The siege of Turin of 1706 turned out to be of great importance also for the political frame of seventeenth century Europe and for the prospects it opened toward the unity of Italy.
The capital of the small duchy lived dramatic days in the four long summer mounths of 1706 threatened by very heavy shelling and the spectre of famine.
The siege of Turin
On June 17th the siege was completed. The Duke left the town promising to come back at the head of a liberating army.
The French attacks concentrated on the “Citadel” even if France marshal Vauban disapproved of them, as he knew insidious underground tunnels.
The picture shows the position of the French batteries at the beginning of the siege.
Prince Eugenio’s March
Since the beginning of the war Vittorio Amedeo II° had unsuccessfully urged the allied Austrian imperial army to intervene. At last on July 7th prince Eugenio of Savoia Soissons, commander in chef of the Hapsburg army, crossed the river Adige and forging ahead, after many obstacles, on August 29th he met the duke at Carmagnola, a small village near Turin.
The match that seemed lost, was starting again.
On 2nd September 1705 Vittorio Amedeo II° and a prince Eugenio di Savoia from the top of the hill of Superga examined the situation and decided a strategy. The French were outflanked and on 7th the battle started after the umpteenth attack to the citadel had been desperately repelled.
At 10 the Austrian- Piedmontese army started to attack on the whole front. The French right wing and the centre were pulled apart. The left wing was still holding out, but, when attacked from behind, it surrendered.
The Last Stage
At 3 p.m. the besieges began to retreat. With this defeat le Roi Soleil lost Italy too.
Vittorio Amedeo and prince Eugenio entered the town, they had set free, from Porta Palazzo and went to the nearby Cathedral, where the Te Deum was celebrated to thank God for the victory.
Still today after almost three hundred years the Te Deum is sung in the royal basilica of Superga on 7th September every year.
The Beginning of the Siege
On May 14th, 1706 the French army of La Feuillade, now with 44,000 men, started the siege. By then Turin had been surrounded by imposing wall fortifications that went as far as the hill and completed the defence of the extraordinary citadel, built 150 years before by Duke Emanuele Filiberto, after moving the capital of the duchy from Chambery to Turin. Anyway at the time Turin was not only a modern fortress, but also a town of 40,000 people with the first baroque buildings, beautiful streets and bell towers that the pictures of the Theatrum Sabaudiae€¯ had made known all over Europe.
August: the siege has been going on for three months.
Endless dramatic weeks went by with uninterrupted shelling and attempts to flood the citadel tunnels, which luckily held out. The town was at the end of its strength, but, even if the enemy had suffered heavy losses, the siege was getting harder and harder. On August 29th the French tried to enter the citadel through the tunnels, but they were stopped by Pietro Micca’s heroic deed.
The picture shows the position of the French close to the moat in the last stages of the siege