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François de Neufville, duc de Villeroy, by Alexandre-François Caminade

François de Neufville, 2ème duc de Villeroy (7 April 1644 in Lyon - 18 July 1730 in Paris), French soldier, came of a noble family which had risen into prominence in the reign of Charles IX.

His father Nicolas de Neufville, marquis de Villeroy, Marshal of France (1598-1685) was governor of the young King Louis XIV who later created him a duke. François was brought up in close relations with Louis and became a member of his inner circle. An intimate of the king, a finished courtier and leader of society and a man of great personal gallantry, Villeroy was marked out for advancement in the army, which he loved, but where career soldiers had always a juster appreciation of his incapacity than Louis. In 1693, without having exercised any really important and responsible command, he was made Marshal of France. In 1695, when François Henri de Montmorency-Bouteville, duc de Luxembourg died, he obtained the command of the army in Flanders (see War of the Grand Alliance); William III found him a far easier opponent than the "little hunchback" (the duc de Luxembourg). Villeroy was responsible for the senseless bombardment of Brussels in 1695, which occasioned its reconstruction in the 18th century giving it the regularity and unity of architecture seen today (although it was again damaged in both World Wars).

In 1701 Villeroy was sent to Italy to supersede Nicolas Catinat and was soon beaten by the inferior army of Prince Eugene of Savoy at Chieri (see War of Spanish Succession). In February 1702 he was made prisoner at the surprise of the Battle of Cremona, and the wits of the army made at his expense the famous rhyme:

"Par la faveur de Bellone,
et par un bonheur sans égal,
Nous avons conservé Crémone
--et perdu notre général."

In the following years he was pitted against the Duke of Marlborough in the Low Countries. Marlborough's own difficulties with the Dutch and other allied commissioners, rather than Villeroy's own skill, put off the inevitable disaster for some years, but in 1706 Marlborough attacked him and thoroughly defeated him at Ramillies. Louis consoled his old friend with the remark, "At our age, one is no longer lucky," but superseded him in the command, and henceforward Villeroy lived the life of a courtier, and although suspected of being involved in plots, maintained his friendship with Louis.

Under the Régence Villeroy was governor of the child King Louis XV and held several other high posts between 1717 and 1722, when he fell in disgrace for plotting against Philippe II of Orléans, the regent for Louis XV, and was sent to be governor of Lyon, virtually in exile. His family suffered a further disgrace when two younger members, the duc de Retz and the marquis d'Alincourt were exiled for having sexual relations in the gardens at Versailles. [1] Louis XV recalled Villeroy into high office when he came of age.

References

  1. ^ The Man Who Would Be King: The Life of Philippe d'Orleans, Regent of France by Christine Pevitt. Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in Great Britain, 1997. Page 301.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

FRANCCOIS DE NEUFVILLE VILLEROI, Duc DE (1644-1730), French soldier, came of a noble family which had risen into prominence in the reign of Charles IX. His father Nicolas de Neufville, Marquis de Villeroi, marshal of France (1598-1685), created a duke by Louis XIV., was the young king's governor, and the boy was thus brought up in close relations with Louis. An intimate of the king, a finished courtier and leader of society and a man of great personal gallantry, Villeroi was marked out for advancement in the army, which he loved, but which had always a juster appreciation of his incapacity than Louis. In 1693, without having exercised any really important and responsible command, he was made a marshal. In 1695, when Luxembourg died, he obtained the command of the army in Flanders, and William III. found him a far more complaisant opponent than the "little hunchback." In 1701 he was sent to Italy to supersede Catinat and was soon beaten by the inferior army of Eugene at. Chiari (see Spanish Succession War). In the winter of 1701 he was made prisoner at the surprise of Cremona, and the wits of the army made at his expense the famous rhyme: "Par la faveur de Bellone, et par un bonheur sans egal, Nous avows conserve Cremone - et perdu notre general." In the following years he was pitted against Marlborough in the Low Countries. Marlborough's own difficulties with the Dutch and other allied commissioners, rather than Villeroi's own skill, put off the inevitable disaster for some years, but in 1706 the duke attacked him and thoroughly defeated him at Ramillies. Louis consoled his old friend with the remark, "At our age, one is no longer lucky," but superseded him in the command, and henceforward Villeroi lived the life of a courtier, much busied with intrigues but retaining to the end the friendship of his master. He died on the 18th of July 1730 at Paris.


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