Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 86 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FRANCOIS 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 avons 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 (q.v.). Louis consoled his old friend with the remark, " At our age, one is no longer lucky," but superseded him in the command, and henceforward Villeroi lived the life of a courtier, much busied with intrigues but retaining to the end the friendship of his master.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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