Rutowsky, Friedrich Augustus, Count

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Personalities >> Rutowsky, Friedrich Augustus, Count

Friedrich Augustus, Count Rutowsky (also written Rutowski)

Field-Marshal of the Saxon Army (1749 to 1756)

born June 19, 1702 , probably in Warsaw, Poland

died March 16, 1764, Pillnitz, Saxony


Friedrich Augustus, Count Rutowsky - Painting by Louis de Silvestre made in 1724 - Source: Wikimedia Commons

Friedrich Augustus was an illegitimate son of Augustus II the Strong, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony. He got his father's name and his characteristic thick eyebrows. His mother was the Turk Fatima (or Fatime), who had been captured in 1686 by Hans Adam von Schöning during the Battle of Buda.

After she became the King's mistress, Fatima was christened Maria Anna and moved to the Dresden court. After the birth, Fatima was married, at the instigation of Augustus, to his chamberlain Johann Georg von Spiegel. Frederick Augustus moved to the estates of the Spiegel Family, but his father cared about his education.

Fatima, despite her marriage, remained a mistress of Augustus. In 1706, she gave birth to the King's second child, a daughter, called Maria Aurora. However, soon Frederick Augustus and his sister became orphans: Johann Georg von Spiegel died in 1715 and their mother Fatima five years later. Augustus the Strong took the guardianship of the two children. The name “Rutowsky” is derived from “Rauten” (rhombus) in the Saxon coat of arms.

In 1723, the Elector sent the 21 year old Rutowsky to Paris, where he found one of his several half-sister, Anna Karolina. Indeed, the Elector had met Henriette Rénard in Warsaw in 1706, where her father André Rénard, a wine merchant from Lyon, had a saloon. Most historians agree that at first, Henriette didn't know the true identity of her lover. As a result of the liaison, in November 1707 a daughter was born, Anna Karolina. Augustus did not learn of her existence until a year and half later. Henriette married the Paris businessman François Drian shortly after Anna Karolina's birth and moved to France, where she grew up. For a long time, the girl lived in Paris with her mother in complete obscurity without the support of her father. Anna Karolina, a sixteen-year-old beauty followed Rutowsky to Dresden where she was presented to the King. On September 19 1724, Augustus the Strong officially acknowledged Anna Karolina as his daughter and gave her the title of Countess Orzelska.

In 1724, Augustus the Strong recognized and legitimized the two children he had had with Fatima. Shortly after, he raised both, as his right of King of Poland, to the Polish title of Count Rutowsky and Countess Rutowska. The coat of arms awarded to them shows a Saxon rhombus (Rauten) wreath as well as a Polish White Eagle. On October 8 of the same year, Frederick Augustus, now Count Rutowsky, received from his father the highest Polish decoration: the Order of the White Eagle. He had the rank of colonel in the Saxon Army.

After a journey to Munich and Venice, Rutowsky arrived in February 1725 at the court of the King of Sardinia and Duke of Savoy, Victor Amadeus II in Turin, where he took command of the Piedmont regiment as colonel and was garrisoned in Alessandria. He really enjoyed his time there, and maybe that was the reason why he wrote his father asking to give to him the permission to enter in French service in order to remain in Turin. However, his father had different plans for his son. He demanded his immediate return.

In 1726, Rutowsky returned to Saxony where he was promoted to colonel and commander of the Saxon Garde du Corps. He had inherited his father's strength and energy and was an excellent fencer.

On May 26 1727, Rutowsky was appointed Major-general in the Saxon Army.

In 1728, during a visit in Dresden of King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia, Rutowsky entered in the Prussian service, thanks to the recommendation of his father. Between February 18 1728 and March 28 1729, he was commander of the Prussian Infanterie Regiment No. 25 and learnt his lesson perfectly. The same year, Rutowsky's sister, Maria Aurora was married with Polish Count Michael von Bielinski.

In 1729, when Rutowsky returned to Saxony, Friedrich Wilhelm I regretted the departure of this talented young man.

In 1730, Rutowsky received the command of the [[Saxon Leibgrenadiergarde]. The same year, as a reward for his action in the reform of the Saxon Army, Rutowsky was put in charge of the Saxon troops defiling at the summer camp in Zeithain. It was the European military “event” of the year.

The best compliment to General Rutowsky was the acid comment of the Prussian “Sergeant King”: “Die Canaille hat uns alles abgestohlen” or “The villain has stolen us everything”.

In 1733, Augustus the Strong died suddenly. The new Elector Frederick August II was Rutowsky’s half-brother.

During the following War of the Polish Succession (1733–1735), in October 1733, when Saxon Field-Marshal Johann Adolf II, Duke of Sachsen-Weissenfels (1685–1746) led the well prepared Saxon troops into Poland, Rutowsky initially served as volunteer in the Russian Army. After the surrender of Danzig in June 1734, Rutowsky went with the Saxon corps to the army of Eugène de Savoie at Philippsburg on the Rhine. Rutowsky commanded one of the columns of the Saxon contingent and fought against his half-brother, the famous Maurice de Saxe, who was general in the French service. While campaigning on the Rhine, Count Rutowsky met the Prussian Crown Prince Frederick.

On January 1 1736, Rutowsky was appointed Lieutenant-General and Commander of the Saxon Garde du Corps. On 7 October, he was received knight of the Saxon Sankt-Heinrichs-Orden.

In 1737, Rutowsky received command of the Saxon Contingent (8,000 men) sent to support Emperor Charles VI in the war against the Turks in Hungary. The Saxon distinguished themselves in the Battle of Timok.

On April 21 1738, after his return to Saxony, Rutowsky was appointed General of Cavalry. The same year, he became member of Freemasons, founding the first Saxon lodge “Aux trois Aigles blancs” in Dresden.

On January 4 1739, Rutowsky married with Ludovika Amalia Princess Lubomirska, daughter of the Polish artillery general Aleksander Jakub Duke Lubomirski and of Friederike Countess Vitzthum von Eckstädt. Their only child, August Joseph, Count Rutowski (born August 2 1741) died of smallpox in Brunswick on January 17 1755.

In 1740, Rutowsky resigned from his commands and was appointed governor of Dresden.

On 19 September 1741, Rutowsky signed a treaty in Frankfurt/Main by which Bavaria and Saxony formed an alliance with Prussia and France against the Habsburg Monarchy. Count Rutowski was then appointed commander-in-chief of the Saxon Army (21,000 men) posted at Pirna and Freiburg. On November 9, the vanguard of the Saxon Army, led by Lieutenant-General Renard, entered into Bohemia. The Allies blockaded Prague which was defended by Count O'Gilvy at the head of a garrison of 2,400 men (4 coys of O'Gilvy Infantry, 1 bn of Wenzel Wallis Infantry, 1 bn of Seckendorf Infantry and 50 hussars). Rutowsky wanted to immediately attack the city, considering the miserable condition of its defences, while the French generals would prefer to lay siege to the place. Rutowsky's plan finally prevailed and the attack was launched in the night of November 26. Prague was occupied the following day, O'Gilvy and the garrison being taken prisoners. Besides French troops, 10 Saxon Uhlan coys remained in Prague while the rest of the Saxon contingent encamped south of Prague. The Saxons and Polastron's French corps spent winter around Deutsch Brod (present-day Havlíčkův Brod/CZ).

On January 10 1742, Rutowsky was appointed commander of the Graf Rutowsky Light Dragoons. On February 19 1742, due to quarrels between Frederick II Polastron and Rutowski, Polastron's Corps and Rutowski's Army went to Southern Bohemia. Rutowsky got sick and Lieutenant-General Renaud replaced him for some weeks at the head of the Saxon corps which was more and more suffering from lack of provisions. In March, the Saxons went to Brünn (present-day Brno/CZ) which was blockaded. Formal siege was impossible. At the beginning of April, the Saxons, who did not receive proper support from the Prussians, marched northwards through Landskron (present-day Lanškroun/CZ) to Bohemia. At the beginning of July, the Saxon army finally arrived in Pirna in very poor condition. On November 9, Saxony signed an armistice with Maria Theresa.

At the beginning of the Second Silesian War, in 1745, Prussian troops crossed the Saxon border, and Saxony and Austria agreed to proceed together against Prussia. Saxon troops planned to cut off the Prussians in northern Silesia, while Austrian troops would advance from the south. The Duke of Sachsen-Weissenfels and the Chevalier de Saxe were commanders of the Saxon corps. On June 4, they were defeated at the Battle of Hohenfriedberg. The Duke of Sachsen-Weissenfels planned a new offensive in September but he changed his mind two weeks later. Because of this, he was replaced as commander-in-chief by Count Friedrich Augustus Rutowsky. At the end of July, Rutowsky took command of the Saxon corps (13 bns, 17 sqns, and 10 uhlan pulks) totalling 15,290 foot, and 4,303 horse. In November, Rutowsky effected a junction with the army of Charles of Lorraine near Görlitz. On November 23, the Saxons were defeated in the Battle of Katholisch Hennersdorf (present-day Henrykow Lubansky/PL). After this battle, the Saxon army was in a very poor condition: soldiers had not been paid for months, provisions were lacking, uniforms were in rags and equipment had gone to pieces. On December 12, Rutowsky took advantageous defensive positions in three lines between Kesselsdorf and Briesnitz with a small supporting Austrian detachment (6 bns and 7 sqns of Hohenzollern Cuirassiers) under Major-General von Grünne. At 2:00 a.m. on December 15, Rutowsky asked to Charles of Lorraine to effect a junction with his own corps. The Austrians advanced very slowly and did not support the Saxons during the ensuing Battle of Kesselsdorf. The Prussians launched an attack against the Saxon positions with 6 bns and 2 cavalry rgts. After heavy fighting and several counter-attacks, the Saxons were finally driven out of Kesselsdorf. Major-General Grünne's Austrian detachment did not take part to the combats. The mass of Saxon foot routed sweeping along the Leibregiment Cuirassiers and Königlicher Prinz Cuirassiers. In this disastrous battle, the Saxons lost 1 general, 57 officers and 3,752 men dead or wounded; and 141 officers and 3,000 men taken prisoners. On 16 December, the defeated army retreated to Groß-Sedlitz along with the Austrians. The Elector of Saxony then removed his half-brother Rutowsky from command and reinstated the Duke of Sachsen Weissenfels, who began his duties as commander on the same month. Furthermore, the Duke of Sachsen Weissenfels was appointed chief of the Saxon government during the absence of the Elector and of his Minister Heinrich Brühl. The Duke of Sachsen Weissenfels went with the Saxon troops to Bohemia. On December 25, Saxony and Maria Theresa signed the Treaty of Dresden with Prussia, bringing the Second Silesian War to an end.

In 1746, the Duke of Sachsen Weissenfels suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 61. On January 6, Rutowsky was appointed General en Chef. The financial situation of Saxony was very bad after this disastrous war and Rutowsky had the unhappy responsibility to reduce the army.

On January 11 1749, Rutowsky was finally appointed Field-Marshal.

During the following years of peace, Rutowski was not able, in spite of multiple efforts, to avert the cutbacks in the Saxon Army by Prime Minister Brühl, which seriously reduced its effectiveness.

In 1756, at the sudden outbreak of the Seven Years' War, Rutowsky had in his hands a blunted weapon. He simply had no chance against the advancing Prussian Army. During the Prussian invasion of Saxony, Rutowsky concentrated the Saxon Army of only 18,100 men in the strong defensive position near Pirna. He withstood a siege of 6 weeks, but lacking food and ammunition, he had to capitulate on October 16. He became a prisoner of King Frederick II of Prussia and confined to the estates of his parents-in-law, the Vitzthum family, at Schönwölkau near Delitsch. Nevertheless, Rutowsky maintained contact with other imprisoned officers and with the commanders of the Saxon troops in the French and Austrian services.

On March 8 1763, just after the Treaty of Hubertusburg, Rutowsky renounced all his military functions. Indeed, Rutowsky was already in poor health conditions However, he retained his command in the newly re-established Leibgrenadiergarde.

Rutowsky died at the Castle of Pillnitz one year later, on March 16 1764, after a long disease, aged 62. His burial place is not exactly known. It is probably the St. Marienstern Monastery at Panschwitz-Kuckau (other sources mention the Monastery of Maria Schein at Krupka/CZ).

On July 27 1764, Rutowsky's half-brother and historical second-in-command, Johann Georg, Chevalier de Saxe (1704–1774) succeeded him at the head of the Saxon Army.


Salisch, M. von: Treue Deserteure – Das kursächsische Militär und der Siebenjährige Krieg, Munich, 2009

Schuster, O. and F. Francke: Geschichte der Sächsischen Armee, vol. 2, Leipzig 1885

Vogeltanz, J.: Sasové v Čechách a na Moravě v letech 1741 – 1745

Weber, Harald: Militaergeschichte des Churfurstenthums Sachsen und Ihrer Koenigl. Maj. In Pohlen 1613-1733, Ed. Verlag für sachsische Regionalgeschichte. 2011.

Weber, Harald; Militaergeschichte des Churfurstenthums Sachsen 1733-1763, Ed. Verlag für sachsische Regionalgeschichte. 2011.

Wikipedia (German edition)


Dr Marco Pagan for the initial version and Harald Skala for the second version of this article.