SOME wars more than others offer scope to the hopeful military adventurer armed with plausible projects. The chevalier d'industrie flourished mightily in the War of the Spanish Succession, as the papers of the 1st Duke of Marlborough reveal. The imagination of the military projector was admirably stimulated by the obstacles which long drawn-out sieges and skilful avoidance of battle threw in the way of a speedy end to the conflict. As a result, the Duke was the recipient of schemes which ranged in ambition from the surprise of a town to the raising of a national revolt in France. Many of these schemes were as fanciful as those of the financial projectors who proliferated after the Peace of Utrecht, but they were not ignored or rejected out of hand. The Duke was particularly responsive to anything which might contribute to the success of what he called 'the great Design', the invasion of the French homeland. His hopes had been raised by the entry of Savoy and Portugal into the alliance, which seemed to expose France's southern flanks. Stalemate on the Meuse or in Flanders reinforced the desire to strike a decisive blow, and bring France to the conference table.
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