Vauban, Sebastian Le Prestre, Seigneur De

, marechal of France, commissioner-general of fortifications, and the greatest engineer which France has produced, was the son of Urban le Prestre, seigneur de Vauban, a descendant of an ancient and noble family of Nivernois. He was born May 1, 1633, and was in the army at the early age of seventeen, where his uncommon talents and genius for fortification soon became known, and were eminently displayed at the sieges of St. Menehould, 1652 and 1653, of Stenay 1654, and of several other places in the following years. He consequently rose to the highest military ranks by his merit and services: and was made governor of the citadel of Lisle in 1668, and commissioner-general of fortifications in 1678. He took Luxemburg in 1684, and, being appointed lieutenant-general in 1688, was present, the same year, at the siege and capture of Philipsburg, Manheim, and Frankendal, under the dauphin. This prince, as a reward for his services, gave him four pieces of cannon, which he was permitted to chuse from the arsenals of these three towns, and place in his castle at Bazoche; an honour afterwards granted to the famous marechal Saxe. M. de Vauban commanded on the coast of Flanders in 1689, and was made marechal of France, Jan. 14, 1703. His dignity was expensive to him, but the king would not permit him to serve as an inferior officer, though he offered it in a very handsome manner. He died at Paris, March 30, 1707, aged seventy-four. He was a man of high and independent spirit, of great humanity, and entirely devoted to the good of his country. As an engineer, he carried the art of fortifying, attacking, and defending towns, to a degree of perfection unknown before his time. He fortified above 300 ancient citadels, erected thirty- three new ones, and had the principal management and direction of fifty-three sieges, and was present at one hundred and forty engagements. But his countrymen tell us that it was unnecessary for him to exert his skill in defending a fort; for the enemies of France never attacked those in which he was stationed. His works are, a treatise entitled | La Dixme Roïale,1707, 4to and 12mo, which displays some patriotic principles, but the plan is considered as impracticable. A vast collection of Mss. in 12 vols. which he calls his “Oisivetés,” contain his ideas, reflections, and projects, for the advantage of France. The three following works are also attributed to him, but whether he wrote them, or whether they have been compiled from his Memoirs, and adapted to his ideas, is uncertain: “Maniere de fortifier,” 8vo and 12mo, printed also at Paris by Michalet, 8vo, under the title of “L’Ingéieur François.M. Hebert, professor of mathematics, and the abbe“du Fay, have written notes on this treatise, which is esteemed, and is said to have been revised by the chevalier de Cambrai, and reprinted at Amsterdam, 1702 and 1727, 2 vols. 4to; 2.” Nouveau Traite de l’Attaque et de la Défense des Places, suivant le Systeme de M. de Vauban, par M. Desprez de Saint Savin,“1736, 8vo, much esteemed; 3.” Essais sur la Fortification, par M. de Vauban,“1740, 12mo. As to the” Political Testament" ascribed to him, it was written by Peter le Pesant, sieur de Boïs Guillebert, lieutenant-general of the bailiwic of Rouen, who died 1714. M. de Vauban’s second cousin, Anthony de Prestre, known by the name of Puy Vauban, was also a very eminent engineer. He died lieutenant-general of the king’s forces, and governor of Bethune, April 10, 1731, aged seventy-seven. 1

1 Eloge, by Fontenellc. —Moreri. —Dict. Hist.