to come to the aid of Vienna. Eugen was not to be stopped at this point, and together with Prince Louis Armand de Conti he fled Paris in July 1683. By special messenger Louis XIV did persuade Conti to return, and for a few years he was rather indifferent that Eugen continued to Vienna.

Serving the emperor in Hungary

At the battle of the Kahlenberg, that lifted the siege of Vienna, Eugen started his military career. He then signaled himself in the subsequent invasion of Hungary. His appointment as Obrist (colonel) of a dragoon regiment (not his late brother's) came at the end of 1683 and was probably influenced by the protection of Victor Amadeus and his friends the margrave of Baden and Max Emanuel of Bavaria. In 1684 Eugen did not accomplish very much, but in 1685 he would signal himself in battle at Gran and in the assault at Neuhäusel. This brought him an appointment as general major that gave him the right to command battlefield formations consisting of more than his own regiment.

In 1686 Eugen signaled himself again in the conquest of Buda the most important Turkish strong point in Hungary. He then joined his friend Max Emanuel for carnival in Venice, where he also met Victor Emanuel of Savoy. In 1687 Eugen went to Hungary again and signaled himself in the battle of Mohács. He got the commission to bring the news of the victory to the emperor, and was richly rewarded. Charles II of Spain made him a knight of the Golden Fleece and in January 1688 he became Feldmarschalleutnant. 1688 would see Eugen under Max Emanuel at the conquest of Belgrade that would fall on 6 September. Previous to this assault Eugen was injured severely, which meant he did not see this triumph of Max Emanuel.

Against Louis XIV

With a silly claim to the Pfalz Louis XIV had started the war of the lique of Augsburg and marched into the Rhineland on 2 September 1688. Commanding three cavalry regiments Eugen fought a first small battle against the French in July 1689. He was subsequently wounded again in the siege of Mainz. In 1690 he was sent to serve in Savoy where Victor Emanuel had switched to the emperor's side. His first act there was leading the retreat after the lost battle of Staffarda and he would also accomplish some other minor feats. From the start this period in Italy consisted of years of frustration for Eugen as he was in a badly supported army under inept commanders.

Eugen's promotion to feldmarschall in May 1693 meant that he could expect to command in 1694, but he did not profit from the circumstance. The enemy seemed to guess every move he made, and it later became clear that Victor Emanuel had betrayed him in secret negotiations with France. When Victor Emanuel finally switched openly in 1696 Eugen had accomplished nothing, but his greatest triumph would come when he went east again.


In Hungary meanwhile the Turks had retaken Belgrade and had again taken a foothold in Hungary. The elector of Saxony had come to the aid of the emperor, and had been nominated supreme commander but soon quarreled with the Austrian commander Caprara, who therefore had to be replaced. With the support of margrave Louis of Baden and Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg the choice fell on Eugen, who was appointed to replace Caprara in Hungary on 25 April 1697. Now Eugen was second in command to the elector, but after he left for Dresden the emperor finally named Eugen supreme commander on 5 July 1697.

Given the perpetual lack of money that plagued the emperor, Eugen was surprised by finding an army still more desolate than expected. He did everything to improve the situation, and even went as far as loaning money on his account in order to pay some bills. With an army of somewhat under 50,000 men Eugen finally started the campaign with strict orders not to risk anything.

Sultan Mustafa II went to march against Eugen from Belgrade with about 100,000 men. Mustafa's goal was to enter Hungary and either march up the Danube to Budapest, or to march up the Tisza towards Szeged and Transylvania. On 7 September Eugen learned from a deserter that Mustafa had chosen to march up the Tisza and so he quickly put his army in movement to confront the sultan. On 11 September Eugen learned that the Turkish army was crossing from the right bank of the Tisza to the left at Zenta. With his own eyes Eugen saw that only part of the Turkish army had crossed the one ship-bridge present when he arrived, and that the main part remained on the right bank. He therefore ordered an immediate attack on the troops on the right bank. Caught in this position the Turkish army probably panicked and was easily slaughtered, the ship-bridge collapsing under the weight of the fleeing soldiers. In the end about 25,000 Turkish soldiers (including the grand visor) had perished for about 1,000 Imperialists. The remainder fled in the direction of Timisoara (Temeszvar) leaving 100 guns and the war chest behind.

Eugen had achieved a stunning victory, and now set on a path to take further profit from it. From Osijek he started an invasion of Bosnia on 13 October 1697 with 4,000 cavalry and 2,500 infantry (his journal of this action has survived to this day). On 23 October he looked down at the open city of Sarajevo. He sent in a delegation to summon the surrender, but this was attacked. He then sent in his soldiers to plunder, which led to a fire, and the whole city being burned down the next day. Laden with booty Eugen arrived back in Osijek on 8 November.

The Spanish Succession War

At the start of the Spanish Succession war he already was the most famous commander of Europe, but would add still more laurels. His 1701 and 1702 campaigns in Italy were he got results against very heavy odds were brilliant. His arrival only at the Bavarian front inducing fear in the Franco-Bavarian command. Marlborough and Eugen cooperated very well, and together they gained the victories of Blenheim, Oudenaarde and Malplaquet. The defeat of part of his army at Denain by Villars was les brilliant, but effaced by his victory at Peterwardein.

Other activities

Eugen was also a diplomat, negotiating a lot of treaties and even the final peace treaty which concluded the war between France and Austria. He never married, nor was he seen with women. Furthermore he built a lot of palaces, owned vast tracks of land and had a large collection of art works.

Family tree

Family tree of Eugen


Service record