Historical and Commemorative Medals
 Collection of Benjamin Weiss


MAUGER, Jean: France, 1695, Bronze, 40 mm
Rev: The harbor of Dunkirk, a vessel sunk at the entrance, a shell overhead exploding ineffectually. DUNKIRK ILLAESA. (Dunkirk uninjured)
Exergue: M. DC. XCV.
Signed: J. MAVGER F.
Ref: Divo 84/261; Med. Ill. ii, 127/375; Van Loon, IV, 211; Weiss BW716

This medal commemorates the unsuccessful bombardment of Dunkirk in 1695. The attack on Dunkirk by the combined English and Dutch fleets against France ruled by Louis XVI was a part of the much larger Nine Years' War (1688–1697). This war – often called the War of the Grand Alliance, the War of the League of Augsburg or the War of the Palatine Succession– was a major war of the late 17th century fought primarily on mainland Europe but also encompassed theaters in Ireland and North America. In Ireland it is often called the Williamite War, and in North America is commonly known as King William's War.

Some background: King Louis XIV of France emerged from the Franco-Dutch War in 1678 as the most powerful monarch in Western Europe. Using a combination of aggression, annexation, and quasi-legal means, Louis and his ministers set about consolidating and extending his gains in order to stabilize and strengthen his frontiers. But the King’s revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 began a deterioration of French military and political dominance in Europe. Louis’ belligerence eventually led to the formation of a European-wide coalition, the Grand Alliance, determined on curtailing French ambition. The Alliance was led principally by the Anglo-Dutch Stadtholder-King William III, the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I, King Charles II of Spain, and Victor Amadeus, Duke of Savoy.

The war was dominated by siege operations, one of which was at Dunkirk, a harbor at the most northern part of France. In this attack, which took place in 1695, the combined English and Dutch fleets bombarded Dunkirk, but because of immense preparations for its defense and mismanagement of the attack, the bombardment failed in its attempt to inflict significant damage of the harbor. The medal was issued by the French to commemorate this event.