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Marlborough as Imperial Prince, 1704-1717

Peter Barber


EARLY in June 1704, as the campaign that was to culminate in the victory of Blenheim-Hochstadt was gaining momentum, Johann Wenzel, Count Wratislaw von Mistrowitz, the Imperial ambassador at the English court, who was accompanying the Allied armies on their march to the Danube, suggested in a confidential letter to his master. Emperor Leopold I, that the Duke of Marlborough should be created a prince of the Holy Roman Empire. In his reply the Emperor agreed it would be 'nothig und convenient', confessing that he had come to the same conclusion as it had become ever more likely that the Duke would, with God's help, become the saviour of the Emperor, the Habsburg dynasty, and indeed the Empire itself from invasion by the French and their Bavarian allies. Such an honour was the greatest that it was in the Emperor's power to bestow and, to make it plain it would not be a 'blosse Apparenz', Leopold instructed Wratislaw to suggest some lands in Germany which could be bestowed on the Duke as a fief.

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