Eugène de Savioe-Soissons
Other names: François Eugène
Field marshal in the Imperial army, 1693
An Austrian soldier, he was the youngest son of the prince of Savoy Carignan and a niece of Cardinal Mazarin. After his father’s death in 1673, his mother’s banishment from court by Louis XIV, and Louis’s refusal to give him a commission, he renounced his country, and at the age of twenty, entered the service of the Emperor Leopold against the Turks. He displayed extraordinary courage and talent at the siege of Vienna in 1683 and gained rapid promotion. In the war against Louis XIV in Italy, he distinguished himself. He defeated the Turks with immense slaughter in 1697, putting an end to their power in Hungary. The Spanish War of Succession in 1701 recalled him to the army of Italy, but though he inflicted several defeats upon the French, he was prevented from effecting much by the smallness of his forces and the skill of the Duc de Vendôme, who defeated
him at Luzzara in 1702. In command of the imperial army, he helped Marlborough at Blenheim in 1704. Eugène was checked at Cassano in 1705 by Vendôme, but afterwards crushed the French in a defeat which closed their career in Italy. He shared with Marlborough the glory of Oudenarde in 1708 and Malplaquet in 1709, but, crippled by the withdrawal of Holland and England, he was unable to withstand the enemy on the Rhine, and his defeat by Villars at Denain in 1712 was followed by other disasters, until the peace of Rastadt in 1714 ended the war. On the renewal of the war in 1716 against the Turks, Eugène defeated an army of 150,000 men at Peterwardein, took Temesvar, and in 1717, after a desperate battle, carried Belgrade. In a new war with France over the crown of Poland, Eugène was only able to keep the enemy out of Bavaria. After peace was made, he returned to Vienna, where he died. Although a strict disciplinarian, he was worshipped by his men, and lives a hero in song. His rapidity and decision raised the prestige of the Austrian army to unequalled eminence.
Place of birth: Paris
Place of death: Vienna
1. J.O. Thorne, ed. Chambers Biographical Dictionary, 2nd rev. edn. London: W. & R. Chambers Harrap, 1923.
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