Book Review: Fontenoy 1745

Osprey Publishing’s recent release, Fontenoy 1745, retells the story of the War of Austrian Succession’s most famous battle. An Anglo-Dutch-Hanoverian force commanded by the Duke of Cumberland came face to face with Marechal de Saxe’s French forces in the small Belgian town of Fontenoy, just outside Tournai. Written by Michael McNally and illustrated by Sean O’Brogain, this book opens up a near-forgotten war in Europe’s history.

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Osprey Publishing’s new book: Fontenoy 1745

Praise: Cumberland’s tactical errors are pointed out bluntly, and rightfully so. The book makes its statements of how the Anglo-Dutch forces were uninformed and very strong-willed to their plans. Saxe’s flexibility and use of multiple columns is depicted in a few maps and really shows what a complex network the French general made. There are also reconstructed uniforms in the book of many units of interest such as the Mousquetaires du Roi of the French army. On-site photographs are always great, but McNally manages to capture the correct weather too. His misty pictures clearly show how hard it was for the early-morning attacks troops made. Osprey Publishing always do a good introduction to a topic, and the War of Austrian Succession is covered briefly and provides a solution to any confusion one may have about what the British or the French fighting in Belgium has to do with the Austrian throne.

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British and French Guards clash at Fontenoy

Criticism: The two battle maps in the book felt boxy too me. While 18th century warfare was very rigid in its structure, the maps feel odd and seem to exaggerate the number of troops on the field with huge blocks of infantry. The illustrations could also have been placed better in the book, as you find a picture of the French Irish Brigade about 10 pages after you hear about their attack.

The War of Austrian Succession is mostly overlooked, but it still remains a very important war. Maria Theresa kept her claims to the throne, and it eventually led to the Seven Years’ War. Saxe’s strategies influenced Napoleon Bonaparte later in the early 19th century. Seeing the British defeat as an opportunity, the Jacobite Rebellion sprang up in Scotland. While the Battle of Fontenoy was 3 years before the end of the war, it remains a turning point, and a remarkable French victory over the British, Hanoverians, and Dutch.

Rating: 4/5

Book Review: Dutch Armies of the 80 Years’ War 1568-1648 (1)


This book, published by Osprey Publishing, discusses the Dutch Infantry in the wars against the Spanish from 1568-1648. The author, Bouko de Groot, is a graduate of Leiden Clog 1University and served in the Royal Netherlands Army. He outlines the drastic changes that Maurice of Nassau brought to the Dutch military, and later, to the world of pike and shot.
Maurice’s revolutionary tactics are explained well and presented in diagrams drawn by the author. The 80 Years’ War is divided among three separate wars: the Civil War, the War for Independence, and the Coalition War. There is a map of all the locations of battles presented in the book, and de Groot relates tactics and soldiers with examples of certain battles during the wars. The uniforms are covered well, and the author will be releasing a second book about 
the Dutch cavalry, engineers, and artillery later on. 

Praise: I was very pleased with this book, as it uses prints from the era to show some intriguing elements of the Dutch forces. One interesting part of this book is de Groot’s “Regimental Genealogy” which tells you what regiments (Dutch and foreign) served in the Dutch forces at the time. The illustrated plates of the soldiers and their descriptions were very well done by Gerry and Sam Embleton, and it conveys the wide array of weaponry and uniforms that were used in the 80 Years War. There is also an interesting set of illustrations of flags throughout the war. I appreciated the descriptions of the changes in Dutch tactics, and how they affected those of the Germans, English, and Swedes in the 30 Years War, English Civil War, and other battles of the time.

Criticism: Most of my criticism for this book is purely based on my lack of knowledge of the pike and shot era of warfare. De Groot does not explain to you what a “caliver” is, so I looked it up myself, and discovered it was an early musket that had a standardized bore so it was easier to load. These soon were replaced with the matchlock. I felt as if the uniforms could have been described in more detail, perhaps by giving examples of some period dress the units would have worn.

Overall, this book was a great introduction to the 80 Years War, and the development of warfare during the 16th and 17th centuries. I was very pleased, and would definitely say it is worth purchasing if you are interested in that time period, or would like to learn more about tactics of that period as well as the uniforms of Dutch infantry themselves.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you would like to read de Groot’s interview with Osprey Publishing, you can find it here

If you would like to purchase “Dutch Armies of the 80 Years’ War”, click here