Louis of Baden

1655-1707

Margrave Louis' background

Louis of Baden was born in France and baptised after his godfather Louis XIV. The prince of Baden however took him home soon, leaving his mother the princess of Savoy-Carignan in Paris.

Margrave Louis of Baden goes to war against the Turks

Louis of Baden got his military education from the famous Raimondo Montecuccoli. He seriously started his career by becoming colonel of an Imperial regiment in 1676. A first highlight of his career came in 1683 when he commanded a wing under the Duke of Lorraine in the battle that lifted the siege of Vienna in 1683. He next took part in the famous siege of Ofen and the battle of Mohacs. In 1691 he put the crown on his career by winning a huge victory against the Turks at Slankamen. This made Louis of Baden one of the most famous commanders of his time.

Then goes west to face the French

In 1693 he took up command on the Upper-Rhine against the French and was quite successful there. He was also sovereign of Baden, where he founded a new residence at Rastatt. In order to protect Baden and the soutwest of the empire against French aggression he constructed some lines, his 'Stollhofener Linie' being the most famous. As Generalleutnant of the empire he again commanded the imperial army on the upper Rhine during the Spanish Succession war.

His abilities as a commander

In the light of his earlier successes nobody doubts that before 1700 Louis of Baden was a very good commander. There are then some who claim that in the Spanish Succession War Louis was past his prime1. For example Churchill scolds Louis for his attitude that 'to him conducting the war consisted of guarding the lines of Stollhofen'. Looking at the troops the margrave had under his command it becomes clear that for Türkenlouis this should indeed be his first aim. He had little support from the bigger German states and his only steady support consisted of the troops of the Nordlinger confederation. His aims therefore had to be limited most of the time. After all: the first objectives of the Habsburgs were the conquest of Italy and the Hungarian revolt. In a sense the Nördlinger confederation was his paymaster, and would not have enjoyed him exposing their troops by an adventurous march into France. Appraising his limited means it's worthful to take a year by year look at his conduct:

Appraising the facts of these campaigns might be a matter of perspective. They were good campaigns if the aim was to defend southern Germany. Most of the time Louis commanded a rag tag imperial army and succeeded in doing just that for 5 years, of which 4 against Villars, about whose military abilities there is little doubt. After his death in January 1707 Villars immediately succeeded in invading Germany in May, almost reaching Bavaria. A fact that uncovers just how little the empire cared for this front, Habsburg troops entering Naples in July. Appraising Louis' achievements as if he had to further the interests of the empire or even the alliance as a whole leads to critisising him for not achieving the goals he himself did not have to achieve.

Career

Service record

Notes

1) In itself this is unlikely, Louis was relatively young. You can yourself check the birthdates of the generals at these pages.