Although Morosini held overall command of Venetian forces, it would be Königsmarck who led most of the successful land campaigns.


Although Swedish, Otto Wilhelm Königsmarck was born in Minden, Northern Germany, where his mother had been accompanying his father on military campaigns. Following these campaigns, the family resided in Stade, where Königsmarck was privately educated before attending the University of Jena. He later undertook the Grand Tour, visiting many places in Europe.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Königsmarck became a military man and rose to the rank of Field Marshall, commanding Swedish forces at the Battle of Stralsund in 1678 during the Scanian War. He became the Governor of Swedish Pomerania in 1679. Königsmarck would later join Francesco Morosini during the Morean War, commanding Venetian land forces until his death from the plague in 1688.

In 1685, Konigsmarck took service with the Republic of Venice. Alongside the Doge of Venice, Francesco Morosini, he led the Venetian conquest of the Morea in the early years of the Morean War 1684- 1699 between Venice and the Ottoman Empire as commander of the Venetian land forces. He served in this role when Venetian artillery fire in 1687 accidentally destroyed major parts of the Parthenon, which the Ottoman Turks used for ammunition storage.

Swedish field commander General Otto Wilhelm Königsmarck wrote later: “How it dismayed His Excellency to destroy the beautiful temple which had existed three thousand years!”. By contrast Morosini, described it in his report to the Venetian government as a “fortunate shot”.

Mixed fleets of galleys and sailing ships dominated operation during the Morean War (1684- 99). Both sides found mixed forces of galleys and sailing warships were essential to support land operations. The stowage capacity of sailing ships made long-distance cruises more sustainable, such as the periodic Venetian blockades of the Dardenelles and speculative coastal raiding.

The first real Ottoman three-decker was a 108 gun ship commissioned in 1697 and participated in the last naval battles of the First Morean War (1684-99).

In 1684, the Venetian battleships effectively defended the lines of communication between Morea and the Holy League ports, but could not catch the Turkish galley forces which supported and reinforced the garrisons. Likewise, the Turks found that their galleys could not successfully attack Christian sailing warships. In 1690, 26 Turkish galleys failed to capture three Venetian warships which had been isolated during a lull in the winds.

Otto Wilhelm von Königsmarck [German]