Battle of Almansa

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Battle of Almansa
Part of the War of the Spanish Succession
Batalladealmansa.jpg
The Battle of Almansa (1707)
Date 25 April 1707
Location Almansa, Albacete, Spain
Result Two Crowns victory
Belligerents
 England
Portugal Portugal
 Dutch Republic
Spain Bourbon Spain
 Kingdom of France
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of England Earl of Galway
Portugal Marquess of Minas
Kingdom of France Spain Duke of Berwick
Strength
22,000 25,000
Casualties and losses
5,000 dead or wounded
12,000 captured
3,500 dead or wounded

The Battle of Almansa, fought on 25 April 1707, was one of the most decisive engagements of the War of the Spanish Succession. At Almansa, the FrancoSpanish army under Berwick soundly defeated the allied forces of Portugal, England, and the United Provinces led by the Earl of Galway, reclaiming most of eastern Spain for the Bourbons.

It has been described as "probably the only Battle in history in which the English forces were commanded by a Frenchman, the French by an Englishman."[1][2]

The Battle[edit]

The Bourbon army of about 25,000 was composed of Spanish and French troops in equal proportion, as well as an Irish regiment. Opposing them was a mainly Anglo-Portuguese force with strong Dutch, German, and French Huguenot elements.

The Battle began with an artillery exchange. When Galway committed his reserves to an attack on the Bourbon centre, Berwick unleashed a strong force of Franco-Spanish cavalry against the weakened Anglo-Portuguese lines, sweeping away the Portuguese cavalry. A general rout followed, only the Portuguese infantry held, attacked by the three sides, and tried to retire fighting. They surrendered by nightfall. Galway lost 5,000 men killed and 12,000 taken prisoner; of his army of 22,000 only 5,000 escaped to Tortosa.[citation needed]

Aftermath[edit]

The victory was a major step in the consolidation of Spain under the Bourbons. With the main allied army destroyed, Philip V of Spain regained the initiative and gained Valencia.

The city of Xàtiva was burned, and its name changed to San Felipe in order to punish it. (In memory of these events, nowadays the portrait of the monarch still hangs upside down in the local museum of L'Almodí).

Before long, the only remaining allies of the Habsburg pretender, Archduke Charles, were his supporters in Catalonia and Balearic Islands.

Legacy[edit]

Frederick II of Prussia referred to Almansa as "the most scientific battle of our century",[citation needed].

In the present-day Valencian Community, the saying: Quan el mal ve d'Almansa, a tots alcança ("Evil tidings spare no one when they come from Almansa", or, more literally, "When the wrong comes from Almansa, it reaches everybody" (opposite to the English: "It's an ill wind that blows no good") recalls this defeat, since one of the side effects of this defeat was the suppression of the autonomy of the Kingdom of Valencia within the Spanish Habsburg monarchy.

Detail from the Batalla de Almansa by Ricardo Balaca (1862).

References[edit]

  1. ^  Stephens, Henry Morse (1885–1900). "Fitzjames, James". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  2. ^ Norwich, John Jules (2007). The Middle Sea. A History of the Mediterranean. London: Chatto & Windus. ISBN 0-7011-7608-3.  Berwick was the illegitimate son of the exiled King James II of England, who had taken up service in the French army after his and his father's exile. Galway was a French Huguenot who had joined the English service under William of Orange

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°52′28″N 1°5′37.30″W / 38.87444°N 1.0936944°W / 38.87444; -1.0936944