In the summer of 1704, French conquest seemed inevitable. In this bestselling history, Charles Spencer traces the story of how it was prevented.
This is an epic history of how, as Louis the Great’s armies threatened total domination of Europe, poised to extend their frontier and install a French prince on the throne of Spain, two men came together with a daring plan to shut him down.
John Churchill, Duke of Malborough masterminded the campaign, while Prince Eugène of Savoy engineered a way to surprise the French invaders inside Germany. Their work heralded a terrific clash, the Battle of Blenheim, where the hitherto unbeaten French were met with more than they bargained for, and Europe’s fate hung in the balance.
In compelling, page-turning history, Charles Spencer unfolds the drama from the frontlines with the soldiers to the deliberations of kings and princes whose nations were in peril.
‘Charles Spencer’s new study offers not only a highly accomplished account of the battle and its wider consequences, but also a shrewd and persuasive reassessment of the personalities involved…Spencer’s account maintains the detachment of the professional historian, and is safely ancestor-worship free’ – John Adamson, Sunday Telegraph
‘Charles Spencer has written a history of the War of Spanish Succession — the struggle for European dominance between France and her major European rivals in the early 18th century — in a splendidly old-fashioned style, full of bold epithets and broad judgments…The result is a book that is compulsively readable…the pages of this vividly written book are populated by memorable secondary characters’ – Andrew Roberts, Mail on Sunday
‘Where Spencer has made a real contribution to our understanding of the war of the Spanish succession is in his exploitation of the French sources — diplomatic and military, including the correspondence between Louis XIV and his generals and diplomats’ – John Crossland, Sunday Times
‘There is much to enjoy in this racy, fast-paced narrative, well stocked with larger-than-life characters…The account of the storming of the Schellenberg heights…is truly gripping’ – Tim Blanning, Times Literary Supplement
About the author
Charles Spencer was educated at Eton College and obtained his degree in Modern History at Magdalen College, Oxford. He was a reporter on NBC’s Today show from 1986 until 1995, and is the author of seven books, including the Sunday Times bestsellers Blenheim: Battle for Europe (shortlisted for History Book of the Year, National Book Awards) and Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I.