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Siege of Lille
Part of the War of the Spanish Succession
Date12 August - 10 December 1708
LocationLille, France
Result Grand Alliance victory[1]
 United Provinces
 Kingdom of Great Britain
 Habsburg Austria
 Kingdom of France
Commanders and leaders
Habsburg Monarchy Eugene of Savoy,
Kingdom of Great Britain Duke of Marlborough
Kingdom of France Duc de Boufflers
35,000 besiegers,
75,000 in vicinity[2]
16,000 garrison,
100,000 in vicinity[2]
Casualties and losses
16,000 dead or wounded[3]

The Siege of Lille (12 August - 10 December 1708) was the salient operation of the 1708 campaign season during the War of the Spanish Succession. After an obstinate defence of 120 days, the French garrison surrendered the city and citadel of Lille, commanded by Marshal Boufflers, to the forces of the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene.

The siege was famous among contemporaries for l'affaire des poudres ("the gunpowder incident"), where the Chevalier de Luxembourg with 2,000 horsemen passed through the Allied lines and succeeded in delivering 40,000 pounds of desperately needed gunpowder to the defenders.[2]

The siege was made possible by the destruction of the French army at the Battle of Oudenarde and the landing in Ostend of large amounts of ammunition and food after the Battle of Wijnendale. For most of the campaign, Eugene commanded the forces besieging Lille, while Marlborough commanded the forces covering those forces against external French interference. For a short period in late September however, after Eugene was injured on the 21st, Marlborough took command of both the besiegers and the covering force.

On October 22 the Allies entered the city at the staggering cost of 12,000 casualties; Boufflers continued to resist from Lille's citadel for several weeks, exacting an additional 4,000 allied casualties.[4] While the allies' deft manoeuvring frustrated French attempts to relieve their precious fortress—the last substantial French bastion in northern Flanders—Boufflers' valiant defence likewise prolonged the siege well into winter, to the point where no operations could be undertaken against France that year.[5] The French defenders of Lille withdrew with full honours of war.

With the loss of Lille, the French presence in northern Flanders crumbled; the Allies moved against Ghent, taking the city in late December. However, an invasion of France the following summer along the corridor opened by the fall of Lille would run into a bloody standstill at the Battle of Malplaquet.


  1. Eggenberger, David, An Encyclopedia of Battles, (Courier Dover Publications, 1985), 243.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Lynn (1999), p. 321
  3. Childs (1982), p. 133
  4. Chandler (1986), p. 89
  5. Treasure (1985), p. 279, notes: "Boufflers defended Lille with inspiring determination, aided by old Vauban who had designed its fortification and now lent his services as a simple volunteer. The allies were made to pay dearly for the city which did not capitulate till December."


  • Chandler, David (2003). The Oxford History of the British Army. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280311-5. 
  • Lynn, John A. The Wars of Louis XIV, 1667–1714. Longman, (1999). ISBN 0-582-05629-2
  • Treasure, Geoffrey (1985). The Making of Modern Europe, 1648-1780. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-05136-1. 

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