Raimondo Montecuccoli

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Raimondo Montecuccoli
HGM Grießler Montecuccoli.jpg
Raimondo Montecuccoli, Duke of Melfi by Elias Grießler
Born(1609-02-21)21 February 1609
Pavullo nel Frignano, Duchy of Modena and Reggio
Died16 October 1680(1680-10-16) (aged 71)
Linz, Archduchy of Austria
Allegiance Holy Roman Empire
Service/branchImperial Army
Years of service1625–1675
Battles/warsThirty Years' War

First War of Castro
Second Northern War
Austro-Turkish War

Dutch War Rhineland Campaign

AwardsOrder of the Golden Fleece

Raimondo Montecuccoli (Italian pronunciation: [raiˈmondo monteˈkukkoli]; 21 February 1609 – 16 October 1680) was an Italian-born professional soldier who served the Habsburg monarchy. He was also a Duke of Melfi,[1] in the Kingdom of Naples.

Montecuccoli was considered as the only commander to be the equal of the French general Turenne, (1611–1675), and like him, was closely associated with the post-1648 development of linear infantry tactics.[2]

Early life[edit]

Montecuccoli was born on 21 February 1609 in the Castello di Montecuccolo in Pavullo nel Frignano, near Modena.[3]

Early military service[edit]

At the age of sixteen, Montecuccoli began as a private soldier under his uncle, Count Ernesto Montecuccoli (died 1633), a distinguished Austrian general. Four years later, after much active service in Germany and the Low Countries, he became a captain of infantry. He was severely wounded at the storming of New Brandenburg, and again in the same year (1631) at the first battle of Breitenfeld, where he fell into the hands of the Swedes.[1]

He was again wounded at Lützen in 1632, and on his recovery was made a major in his uncle's regiment. Shortly afterwards he became a lieutenant-colonel of cavalry. He did good service at the first battle of Nordlingen (1634), and at the storming of Kaiserslautern in the following year won his colonelcy by a feat of arms of unusual brilliance, a charge through the breach at the head of his heavy cavalry.[1]

He fought in Pomerania, Bohemia and Saxony (surprise of Wolmirstadt, battles of Wittstock and Chemnitz), and in 1639 he was taken prisoner at Melnik and detained for two and a half years in Stettin and Weimar. In captivity he studied military science, and also geometry by the way of Euclid, history of Tacitus, and Vitruvius' architecture, all the while planning his great work on war.[1]

Commanding officer[edit]

Returning to the field in 1642, Montecuccoli contributed to the relief of the besieged Brieg in Silesia under Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. He was appointed to Generalfeldwachtmeister[4] and allowed to temporarily leave the Imperial army in Winter 1642 to fight in the First War of Castro as cavalry commander for the Duke of Modena.[4][5][6][3]

The Castello di Montecuccolo

After his return from Italy in 1644, he was promoted to lieutenant-field-marshal and nominated as member of the Hofkriegsrat, the Imperial war council.[4] First substituting the diseased Melchior von Hatzfeldt in Franconia, he reinforced the main army under Matthias Gallas in late 1644 that was encircled by the Swedes at Bernburg after retreating from Holstein. Trying to break through the Swedish blockade, he escaped Swedish attacks in the battle of Jüterbog and evacuated parts of the imperial cavalry to Bohemia.[7][8]

In 1645–46, he served in Hungary against Prince Rákóczy of Transylvania, on the Danube and Neckar against the French, and in Silesia and Bohemia against the Swedes. In 1647, victory at the battle of Triebl in Bohemia won him the rank of General of Cavalry, and at the battle of Zusmarshausen in 1648 his stubborn rearguard fighting rescued the imperials from annihilation.[1][4]

For some years after the Peace of Westphalia, Montecuccoli was chiefly concerned with the business of the Hofkriegsrat, though he went to Flanders and England as the representative of the emperor, and to Sweden as the envoy of the pope to Queen Christina, and at Modena his lance was victorious in a great tourney.[1]

In 1657, he took part in the Habsburg expedition to support Poland–Lithuania against Prince Rákóczy, Charles X Gustav of Sweden and the Cossacks in the war known in Poland as The Deluge or elsewhere as the Second Northern War. During the conflict, he was promoted to field-marshal and succeeded Hatzfeldt as commander of the Habsburg troops.[1][4]

His army participated in the struggle in Denmark against the invading Swedes, along with Polish troops under Stefan Czarniecki, Frederick William of Brandenburg's army and Danish forces. Eventually the war ended with the Peace of Oliva in 1660 and Montecuccoli returned to his sovereign.[1]

From 1661 to 1664, Montecuccoli defended Austria against the Turks with inferior numbers. At St. Gotthard Abbey on the Rába, he defeated the Turks so comprehensively that they entered into a twenty-year truce. He was given the Order of the Golden Fleece, and he became president of the Hofkriegsrat and director of artillery in 1668. He also devoted much time to compiling his various works on military history and science. He opposed the progress of the French arms under Louis XIV, and when the inevitable war broke out he received command of the imperial forces. In the campaign of 1673 he completely outmanoeuvred his rival Turenne on the Neckar and the Rhine, captured Bonn and joined his army with that of William III, the prince of Orange on the lower Rhine.[1][4]

He retired from the army when, in 1674, the Great Elector was named commander in chief, but the brilliant successes of Turenne in the winter of 1674 and 1675 brought him back. For months the two famous commanders manoeuvred against each other in the Rhine valley, but on the eve of a decisive battle at Salzbach, Turenne was killed and Montecuccoli promptly invaded Alsace, where he engaged in another war of manoeuvre with the Great Condé.[1] At the end of the year 1675, Montecuccoli retired from active command due to his health and was succeeded by Charles of Lorraine.[4][7]

Retirement and death[edit]

The rest of Montecuccoli's life was spent in military administration and literary and scientific work at Vienna. In 1679 he received the dukedom of Melfi from the King of Spain.[1] He did not obtain the title Prince of the Holy Roman Empire until his death, first his son Leopold Philip Montecuccoli was made Prince in 1689.[7][9]

Montecuccoli died in an accident at Linz in October 1680.[1]


Count Raimondo Montecuccoli

As a general, Montecuccoli shared with Turenne and Condé the first place among European soldiers of his time. For his success in halting the Turkish advance he had been hailed the savior of Europe.[1] He was also influential as a military theorist, with perhaps his most famous quote being "For war you need three things: 1. Money. 2. Money. 3. Money."[10] His Memorie della guerra profoundly influenced the following period of warfare.[1] The Britannica names him "unequalled as a master of 17th-century warfare" because he "excelled in the art of fortification and siege, march and countermarch, and cutting his enemy’s lines of communications. In advocating standing armies, he clearly foresaw future trends in the military field".[11]


In 1657, Montecuccoli married Countess Margarethe de Dietrichstein.[1] With the death of his only son Leopold Philip in 1698 the lineage became extinct, but the title of count descended through his daughters to two branches, Austrian and Modenese.[1]


The Memorie della guerra was published at Venice in 1703 and at Cologne in 1704. A French edition was issued in Paris in 1712 and a Latin edition appeared in 1718 at Vienna, and the German Kriegsnachrichten des Fürsten Raymundi Montecuccoli was issued at Leipzig in 1736. Of this work there are manuscripts in various libraries, and many memoirs on military history, tactics, fortification, written in Italian, Latin and German, remain still unedited in the archives of Vienna. The collected Opere di Raimondo Montecuccoli were published at Milan (1807), Turin (1821) and Venice (1840), and include political essays and poetry.[1]


In 1934, the Italian navy launched the Raimondo Montecuccoli, a Condottieri class light cruiser named in his honour which served with the Regia Marina during World War II.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Chisholm 1911, p. 764.
  2. ^ Guthrie 2003, p. 239.
  3. ^ a b Neuhaus 1997, pp. 44–47.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Schinzl 1885, pp. 183–189.
  5. ^ Black 2002, p. 162.
  6. ^ Paoletti 2008, p. 28.
  7. ^ a b c Brunelli 2012.
  8. ^ Höbelt 2016, pp. 414–415.
  9. ^ Schreiber 2000, p. 268.
  10. ^ See Chapter 6 of Book 3, A Warriors Life (2013), Roger Gard's translation of Servitude et grandeur militaires by Alfred de Vigny along with Gard's notes.
  11. ^ EB Staff 2012.


  • Black, Jeremy (2002). European Warfare, 1494–1660. Routledge. p. 162.
  • Brunelli, Giampiero (2012). "Montecuccoli, Raimondo". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Volume 76: Montauti–Morlaiter (in Italian). Rome: Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana. ISBN 978-8-81200032-6.
  • EB Staff (2012). Raimondo Montecuccoli (Online ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica Inc.
  • Guthrie, William (2003). The Later Thirty Years War: From the Battle of Wittstock to the Treaty of Westphalia (Contributions in Military Studies). Praeger. ISBN 978-0313324086.
  • Höbelt, Lothar (2016). Von Nördlingen bis Jankau: Kaiserliche Strategie und Kriegsführung 1634-1645 (in German). Wien: Heeresgeschichtliches Museum. ISBN 978-3902551733.
  • Neuhaus, Helmut (1997), "Montecuccoli, Raimund Fürst von", Neue Deutsche Biographie (in German), vol. 18, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 44–47; (full text online)
  • Paoletti, Ciro (2008). A Military History of Italy. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 28.
  • Schinzl, Adolf (1885), "Montecuccoli, Raimund Fürst von", Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) (in German), vol. 22, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 183–189
  • Schreiber, Georg (2000). Raimondo Montecuccoli - Feldherr, Schriftsteller und Kavalier: ein Lebensbild aus dem Barock (in German). Graz: Styria. ISBN 978-3222128172.

External links[edit]