|Wild Geese Heritage Museum and Library
Portumna, Co. Galway
I. His Parentage, Education, Titles and Military Posts: The Duke of Berwick, James FitzJames, Marshal of France, was born at Moulins in the Bourbonnais, France, on August 21 1670. He was the son of Arabella Churchill and James II. His mother was a daughter of Sir Winston Churchill, descended from the Councils of Anjou, Poictou and Normandy. His uncle was the famous John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough.
He was educated as a Catholic in France, at the Colleges of Juilly, du Plessis, La Fleche and Paris. During his fathers reign in England, he was created Duke of Berwick, Earl of Tinmouth, Baron of Bosworth, Knight of the Garter, Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Ranger of the New Forest, Governor of Portsmouth, successively Colonel of the Infantry and Cavalry Regiments, and Captain of the 3rd Troop of Life-Guards. Commissioned by Leopold I of Austria, Major-General, Colonel Commandant ad interim of the Imperial Regiment of Cuirassiers or Taffe Regiment. Captain of a Troop of Irish Horse-Guards, Colonel of the Irish Infantry Regiment of Berwick, Marshal, Duke of FitzJames, Member of the Council of Regency, Governor of the Limousin and Strasbourg, Chevalier of the Order of the Holy Ghost, and of the Orders of the King, in France, and Captain-General, Duke of Liria and Xerica, Grandee of the First Class, and Knight of the Golden Fleece, in Spain.
James II (1633-1701)
Duke of York.
He succeeded his brother Charles II to the throne of England. He was a Catholic and not popular. New York City is named in his honour.
His daughter Mary was married to William of Orange.
James II was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne by William of Orange in 1690. This marked the beginning of the end of the Jacobite War.
II. His Early Military Career:
In 1686, his father, then King of England, placed him under the care of an Irish officer of eminence in the Imperial service - Lieutenant-General Francis Taaffe. He commenced his military career against the Turks, with the Austrian army, under the Duke of Lorraine, in Hungary. He was present at the capture of Budapest. Returning for the winter to England, he was created in March 1687, Duke of Berwick, Earl of Tinmouth, and Baron of Bosworth. He rejoined the Austrians that spring in Hungary; was commissioned by the Emperor Leopold I, a Colonel Commandent of Taaffe’s Regiment of Cuirassiers; was at the defeat of the Turks in the Battle of Mohatz; and was also made a Sergeant-General of Battle, or Major-General, by the Emperor, who gave him his picture, set in diamonds.
III. His Military Career in Ireland:Between this period and the Revolution in England, he was appointed Governor of Portsmouth, Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Colonel of the Infantry and Cavalry Regiments, Captain of the 3rd Troop of Lifeguards, and Knight of the Garter. On the success of the Revolution he accompanied the King, his father, in his escape to France in January 1689; and thence came with him to Ireland in March.
William of Orange was a Dutch prince, married to James II's eldest daughter Mary.
He agreed to lead a rebellion against his father-in-law in order to save his own country from attack by the French and to defend the liberties of England.
In the campaign that followed against the Williamites in Ulster, he served as Major-General at Derry, Donegal, and Enniskillen; was made Lieutenant-General; and commanded with ability at Newry and Dundalk. In February 1690, he fought the enemy at Cavan and Belturbet.
In July 1690 as Lieutenant-General, and Captain of a Troop of Horse Guards, he commanded the cavalry of the Irish right wing at the Boyne; had his horse killed, was trampled upon, and was rescued in the melee by a trooper, and with the other General Officers, conducted the retreat to Dublin.
In August and September he was at the successful defence of Limerick against William III. On Tyrconnell’s departure for France in September, he was made Commander of the Jacobite army in Ireland at the age of twenty. He attacked Birr Castle with a body of infantry, cavalry and 4 guns, but on the advance of a very superior Williamite force had to retire across the Shannon into Portumna. A like Williamite superiority of numbers etc, prevented his attempting to interrupt the subsequent siege and capture of Cork and Kinsale in October. He nevertheless preserved the Jacobite territory during the remainder of 1690, constantly harassing the enemy from beyond the Shannon with a guerilla warfare. In January 1691, he prevented a large Williamite army from crossing the Shannon.
Louis XIV , (1638-1715)
The longest reigning monarch of France. The Sun King, "L'etat c'est moi", (I am the state).
He was a first cousin of James II and a grandfather to Philip V of Spain.
He resumed his quarrel with William of Orange in Flanders in 1692, with Patrick Sarsfield leading the Irish regiments.IV. His Military Career on the Continent: In February 1691, quitting Ireland for France, he joined as a volunteer, the French army under Louis XIV; starting with the Siege of Mons and the Battle of Lueze on Sept 19th. In 1692, created Captain of the 1st Troop of Irish Horse Guards, he was to have accompanied his father, King James, with the Irish forces to England, but for the Battle of La Hogue; after which he rejoined the French army in Flanders, and was amongst its most distinguished officers in the defeat of the Allies, August 3rd, at Steinkirk.
Serving as Lieutenant-General in 1693 under Luxembourg, defeated July 29th, William III, in the battle of Landen, headed the attack upon the village of Neerwinden, but was overpowered, made prisoner by his uncle, Brigadier Charles Churchill, (brother of the Duke of Marlborough) and presented to William III. Released not long after for the Duke of Ormonde, he rejoined Luxembourg at the reduction of Charleroy and Mons in Sept and October. Employed in 1694, under the Dauphin in Flanders, he led a column in the famous forced march from Vignamont to Pont d’Espieres, which secured French Flanders from William III. In 1695 he was at the bombardment of Bruxelles. In 1696, nominated by King James Captain-General of his armies, he went over in disguise to London to prepare a Jacobite uprising in support of the restoration of King James - without success. This year and the next he served in Flanders, though without being engaged in any operation of consequence. In 1698, his Troop of Irish Horse Guards being broken up, he obtained the Irish Infantry Regiment named from his English title. In 1701, he went to Rome, on behalf of King James and Louis XIV, to compliment the new Pope, Clement XI, on his accession, and to offer Irish troops under his own command, to the Pope. In 1702, acting as Lieutenant-General under the Duke of Burgundy in Flanders, he led the pursuit of the Dutch General Ginkell from the vicinity of Cleves to Nimeguen.In 1721, he was entrusted with the command over most of southern France, in order to arrest the progress of the plague beyond the southern provinces, and successfully achieved that objective. In June 1724 he was made Chevalier of the Order of the Holy Ghost, and of the Orders of the King. In April 1730 he was made Governor of Strasbourg. He commanded upon the Rhine in 1733, where hostilities broke out between France and Austria. On the 12th June 1734 at the battle of Philipsbourg, exposed to the cannon of both sides, a French or German battery swept off his head, in his 64th year. His body was transported to Strasbourg, embalmed and laid in the Cathedral there, with full military honours. In his last will and testament he wished to be buried in the English Benedictine convent on Rue Saint Jacques in Paris, in the same vault as his son the Duke of FitzJames who died in 1721. There is no real certainty where the Duke of Berwick is buried. One suspects that the provisions of his last will and testament were complied with, but one historian states that he is buried in the Scots College in Paris. Lord Bolingbroke was very upset at the Duke’s death and he threw flowers over his grave. During the French Revolution many tombs and buildings associated with famous people were destroyed. The English Benedictine convent was founded at the time of the Reformation and is located practically next door to the Val de Grâce; it is now a music conservatory. Its address is 269, rue Saint Jacques, 75005 Paris. Its chapel housed the body of James II who died in 1701, which was later transferred to Saint Germain-en-Laye. The Scots College still exists. It is the Collège des Ecossais, 65, rue du Cardinal Lemoine, 75005 Paris. Its chapel contained the heart of the afore-mentioned James II. It is now the head office of the Association Franco-Ecossaise and of a Roman Catholic organisation. Both are situated in what is known as the Latin quarter, around the Sorbonne.
He was naturalised a Frenchman in 1703, and in December he was named to command 18 battalions and 19 squadrons to be sent into Spain. He was received in state, February 15th 1704 at Madrid, and as Captain-General of Spain, proceeded, March 4th, with King Philip V to engage the allied army of Portuguese, English and Austrians in Portugal. The allied army, though superior in numbers and accompanied by the figure of St Anthony of Padua as spiritual Generalissimo of Portugal, were defeated and compelled to retire in October. He received in November, from Philip V at Madrid, the insignia of the Order of the Golden Fleece, and returned to France. In February 1705, was made Commander in Languedoc, to appease the revolted Huguenots, and in October was selected to reduce Nice. On February 15th 1706, he was created Marshal of France and on the 20th, was named to command in Spain, against the Portuguese, English and Dutch, and on March 12th reached Madrid. The Allies assembled their army of 45 battalions and 56 squadrons, and he arrived at Badajos on the 27th to oppose them. The Allies advanced to Madrid and entered it, June 25th, under Lord Galway and the Marquis de Lasminas. The Marshal, joined by King Phillip, and troops from the Castilles, Andalusia, and by the local peasantry, routed the enemy and recovered Madrid in August. The recovery of 200 cities, burghs, or villages in Valencia and Murcia including Carthagena on November 18th, completed the Marshal’s achievements in this campaign. Continuing to command the French and Spanish armies against Lord Galway and the Allies, the Marshal gained his greatest victory at the battle of Almanza, April 25th 1707. For this signal success, which led to the recovery of almost the whole of Valencia and Aragon, the Marshal was rewarded by King Phillip; who bestowed on him the cities of Liria and Xerica in Valencia, with their dependencies, accompanied by the title, from these places, of Duke, and the dignity of Grandee of the First Class, for himself and his descendants. The Marshal conquered the city of Valencia May 6th and the strong fortress of Lerida on November 11th. On Nov 24th 1707 the Marshal was made Governor of the Limousin by Louis XIV, and was appointed in May 1708, to command the army of the Rhine under the Elector of Bavaria, and then transferred to Flanders.
From 1709 to 1712, he commanded the Army of Dauphine, on the frontiers of Piedmont, for the protection of the southern provinces of France against the Piedmontese and Germans, and these campaigns were esteemed masterpieces of defensive tactics. In the winter of 1709, he was granted by Louis XIV, the Lordship of Warty, and was further nominated a Peer of France In 1712. In September 1713 his services to the Crown of Spain were completed by the success at Barcelona, after a resistance so obstinate, that between besiegers and besieged, the loss amounted to about 16,000 killed or wounded. For this achievement Phillip V granted him a pension of 100, 000 livres a year, and sent him a sword adorned with diamonds of great value. In April 1716 the Marshal was nominated Commander in Guyenne. War having broken out with Spain in 1719, he reduced Fontarabia in June, St. Sebastian in August, Urgel in October. Peace occurring in 1720, he was elected for his services, a Member of the Council of Regency.
V. His Final Years, Death and Burial:
VI. His marriages and family members: The Duke had two sisters and one brother. (1) Henrietta FitzJames, Lady Waldergrove (1671 - 1730). (2) Arabella FitzJames (1672-1762) - a nun in France. (3) Henry FitzJames, (1673-1702) Duke of Albemarle and Lord Grand Prior of England.
The Duke was first married at St. Germain in 1695, to the widow of Patrick Sarsfield. She was originally Lady Honora de Burgo, 2nd daughter of William, 7th Earl of Clanricarde. She died, January 16th 1698 at Pezenas, in Languedoc, to the great grief of her husband. She is buried at Pontoise.
James Francis Fitz-James, son of the Duke of Berwick and Honora de Burgo. He was Duke of Berwick and Duke of Liria, and married Dona Catarina of Portugal, sister of the Duke of Veraquas.
He died in Naples in 1738.
By this marriage he had, October 21st 1696, one son, James Francis FitzJames, Marquis of Tinmouth, who married Dona Catalina Ventura Colon de Portugal, heiress to the House of Veragas, and a direct descendant of Christopher Colombus.
In addition to his titles of Duke of Berwick, Liria, and Xerica, Earl of Tinmouth, Baron of Bosworth, and Grandee of the First Class, he was a Chamberlain to his Catholic Majesty, a Knight of the Golden Fleece, and of the Russian Orders of St Andrew and St Alexander, Colonel of the Irish Regiment of Limerick, a Lieutenant-General. He was appointed Ambassador to Russia, where he obtained the two orders of Knighthood last mentioned, and was then appointed Ambassador to Naples, where he died June 1st 1738.
The Duke's second marriage was in 1700 to Anne Bulkeley, daughter of the Hon. Henry Bulkeley and Lady Sophia Stewart, by whom he had thirteen children, four of whom died in infancy.
When the Marshall died, eight of his children were still alive. His eldest son from his first wife, the Duke of Liria, was settled in Spain and not dependent on him. His eldest son from his second marriage, Henry Jacques, died in 1721; and Henry, the Abbot of Berwick, died in 1731. Henriette was married to Louis de Clermont d’Amboise, Marquis of Resnel and Montglas, and she had a dowry. Francis, who was Abbot of Saint Victor since 1727, became Bishop of Soissons in 1739. Charles was Governor of the Limousin since 1729, as was his father, and his military career lead him to be Marshal in 1775. Laure-Anne had recently married Louis de Montagu-Beaune, Marquis of Bouz-ols, Lieutenant-General for the government of Basse-Auvergne, but still needed the support of her father. Marie-Emilie, who later married Francois-Marie de Perusse, Count of Cars, was not yet settled. Her younger sister Anne-Sophie, was to become a nun in the Order of the Visitation.
Edward was just 17 years old. On the fourth of June 1731, the date of his will, he left most of his property to his wife and his dependent children. He was married to his second wife for thirty-four years in perfect harmony. She survived him by 17 years, grief stricken at his loss. He also adopted the son of Patrick Sarsfield and Honora.
Through intermarriage, the Alba and the Berwick families are closely related. It was the Third Duke of Berwick, Jacobo F.J. Stuart, who created the very famous Museum de Liria in Madrid in 1780. The present owner is Maria del Rosario Cayetana Stuart, XI Duchess of Berwick, XVIII Duchess of Alba, and XVIII Duchess of Hijar.
VII. The Berwick Regiment and its Dissolution:
In 1698, after his Troop of Irish Horse Guards had been broken up, he obtained the Irish infantry regiment named from his English title. This regiment, organised from what remained of the Regiment of Athlone, the King’s Dismounted Dragoons, and the three Independent Companies of King James’s army, after the Peace of Ryswick, was granted February 27th 1698. His son, James Francis Fitz- James, Marquis of Tinmouth, to whom, after having served two campaigns with him, he transferred his regiment in May 1713, and he held it until 1716. The Marshal next gave his regiment to the eldest son of his second marriage - the Duke of FitzJames - born in 1702. The Duke was Colonel till his death in 1721. His brother, the Lord Henri de FitzJames, succeeded in command until December 1729, when he too was followed as Colonel, by his brother, Count Edward de FitzJames, and he held it until his death in 1758. The regiment devolved then to Charles, Duke of FitzJames, and in 1783 to his son, Jean Charles de FitzJames, subsequently Duke, and Marechal de Camp, became Colonel of the corps, and was so until the French Revolution. In 1791, the old appellation from 1698 of the "Regiment of Berwick" was changed to the "88th Regiment of Infantry".
The dissolution of the Irish Brigade in France dates from 1791. By a decree of the National Assembly, July 21st, all regiments excepting the Swiss, which had hitherto been named, clad and paid as foreign corps, were no longer to be distinguished from, but placed in every respect on the same footing as French regiments. In this decree concerning the troupes etrangeres au service de France the Irish regiments were included.
In 1792, Louis XVIII conveyed the final gratitude of his family to the representatives of the three remaining Irish Brigades - Dillon, Walsh and Berwick - with a drapeau d’adieu or farewell banner, emblematic of their national deserts, and accompanied by these words:
"Gentlemen, - We acknowledge the inappreciable services
that France has received from the Irish Brigade,
in the course of the last 100 years; services that we shall never forget,
though under an impossibility of requiting them.
Receive this standard, as a pledge of our remembrance,
a monument of our admiration,
and of our respect; and in future, generous Irishmen,
this shall be the motto of your spotless flag:
1692 - 1791 - ‘Semper et Ubique Fidelis'
BibliographyHistory of the Irish Brigades in the Service of France, J.C. O'Callahan.
Patrick Sarsfield and the Williamite War, Piers Wauchope, 1992.
The Wild Geese, Maurice N. Hennessy.
Jacobite Ireland,J.G. Simms.
The Marshial Duke of Berwick, Sir Charles Petrie.
Copyright ©2000, Sean Ryan
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