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La Noue, Francois De

LA NOUE, FRANCOIS DE (1531-1591), called Bras-de-Fer, one of the Huguenot captains of the 16th century, was born near Nantes in 1531, of an ancient Breton family. He served in Italy under Marshal Brissac, and in the first Huguenot war, but his first great exploit was the capture of Orleans at the head of only fifteen cavaliers in 1567, during the second war. At the battle of Jarnac in March 1569 he commanded the rearguard, and at Moncontour in the following October he was taken prisoner; but he was exchanged in time to resume the governorship of Poitou, and to inflict a signal defeat on the royalist troops before Rochefort. At the siege of Fontenay (1570) his left arm was shattered by a bullet; but a mechanic of Rochelle made him an iron arm (hence his sobriquet) with a hook for holding his reins. When peace was made in France in the same year, La Noue carried his sword against the Spaniards in the Netherlands, but was taken at the recapture of Mons by the Spanish in 1572. Permitted to return to France, he was commissioned by Charles IX., after the massacre of St Bartholomew, to reconcile the inhabitants of La Rochelle, the great stronghold of the Huguenots, to the king. But the Rochellois were too much alarmed to come to terms; and La Noue, perceiving that war was imminent, and knowing that his post was on the Huguenot side, gave up his royal commission, and from 1574 till 1578 acted as general of La Rochelle. When peace was again concluded La Noue once more went to aid the Protestants of the Low Countries. He took several towns and captured Count Egmont in 1580; but a few weeks afterwards he fell into the hands of the Spaniards. Thrust into a loathsome prison at Limburg, La Noue, the admiration of all, of whatever faith, for his gallantry, honour and purity of character, was kept confined for five years by a powerful nation, whose reluctance to set him free is one of the sincerest tributes to his reputation. It was in captivity that he wrote his celebrated Discours politigues et militaires, a work which was published at Basel in 1587 [ republished at La Rochelle 1590, Frankfurt on Main (in German) 1592 and 1612, and London (in English) 159 7] and had an immense influence on the soldiers of all nations. The abiding value of La Noue's " Discourses " lies in the fact that he wrote of war as a human drama, before it had been elaborated and codified. At length, in June 1585, La Noue was exchanged for Egmont and other prisoners of consideration, while a heavy ransom and a pledge not to bear arms against his Catholic majesty were also exacted from him. Till 1 589 La Noue took no part in public matters, but in that year he joined Henry of Navarre against the Leaguers. He was present at both sieges of Paris, at Ivry and other battles. At the siege of Lamballe in Brittany he received a wound of which he died at Moncontour on the 4th of August 1591.

He wrote, besides the Discourses, Declaration pour prise d'armes et la defense de Sedan et Jamets (1588); Observations sur I'histoire de Guicciardini (2 vols., 1592); and notes on Plutarch's Lives. His Correspondence was published in 1854. See La Vie de Francois, seigneur de La Noue, by Moyse Amirault (Leiden, 1661); Brant&me's Vies des Capitaines franfais; C. Vincen's Les Heros de la Reforme: Fr. de La Noue (1875); and Hauser, Francois de La Noue (Paris, 1892).

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

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