Sunday, 1 February 2009


I try really hard not to use this term. Why? Well don't get me started as to why I don't like John Churchill but mainly I think it's outdated and unhelpful. For a start it needlessly divides a period that doesn't need dividing. We don't refer to the Wellingtonic era for 1812-15 and so I feel the Anglocentric creation of an 'age of Marlborough' to be confusing - it's not so different to the War of the Grand Alliance to make a differentiation necessary. Most of the images we associate with this concept 'Marlburian' are generally from the decades after - tapestries, commemorative art and so on also create an anachronistic vision of an era that never existed. The images we associate with the term 'Marlburian' are for the most part wrong. There are literally only 2 images of redcoats of the early 18th century from the actual time. Wargames figure designers haven't helped - they seem to think there was a directive passed round on 1 January 1700 that the informal hat is henceforth replaced by a tricorn. Plug bayonets and matchlocks were still in use by large numbers at Blenheim in 1704. Certainly there are differences between say 1709 and 1685 but by and large these changes were organic and the individuals involved were of the same generation. I'm not saying that a British regiment of 1708 isn't Marlburian but there isn't a Marlburian period - that implies Britain to have been a more dominant cultural force than it was.
Pic is a detail from the Execution of deserters at Meldert Camp 1707 Marcellus Laroon.


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

..I think you may underestimate the quite astonishing impact that the news of the victories at Belnheim and Oudenarde had on British society - the bells rang and there were national church services of thanksgiving... Marlburian does it for me... in the same way as Napoleonic does.... :o))

Anonymous said...

What are those 2 period images you write about?

Anonymous said...

Marlborough was much more than the premier military leader of this age, he was in fact the primary political foil for Louis and his ambitions to catholicize Europe. He was as deft at putting (and keeping alliances) together as he was in winning battles. The War of the Spanish Succession guaranteed Britain's place as the emerging maritime power in Europe replacing Holland. In this sense naming this period after its greatest leader is most appropriate!

Richard Kachur

Anonymous said...

Frankly I agree with the original post. "Marlburian" conjures the wrong image. While he might have great effect for the British, the contribution is far less for everyone else. It is a stupid term that needs to be resigned to the history dustbin.