Marlborough’s heroics ended Louis XIV’s dream of controlling all of Europe. The French suffered 30,000 casualties. The French commander-in-chief, Marshall Tallard, was captured and hauled to England as a prisoner. There were still battles left to fight, but the battle of Blenheim was a huge turning point in history.
A grateful nation gave the 1st Duke of Marlborough the lands and the money to build a suitable tribute, a palace that would rival the Versailles of Louis XIV. In fact, the cavernous entry hall at Blenheim is as impressive as anything I’ve seen at Versailles. It’s more austere, though–suitable for the military theme of Blenheim. The palace was built in the English Baroque style, and contained 187 rooms. The construction was halted in 1711, after the Duchess of Marlborough had a terrible quarrel with Queen Anne. In fact, the Duke and Duchess had to go into temporary exile on the continent until the Queen died in 1714. After that, the Duke had to spend his own money to complete his palace.
Serious historians would not be much impressed by my analysis of the military situation. If I wanted to fully understand the War of the Spanish Succession and its many battles, I could study a large military exhibition at Blenheim Palace. I thought about the military exhibit on my recent visit, but the tearoom was calling my name.
Join me next time for more explorations in the art and history of Europe and the British Isles!