Bedmar, Isidro Melchor de la Cueva y Benavides, Marquis of
Bedmar, Isidro Melchor de la Cueva y Benavides, Marquis of
Spanish governor of the Netherlands (1701-1704)
born 23 May 1652, Madrid, Spain
died 2 June 1723, Madrid, Spain
The Marquis of Bedmar was the son of Gaspar de La Cueva y Mendoza, Marquis of Bedmar and of Manuela Henríquez Osorio.
In his youth, Bedmar first served in a company of infantry in the Duchy of Milan. He was then transferred to the Spanish Netherlands and promoted colonel of a Spanish tercio (regiment).
In 16??, Bedmar was promoted general.
In 1681, Bedmar was appointed governor of Bruxelles.
In September 1682, Bedmar was appointed captain-general of the artillery of the Spanish Netherlands. He then returned to Spain.
On 1 July 1690, during the Nine Years' War (1688-1697), Bedmar took part in the Battle of Fleurus. In 1691, King Charles II of Spain made him Knights of the Order of Santiago. In 1692, he was appointed Mestre de camp General. On 29 July 1693, he commanded a cavalry corps at the Battle of Landen.
On 30 March 1693, at the death of his mother, Bedmar became 5th Marquis of Bedmar.
In December 1697, Bedmar was appointed military commander of the Spanish Netherlands where he supervised the construction of a defensive line known as the Bedmar Line.
In November 1700, after the death of King Charles II of Spain, Bedmar went to France to meet his new king, Philip V, at the Castle of Marly, and to ensure him of the loyalty of the Spanish Netherlands, of his troops and of its governor, Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria. He then returned to the Spanish Netherlands.
Before the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1713), in the night of 5 to 6 February 1701, Bedmar led French detachments who occupied the places of Nieuport, Oudernarde, Ath, Mons, Charleroy, Namur and Luxembourg, previously garrisoned by Dutch troops. On 22 March, Bedmar was appointed governor of the Spanish Netherlands when Maximilian II Emanuel returned to Bavaria. On 21 April, Bedmar met Maréchal Boufflers in Ghent. In mid-July, Boufflers visited M. de Bedmar in Bruxelles to take arrangement for the deployment of the Spanish army (25 bns, 40 sqns), convincing him to sent a Spanish force (4 bns and 4 sqns) to Upper Guelderland.
For the campaign of 1702 in the Low Countries, the Marquis de Bedmar commanded the Spanish army. By 20 April, Bedmar was encamped with 15 bns and a few sqns in the lines between Antwerp and Lier. In May, Philip V admitted the Marquis of Bedmar and his house among the Grands of Spain. On 11 May, fearing that the siege of Kaiserwerth was just a diversion and that the main Allied offensive would take place near Bruges (Brugge), Louis XIV sent instructions to Boufflers to redeploy Bedmar's army (21 bns, 25 sqns not including garrisons) towards the sea. By decreasing his garrisons to 20 bns, Bedmar was able to increase his army to 33 bns and 29 sqns. On the same day, Bedmar marched from Antwerp with 7 bns and 5 sqns, leaving behind 6 bns and 8 sqns under M. de Ximenès. On 13 May, Bedmar (7 bns, 5 sqns) effected a junction with M. de Lamothe (15 bns, 11 sqns). Bedmar then made a diversion on Hulst with 13 bns and 11 sqns but did not succeed to distract Coehoorn from the siege of Saint-Donas. On 17 May, Bedmar returned to Antwerp with 9 bns and 8 or 10 sqns to secure the place, leaving Lamothe behind with 22 bns and 4 sqns to defend the canal of Bruges in front of Coehoorn's Corps. On 3 June, Bedmar detached 6 bns and 10 sqns under M. de Caraman to reinforce the French Army of Flanders. On 12 June, Bedmar made a junction with Lamothe and they demolished the fortifications of the town and castle of Middelburg. On 13 June, Lamothe and Bedmar encamped near Aardenburg with 19 bns and 12 sqns, forcing General Coehoorn's smaller army to retire into an entrenched camp under the guns of Sluis. Around 18 June, the Duc de Bourgogne instructed Bedmar to send him a reinforcement of 6 bns and 4 sqns. On 1 July, weakened by the reinforcements that he had had to send to the Duc de Bourgogne, Bedmar retired from the area of Aardenburg in Dutch Flander with his corps (40 bns, 14 sqns) and redistributed it between Nieuport and Ghent; and between Ghent and Lierre. On 24 August, Bedmar marched from the area of Antwerp with 9 bns, 5 sqns and 10 guns towards the Dutch border. On 26 August, Bedmar reached Steckene, only 10 km south of Hulst, where he was reinforced with 4 bns. Bedmar sent orders to M. de Lamothe to join him with the troops assembled at Ghent and Bruges. In the night of 26 to 27 August, M. de Bedmar marched in three columns towards Hulst. On 27 August, he established his headquarters at Sint-Gillis and confided the direction of the siege of Hulst to M. de Vauban. On 2 September, he abandoned his project against Hulst. On 29 November, Maréchal Boufflers left for Versailles, leaving command in the Spanish Netherlands to the Marquis de Bedmar.
In August 1704, Bedmar fell ill and had to leave his army. In September, he was appointed viceroy of Sicily.
On 12 February 1705, Bedmar left Bruxelles and went to Versailles where he arrived on 2 March, on his way to Sicily.
From 1705 to 1707, Bedmar was viceroy of Sicily.
In March 1708, after his return to Spain, Bedmar was received by the king. He then assumed the charge of Gentleman of the Chamber and State Councilor.
In 1709, Bedmar was appointed Vicaire-General of Andalusia.
In 1712, Bermar was appointed minister of war in Spain.
In 1713, Bedmar was appointed President of the Royal Council of Ordnance. In mid-May, he attended the funeral of Queen Maria Luisa of Savoy.
Bedmar was also admitted in the Order of Sancti Spiritus and was distinguished by the king for his tireless zeal during his 52 continuous years of service.
Bedmar died on 2 June 1723 in Madrid.
This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Académie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts – Biographie Nationale, Vol. 2, 1868 – “Bedmar (Don Isidro de la Cueva y Benavides, marquis de)”
Alvarez y Baena, D. Joseph Antonio: Hijos de Madrid, Ilustres en Santidad, Dignidades, Armas, Ciencia y Artes Por, Madrid, 1790, Vol. 2, pp. 432-434
N.B.: the sections describing Boufflers' service in 1701 and 1702 are mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.