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François Henri de Montmorency-Bouteville, duc de Luxembourg

François Henri de Montmorency-Bouteville, duc de Luxembourg (January 8, 1628 - January 4, 1695), marshal of France, the comrade and successor of the great Condé, was born at Paris, France.

His father, the comte de Montmorency-Bouteville, had been executed six months before his birth for killing the marquis de Beuvron in a duel, but his aunt, Charlotte de Montmorency, princess of Condé, took charge of him and educated him with her son, the duc d'Enghien. The young Montmorency (or Bouteville as he was then called) attached himself to his cousin, and shared his successes and reverses throughout the troubles of the Fronde. He returned to France in 1659 and was pardoned, and Condé, then much attached to the duchesse de Châtillon, Montmorency's sister, contrived the marriage of his adherent and cousin to the greatest heiress in France, Madeleine de Luxemburg-Piney, princesse de Tingry and heiress of the Luxemburg dukedom (1661), after which he was created duc de Luxembourg and peer of France.

At the opening of the War of Devolution (1667-68), Condé, and consequently Luxemburg, had no command, but during the second campaign he served as Condé's lieutenant general in the conquest of Franche Comté. During the foul years of peace which followed Luxemburg cultivated the favour of Louvois, and in 1672 held a high command against the Dutch, He defeated the prince of Orange at Woerden and ravaged Holland, and in 1673 made his famous retreat from Utrecht to Maastricht with only 20,000 men in face of 70,000, an exploit which placed him in the first rank of generals.

In 1674 he was made captain of the gardes du corps, and in 1675 marshal of France. In 1676 he was placed at the head of the army of the Rhine, but failed to keep the duke of Lorraine out Of Philipsburg in 1677 he stormed Valenciennes; and in 1678 he defeated the prince of Orange, who attacked him at St Denis after the signature of the peace of Nijmegen. His reputation was now high and it is reputed that he quarrelled with Louvois, who managed to involve him in the "affair of the poisons" and get him sent to the Bastille. Rousset in his Histoire de Louvois has shown that this quarrel is probably apocryphal. There is no doubt that Luxemburg spent some months of 1680 in the Bastille, but on his release took up his post at court as capitaine des gardes. When the war of 1690 broke out, the king and Louvois recognized that Luxemburg was the only general fit to cope with the prince of Orange, and he was put in command of the army of Flanders. On July 1, 1690 he won a great victory over the prince of Waldeck at Fleurus. In the following year he commanded the army which was victorious at Leuze on September 18, 1691.

Again in the next campaign he covered the king's siege of Namur, and defeated William at Steenkirk on June 5, 1692; and on July 29, 1693, he won his greatest victory over his old adversary at Neerwinden, after which he was called le tapissier de Nôtre Dame from the number of captured colours that he sent to the cathedral. He was, received with enthusiasm at Paris by all but the king, who looked coldly on a relative and adherent of the Condés. St Simon describes in the first volume of his Memoirs how, instead of ranking as eighteenth peer of France according to his patent of 1661, he claimed through his wife to be duc de Piney of an old creation of 1571, which would place him second on the roll. The affair is described with St Simon's usual interest in the peerage, and was chiefly checked through his assiduity.

In the campaign of 1694, Luxemburg did little in Flanders, except that he conducted a famous march from Vignamont to Tournay in face of the enemy. On his return to Versailles for the winter he fell ill, and died. In his last moments he was attended by the famous Jesuit priest Bourdaloue, who said on his death, "I have not lived his life, but I would wish to die his death." Luxemburg's morals were bad even in those times, and he had shown little sign of religious conviction. But as a general he was Condé's grandest pupil. Though slothful like Condé in the management of a campaign, at the moment of battle he seemed seized with happy inspirations, against which no ardour of William's and no steadiness of Dutch or English soldiers could stand. His death and Catinat's disgrace close the second period of the military history of the reign of Louis XIV, and Catinat and Luxemburg, though inferior to Condé and Turenne, were far superior to Tallard and Villeroi. He was distinguished for a pungent wit. One of his retorts referred to his deformity. "I never can beat that cursed humpback," William was reputed to have said of him. "How does he know I have a hump?" retorted Luxemburg, "he has never seen my back." He left four sons, the youngest of whom was a marshal of France as Marechal de Montmorency.

See, besides the various memoirs and histories of the time, Beaurain's Histoire militaire du duc de Luxembourg (Hague and Paris, 1756); Mémoires pour servir a l'histoire du maréchal due de Luxembourg (Hague and Paris, 1758); Courcelles, Dictionnaire des generaux français (Paris, 1823), vol. viii. There are some interesting facts in Desormeaux's Histoire de la maison de Montmorency (1764), vols. iv. and v. Camille Rousset's Louvois and the biography of Luxemburg by Count de Segur (1907) should also be studied.