Raimondo Montecuccoli

Raimondo, Count of Montecúccoli or Montecucculi (German: Raimondo Graf Montecúccoli; February 21, 1608 or 1609 - October 16 in Pavullo nel Frignano, near Modena, 1680 at Linz) was an Italian general who served as general for the Austrians, and was also prince of the Holy Roman Empire and Neapolitan duke of Melfi.


Montecuccoli was born in the castle of the same name in Pavullo nel Frignano, near Modena.

His family was of Burgundian origin and had settled in north Italy in the 10th century. At the age of sixteen Montecuccoli began as a private soldier under his uncle, Count Ernest Montecuccoli, a distinguished Austrian general (d. 1633). 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.

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.

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, not only military science, but also geometry in Euclid, history in Tacitus, and architecture in Vitruvius, and planned his great work on war.

On his release he distinguished himself again in Silesia. In 1643 he went to Italy, by the emperor's request. He was promoted lieutenant-field-marshal and obtained a seat in the council of war. 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. The victory of Triebel in Silesia won him the rank of general of cavalry, and at the battle of Zusmarshausen in 1648 his stubborn rearguard fighting rescued the imperialists from annihilation.

For some years after the Peace of Westphalia Montecuccoli was chiefly concerned with the business of the council of war, 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.

In 1657, soon after his marriage with Countess Margarethe de Dietrichstein, he took part in, and after a time commanded, an expedition against Rákóczy and the Swedes who had attacked the king of Poland. He became field-marshal in the imperial army, and with the Great Elector of Brandenburg completely defeated Rákóczy and his allies (peace of Oliva, 1660).

From 1661 to 1664 Montecuccoli with inferior numbers defended Austria against the Turks; but at St. Gotthard Abbey, on the Rába, he and Carl I. Ferdinand Count of Montenari defeated the Turks so completely that they made a truce for twenty years (Aug. 1, 1664). He was given the Order of the Golden Fleece, and became president of the council of war and director of artillery. He also devoted much time to the compilation of 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 received command of the imperial forces. In the campaign of 1673 he completely out-manoeuvred his great rival Turenne on the Neckar and the Rhine, and secured the capture of Bonn and the junction of his own army with that of the prince of Orange on the lower Rhine.

He retired from the army when, in 1674, the Great Elector was appointed to command 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 Turenne was killed and Montecuccoli promptly invaded Alsace, where he engaged in a war of manoeuvre with the Great Condé. The siege of Philipsburg was Montecuccoli's last achievement in war. The rest of his life was spent in military administration and literary and scientific work at Vienna. In 1679 the emperor made him a prince of the empire, and shortly afterwards he received the dukedom of Melfi from the king of Spain.

Montecuccoli died at Linz in October 1680, as the result of an accident. With the death of his only son in 1698 the principality became extinct, but the title of count descended through his daughters to two branches, Austrian and Modenese. As a general, Montecuccoli shared with Turenne and Condé the first place among European soldiers of his time. His Memorie della guerra profoundly influenced the age which followed his own; nor have modern conditions rendered the advice of Montcuccoli wholly valueless.

The Memorie della guerra was published at Venice in 1703 and at Cologne in the following year. A Latin edition appeared in 1718 at Vienna, a French version at Paris in 1712, and the German Kriegsnachrichten des Fürsten Raymundi Montecuccoli 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.

Montecuccoli noted one of the obvious problems from military conflict: "For war, you need three things 1. Money. 2. Money. 3. Money. Wars became much more expensive to fund as armies grew larger; they required more training and state investment to be effective.


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