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Villeroi, Francois de Neufville, Duke of (1644-1730).

Marshal of France. Principal wars: Ottoman War (1662-1664); War of Devolution (1667-1668); Dutch War (1672-1678); War of the League of Augsburg (1688-1697); War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). Principal battles: the Raab/Szentgotthard (1664); Enzheim (near Strasbourg), Muhlhausen (1674); Turckheim (1675); Chiari (1701); Cremona (1702); Ramillies (in Brabant, Belgium) (1706).

Born the son of Nicolas de Neufville, Marquis of Villeroi, a marshal and King Louis XIV's governor (1644); growing up at court, gained the friendship of King Louis XIV; first in combat at the battle of the Raab (Szentgotthard or St. Gotthard Abbey) (August 1, 1664); took part in the War of Devolution in Flanders; served in the campaigns of the Dutch War and the War of the League of Augsburg; as a marechal de camp (brigadier general), he served with distinction under Turenne during the Alsatian campaign, fighting at Enzheim (October 4, 1674), Muhlhausen (December 20), and Turckheim (January 5, 1675); promoted to lieutenant general (February 25, 1677); made a marshal (March 27, 1693); after the death of the Duke of Luxembourg, became commander of the French army in Flanders against King William III (January 1695); outmaneuvered by the Anglo-Dutch allies (1696); took command in Italy at the outset of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701); was defeated by Prince Eugene at Chiari (September 1); withdrew to Cremona, where he was captured in Eugene's surprise raid on the city (February 1, 1702); exchanged, he helped frustrate Marlborough's efforts in Flanders (June-October 1703); and his desultory campaigning again stymied Marlborough's efforts two years later (1705); Villeroi moved to block Marlborough's advance on Namur (April-May 1706) but was defeated at Ramillies and his army was driven from the field in disorder (May 25); although Louis XIV consoled him, he held no further commands and spent the rest of his life as a courtier; to the end he retained Louis' friendship; died at Paris (July 18, 1730).

A polished courtier, Villeroi was a valiant and gallant soldier; as a commander his talents were not comparable to those of his contemporaries, Villars and Boufflers. <BL>

Nouvelle biographie generale. 66 vols. Paris, 1865-1866.
Encyclopaedia Britannica. 24 vols. Chicago, 1966.


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Author:Bongard, David L.
Publication:The Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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