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René de Froulay de Tessé.

René de Froulay, comte de Tessé (14 May 1651 – 30 March 1725) was a French Marshal and diplomat.

Military career

Tessé was born at Le Mans. In the 1670s, he fought the Dutch in the Franco-Dutch war.

As an officer in the Dragoons (he became Colonel Général in 1692), he participated actively in the Dragonnade, directed at the Huguenot population around 1685.

He also carried out the pitilessly and methodically devastation of the Palatinate, ordered by Louvois, in January and February of 1689.

In 1693 he successfully defended the fortress of Pinerolo.

He intrigued with Jeanne Baptiste d'Albert de Luynes (mistress of the then Duke of Savoy) to bring about a marriage with Louis XIV'S grandson and Marie Adelaide of Savoy.

He became a marshal of France in 1703 and was in 1704, during the War of the Spanish Succession, appointed as commander-in-chief of the Franco-Spanish troops in Spain, in place of Berwick.

His first action was to resolve the costly siege of Gibraltar, which at the beginning of 1705 had not made much headway. Apart from the slow advance of the Spanish under Villadarias, the problem was that the Anglo-Dutch forces were continually resupplied by sea. Tessé concluded that it was absolutely necessary to take Gibraltar and that the enterprise only was possible with strong support of a French naval squadron. The annihilation on March 21, 1705 of this squadron near Cabrita point put an end to this design. Tessé then lifted the siege at the end of April.

His next action was to counter the allied-Portuguese invasion, commanded by Henri de Massue, 1st Earl of Galway. Tessé gave way somewhat to them, but stopped the allied-Portuguese army at Badajoz and Alcántara.

In 1706 he was sent to besiege Barcelona, while the city was blocked from the sea-side by the count of Toulouse. Though the artillery of the besiegers was insuffisiant they finally managed to shoot three breaches in the walls. Before Tessé came to a decision whether or not to storm the city, the arrival of the allied fleet under John Leake became imminent, and Toulouse left with the French fleet on 10 May. Tessé then hastily lifted the siege in the night of 11/12 May leaving guns, munition and wounded behind. This retreat was considered shamefull and Tessé was removed of command. On the day the siege was raised there occurred an eclipse of the sun.

But in 1707, he prevented Prince Eugene to take the French naval port of Toulon. Eugene had crossed the Var on July 11, and, although hampered by the negligence and inefficiency of Victor Amadeus II of Savoy, had reached Frejus, and was in touch with Shovell and the British fleet, by the 16th. But the Duke's procrastination caused further delays, and gave time for the troops which Berwick was sending home from Spain to reinforce Marshal Tessé at Toulon before the arrival of the Allies (July 26). On August 14, Tessé retook the all-important heights of Santa Catarina, which the Allies had stormed a week earlier. Eugene, finding his retreat menaced and little chance of taking Toulon, had to abandon his attempt (August 22), and fall back across the Var, having lost 10,000 men in this ill-fated enterprise. Its only fruit was that, in order to prevent their ships falling into the enemy's hands, the French had sunk their whole squadron of more than 50 sail in the harbour, and thereby put it quite out of their power to contest the English control of the Mediterranean.


Between 1693 and 1696 he conducted secret negotiations with Victor Amadeus II of Savoy, which led to the treaty of Ryswick, and the marriage of Victor Amadeus to Anne Marie of Orléans, a niece of King Louis XIV.

In 1708 he was ambassador in Rome.

In 1724 he was ambassador in Spain, and convinced the former king Philip V of Spain to resume the throne, after the death of his son and successor Louis of Spain.

He died the following year at Grosbois.


This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the French Wikipedia.


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