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Clermont-Tonnerre

CLERMONT-TONNERRE, the name of a French family, members of which played some part in the history of France, especially in Dauphiné, from about 1100 to the Revolution. Sibaud, lord of Clermont in Viennois, who first appears in 1080, was the founder of the family. His descendant, another Sibaud, commanded some troops which aided Pope Calixtus II. in his struggle with the anti-pope Gregory VIII.; and in return for this service it is said that the pope allowed him to add certain emblems - two keys and a tiara - to the arms of his family. A direct descendant, Ainard (d. 1349), called vicomte de Clermont, was granted the dignity of captain-general and first baron of Dauphiné by his suzerain Humbert, dauphin of Viennois, in 1340; and in 1547 Clermont was made a county for Antoine (d. 1578), who was governor of Dauphiné and the French king's lieutenant in Savoy. In 1572 Antoine's son Henri was created a duke, but as this was only a "brevet" title it did not descend to his son. Henri was killed before La Rochelle in 1573. In 1596 Henri's son, Charles Henri, count of Clermont (d. 1640), added Tonnerre to his heritage; but in 1648 this county was sold by his son and successor, François (d. 1679).

A member of a younger branch of Charles Henri's descendants was Gaspard de Clermont-Tonnerre (1688-1781). This soldier served his country during a long period, fighting in Bohemia and Alsace, and then distinguishing himself greatly at the battles of Fontenoy and Lawfeldt. In 1775 he was created duke of Clermont-Tonnerre, and made a peer of France; as the senior marshal (cr. 1747) of France he assisted as constable at the coronation of Louis XVI. in 1774. His son and successor, Charles Henri Jules, governor of Dauphiné, was guillotined in July 1794, a fate which his grandson, Gaspard Charles, had suffered at Lyons in the previous year. A later duke, Aimé Marie Gaspard (1779-1865), served for some years as a soldier, afterwards becoming minister of marine and then minister of war under Charles X., and retiring into private life after the revolution of 1830. Aimé's grandson, Roger, duke of Clermont-Tonnerre, was born in 1842.

Among other distinguished members of this family was Catherine (c. 1545-1603), only daughter of Claude de Clermont-Tonnerre. This lady, dame d'honneur to Henry II.'s queen, Catherine de' Medici, and afterwards wife of Albert de Gondi, due de Retz, won a great reputation by her intellectual attainments, being referred to as the "tenth muse" and the "fourth grace." One of her grandsons was the famous cardinal de Retz. Other noteworthy members of collateral branches of the family were: François (1629-1701), bishop of Noyon from 1661 until his death, a member of the French Academy, notorious for his inordinate vanity; Stanislas M. A., comte de Clermont-Tonnerre (q.v.); and Anne Antoine Jules (1740-1830), cardinal and bishop of Châlons, who was a member of the states-general in 1789, afterwards retiring into Germany, and after the return of the Bourbons to France became archbishop of Toulouse.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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