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Montmorenci Duke of Luxembourg

Montmorenci the name of one of the oldest and most distinguished families in France, derived from Montmorency, now in the department of Seine-et-Oise, in the immediate neighbourhood of Enghien and St Denis, and about 9 miles N.N.W. of Paris. The family, since its first appearance in history in the person of Bouchard I, sire de Montmorency I in the 10th century, has furnished six constables and twelve marshals of France, several admirals and cardinals, numerous grand officers of the Crown and grand masters of various knightly orders, and was declared by Henry IV. to be, after that of the Bourbons, the first house in Europe.

The history of the great house of Montmorenci is that of France, and few pages of the annals of that kingdom can be found which do not tell of their services to King and country and of their blood shed on battle-field or scaffold. In 1627 Francois de Montmorenci, Comte de Bouteville, and his friend and second, Comte des Chappelles, lost their heads for the infraction of the recent edicts against duelling in the celebrated combat with the Marquis de Beuvron of three on each side, when the Marquis de Bussy d'Amboise was left dead on the field.

The posthumous son of the unhappy Bouteville was Francois Henri de Montmorenci, who commenced his illustrious career as Aide-de-Camp to his kinsman, the famous Prince of Conde, and died in 1695, a Duke and a Marshal of France. Francis Henry de Montmorenci, Duke of Luxembourg, a very celebrated general and marshal of France, was a posthumous son of the famous Bouteville, who was beheaded under the reign of Louis XIII for fighting a duel. He was born in 1628, was present at the battle of Rocroi in 1643, and served under the great Conde, whose pupil he was, and whom he followed in all his fortunes. He also resembled that great general in many of his eminent qualities, in acuteness of perception, thirst for knowledge, promptness of action, and ardour of genius. These qualities he displayed in the conquest of Franche-Comte in 1668, where he served as lieutenant general. In the Dutch campaign he also had his share; in 1672, he took many towns and gained some trophies.

A branch of the Montmorencies, who attained the rank of one of the first marshals of France, and executed many important commands, married Madeleine Charlotte Bonne Therese de Clermont, daughter of Marguerite Charlotte de Luxemburg, duchesse de Piney, the heiress of the Dukes of Luxemburg, whose peerage was a male fief, created in 1581. A first marriage had given birth to a son and a daughter, who were the inheritors of the peerage, both of whom were still living. The son was, however, an idiot, had been declared incapable of attending to his affairs, and was shut up in Saint Lazare, at Paris. The daughter had taken the veil, and was mistress of the novices at the Abbayeaux-Bois. The peerage had thus, it might almost be said, become extinct, for it was vested in an idiot, who could not marry (to prevent him doing so, he had been made a deacon, and he was bound in consequence to remain single), and in a nun, who was equally bound by her vows to the same state of celibacy.

When M. de Bouteville, for that was his only title then, married, he took the arms and the name of Luxembourg. He did more. By powerful influence, - notably that of his patron the Prince de Condi, he released the idiot deacon from his asylum, and the nun from her convent, and induced them both to surrender to him their possessions and their titles. This done, he commenced proceedings at once in order to obtain legal recognition of his right to the dignities he had thus got possession of. He claimed to be acknowledged Duc de Piney, with all the privileges attached to that title as a creation of 1581. Foremost among these privileges was that of taking precedence of all dukes whose title did not go back so far as that year. Before any decision was given either for or against this claim, he was made Duc de Piney by new letters patent, dating from 1662, with a clause which left his pretensions to the title of 1581 by no means affected by this new creation. M. de Luxembourg, however, seemed satisfied with what he had obtained, and was apparently disposed to pursue his claim no further.

The marshal obtained a new creation; but not content with that, entered a process, and used all his interest at court, which was considerable, to obtain the precedence of the old dukedom. Peerages were always strictly entailed on the male heirs of the body of the grantee, so that when they became extinct, and the female heir carried the pretensions of the blood into another house, which obtained a grant of a revival of the honour, it was too gross an encroachment to claim the precedence of the old creation, as in the case of the dukedom of Piney-Luxembourg, which was long carried on with great earnestness by Marshal Montmorency-Luxembourg.

To assist M. de Luxembourg's case as much as possible, the celebrated Racine, so known by his plays, and by the order he had received at that time to write the history of the King, was employed to polish and ornament his pleas. Nothing was left undone by M. de Luxembourg in order to gain this cause.

After distinguishing himself in another expedition into Franche-Comte, he was advanced, in 1675, to the dignity of marshal of France. at that time, after the death of marshal Turenne, Louis XIV made eight new marshals:-Estrade, the Duke of Navailles, Count Schomberg, the Duke of Duras, the Duke of Vivonne, the Duke de la Feuillade, the Duke of Luxembourg, and the Marquis of Rochefort. Madame Cornuel said of this promotion, that "the king had got small change for the money of Marshal Turenne."

Cbarles Francis Frederick de Montmorency Luxemburg, Duke of Piney Luxemburg, had a Patent to make the Lands of Beaufort a Dutchy in May 1688, which was later called the Dutchy of Luxemburg.

The last great action of the Duke's life was a second famous retreat in the presence of superior forces, through a considerable extent of country to Tournay. This was in 1694, and fcgtm this time his military glory was at an end ; he died shortly after, on January 4th, 1695. His wife was the heiress of the great house of Luxembourg, and he joined her name and arms to his own. /p>

The Duke of Luxembourg (1702-64) was a marshal of France, and as intimate a friend of the king as the king was capable of having. The Marechale de Luxembourg (1707-87) had been one of the most beautiful, and continued to be one of the most brilliant, leaders of the last aristocratic generation destined to sport on the slopes of the volcano. The former seems to have been a loyal and homely soul; the latter, restless, imperious, penetrating, unamiable.

At the outbreak of the American Revolution the Duke of Luxembourg was Charles Anne Sigismond, great-grandson of the Marshal Francis Henry de Montmorenci, Duke of Luxembourg. He was born in 1721 and died in 1777.

His son was Anne Charles Sigismond de Montmorenci-Luxembourg, Duke of Luxembourg after the death of his father in 1777. Anne de Montmorency-Luxembourg, known in his youth under the name of Chevalier de Luxembourg, was born in 1742, was named Captain of the Guards (1767), Marshal of Camp (1784). He died in 1790 [other accounts state died in Lisbon an exile in 1803]. He had accepted the title of Grand Master of the lodge of Egyptian freemasonry, founded by Cagliostro. The Chevalier de Luxembourg even accepted the title of Grand Master of the Lodge of Egyptian Freemasonry, founded by the charlatan, and the greatest names of France were enrolled among its members.

He was succeeded by his son Charles Emanuel Sigismond, who was Duke of Luxembourg when his late uncle's claim was finally settled in his favor. This uncle was the Chevalier de Luxembourg. In his early life he is said to have served in the French Navy, but later, as Prince of Luxembourg, to have commanded a company of the Garde du corps, which commission he held in "survivance" of his kinsman, the Prince de Tingri.

Procurators for the Duke of Luxembourg and the Marquise de Serran, brother and sister, had in their name renounced the inheritance as more onerous than profitable. These said relatives were then in exile, having lost by confiscation all their property in France. The Duke was residing in Portugal, and the Marquise in London.

This branch becoming extinct in 1862, the title was taken by the due de Valencay, who belonged to the Talleyrand-Perigord family and married one of the two heiresses of this branch (1864). There were many other branches of the Montmorency family, among others that of the seigneurs of Laval, a cadet branch of which received the title of duke of Laval and settled on the estate of Magnac in 1758.




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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:58:19 ZULU