By Jean-Denis G. G. Lepage

This booklet describes and illustrates French fortifications from 1715 (the dying of Louis XIV) to 1815 (the fall of Napoleon), focusing quite at the Napoleonic period. After an historic heritage, it covers the historical past of the Ancien Regime with the real contributions of Vauban (the bastioned defense), Gribeauval's reforms in artillery, and Montalembert's strategies. Chapters discover the fashion of Napoleonic fortifications, siege conflict, artillery and engineering corps, in addition to the Napoleonic achievements in France, Italy, German and the Netherlands, together with tasks that have been deliberate yet by no means accomplished. integrated are approximately 250 line drawings of historical fortifications.

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1. Historical Background romantic if hazardous feats of arms, so Napoléon exploited to the utmost his soldiers’ burning desire to distinguish themselves on the battlefield. He developed to a fine art the cult of personality, and most French soldiers of the ranks worshipped the Emperor. His familiar manner, simple uniform (grey frock, typical bicorne or uniform of a colonel of the guard), and demagogic bonhomie aroused great enthusiasm. Old hands, young ones, and grognards (grumblers) of the Imperial Guard had an almost fanatic reverence and admiration Cavalryman Right: Napoléon’s cavalry was divided into heavy and light units.

The turncoat Talleyrand, who had long directed Napoléon’s diplomacy, persuaded the Allies to restore the Bourbon monarchy in the person of the Count of Provence. The Count had become the heir to the House of Bourbon after the death, in 1795, of his young nephew Louis XVII. The new king, known as Louis XVIII (1755–1824), was indeed the grandson of Louis XV and the younger brother of the beheaded Louis XVI. He had emigrated in 1791, had always been a radical antirevolutionist and anti–Bonapartist, and knew very little of the new France that had been born 1.

This led to spontaneous and fierce resistance from the Spanish army and civilians in the Dos de Mayo uprising (May 2, 1808), followed by terrible French reprisals led by Murat and immortalized by Goya’s painting. The Spaniards’ resistance led to the capitulation of General Dupont in Baylen, ending for the first time a myth: the invincibility of Napoléon’s armies. The English took advantage of this new front to land troops in Portugal under the leadership of Arthur Wellesley, the future Lord Wellington (1769–1852).

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