4
   

Sad, Sad, but Funny France

 
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2004 12:54 am
As a probable aside, but anent a part of an early Lusatian post on this thread, I pick up the mantle of those folks who are not always surpreme in battle, may even be laughable at it, French or otherwise. Sometimes those people have been overridden by lords and knights and emperors and kings hither and thither, and the men and women on the land lose interest in the whole, if they ever had an interest in the whole, especially in such internecine tangles as the guelfs and ghibbelines (italy), typical of matters messing up regular life.

In my reading I have picked up that italians prize family over government any day, from vast experience.

Yes, their battle vigor is laughed at in recent years. It is a big part of why I appreciate them, the seemingly congenital different emphasis.
Orjan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 10:11 am
Setanta wrote:
A cogent point Walter--at the beginning to the career of the insane Charels XII, before the Great Northern War broke out, Sweden controlled Pomerania, Stettin, Stralsund, Courland, Livonia, Ingria, Karelia and Finnland as territories outside their present boundaries. They had lost it all except for Stralsund by the time Charels XII finally escaped the Turks and returned to Sweden.

Setanta, you surprise me when you accuse Charles XII to be insane. Charles XII is a very controversial figure in Swedish history and he has been very mistreated by some historians, and by others been regarded almost as a demigod, but he can definitely not be called insane. On the in his time he was widely regarded to be intelligent, tolerant and having a calm temperament, and of course being a very able military commander.

There are people who stop at nothing to portray him as a bad person. The reason of this is the fact that he lost the war and thus ended Sweden´s age of greatness. But by doing so they ignore his real personality and do not take in consideration what a great challenge the defence of Sweden was when it was attacked by Denmark-Norway, Saxony, Russia, Prussia and Hanover.

Please read the books "Charles XII" by Ragnhild Marie Hatton or "The Northern Wars: 1558-1721" by Robert Frost. They provide a much more favorably opinion of Charles XII then those who rely on prejudices from 19th century Swedish historians.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 11:13 am
Ed Toner

I'm sure, you noticed that and what you agreed at when signing here.

Actually, I think, this is the worst personal attack I've ever seen ... not only here.

And the most childish as well.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 11:22 am
OK, i'll acknowledge that insane is not a fair characterization--to the extent that any comments on a putative mental pathology for the boy would be purely speculative. I will also not that you added the emphasis to my quote, not i--it wasn't important to what i was writing, and if it gave needless offense, you have my sincere apology. I would not rate him an able military commander, however. I consider that he was one of history's premier battlefield commanders; i also consider that he lacked both political and strategic perspective, and to a fatal extent. I'll be happy to explain why.

When the great northern began, Charles very appropriately knocked the Danes out of the war immediately. Although i don't know that it was your purpose, your listing of it as Denmark-Norway is rather misleading for a modern reader without an understanding to the political situation at the time. When Charles finally returned to Stockholm (1714, 1715?) after the fall of Stralsund, he invaded Norway. This when all that would have been necessary against Denmark was a minor defense. The invasion was a pointless waste of Swedish lives and resources, and that it cost Charles his life was arguably more to the benefit of the nation. The way you hae described Sweden's enemies at the beginning of the war suggest a vast and powerful array threatened them. In fact, Denmark was a feeble partner, and Norway was only a part of the equation when invaded.

The participation of the Prussians in the seige of Stralsund was a case of a "weaselly" type of action on the part of Frederick I, trying to rush in to pick up some spoils of war without risking a great deal. Seriously attacked itself at any time before the conclusion of the War of the Spanish Succession, Brandenburg would have been in a very bad position, as great many Prussian troops were hired out to Marlborough's coalition for that war. Prussia was only prepared to make war upon an nearly supine Sweden, whose resources had already been squandered in the disasterous in invasion of the Ukraine.

Saxony had very little to contribute to the war, apart from the idiot who started it, Augustus the Strong. Certainly Saxon troops fought--but having cozened Petr Alexeevitch into joining his coalition, Augustus just became a dead weight on the Russian war effort. Augustus' position as th elected King of Poland made no difference in his war effort.

It did however, make a difference in Charles' use of his military resources. Having knocked the Danes out of the war, Charles hurried to the Baltic coast of Courland and Livonia, now threatened by the Russians laying seige to Narva. Charles' march against the Russians was quite a gamble, and he only pulled off his successful relief of Narva owing to some very good fortune. The Russians of the feudal levy and the Streltsy both folded like a house of cards. But the Russian regiments organized on the western European model, with western officers, managed to hold a position even after the Swedes had penetrated the Russian field fortifications. To the north, the Semyenovsky and Preobrezhensky Guards also fought the Swedes to a standstill. Absent the benefit of the snowstorm and the darkness, Charles could have found himself in a very bad position.

However, having driven the Russians away from Narva, Charles dismissed them as a threat and turned to Poland. This was a disastrerous decision on his part, and i believe that events bear out that judgment on my part. Menshikov and Sheremetev were raiding extensively in Ingria, Livonia and Courland within a month of the debacle at Narva. In the following year, the Swedes in the Baltic provinces were thrown on the defensive, and Sheremtev's horsemen owned the countryside. By 1703, Petr had sufficiently repaired his military resources to take Notebur, and then immediately advance down the Neva to the sea. With the unimpeded and unconstested foundation of St. Petersburg, the Russians had established an operational base from which to threaten not only Ingria, Karelia and Finnland, but Sweden herself.

During these years, Charles ran a wild goose chase to hunt down Augustus, and especially to get his hands on Johan Patkul. Charles became obsessive about what was militarily insignificant, and gave the Russians a nearly free hand to rebuild form their losses at Narva, and to create a military with which Sweden was ultimately unable to deal. And this because of Charles's obsession to capture, torture and execute Patkul. He basically gave the Russians seven years in which to prepare for his coming.

And when he came, showing all of his speed, skill and decision in campaigning, and his flare for incredibly stupid strategic moves, he plunged first toward Moscow, and then into the Ukraine. Moving through Courland and Livonia, he would have been moving along a safe line of communications and moving toward a junction with Lowenhaupt. He could easily have threatened St. Petersburg; he could easily have laid seige to Narva and retaken it, supplied through Livonia and Ingria, or directly from the sea. Invading Russia is not a good idea in the best of times, but Charles certainly showed a flair for bad decisions.

When he decided to veer south and east, he sent Lowenhaupt unrealistic orders for a rendezvous with badly needed reinforcements and supplies. He then moved more to the southeast, increasing the distance between himself and Lowenhaupt, when that officer had already been given orders to join which were outside the realm of probabilty, even without Menshikov and Sheremetev dogging the Swedes' every step. The quixotic dash to join Mazzepa can only have been based upon a real ignorance of the political situation among the Don Cossacks, and the likelihood of their abandoning an alliance with Petr for one with him (as in, not at all bloody likely).

I consider that for all his excellence as a battlefield commander in the deployment of his troops and the personal leadership of those troops, Charles lacked the focus necessary to achieve his military ends. The years he wasted trying to chase down Augustus and Patkul, and playing a silly game to put his own candidate on the throne of a hostile Poland cost him the war because it ignored the reality of the balance of the threats which he faced. Augustus contributed very little to the war, and constantly asked Petr for handouts and for more Russian troops to operate in Poland. Turning on Saxony before having concluded the defeat of the Russians was fatal; his subsequent attempt to renew the war in Norway seems to me but more evidence of his lack of a sense of proportion, of what was possible, as opposed to simply what his pride and vanity lead him to. Without the destruction of the main Swedish army at Poltava, i rather doubt the Denmark would have been interested in renewing the conflict, and Prussian and Hanover were only involved to the extent that, vulture-like, they could sense the death of the Swedish empire.

Charles XII hurt Sweden very badly at a time when a judicious series of campaigns might have retained most or even all of her former empire. Instead, Charles squandered Swedish lives and resources in what was basically a set of decisions based upon personal resentments and a desire for vengeance, untempered by a realistic assessment of how best to get that vengeance. That he was great militarily in many respects, i would not deny. That he was one of history's "Great Captains," i do not accept. I don't think he had even a significant fraction of the perspective and overall view of the Duke of Marlborough, or particularly of Prince Eugene of Savoy, considered at that time to be the greatest soldier of his age. In none of this do i write to give you offense. I will repeat my apoloby for having carelessly characterized Charles as insane, when i have no reason to state as much. As speculation, i suggest that he was mentally unstable, and lacked maturity and judgment.

Thank you for the reading references, i always appreciate those.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 11:29 am
Ed Toner wrote:
Sofia:

Votre mère est une . . .


I won't repeat the gross slanders which you have heaped on Sofia and on Lusatian. I like and respect Sofia; i don't particularly like Lusatian, and that is something which in no way authorizes the sorts of foul things you have written. I've reported your post to the moderator, with a translation of the opening lines, so that the moderator, if not literate in French, can see just what kind of sewage it is with which you have befouled this thread.
0 Replies
 
Vivien
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 11:35 am
Acquiunk wrote:
What about Hastings (1066). That's why you eat roast not baked beef.


beef is French too (boeuf) English would presumably have eaten baked cow?
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 11:36 am
Well, although I don't go confirm with Sofia at most points, I've reported that earlier ... and hoped on some educated moderator :wink:
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 11:39 am
Vivien wrote:


beef is French too (boeuf) English would presumably have eaten baked cow?


You might be very correct, Vivien

cow <> beef
swine <> pork
sheep <> mutton


Vivien in "before 1066 English" would be ...? :wink:
0 Replies
 
Vivien
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 12:08 pm
Very Happy


mmm complex answer and way beyond my knowledge of history and the development of language. multiple broad dialects and separate languages i would think - I know even now different dialects have problems understanding each other!

Melvyn Bragg wrote a fascinating book on the origins of English ( I bought it for my mother for Christmas and intend to borrow it).
0 Replies
 
Ed Toner
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 12:09 pm
Can you imagine where science, art, and literature would be without the work of these people?

The contributions of René Descartes to math and philosophy; are the contributions of Blaise Pascal; Voltaire; the ideas of existentialism in the works of Jean Paul Sartre; the contributions of the Brothers Lumiere; the contributions of Pierre & Marie Curie. What about Louis Pasteurs, the man who launched the field of microbiology? How about Louis de Broglie, a physicist who won the Nobel prize in 1929?
MV Queen Mary II. Largest cruise ship in the world, and the most advanced in technology and engineering. She is being built by the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in Normandy. The SS Normandy by the way held Le Cordon Bleu for transatlantic passages before the war.

Our own history is full of French help.
. If it were not for French assistance, there would be no USA, no Congress, no Senate, no Constitution. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry , et al would have been hanged.

The Marquis de Lafayette, who left wife, fortune, and, high social position to serve the cause of liberty. Popular with the American officers and a great favorite of General Washington, the young Marquis was an able general and played an important part in the defeat of the British General Cornwallis in the final campaign of the Revolution. It was French Adm. Compte de Grasse whose fleet twice turned back the RN in their efforts to re-supply Cornwallis at Yorktown. These incidents are just a small part of what the French did to help us from the scourge of Perfidious Albion, which had hired foreign mercenaries to murder Americans.

The Statue of liberty is weeping with shame.

Viva la France!
0 Replies
 
Orjan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 12:15 pm
Setanta, I dont have the time to initiate a long discussion, so I will not reply your version of the history of the Great Northern War. I am just going to inform you that your version is called "the old school" in Sweden and it originated in the 19th century. It is today some what outdated.

Modern scholars, like the ones I mentioned, gives a more favorably opinion of Charles XII:s strategic thinking. For exampel: The saxon army are regarded as the most dangerus enemy to Sweden in the early years, and had to be dealt with first. The baltic front was never abandoned, it contained more Swedish soldiers than the Polish front. The Swedish superiority in the early years have been overestimated, no peace with status quoe conditions was ever a possibility for Sweden. The target of the invasion of Russia was the best strategic choise. The invasion of Norway was dictated by common sence, Sweden needed to improve its position at the negotions table.

Again, read the books i recommended, they will give you a more balanced view. I really dont have the time to embark on a discussion with a convinced "old schooler", those discussions can last an eternity.

And by the way, whats is wrong with the term Denmark-Norway? Denmark and Norway were two independet kingdoms ruled by the same king. Calling Denmark-Norway just Denmark is like saying England instead of Great Britain.
0 Replies
 
oldandknew
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 12:22 pm
Living just a short distance from France, I've become used too France's funny little ways. They often throw a moody if they don't get their own way. Stamping their collective foot, sitting atop their high horse, throwing their toys out out of the baby carriage before dissapearing up their own backsides.
The Latic blood boils quite easely & they'll argue black is white all day long.
You wouldn't want them having to score a home run off the last ball to win the World Series.

Having said all of that, I like France & have been going their quite regularly for a good many years. Never had any bad times over there & as long as you don't expect them to automaticaly speak English, it's ok. You have to make an effort to be understood & respect the fact that it's France and not Anglo Saxonland.
It does seem at times, in reply to a request you make, as tho they are saying --- Yes you can have your car fixed,,, either this week, next week or some time never.

Going back to past French military cock ups, don't forget Indo-China (Vietnam circa 1955) and Algieria circa 1960.
Dents in the body of French pride are left to fester for all time, unlike the dents in the body of your run of the mill Chevy..........................
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 12:25 pm
Ã-rjan wrote:
And by the way, whats is wrong with the term Denmark-Norway? Denmark and Norway were two independet kingdoms ruled by the same king. Calling Denmark-Norway just Denmark is like saying England instead of Great Britain.


You mean the "UK" and not 'Great Britain', don't you? :wink:

And why did you shorten "Denmark-Norway-Island" to just "Denmark-Norway"? :wink:
0 Replies
 
oldandknew
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 12:30 pm
Hi Walter -------- what's the German & French view on Brother Blair's decision to hold a vote on the Euro Constitution ?
And will you guys go for a vote as well ?

It's all going to take a long time and be as exciting as watching paint dry, unless the French throw a moody and stamp the collective foot.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 12:33 pm
Well, we can't, if we respect our constitution.

And as far as I know the French constitutional law, it's not that clear there.

(Here, in Germany, it's only the parliament which can decide such.)
0 Replies
 
Orjan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 12:38 pm
Walter Hinteler wrote:

And why did you shorten "Denmark-Norway-Island" to just "Denmark-Norway"? :wink:

Because Iceland since 1263 was a part of the norwegian kingdom. Smile

Norway had its own law, its own army and it was usually ruled by a stadtholder who belonged to the royal family. The term Denmark-Norway is therefore a more official one then just Denmark alltough most people say just Denmark. The only misleading with the term Denmark-Norway is that some historians have been influenced to call the contemporary Swedish monarchy for Sweden-Finland, wich is completely wrong.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 01:22 pm
Ã-rjan wrote:
Setanta, I dont have the time to initiate a long discussion, so I will not reply your version of the history of the Great Northern War. I am just going to inform you that your version is called "the old school" in Sweden and it originated in the 19th century. It is today some what outdated.


Yes, i'm sure the Swedes put as flattering a construction upon the events of the Great Northern War as is consistent with a normal pride in one's people. Perhaps it is easier in a republic to disavow the actions and the character of the supreme exectutive than in a monrachy. I frankly don't care what modern Swedish scholars think on the subject, if it were to appear to me that they were just acting the apologist for a brilliant man, who was saddly more flawed than brilliant. My "version" of the history of that war is based upon reading modern history and biography, so your appeal to authority here is predicated upon a false premise about what leads me to write what i've written.

Quote:
Modern scholars, like the ones I mentioned, gives a more favorably opinion of Charles XII:s strategic thinking. For exampel: The saxon army are regarded as the most dangerus enemy to Sweden in the early years, and had to be dealt with first. The baltic front was never abandoned, it contained more Swedish soldiers than the Polish front. The Swedish superiority in the early years have been overestimated, no peace with status quoe conditions was ever a possibility for Sweden. The target of the invasion of Russia was the best strategic choise. The invasion of Norway was dictated by common sence, Sweden needed to improve its position at the negotions table.


Yes, if someone were intent upon justifing Charles' decisions, i'm sure it would do well to attempt to establish a contention that the Saxon army were highly thought of. You'll note that i have criticized Charles for having failed to well assess the potential of the Russians. The large numbers of Swedes in the Baltic provinces had little meaning when they were shut up in fortresses and port cities. The Russians freely roamed the countryside, and there was a constant petite guerre which occupied Swedish troops and used Swedish resources, while denying to Sweden a considerable source of her resources. At Breitenfels, the Saxon army proved its excellence sufficiently to unceremoniously decamp, abaondoning Gustav Adolf and the Swedes. There is nothing in the performance of the Saxons between 1631 and 1700 to have justified any such estimation to the mind of someone carefully assessing the potential threats. Charles allowed the Semyenovsky and Preobrezhensky Guards to march away from Narva, as well as a great many of the troops in the regularly organized regiments. The loss of the Streltsy was a positive advantage to the Russian war effort. A commander who does not lie to himself could not have failed to see that the defeated Russian army was marching away, as strong as or stronger in man-power than the Swedes who had defeated them. Charles had already been free to come to the aid of Narva because the Saxons were quiescent, and i don't agree that a realistic assessment would have seen them as a greater threat than the Russians. You point out yourself that fewer troops were needed in Poland than in Courland and Livonia, which ought to have been a wake-up call for the King as to where the credible threat lay. My point is and remains that Charles lacked the greatness and range of vision, the perspective, which sets the greatest military men apart from the merely brialliant leaders. If as you allege, the conventional wisdom considered the (to my mind, laughable) Saxon army the greatest threat, than Charles at the least stands indicted of having failed to rise above a conventional view. Hardly the hallmark of a "Great Captain."

Quote:
Again, read the books i recommended, they will give you a more balanced view. I really dont have the time to embark on a discussion with a convinced "old schooler", those discussions can last an eternity.


Well, that was a pretty cheap shot: "I deny everything you've written, and i refute it thus, but i don't want to get into a discussion." You've no more reason to categorize me as an "old-schooler" than i would to suggest that you simply will hear no criticism of a Swedish military hero. How about this, when we discuss such a topic, let us assume each of the other that we are well-informed, and hold differing views. Your "old school" comments, delivered in this dismissive manner, have the character of an ad hominem argument, in that you basically say its not worth discussing with me. You've written quite a bit for someone unwilling to discuss the topic.

Quote:
And by the way, whats is wrong with the term Denmark-Norway? Denmark and Norway were two independet kingdoms ruled by the same king. Calling Denmark-Norway just Denmark is like saying England instead of Great Britain.


Well, actually, i do usually say England rather than Great Britain--i see no good reason to assume that the English speak authoritatively for the Scot and the Welsh, than to assume the reverse. As for Denmark-Norway, those unfamiliar with the history of monarchy in Scandanavia might assume that the resources of two determined nations were arrayed against Sweden--and nothing can be futher from the truth. Norway's part in that war was that of victim, and your list there suggests that at the outset Charles faced the combined resources and military of Denmark, Norway, Russia, Saxony, Hanover and Prussia. In fact, Norway does not enter the equation, as i noted earlier, until well after Swedish power was destroyed, and that because of Charles' failure to effectively deal with the Russians. The same is true of Hanover and Prussia, which both were involved in the War of the Spanish Succession until well after Charles' army had been destroyed at Poltava. Given the resources available to Charles in 1699, a simple comparison of the career of Gustav Adolf to Charles XII throws Charles' claim to fame into a bad light. Frankly, Charles made a bad situation worse, and made one ill-considered and rash decision after the other, and deluded himself on more than one occasion into believing what he would have liked to believe as opposed to attempting a realistic assessment of his situation. I remain unimpressed with his record, apart from direct personal command on the field of battle.

If you truly do not want to discuss this with someone you dismiss as an "old schooler," you simply need not reply. You might enjoy the thought perhaps, of me lurching along, in my characteristic "unbalanced" manner.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 01:30 pm
Oh, and i wanted to point out that the contention about invading Norway to "improve the negotiating position" gave me a good laugh. With Russian galleys moving freely throught the islands around Stockholm, and landing cavalry to raid the Swedish countryside virtually to the gates of Stockholm, i consider that at that point, Sweden--thanks to Charles' foolishness--had no bargaining position it need have worried about.
0 Replies
 
Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 01:34 pm
Without the French, we may never have even been a country.
0 Replies
 
Ed Toner
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2004 02:04 pm
Lightwizard - Correct.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, EVERYONE! - Discussion by OmSigDAVID
WIND AND WATER - Discussion by Setanta
Who ordered the construction of the Berlin Wall? - Discussion by Walter Hinteler
True version of Vlad Dracula, 15'th century - Discussion by gungasnake
ONE SMALL STEP . . . - Discussion by Setanta
History of Gun Control - Discussion by gungasnake
Where did our notion of a 'scholar' come from? - Discussion by TuringEquivalent
 
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.04 seconds on 06/19/2021 at 06:44:00