Louis François, duc de Boufflers

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Louis François de Boufflers

Birthplace: Cagny, Crillon, Oise, France
Death: Died in Fontainebleau, Île-de-France, France
Immediate Family:

Son of François, seigneur de Boufflers and Louise Le Vergeur
Husband of Catherine Charlotte de Gramont and Marie Françoise Catherine de Beauvau, Madame de Boufflers
Father of Marie Joséphine de Boufflers and Stanislas, marquis de Boufflers

Managed by: George J. Homs
Last Updated:

About Louis François, duc de Boufflers

Golden Fleece - Knights: Spanish Branch

Boufflers background and early career

The Boufflers family were of ancient Picard nobility. Boufflers father was François II comte de Boufflers, Grand-bailli du Beauvoisis (Beauvais). On 22 July 1652 he became a Maréchal de Camp, and he died on 16 March 1668. On 17 May 1640 he had married Louise le Vergeur. She died on 14 March 1653.

The couple had two sons: The eldest was François III comte de Boufflers, who died at Chateau Boufflers on 14 February 1672. He had a son Henry, colonel in the infantry (25 Sep. 1671 - 19 May 1693). Our Boufflers was born as chevalier de Boufflers on 10 January 1644. There were also three younger sisters, who all went to a convent.

Boufflers entered service as a cadet in the regiment Gardes Françaises in 1621. In 1664 he participated in the campaign to take Gigeri, nowadays Jijel in Algeria. He became a sub-lieutenant of the Gardes Françaises on 8 February 1666. In 1667 he fought in Flanders and distinguished himself in the sieges of Douai (July 1667), Tournai (June 1667) and Lille (27 July 1667). On 15 March 1668 Boufflers became aide-major of the Gardes Françaises.

He entered the army and saw service in 1663 at the siege of Marsal, becoming colonel of dragoons in 1669. In the conquest of Lorraine (1670), he served under Marshal de Créqui. In the Dutch Republic, he served under Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne, frequently distinguishing himself by his skill and bravery; and when Turenne was killed by a cannon shot in 1675, he commanded the rear-guard during the retreat of the French army. He was already a brigadier, and in 1677 he became maréchal de camp.

He served throughout the campaigns of the time with increasing distinction, and in 1681 became lieutenant-general. He commanded the French army on the Moselle, which opened the War of the Grand Alliance with a series of victories. On 15 October 1688, he took the important fortress Mainz, the Aureum caput regni, with 20,000 soldiers, then he led a corps to the Sambre, and reinforced François Henri de Montmorency, Duc de Luxembourg on the eve of the Battle of Fleurus (1690).

In 1691, he acted as lieutenant-general under the king in person; and during the investment of Mons he was wounded in an attack on the town. He was present with the king at the siege of Namur in 1692, and took part in the victory of Steinkirk. For his services he was raised in 1692 to the rank of Marshal of France, and in 1694 was made a duke.

In 1694, he was appointed governor of French Flanders and of the town of Lille. He was besieged in Namur in 1695, and only surrendered to his besiegers after he had lost 8,000 of his 13,000 men. In the conferences which terminated in the Peace of Ryswick he had a principal share.

During the following war (the War of the Spanish Succession), when Lille was threatened with a siege by John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugène of Savoy, Boufflers was appointed to the command, and made a most gallant resistance of three months.

He was rewarded and honoured by the king for his defence of Lille, as if he had been victorious. It was indeed a species of triumph; his enemy, appreciating his merits, allowed him to dictate his own terms of capitulation. In 1708 he was made a peer of France. In 1709, when the affairs of France were threatened with the most urgent danger, Boufflers offered to serve under his junior, Claude-Louis-Hector de Villars, and was with him at the Battle of Malplaquet. Here he displayed the highest skill, and after Villars was wounded he conducted the retreat of the French army without losing either cannon or prisoners. He died at Fontainebleau on August 22, 1711.

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Louis François, duc de Boufflers's Timeline

January 10, 1644
Crillon, Oise, France
Age 59
August 22, 1711
Age 67
Fontainebleau, Île-de-France, France
May 31, 1738
Age 67
Nancy, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Lorraine, France