Walter Leslie, Reichsgraf

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Walter Leslie

Birthdate: (60)
Birthplace: Fetternaer House, Aberdeenshire, UK
Death: March 4, 1667 (60)
Vienna, Austria
Immediate Family:

Son of William Leslie, X. Baron of Balquhain and Jean Erskine
Husband of Anna Franziska von Dietrichstein
Brother of Elizabeth Grant; Jean Leslie, of Balquhain and Alexander Leslie, Fourteenth Baron of Balquhain
Half brother of Natural Son of John Leslie; John Leslie, Eleventh Baron of Balquhain; William Leslie, Thirteenth Baron of Balquhain and Isabella Leslie

Managed by: Private User
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About Walter Leslie, Reichsgraf

The familie of Leslie - Google Books

Page 241 - 251



"First Count Leslie.

"The family of the Counts of Leslie of the Holy Roman Empire is descended from the ancient family of Leslie of Balquhain in Scotland. Walter, first Count of Leslie, was the second son of John Leslie , tenth Baron of Balquhain, by his third wife, Jean Erskine, daughter of Sir Alexander Erskine, Baron of Gogar, and sister of Thomas , first Earl of Kelly. He was born in 1606, and went over to Germany when he was but a youth, and entered the Imperial service, in which he served with great distinction and honour in the war against the Swedes during the reign of the Emperor Ferdinand II.

"After the death of Count Tilly, Wallenstein was reappointed to the command of the Imperial army, and immediately began operations against Gustavus Adolphus, who had intrenched himself at Nürnberg. Wallenstein appeared before Nürnberg 26th June 1632. Finding Gustavus entrenched, when urged to attack him, Wallenstein said that battles enough had been fought already, and that it was time to try another method. He resolved, therefore, to subdue by famine those whom he could not subdue by arms, and with great judgement took up a position about five miles to the south-west of Nürnberg, so as very much to narrow and nearly block up the channels through which Gustavus received his supplies.

"We find in Grant’s Memoirs and Adventures of Sir John Hepburn, who served in the Swedish army under Gustavus Adolphus, that on the 28th July 1632, Gustavus Adolphus, having received powerful reinforcements, and provisions becoming scarce in the camp and city, ‘marched one thousand musketeers and eight hundred horse to Bergtheim, to cover an attack that Colonel M’Dougal (whose nom de guerre was Dewbattel) was about to make on an Imperial magazine. These fell suddenly on the forces of Sparre, a sergeant-major di battaglia, who Wallenstein had ordered to drive back M’Dougal. Sparre led his own regiment of musketeers, four troops of Gonzaga’s horse, and four of Coloredo’s, with twenty squandrons of Croatians, and a thousand Scottish and Irish musketeers, led by Colonel Gordon and Major Lesly, two Scottish officers who served the Emperor.

" 'Among the rough and rocky ground, three miles from Altenburg, a long and desperate but desultory conflict ensued between these forces and those of Gustavus, which were ultimately successful. Each after the other the Imperial regiments were swept away in succession, and the one thousand musketeers of Gordon and Lesly alone stood firm, maintaining their posts behind every tree, rock, and wall, with the most steady gallantry. Gustavus frequently applauded their valour, and declared that if these were Scots and fell into his hands as prisoners, he would release them unransomed: adding that, if all the Imperialists had fought as well, he must have lost the field that day.

" 'Long and resolutely these brave Scots and Irish fought side by side, and from the dover of a thick wood kept the Swedish troops in check until the mass of their less gallant comrades, the Germans, had effected a safe retreat; but on the flight of Gonzaga (whom, although the nephew of the Empress, Wallenstein tried by a court-martial), being left single-handed, Sparre, Colonel Gordon, and Major Lesly, were taken prisoners, and brought to the Swedish camp. Having on a former occasion violated his parole of honour, the first officer remained a prisoner; but three days after, Gordon and Lesly were released by the Swedish conqueror, who complimented them on their valour and spirit. Hepburn, Munro, and other Scottish officers, would not allow them to return for five weeks, during which time they had to visit and make merry with them all in succession, and were not permitted to bid adieu to Nürnberg until Gustavus was preparing to attack the Imperialists.

" 'They returned to the camp of Wallenstein; and these were the two Scottish officers who, on the treachery of that great noble being discovered, so boldly slew him in the now ruined castle of Eger in Bohemia.

" 'Colonel Gordon was a Presbyterian, yet he was created a Marquis of the Empire, Colonel-General of the Imperial Army, and bearer of the gold key as High Chamberlain to the Emperor.

" 'Major Walter Lesly was the youngest son of Lesly of Balquhain in the Barioch: he was captain of the body-guards and colonel of a regiment. By the Emperor Ferdinand III. he was created Count Lesly, and Lord of Neustadt in Bohemia, an estte worth two hundred florins. He became a Field-Marshal, Governor of Scalvonia, and Knight of the Golden Fleece, -- an order which hr received from Leopold I. before his departure as ambassador to Constantinople.’

" Water Leslie served with great reputation under Wallenstein during all his splendid exploits. He was one of the captains of his guards, and was very much in his confidence. But when Wallenstein’s ambitious views and his treasonable design of betraying the Emperor and the Imperial army to the enemy, as discovered by his letters to the Swedes, became known, and appeared to be fully confirmed by the movement to Eger, towards the enemy, Walter Leslie found that he was called to choose between treason and duty – between a legitimate sovereign and a fugitive rebel; and although Wallenstein had been his benefactor, yet he felt that his choice could not be doubtful, and that he was bound to lend his aid to frustrate the traitor’s designs, and to secure him as a prisoner.

"On arriving at Eger in the suite of the Duke, Walter Leslie revealed the designs of Wallenstein to Colonel Gordon, a Scotchman, who was commandant of the town, and to Colonel Butler, who commanded a regiment of dragoons, and who had also caome to Eger with the Duke. They resolved on the bold step of taking Wallenstein prisoner, and delivering him up alive to the Emperor. However, when Wallenstein imparted to them his resolution of delivering Eger and the Passes of the kingdom into the hands of the enemy, the Palatine of Birkenfield, and told them that he expected the immediate approach of Duke Bernard of Weimar, they altered their plan. The urgency of the case admitted no delay, as Eger might be in the hands of the enemy at any moment. To prevent such a misfortune, they resolved to put Wallenstein’s chief associates to death.

"In execution of this design, Colonel Gordon, the commandant, and Colonel Butler, invited Wallenstein and his friends, Counts Illo, Terczka, and Kinsky, and Rittmeister Naumann, to an entertainment to be given in the citadel the next evening. They all came except Wallenstein, who was too agitated to enjoy company, and who seldom joined such convivial parties. The guests were in high spirits at the thought of being beyond the reach of their enemies, meaning the Emperor’s faithful generals. But after the dessert was placed, parties od dragoons, who had been placed in rooms at opposite ends of the saloon, rushed in with drawn sabers, shouting, ‘Viva! Viva! Ls Casa di Austria! Wer ist gut Kaiserlich!’ Butler, Gordon, and Leslie immediately sprang up, and called out, ‘Vivat Ferdinandus!’ The unfortunte guests, surprised and thunderstruck, said nothing, and the dragoons immediately attacked them and cut them down.

"Walter Leslie hastened to the town below to prevent tumult. He declared to the different guards the whole circumstances of Wallenstein’s conspiracy, and the means which were already taken to frustrate it by the fall of the four officers. He exacted from the troops an oath to be faithful to the Emperor, and admitted into the town one hundred dragoons, to whom he gave orders to patrol and maintain tranquility. A detachment was sent to surround Wllenstain’s residence, to prevent him from escaping or receiving assistance, it still being the intention to secure him alive as a prisoner.

"However, after the tragedy in the citadel, a council was held to consider what was to be done. Colonel Gordon raised a feeble voice in the cause of humanity, to save the life of Wallenstein. But his scruples were overruled by Butler, who represented the near approach of the Swedes and Saxons, and urged that the only chance of the final success of the Emperor’s cause lay in the immediate death of the Duke. Towards midnight, Colonel Butler, taking with him Captain Devereux and six Hollanders, went to Wallenstein’s quarters, as if to call on him. The Guards allowed him to enter, and while Butler remained below, Captain Devereux and his party burst into the chambers of the Duke, who, alarmed by the noise, was standing half-dressed at a window. Seeing their design of taking his life, he threw his arms wide open, and received the deadly thrusts in this breast, and fell down dean without a groan, 25th February 1634.

"Walter Leslie was dispatched to Vienna to convey to the Emperor the important intelligence of Wallenstein’s death and the defeat of his conspiracy. For his fidelity on this occasion the Emperor Ferdinand II. Made him captain of his body-guard, the colonel of a regiment, and governor of a garrison; and also bestowed on him other testimonies of imperial favour. Ferdinand III., who succeeded his father as Emperor in 1637, also held Walter Leslie in great esteem, and presented him with the lordship of Neustadt in Bohemia, valued at 200,000 florins; created him a Count of the Holy Roman Empire, Lord of Neustadt and Pittau, by a patent dated 15th March 1637; made him Imperial Chamberlain, Privy Councillor, Lieutenant and Governor of Verusden, and Warden of the borders or confines of Sclavonia and Petrinia, and a Field-Marshal of the Imperial army. The Emperor Leopold I. created him a Knight of the Golden Fleece.

"Walter Count Leslie's patent of the dignity of Count of the Holy Roman Empire was granted to him and his two brothers, William and Alexander, and their heirs, that, in case he died without issue, they might succeed him in his titles and estates.

"Being possessed of great wealth, Count Water Leslie frequently remitted sums of money to his brother Count Alexander Leslie, fourteenth Baron of Balquhain, and his nephew Count Patrick Leslie, fifteenth Baron, and enabled them to retrieve their estates, then very much embarrassed by the extravagance of former possessors.

"After the victory gained by the Imperial General Montecuculi against the Turks at St. Gotthard, on the banks of the Raab, 1st August 1664, Count Walter Leslie was sent as Imperial Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary by the Emperor Leopold I. to the Sublime Porte, for the purspose of adjusting the terms of a lasting peace. Count Leslie arranged everything relating to the embassy on the most magnificent scale. His retinue was the most splendid which ever went from Europe to Constantiinople, and amongst those who accompanied him was Lord Henry Howard, afterwards fifth Earl of Arundel. They proceeded in great state down the Danube in gay barges to Presburg an dbuda, and arrived at Belgrade, from whence they proceeded in statecoaches by easy journeys through Samandria, Nissa, Philippopolis, to Adrianople. Two hundred wagons were employed to convey the baggage. The entrance into Constantinople bore all the characteristics of a triumphal march. Indeed, so superb was his brilliant Cortege, that the Grand Signor himself, who beheld from a window the entry into the seraglio, where he received them, and granted the Count an audience, was heard to say that in all his life he never saw so splendid a show, as s related in Monsieur Riccati’s preface to his book on Turkish fashions, where he speaks of Count Leslie in terms of high commendation.

"An account of this embassy was published at Vienna, in 1672, by the Rev. Father Paul Tafferner, a Jesuit, who had been chaplain to Count Walter Leslie. In this work, dedicated to Count Walter’s nephew and successor, James, second Count Leslie, Walter Leslie is styled Count of the Holy Roman Empire, Imperial Legate to the Ottoman Porte, Lord of Pittau and Neustadt on the Moldau, Imperial Privy Councillor, Member of the Aulic Council, Field-Marshal, and General of the Marches of Sclavonia and Petrinia. An account of the embeassy was also written by John Burgury, in his ‘Relation of a Jornery of the Right Honourable Lord Henry Howard, and his brother the Honourable Edward Howard, from London to Vienna, and thence to Constantinople, in the suite of his Excellency Count Leslie, Knight of the Golden Fleece, Councillor of State to his Imperial Majesty, Ambassador-Extraordinary from Leopold, Emperor of Germany, to the Grand Signor Sultan Mahomet Hau the Fourth. By John Burbury. Printed in London, 1671.

"Count Walter Leslie married, in 1640, the Princess Anne Francisca de Dietrichstein, daughter of Maximilian, Prince de Dietrichstein, Prime Minister and Grand-Chamberlain to the Emperor; with her he received considerable possessions. Having no issue, he entailed his estates on his nephew Count James, eldest son of his brother, Count Alexander Leslie, fourteenth Baron of Balquhain, and his heir-male; whom failing, on Patrick Leslie, younger son of the said Count Alexander Leslie, and his heir-male; failing whom, on the heirs-male of his father-in-law, Maximilian, Prince Dietrichstein; family whom, on the heirs-female of the said James and Patrick Leslie, his newphews, when the entail was to be exhausted.

"Walter, Count Leslie, died at Vienna 4th March 1667, aged sixty-one years, and was buried with great pomp in the Leslie chapel in the Scotch Benedictine Abbey there. He was succeeded by his nephew James, second Count Leslie."

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Walter Leslie, Reichsgraf's Timeline

Aberdeenshire, UK
March 4, 1667
Age 60
Vienna, Austria