Eugene of Savoy

Eugene of Savoy, 1663–1736, prince of the house of Savoy, general in the service of the Holy Roman Empire. Born in Paris, he was the son of Eugène, comte de Soissons of the line of Savoy-Carignano, and Olympe Mancini, niece of Cardinal Mazarin. After being refused a commission in the French army by King Louis XIV, Eugene entered (1683) the service of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I against the Ottoman Turks. He fought bravely in the relief of Vienna and then in Hungary, where he helped in the capture of Belgrade (1688). By 1697, Eugene had been appointed imperial commander in Hungary, and at Zenta he annihilated the Turkish army. Faced with opposition in Vienna, he began to take a more active part in political affairs. He became (1700) a member of the emperor's privy council and (1703) president of the imperial war council. He was the principal imperial commander in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14; see Spanish Succession, War of the). In N Italy, Eugene was victorious over the French forces under Nicolas Catinat and the duke of Villeroi. In 1704 he joined the duke of Marlborough in Bavaria, and together they won the signal victory of Blenheim. Returning to Italy, Eugene fought (1705) an inconclusive battle at Cassano against his cousin, Louis Joseph de Vendôme. His invasion of Provence (1707) was a failure, owing to the inadequacy of his forces. In 1708, Eugene again cooperated with Marlborough in Flanders; the victories of Oudenarde (1708) and Malplaquet (1709) resulted. After the conclusion (1713) of the Peace of Utrecht (see Utrecht, Peace of) by England and France, Eugene continued to campaign on the Rhine against the French under Marshal Villars. Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI empowered him late in the year to negotiate with the war-weary French at Rastatt. The Peace of Rastatt (1714) complemented that of Utrecht. Eugene was made governor of the Austrian Netherlands (1715) and later imperial vicar in Italy. He again fought (1716–18) the Turks successfully, defeating them at Petrovaradin (1716) and at Belgrade (1717) and making possible the Austrian triumph marked by the Treaty of Passarowitz (1719). In the War of the Polish Succession, Eugene was made commander despite his advanced age. One of the greatest commanders in modern history, Prince Eugene was noted for his severe character and his hatred of Louis XIV as well as for his patronage of the arts.

See biography by N. Henderson (1965).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: German History: Biographies