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Daniel Hohrath / Christoph Rehm (Hgg.): Zwischen Sonne und Halbmond. Der Türkenlouis als Barockfürst und Feldherr, Rastatt: Vereinigung der Freunde des Wehrgeschichtlichen Museums Schloß Rastatt 2005, 260 S., zahlr. Abb., ISBN 978-3-9810460-0-7, EUR 18,50
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Rezension von:
Peter Wilson
University of Sunderland
Redaktionelle Betreuung:
Michael Kaiser
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Peter Wilson: Rezension von: Daniel Hohrath / Christoph Rehm (Hgg.): Zwischen Sonne und Halbmond. Der Türkenlouis als Barockfürst und Feldherr, Rastatt: Vereinigung der Freunde des Wehrgeschichtlichen Museums Schloß Rastatt 2005, in: sehepunkte 6 (2006), Nr. 3 [15.03.2006], URL:

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Diese Rezension ist Teil des Forums "Militärgeschichte der Frühen Neuzeit" in Ausgabe 6 (2006), Nr. 3

Daniel Hohrath / Christoph Rehm (Hgg.): Zwischen Sonne und Halbmond

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Markgraf Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden (1655-1707) has remained in the historical shadow of his better-known younger cousin, Prince Eugene of Savoy. He is remembered today chiefly as a general of the second rank in the great wars against the French and Ottomans in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. He appears in Anglophone writing largely as the Duke of Marlborough's rather slow-footed assistant during the famous Blenheim campaign of 1704. That battle has entered European history as a major event of the War of the Spanish Succession, securing the reputation of Marlborough and Prince Eugene as the greatest generals of their age. Ludwig Wilhelm, meanwhile, was forty miles away busy with the largely-forgotten siege of Ingolstadt. His principal military achievement was the victory over the Ottoman Turks at Slankamen in 1691; the action that made his name as Türkenlouis. But this triumph did not end the war, unlike Eugene's victory at Zenta in 1697, and today his Turkish associations are as much cultural, as military, preserved in the rich collection of Ottoman fabrics and artefacts looted from the battlefield.

However, historical reputations are fickle, heavily dependent on what each generation deems worthy of remembering from its past. This becomes clear from the lavishly-illustrated catalogue that accompanied the exhibition held between 8 April and 25 September 2005 to mark the 350th anniversary of Ludwig Wilhelm's birth. Appropriately, this took place in his own palace in Rastatt that is now home to the Wehrgeschichtliches Museum. The catalogue brings together eleven essays by eight authors concentrating on the military and political aspects of Türkenlouis' life and times.

In the first of his two pieces, Christian Greiner discusses Ludwig Wilhelm's birth, upbringing and education. His father's well-laid plans were disrupted by the series of European wars associated with the ambitions of Louis XIV's France. Its situation at the south-west corner of the Empire placed the margraviate of Baden-Baden on the front line, exposing it to invasion and devastation. Given the role that war would play in his life, it was no disadvantage that the young Ludwig Wilhelm spent more time with soldiers than teachers. Greiner continues this theme in his essay on the margrave as ruler after his accession in 1678, identifying him as a man at the heart of imperial politics and a major figure in the Habsburg clientel. Considering the international circumstances, Greiner concludes that Türkenlouis took the only course available and served the emperor loyally in the hope that the rewards would compensate his territory for the damage that war inevitably entailed. However, loyalty and talent were not sufficient, and Baden-Baden lacked the resources to make its ruler more useful to the emperor who reserved his greatest favours for those princes with larger, more potent lands.

The other essays reflect the two principal aspects of the margrave's military career that saw him first fighting against the Turks in Hungary until 1692, and then as commander on the Upper Rhine defending the imperial frontier against France. Max Plassmann's two essays succinctly summarise his more extensive publications on Türkenlouis' role in defending the Rhine and on the Swabian and Franconian Kreistruppen who formed the bulk of the soldiers under his command. Nineteenth-century military historians depreciated the significance of positional warfare and overlooked the achievements of both the soldiers and their general.

Christoph Rehm provides an overview of the Great Turkish War of 1683-99 that made Ludwig Wilhelm's name, concentrating on the strategic and logistical problems facing him and the other imperial commanders. The battle of Slankamen is used as an example to illustrate the methods of fighting and Türkenlouis' abilities as a field commander. Kai Uwe Tapken provides a useful summary of the Turkish army, but his essay ranges so broadly across the Ottoman period that there is little detail on the force that faced Türkenlouis. Bernhard R. Kroener's piece on the French army is more substantial and addresses the current debate surrounding the extent to which senior French commanders were able to exercise initiative within an absolutist political system. This question is also explored in depth by Roland Vetter who uses the examples of three figures involved in the French invasion and devastation of the Palatinate in 1688-9. Vetter agrees with Kroener that the desire to subordinate the French army to royal control stifled initiative and compelled the king to tolerate incompetent officers provided they toed the line.

The remaining essays shift the focus towards the perception of war and its remembrance. Joachim Niemeyer analyses the depiction of western and central European warfare on tapestries, concluding that these concentrated on those aspects of war that a good general was expected to master. Reinhard W. Sänger traces the history of the rich collection of Turkish booty from its capture by Türkenlouis to its display in Karlsruhe in the early twentieth century. This essay is accompanied by an intriguing portrait of the margrave in Turkish costume, painted around 1700. Wearing the clothes of a defeated foe is a recurring theme in human conflict and would make an excellent subject for a more detailed study.

The concluding essay by Christoph Rehm returns to the question of Türkenlouis' reputation, demonstrating that this was highest during the Wilhemine era when his defence of the Rhine was presented as a precursor to national defence against the 'hereditary enemy' across the river. The catalogue section fills over a third of the volume and includes arms and armour, equipment, maps and plans, contemporary painting and engravings, as well as some items from the Turkish booty. Many of the items have long been on display at the Wehrgeschichtliches Museum, but the exhibition brought together other, lesser known or accessible pieces from over twenty other private and public collections. The brief but informative text prepared by the two editors is accompanied by a generous range of superb colour photographs that make the volume a valuable resource for anyone interested in the military or cultural history of the period.

Peter Wilson