A study of French military engineers at a crucial point in the evolution of modern engineering. The origins of the modern science of engineering can be traced to France's Royal Corps of Engineering in the eighteenth century. In Conserving the Enlightenment, Janis Langins gives us a history of this prototypical technical bureaucracy, using as his point of entry a pivotal dispute on the respective merits of two methods of engineering military fortifications. The story he tells of the tribulations of military engineers at the end of the Old Regime sheds light not only on the evolution of modern engineering but also on the difficulty of innovation in a technical bureaucracy. From the days of Louis XIV and his great military engineer Vauban, engineers in France had a reputation for competence and intellectual superiority. (This respect for engineers survived the Revolution; two engineers sat on the new Republic's ruling Committee of Public Safety with Robespierre.) Langins argues that French engineers saw themselves as men of the Enlightenment, with a steadfast faith in science and its positive effects on society; they believed that their profession could improve and civilize even warfare. When Marc-Rene, marquis de Montalembert, a cavalry officer and an amateur engineer, challenged the prevailing wisdom with a new method of fortification, the subsequent factional struggle became a crucible of self-definition for the profession. In the end, Langins shows, Vauban's science won out over Montalembert's inspiration, reinforcing and predicting the essentially conservative nature of French engineering.
Vauban Under Siege
Author: Jamel Ostwald
"Vauban under Siege" is the first systematic comparison of the theory of Vaubanian siegecraft with its reality, contrasting military engineering's pursuit of the efficient siege with generals' contradictory search for rapid conquest, purchased at the cost of additional lives.
A man of inventiveness, versatility and reformist ideas, Marshal Sébastien Le Preste de Vauban built a formidable ring of fortresses to protect France’s national frontiers. More than just a fortification designer, Vauban was also a gifted economist, author, and political strategist. This book tells the complete story of Vauban’s exceptional career, placing him within the framework of Louis XIV’s reign and revealing his lasting influences in France and other nations. With the aid of numerous detailed drawings, 17th century bastioned fortification, artillery, and seige warfare are described in detail. Vauban’s fortifications that are still standing today are particularly highlighted.
Vauban was the foremost military engineer of France, not only during his lifetime, but also throughout the 18th century when his legacy and methods remained in place almost unchanged. Indeed, his expertise and experience in the construction, defence, and attack of fortresses is unrivalled by any of his contemporaries, of any nationality. In all three of those fields he was a significant innovator and prolific exponent, having planned approximately 160 major defensive projects and directed over 50 sieges. This book provides not only a modern listing of his varied interventions and their fates, but also a wide-ranging discussion of just how and why they pushed forward the international boundaries of the arts of fortification.
The later seventeenth and eighteenth centuries have been acclaimed as the classic period of artillery fortification. This was an era when fortresses and fortress systems shaped the calculations of strategists and statesmen, and often dictated the course of campaigns. The age was one of almost constant conflict and this book, originally published in 1985, explores the influence of the fortress in the dynastic wars of Bourbon, Habsburg and Hohenzollern, the contest for influence in the Baltic, the last crusades of the West against the Turks, and in the peculiar conditions of colonial campaigning and the War of the American Independence.
Sebastien Le Prestre, Marshal Vauban, was one of the greatest military engineers of all time. His complex, highly sophisticated fortress designs, his advanced theories for the defense and attack of fortified places, and his prolific work as a writer and radical thinker on military and social affairs, mark him out as one of the most influential military minds of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Yet no recent study of this extraordinary man has been published in English. James Falkner, in this perceptive and lively new account of Vauban's life and work, follows his career as a soldier from a dashing and brave young cavalry officer to his emergence as a masterful military engineer. And he shows that Vauban was much more than simply a superlative builder of fortresses, for as a leading military commander serving Louis XIV, he perfected a method for attacking fortifications in the most effective way, which became standard practice until the present day. James Falkner's new study will add significantly to the understanding of Vauban's achievements and the impact his work has had on the history of warfare.