Patron of the Arts

Without the Archbishop of Salzburg we may never have heard of Mozart.  Without the sponsorship of Pope Julius would we know of Michelangelo?   Since time immemorial the greatest contribution a rich person could make to society was to sponsor artists.  The greatest accolade must go to the patrons of the arts without whom there would be no art.

Become a Patron now!

The beauty of the modern world is that everyone can now rise to the lofty heights.  Anyone can become a patron of the arts thanks to the Crowdfunding movement.

Here is a perfect example.  The Randomer  A movie being filmed in Dublin, Ireland.  For as little as $10 you can become a backer to the project.  You get to become a creator, an owner of a piece of Cinema.  You can build a legacy.

That may sound a little grand, but think about it for a while.  John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, built a palace a Blenheim, and created a legacy which turned up Winston Churchill to lead Britain to victory in WW2.  A legacy is more about values than wealth.  It is a way  to educate your children and grand children about the values prized by you and your peers.

You may not be able to build Blenheim palace, but you can have a movie poster on your wall.  You can say to your grandchildren, “That movie was made because of my contribution”.  The money is different, but the message is just as compelling.

Buy the movie poster here

Best of all is the personal buzz you get from becoming a patron.  The money you contribute gives you a warm fuzzy feeling.  The more you give the longer the feeling lasts.  So think no further, get funding now!  Put your name in lights, or be anonymous, the choice is yours.  Be a part of something great!

And now I give you a poem from one of the greatest artists in history, both in and out of the ring.  Mohammed Ali, poet laureate of the boxing ring, used this short poem to express the ability of the individual to stand up and make a change that carries all the people.  On this St Patrick’s Day it is worth remembering that he inherited some of his gift of the gab from his Irish Great Grandfather, Abe Grady, from Ennis in Co. Clare.

A poem by Muhammad Ali:

———

I

We

———

Ali

Leipzig

Leipzig

Growing up in Ireland makes us part of a world that has traditionally been dominated by England.  Much of our understanding of history is influenced by the English weltanschauung.  

A clear incidence of this influence is the celebration of the importance of Battle of Waterloo in the defeat of Napoleon and the studious neglect of the Battle of Leipzig.  Waterloo was fought by the Seventh coalition, led by an Englishman, the Duke of Wellington.  Leipzig was the victory of the Sixth coalition, led by the Russians under Alexander.

In truth the battle of Leipzig was a far more important engagement.  The coalition fought Napoleon at the height of his power and he was roundly defeated for the first time on the battlefield.  Bonaparte lost the battle, but also lost his reputation for invincibility.  He left the legend of his military genius on the field of Leipzig.

The battle was the greatest fought on European soil until the Great War.  Casualties numbered in excess of 100,000 (higher than Borodino, but spread over 4 days) .  By comparison Waterloo, with 60,000 casualties was a sideshow, a last gasp by an already defeated and spent force.

Ranged against Napoleon where the forces of Sweden, Russia, Austria, Prussia, Saxony and Wurttemberg.  In particular it was seen as a great victory for the Germans in the Alliance.  The painting above is entitled “Declaration of Allied Victory after the Battle of Leipzig, 19th October, 1813”, painted by Johann Peter Krafft in 1839.  This painting is a classic piece of propaganda.  It was repainted at least 6 times, re-arranging the prominence of the allied leaders to suit particular commissions.

If only the British played some small part in the sixth coalition then the painting could have been repainted a seventh time.  We could have seen the British Commander take pride of place at the center of European events.  Then we would know all about the Battle of Leipzig.  Instead when we hear about European wars we hear of Blenheim and Waterloo.

The great commander of the day, the General who marched in only one direction, Forwards, was Blucher.  He triumphed at both Leipzig and Waterloo!  He even has a pair of shoes named after him, and his design became the template for all modern mens shoes.

Song of the Grenadiers:

Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules
Of Hector and Lysander, and such great names as these.
But of all the world’s great heroes, there’s none that can compare.
With a tow, row, row, row, row, row, to the British Grenadiers.

Those heroes of antiquity ne’er saw a cannon ball,
Or knew the force of powder to slay their foes withal.
But our brave boys do know it, and banish all their fears,
With a tow, row, row, row, row, row, for the British Grenadiers.

Whene’er we are commanded to storm the palisades,
Our leaders march with fusees, and we with hand grenades.
We throw them from the glacis, about the enemies’ ears.
Sing tow, row, row, row, row, row, the British Grenadiers.

And when the siege is over, we to the town repair.
The townsmen cry, “Hurrah, boys, here comes a Grenadier!
Here come the Grenadiers, my boys, who know no doubts or fears!
Then sing tow, row, row, row, row, row, the British Grenadiers.

Then let us fill a bumper, and drink a health of those
Who carry caps and pouches, and wear the loupèd clothes.
May they and their commanders live happy all their years.
With a tow, row, row, row, row, row, for the British Grenadiers.

Battle of Blenheim

Light Cart

High water mark of the military career of John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, the Battle of Blenheim is celebrated by many as a masterpiece of military genius.  If you want to read about military genius on the battlefield you can do that elsewhere.

My reading of history has shown me that the simple act of getting an army to the battlefield with clothes on their backs, shoes on their feet, food in their bellies and weapons in their hands is often enough to win the day.  It is an added bonus if you can follow the maxim of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and “git thar firstest with the mostest”.

Blenheim was the turning point in the War of the Spanish Succession, knocking Bavaria out of alliance with France and saving the Grand Alliance from disaster.  To fight the battle Churchill had to move his troops from Bedburg in Northern Germany, nearly on the Dutch border, to Blenheim in Bavaria.  This is a journey of 250 miles (400 kilometers).

To say that he covered 250 miles in only 5 weeks does not sound like a great achievement today.  50 miles a week, just averaging 7 miles per day.  But this was in 1704 when the best roads in Europe where those left behind by the Romans.  Much of the journey was over rough terrain, open country and muddy tracks.

Along the way he organised food and equipment depots to keep his army stocked, and arranged for rendezvous with additional troops from North Eastern Germany at Coblenz and Ladenburg.  A 250 mile route march will eat the shoes off the feet of troops and you can’t expect 50,000 troops to live off the land.

To celebrate this triumph of logistics I have illustrated this post with a carefully chosen picture.  There are many paintings and tapestries which celebrate the battle of Blenheim showing galloping Cavalry and stalwart Infantry bearing up under Artillery fire.

The photo above is of a tapestry in Blenheim palace showing a light cart which was designed and commissioned by the Duke of Marlborough himself.  It is narrow, with tall wheels and is drawn by two horses in tandem.  The “driver” is mounted on the lead horse.

This is a cart designed to cope with the needs of an army moving rapidly.  It can travel on very narrow roads, tracks and bridges.  If there is a breakdown on the road the driver can pull off the road and move cross country to bypass the blockage.

It was by using carts like these that Marlborough was able to move so many troops so far and so quickly (for the time).  Furthermore, he did so with great secrecy, masking his movements from the French and Bavarians.  As a result he achieved the benefit of surprise.

This is not to say that he was NOT a brilliant general.  Despite his unexpected arrival Marlborough still commanded a slightly smaller army and could field only 66 artillery pieces to the 90 guns of his foe.  His generalship on the day was masterful and rightly elevates him to the position of military genius.

After Blenheim; by Robert Southey

IT was a summer evening,
Old Kaspar’s work was done,
And he before his cottage door
Was sitting in the sun;
And by him sported on the green
His little grandchild Wilhelmine.

She saw her brother Peterkin
Roll something large and round,
Which he beside the rivulet
In playing there had found:
He came to ask what he had found
That was so large and smooth and round.

Old Kaspar took it from the boy,
Who stood expectant by;
And then the old man shook his head,
And with a natural sigh—
“‘Tis some poor fellow’s skull,” said he,
“Who fell in the great victory.

“I find them in the garden,
For there’s many here about;
And often when I go to plough
The ploughshare turns them out.
For many thousand men,” said he,
“Were slain in that great victory.”

“Now tell us what ’twas all about,”
Young Peterkin he cries;
And little Wilhelmine looks up
With wonder-waiting eyes;
“Now tell us all about the war,
And what they fought each other for.”

“It was the English,” Kaspar cried,
“Who put the French to rout;
But what they fought each other
I could not well make out.
But everybody said,” quoth he,
“That ’twas a famous victory.

“My father lived at Blenheim then,
Yon little stream hard by;
They burnt his dwelling to the ground,
And he was forced to fly:
So with his wife and child he fled,
Nor had he where to rest his head.

“With fire and sword the country round
Was wasted far and wide,
And many a childing mother then
And newborn baby died:
But things like that, you know, must be
At every famous victory.

“They say it was a shocking sight
After the field was won,
For many thousand bodies here
Lay rotting in the sun;
But things like that, you know, must be
After a famous victory.

“Great praise the Duke of Marlbro’ won,
And our good Prince Eugene”—
“Why ’twas a very wicked thing!”
Said little Welhelmine;
“Nay—nay, my little girl,” quoth he,
“It was a famous victory.

“And everybody praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win”—
“But what good came of it at last?”
Quoth little Peterkin.
“Why that I cannot tell,” said he,
“But ’twas a famous victory.”