Object of the Month - November 2022

30 November, 2022

Triple Bore Gun, French

French Saker or English 5½ pdr

This piece is said to have been captured at the Battle of Malplaquet on the 11th September 1709, by the Army of the Duke of Marlborough.

The Battle of Malplaquet was the fourth and final battle fought during the War of the Spanish Succession, fought in northern France near the Belgian border. The War of the Spanish Succession was triggered by the death of Charles II of Spain, who had no direct descendants to inherit the Spanish throne and was fought between the Grand Alliance and the Bourbon Alliance.  

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650 – 1722) became the de facto leader of Allied forces during the War of the Spanish Succession, his victories on the fields of Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708), and Malplaquet (1709), ensured his place in history as one of Europe's great generals.  

This gun is a triple bored piece, arranged in a 60-degree triangle, with one bore above and two below. The calibre is that of a French saker which in English terms would be a 5½ pounder. The prototype of the gun was tested and proved in the presence of the Duc de Maine in November 1703 and an order for 50 pieces was placed by Louis XIV the following year. 

The inscriptions on the gun read as follows:

Les Trimegiste ; the Fates, the name of the gun.

Ultima ratio regum ; the last argument of King's, a standard description of Artillery.

Louis Auguste Duc de Maine[i] ; French Grand Master of Artillery.

Pluribus nec impar ; not unequal to many, motto.

MFIM FIGAR AUGUSTIN INVENIT stands for Brother Jacob Maria Figari[ii], invented this

[i] The Duke of Maine, Grand master of the Artillery, 1670-1736, was the illegitimate son of Louis XIV and madame de Martespan.  

[ii] J M Figari was a Venetian who became an Augustinian Friar, and was described as a Master of Theology and a Master of Military Arts.