One swallow doth not a summer make. Although the Duke of Marlborough won a great victory at Blenheim in 1704 in the war of the Spanish Succession, he was unable to capitalize on it in 1705. Given a year to recover his position Louis XIV felt he could at the very least bargain a better peace if he made a military demonstration.
With this in mind in the Spring of 1706 he launched campaigns in Italy and Germany with some success. On the back of the early gains he launched Marshal Villeroi from Leuven into the Netherlands. At Ramillies he met John Churchill, hungering for an opportunity to deal decisively with the French.
The French, Spanish & Bavarian alliance collided with Churchill’s English, Scottish, Dutch and Danish army on open flat farmland near the village of Ramillies. The ground was a flat canvas, the perfect medium on which a skilled general could dictate a battle. In four hours the Duke of Marlborough demonstrated why he was the greatest general in the world in his day. 23rd May is the anniversary of the battle.
The beauty of such a decisive win early in the campaign season is what happened next. Malines, Lierre, Ghent, Alost, Damme, Oudenaarde, Bruges, and on 6 June Antwerp, all subsequently fell to Marlborough’s victorious army. The Spanish Netherlands was Spanish no more.
I wrote this post last night, before the news leaked through of the explosion at the Manchester arena. This morning we hear that 22 people lost their lives and over 50 have been injured in a suicide bomb blast. Some of the casualties were children, which is no surprise in the audience of the Ariana Grande Dangerous Woman show. A lone suicide bomber was responsible.
I hate to jump to conclusions without the full facts, but it has all the hallmarks of Islamic extremism. John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, had the benefit of a defined enemy with stated aims. His opponents decked their troops in uniforms and lined them up on fields of battle. Islamic extremists have no country. Their aim appears to be the destruction of all that is not Islam. They are happy to die to achieve this aim and have a constant supply of suicide bombers. They are happy to slaughter innocent children to pursue their goals. They are happy to recruit impressionable teenagers, and indoctrinate them in madrasas converting them into weapons of flesh and bone. How do you deal with such people?
I think Ariana Grande herself said all that can be said: