Villeroy, François de Neufville, Duc de
Villeroy, François de Neufville de
French brigadier (1672-74), maréchal de camp (1674-77) lieutenant-general (1677-93), maréchal de France (1693-1730)
born 7 April 1644, Lyon, France
died 18 July 1730, Paris, France
François, born in 1644, was the son of Nicolas de Neuville Duc de Villeroy and of Madeleine de Blanchefort de Créquy. He was raised at the court in Paris and was a friend of young Louis XIV.
In 1664, Villeroy became colonel of a regiment of infantry. On 1 August, he took part in the Battle of Saint Gotthard where he was wounded.
In 1668, Villeroy was appointed French ambassador to the Republic of Venice.
In 1672, Villeroy was promoted to brigadier
In 1688, Villeroy was appointed Governor of the Province of Lyonnais. On 31 December, he was received as Knight of the Ordre de Saint-Louis.
During the Nine Years' War (1688-1697), on 27 March 1693, Villeroy was promoted to maréchal de France, without having assumed any major command. In 1695, he commanded the French army who uselessly bombarded Bruxelles and lost the city of Namur.
In 1701, Louis XIV sent Villeroy to Italy to replace Marshal Catinat at the head of the Franco-Spanish army trying to prevent the invasion of Northern Italy by the Imperialists. On 21 August, Villeroy arrived in Milan. On 22 August, he joined the Franco-Spanish army at Antegnate and superseded Catinat. On 29 August, Villeroy's army passed the Oglio. On 1 September, he was defeated when he tried to storm the entrenched positions of the Imperialist army in the Battle of Chiari. The two armies remained face to face for more than ten weeks.
On 1 February 1702, Villeroy was surprised and captured in his winter-quarters in Cremona. He was later exchanged for the Count von Wallenstein and briefly went back to Italy before returning to Versailles.
In 1706, Villeroy commanded a French army in Flanders and, on 23 May, was defeated by Marlborough in the Battle of Ramillies. He was then forced to retire from Flanders towards Lille. He was later definitely removed from command.
In 1714, Villeroy became chief of the Royal Council of Finance.
On 15 February 1717, according to the wishes of Louis XIV, Villeroy was appointed governor of young King Louis XV and became part of the Regency Council.
In August 1722, Villeroy fell in disgrace with the regent and was exiled in his estates of Neuville. In October of the same year, when Louis XV began his personal reign, Villeroy was recalled and recovered high office.
Villeroy died in Paris in 1730 at the age of 86.
- French version – François de Neufville de Villeroy
N.B.: the sections describing Villeroy's service from 1701 to 1706 are mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.