World Coins

Silver medal for Allied victory at Battle of Blenheim

This 1704 silver medal celebrates the Allied victory at the Battle of Blenheim, which halted the French emperor’s attempts to take Vienna.

Medal images courtesy of Steve Album Rare Coins.

The Battle of Blenheim may not rank high in the annals of history compared to other momentous military actions, but its legacy lives on in medallic form.

A silver medal celebrating the battle is offered in Stephen Album Rare Coins’ May 17 and 18 auction in California.

The Battle of Blenheim in August of 1704 came at a major moment during the War of the Spanish Succession. of France King Louis XIV was attempting to seize Vienna to force a peace settlement and remove Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I from the conflict. 

Allied forces comprising British, Scottish, Holy Roman Empire, Dutch and Danish troops faced off against the French and Bavarian combatants. 

The Duke of Marlborough, on the side of the Grand Alliance, marched his forces south from Bedburg and helped to defend Vienna to keep Leopold an active participant in the alliance, which had been formed to slow attempts at expansion by Louis XIV.

Blenheim (also called Hochstadt by the Germans) followed quick victories at Schellenberg and Donauwerth, to strengthen the precarious German position. 

Until then, King Louis’s coalition has been in control, but the Allied victory at Blenheim ended French plans to knock Leopold I out of the war. 

France suffered as many as 38,000 casualties, including the commander-in-chief, Marshal Tallard, who was taken captive by the English.

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Before 1704 ended, Allies seized several other cities, preparing to advance into France the following year, an offensive strike that never happened, as the forces’ attention was diverted to Belgium, to defend Liège from a French counteroffensive.

The war would rage on for another decade, but the medal captures the importance of that moment in time. 

Designing symbolism

The silver medal, created by Georg Hautsch of Nürnberg, is rich with symbolism in image and text.

It is cataloged as Eimer 407 in British Commemorative Medals and Their Values by Christopher Eimer, and measures 37 millimeters in diameter (nearly the size of an American Eagle silver bullion coin.) The medal in the auction is one of 12 different types commemorating the battle, Eimer wrote. 

The obverse shows the bust of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, facing right, hair long, in armor, a riband across the breast.

On the reverse Mars is seated, facing left, leaning upon his shield, which is inscribed with what translates as “Mars the avenger.”

The upper reverse inscription translates to “He wonders at the weapons, which emulate his own.” 

Below the battle scene another inscription translates to “On the defeat of the French and Bavarians, Tallard, their general, being taken prisoner at Hochstadt.”

The edge inscription translates to “To Fortune, obedient to the most valiant General after the first-fruits of Schellenberg.”

The medal is graded About Uncirculated by the auction house and has an estimate of $1,000 to $1,200. 

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