Vauban, Sébastien de

SUBJECT AREA: Canals, Civil engineering
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b. 15 May 1633 St-Léger-de-Fougeret, Château Chinon, Nièvre, France
d. 20 March 1707 Paris, France
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French civil and military engineer.
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Born of impecunious parents, Vauban joined Condé's regiment as a cadet in 1651, at the age of 17, although he had apparently acquired some knowledge of mathematics and fortifications in the Carmelite College of Semur-en-Auxois. In the war of the Fronde he was captured by the Royal troops in 1653 and was converted to the king's service. He was soon recognized as having engineering ability and was given the task of repairing the fortifications of Sainte-Menehould. During the next few years he was engaged on fortification repairs and assisting at sieges, including Ypres, Gravelines and Oudenarde in 1658. Vauban found favour with the king, Louis XIV, and was responsible for the fortifications of Lille, which had been captured in 1667; he commenced the defensive structures of the citadel and the town in 1668. These were completed in 1674 and consisted of a vast pentagonal fort with bastions and further detached works surrounded by water defences. In 1692 he was present at the siege of Namur and was responsible for its capture. He was then put in charge of re-establishing and improving the defences. He next developed a line of fortresses along the French border. He later was abandoned by the king, whom he had served so well, and, with his advice being ignored by the French forces, they suffered defeat after defeat in Marlborough's wars.
Meanwhile he had been called in to inspect the recently completed Canal du Midi and subsequently made recommendations for its improvement. These included the extension of the Montagne Noire feeder, and the construction of the Cesse and Orbiel aqueducts which were carried out to his design and under his supervision in 1686–7. In 1700 he was consulted on and produced a plan for a canal across France from north to south, providing a barge waterway from Nîmes to Dunkirk, but this was not carried out.
In 1703 he was created maréchal de France, and two years later he devised vast schemes for the development of the canal system in Flanders. Owing to determined opposition from the local people, these schemes were abandoned and not revived until 1770, by which time the locals were prepared to accept them.
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Further Reading
Sir Reginald Blomfield, 1938, Sébastien lePrestre de Vauban, 1633–1707, Methuen. D.Halevy, 1924, Vauban. Builder of Fortresses, trans. C.J.C.Street, Geoffrey Bles.
JHB

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Vauban, Sébastien Le Prestre de — born May 15, 1633, Saint Léger de Foucherest, France died March 30, 1707, Paris French military engineer. After fighting with the forces of the Condé family (1651–53), he switched to the royalist side and joined the newly formed engineer corps,… …   Universalium

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  • Vauban, Sébastien Le Prestre de — (15 may. 1633, Saint Léger de Foucherest, Francia–30 mar. 1707, París). Ingeniero militar francés. Después de combatir con las fuerzas de la familia Condé (1651–53), se cambió al bando realista y se unió al recién formado cuerpo de ingenieros,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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