Enduring Paradox: How The Duke Of Marlborough Succeeded And Faltered In The War Of The Spanish Succession
Technical Report,05 Jul 2015,26 May 2016
US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States
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The Duke of Marlboroughs campaign in 1711 during the War of the Spanish Succession encapsulated many of the key concepts of war and warfare. Long before their enshrinement in doctrine, Marlborough used strategy, operational art and key tenets of tactical action, such as mission command and command of the moral realm, to great success. He was never defeated militarily. However, the war ended in the failure of the Grand Alliances war aim to prevent a Bourbon taking the throne of Spain, and Great Britain brokered a unilateral peace, contrary to the wishes of the wider coalition. The campaign in 1711, and the previous nine years of war, evince the necessity for all military commanders to be aware of the limitations the character of warfare places upon objectives, the need to cultivate strategic leaders and the importance of political-military dialogue. Lessons from 1711 that endure to this day. The Duke of Marlborough was a great commander and his successes had considerable historical benefits for Great Britain yet even he faltered in the face of the enduring paradox between policy and its flow down to tactical action.