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Sunday, June 2, 2019

Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban

Sébastien le Prestre, Marquis de Vauban
Vauban, for short. Reading the chapter about the attack on Belle Isle in The Knife ManWhen the British captured Belle Isle, the French retreated to the Citadel Vauban on the northeast side of the island. The French held out there for a month before they threw in the towel.

Googling "Citadel Vauban" takes me to Lille, which is on the other side of France, which is not what I wanted. One thing leads to another and I find that there were a bunch of Citadel Vaubans in France, all designed by the same guy, Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban. He was quite the visionary.

Plan for Citadelle de Lille
Designed by Vauban
Zoom sur Lille has a couple of things to say about this fortress [translated by Google]:
Louis XIV wishes to defend this new frontier . Engineer of the king since 1655, Vauban seduced Louis XIV and Louvois (Secretary of State of the War) thanks to a plan with 5 bastions which conceals the project of a citadel with 4 branches of the engineer Nicolas de Clerville. Vauban, however, retains the location, a swampy area northwest of the city, irrigated by the rivers Deûle and Bucquet . This rather hostile terrain contributes to the defense of the site by a flood system around the stronghold. Indeed when one floods the foot of the ramparts, the work of undermining (digging of the gallery at the base of the ramparts to place mines) is no longer possible. Having successfully managed several seats, he uses his experience as a landlord to draw the one he calls the "Queen of Citadels".
I've heard about sappers "(digging of the gallery at the base of the ramparts to place mines)" and I've heard about moats, but I always thought moats were just a barrier to keep attackers from being able to approach the walls. I never put the two together. I guess that might be why Vauban has a Wikipedia entry and I don't.

When I first saw this image (Plan for Citadelle de Lille) I took it for M.C. Escher-like exercise, but it's not, it's a plan. The blue areas are waterways.

Citadel Vauban Belle Isle
You can see the similarities between the Belle Isle Citadel and Vauban's plan for Lille.

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