Rabutin, Jean-Louis, Comte de

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Personalities >> Rabutin, Jean-Louis, Comte de

Rabutin, Jean-Louis (Johann Ludwig), Comte de

Imperialist General-Feldwachtmeister (1686-1692), Feldmarschall-Lieutenant (1692-1694) General of cavalry (1694-1704), Field-Marshal (1704-1717)

Governor of Transylvania (1696-1706, 1708-1709), Imperial Private Councillor (1709-1717), Proprietor of the Rabutin Dragoons (1686-1715)

born around 1650, Paris, France

died 16 November 1715, Vienna, Austria, Habsburg Domain


Portrait of Jean-Louis de Rabutin, Governor of Transylvania

This romantic character was among the foreign gentlemen who offered their sword to the Duc de Lorraine before moving on to the Imperial service. Belonging to the Rabutin-Chamuigy family, a younger branch of the illustrious Rabutin family, Jean-louis was a distant cousin of Madame de Sévigné and of the leading Count Roger de Bussy-Rabutin. Sometimes, Jean-Louis did not disdain, calling himself "Bussy-Rabutin" to suggest that he was a very close relative – even the son – of the latter and a brother of the bishop of Lucon. In fact, he was the fifth child of Jean de Rabutin, Seigneur de Selles, Comte de Saint-Pierre de Macon, and of Francoise de Monbéton (daughter of Jacques de Monbéton, seigneur de Selles and of Renée de Saint-Paul). As his parents were married in 1642, he would have been born around 1650, perhaps even in 1653, in Paris as reported by these authors.

From 1664 to 1668, his father placed Jean-Louis as page in the House of the Prince de Condé.

In 1668, Jean-Louis joined the Mousquetaires.

A few years later, Jean-Louis was involved in a scandal at the Princesse de Condé's palace and forced to run away. He took refuge with the Duc Charles V de Lorraine, who accepted him in his service as captain of cavalry.

In 1679, after the Treaty of Nijmegen, the Duc de Lorraine reduced his army to a single regiment: Mercy Cuirassiers where Jean-Louis served.

On 13 March 1682, Jean Louis married Dorothea Elisabeth, widow of Count Sinzendorf, born Princess von Holstein-Sonderburg-Wiesenburg. His marriage acquired him strong support at the Court. Shortly after his marriage, on 22 April 1682, Louis de Rabutin got the "inkolat" in Bohemia

At the beginning of 1683, while still serving in Mercy Cuirassiers, Jean-Louis had a duel with Marquis Charles-Louis de Bassompierre and seriously wounded him. Jean-Louis de Rabutin then changed allegiance and joined the Imperial dragoon regiment “Castell” as lieutenant-colonel. The same year, during the siege of Vienna by the Turks, Rabutin operated from Wiener Neustadt and distinguished himself in several skirmishes against Spahis. After the liberation of the city, he participated in the Hungarian campaigns under the command of Duc Charles V.

In 1684, Rabutin was created appointed chamberlain of the treasure.

In 1685, Rabutin distinguished himself once more during the battles of Ofen and Neuhäusel (present-day Nové Zámky/SK).

On 17 November 1686, Rabutin was promoted to General-Feldwachtmeister (GFWM). The same year, he was appointed colonel of the Castell Dragoons.

In 1687, Rabutin distinguished himself once more in the Battle of Hatvan.

In 1688 in the Battle of Belgrade, Rabutin was wounded by a shot in a shoulder. Afterwards, he served on the Rhine against the French.

In 1689, Rabutin was appointed proprietor of his own dragoon regiment (Rabutin Dragoons, later identified as D7). He then followed later his patron Max Emanuel of Bavaria to the camp of Bruchsal. During a reconnaissance near Philippsburg, he was almost captured by the French. His proposal to cross the frozen Rhine and attack Hagenau was not accepted.

In 1691, Rabutin felt increasingly uncomfortable, therefore he asked to be transferred to Italy, where he served under the command of Prince Eugène de Savoie and took part in the siege of Carmagnola.

In 1692, Rabutin took part in the raid in Dauphiné, where he commanded the vanguard and, with only a few troops, captured Guilletre occupied by 12,000 Spaniards. He led the rearguard during the ensuing retreat. Quarrels with the Duke of Savoy, Victor Amadeus II, did not allow Rabutin to reach his objectives. On 5 July, Rabutin was promoted to Feldmarschall-Lieutenant (FML).

In 1693, Rabutin captured Fort St. Brigitte and prepared the siege of Pinerolo in Piedmont. However, the siege did not take place because of the procrastination of Duke Victor Emanuel. At nightfall, after the lost Battle of Marsaglia, Rabutin collected some troops, returned to the battlefield and rescued some of the guns lost during the battle.

In 1694, Rabutin was sent in diplomatic missions to Milan and Vienna. In Vienna he got to know Emperor Leopold I better. After the death of Field Marshal Veterani, on 25 November, Rabutin was promoted to General of Cavalry (G.d.C.).

In 1695, Rabutin was sent with Prince Friedrich August of Saxony to fight the Turks in Hungary.

In 1696, the emperor, appreciating Rabutin's merits, appointed him military governor of Transylvania. On 26 August, Rabutin commanded the Imperial cavalry in the Battle of Olasch (present-day Hetény near Temesvar/RO).

On 11 September 1697, under command of Prince Eugène de Savoie, Rabutin fought in the Battle of Zenta. With his troops he then conquered Ùj Palanka, (present-day Banatska Palanka/S) then Pancova.

In 1698, back in Transylvania, Rabutin found a disastrous situation. The troops, malnourished and unpaid, no longer accepted discipline and fomented a conspiracy to suppress their leaders and officers on the night of 8 to 9 August, and to desert to the camp of the Turks. Rabutin having heard of the project, led a terrible repression and restored obedience.

After the signature of the Treaty of Karlowitz (present-day Sremski Karlovci/S) in 1699, troubles resumed in Hungary with the uprising of Prince Ferenc II Rákóczi.

From 1703 to 1705, Rabutin defended Transylvania against Rákóczi's rebels.

In 1703, unable to prevent the capture of Weissenburg (present-day Alba Julia/RO) by the Kurucs (rebels), Rabutin established himself at Hermannstadt (present-day Sibiu/RO).

On 26 January 1704, Rabutin was promoted to field-marshal (FM). The same year, he defended Hermannstadt, occupied Deva (present-day Hunedoara/RO) and defeated the Kurucs at Bata (present-day Arad/RO) but had to cede them Klausenburg (present-day Cluj-Napoca/RO). Facing a new conspiracy, Rabutin had Count Bethlen, grand chancellor of Transylvania, beheaded.

In 1705, despite insufficient support from the authorities in Vienna, Rabutin managed to raise the siege of Hermannstadt. In November, he defeated the Kurucs near Hermannstadt, but was forced to evacuate Hermannstadt and retreated with 1,300 men to Karlsburg. After effecting a junction with FM Herbéviller's Corps, their united forces drove the rebels out of Transylvania.

In 1706, Rabutin operated near Grosswardein (present-day Oradea/RO) and, in September, in Upper Hungary. In October, he undertook the unsuccessful siege of Kaschau (Košice/SK) and was forced to retreat to Transylvania. His depleted army even had to retire to Bude in Hungary to take its winter-quarters.

In March 1707, Rabutin resigned from his function as governor of Transylvania. Even though he received a function within the Privy Council, Rabutin felt misunderstood and wanted to have his old function in Transylvania back. In August, Emperor Joseph I acceded to Rabutin's desire and appointed him once more governor of Transylvania. On 20 September, Rabutin arrived at Arad. On 1 October, he fought the Kurucs with success at Peterwardein (present-day Petrovaradin/RS). On 12 October, he reached Transylvania.

In April 1708, with the assistance of FM Kriechbaum's troops, Rabutin drove the rebels out of Transylvania. Afterwards, Rabutin asked for retirement and returned to Vienna.

In 1709, Rabutin was appointed commander of Strasbourg but his health forced him to retire to his estates in 1710.

He was appointed Private Councellor and spent his last years in Vienna.

Rabutin died on 16 November 1715 in Vienna after a long disease.

From 1710, Rabutin's son, Amadeus, served as lieutenant-colonel in his father's dragoon regiment. After his father's death, Amadeus received ownership of this dragoon regiment. He distinguished himself in 1717 in the battle of Belgrade and received the honour to bring the news of the victory to Vienna. Later on, Amadeus undertook diplomatic missions in Berlin and St. Petersburg. In 1727, he died in St. Petersburg as last male of his family, at the age of only 40.


Petiot, Alain: Les Lorrains et les Habsbourg, Tome II, Aix en Provence, 2014, pp. 479-480

Beaune: Histoire généalogique de la maison de Rabutin par le comte de Bussy, Dijon, 1866, pp. 39-40

Wrede, A. v.: Geschichte der K. u. K. Wehrmacht, file III./1, pp. 190ff and file III./2, pp 655, Vienna 1901

Schweigerd, C. A.: Östrreichische Helden und Heerführer, Vol. II, Grimma 1853


Harald Skala for the initial version of this article