KEYWORDS: Military. Strategy. Louis XIV.
The book “L’expérience de l’architecture militaire” talks about military architecture. It functions as a manual because it shows the reader how to defend buildings or cities against enemies. The author uses calculations as well as drawings to exemplify his words.
The book treats architecture more in a functional way. Des Martins explores the useful elements of architecture which can be used for warfare. So he talks about a specific form of war strategy and how it can be applied.
When I look at the drawings I can only identify enemies without “modern” firearms. I thought in this time the cannons were already a danger which had to be considered. And I was wondering if the architecture which is proposed in this book is really accurate to the defending standards of this time.
For understanding the context of the book I think it is quiet important to look at the opening and the closing pages. There it is described who the author is and why this book has an importance for France as a whole.
In this sense, I think it is important to consider the historical background to understand the intention of the book. In the very beginning of the book it is already mentioned that the author Des Martins has the “privilege du roi”. That means that he was, as the official engineer of the king, allowed and also wanted to write this book. So we as readers have to consider that this book was written to help the king to defend his buildings in a proper way. Maybe the reason why it was published was also to show to potential enemies that the buildings of the king are protected and that he knows how to build strategically in he terms of war situations.
With this book it gets again clear how close architecture and it’s conception is related to the political situation of a country. Louis XIV was a monarch and as an author you was engaged by him to write about the topics he wants you to. I find it quiet interesting how it is mentioned several times that “le roi” has approved this book and with that also the ideas of the book. Because the question which comes up in this sense is: What happens when you have NO approval of the king? And why is that so important to write this connection to the king down in your book?
Therefore, to better understand this book, it is certainly interesting to look at the reactions of contemporaries.