Stapleton, John M.
Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University (2003)
This dissertation explores the origins and creation of the allied army that fought in the Spanish Netherlands during the Nine Years’ War. In 1689, the Dutch Republic, England, Habsburg Austria, Spain, Brandenburg-Prussia, and later Savoy, along with a number of lesser German states united to combat the ambitions of French king Louis XIV. These states formed coalition armies to fight in the various theaters of war surrounding the kingdom. Arguably the most important of these was the army in the Spanish Netherlands, often referred to by contemporaries as the “Confederate Army.” Due to the Spanish Netherlands’ strategic importance to both the Dutch Republic and France, the so-called “Cockpit of Europe” attracted immense armies on both sides. France assembled the largest army until the Napoleonic Wars during the Nine Years’ War; and the largest of its field armies was deployed in the Low Countries Theater. For the allies, the burden of the war effort in the Spanish Netherlands fell to England and the Dutch Republic, the wealthiest and militarily strongest of the coalition’s members. The combination of geography, politics, and strategy merged resulting in the greatest of the allies’ armies, the army the army of Stadhouder-Koning William III. This dissertation explores how diplomatic, political, and military factors intersected to create the first modern coalition army. Commanded by William III, the Confederate Army was the largest, best equipped and arguably best led and organized of the coalition forces arrayed against France. The composition of this army was the result of a combination of factors. The geographic location of the coalition partners, and the theater of war; the economic power of the army’s principal contributors; and the unity of command William III brought to the Confederate Army; all of these factors contributed to that organization’s character. Together, they forged a unique army in the history of European warfare in the early modern period, and a forerunner of later coalition armies.