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La Rochejacquelein, De

LA ROCHEJACQUELEIN, DE, the name of an ancient French family of La Vendee, celebrated for its devotion to the throne during and after the Revolution. Its original name was Duverger, derived from a fief near Bressuire in Poitou, and its pedigree is traceable to the 13th century. In 1505 Gui Duverger married Renee, heiress of Jacques Lemartin, seigneur de La Rochejacquelein, whose name he assumed. His grandson, Louis Duverger, seigneur de La Rochejacquelein, was a devoted adherent of Henry II., and was badly wounded at the battle of Arques; other members of the family were also distinguished soldiers, and the seigniory was raised to a countship and marquisate in reward for their services.

At the outbreak of the Revolution the chief of the family was HENRI Louis AUGUSTE, marquis de La Rochejacquelein, marechal de camp in the royal army, who had three sons named after himself Henri, Louis and Auguste. The marquis fled abroad with his second son Louis at the time of the emigration of the nobles. He entered the service of Great Britain, and died in San Domingo in 1802.

HENRI, comte de La Rochejacquelein, born at Dubertien, near Chatillon, sur Sevres, on the 20th of August 1772, did not emigrate with his father. He served in the constitutional guard of the king, and remained in Paris till the execution of Louis XVI. He then took refuge with the marquis de Lescure on his own estates in Poitou. When the anti-clerical policy of the revolutionary powers provoked the rising of the peasantry of La Vendee, he put himself at the head of the men of his neighbourhood, and came rapidly to the front among the gentlemen whom the peasants took for leaders. In spite of his youth and his reluctance to assume the responsibility, he was chosen as commander-in-chief after the defeat of the Vendeans by the republicans at Cholet. His brilliant personal courage, his amiability and his loyalty to the cause make him a very attractive figure, but a commander-in-chief of the Vendeans, who came and went as they pleased, had little real power or opportunity to display the qualities of a general. The comte de La Rochejacquelein had in fact to obey his army, and could only display his personal valour in action. He could not avert the mistaken policy which led to the rout at Le Mans, and was finally shot in an obscure skirmish at Nouaille on the 4th of March 1794.

Louis, marquis de La Rochejacquelein, the younger brother of Henri, accompanied his father in the emigration, served in the army of Conde, and entered the service of England in America. He returned to France during the Consulate, and in 1801 married the marquise de Lescure, widow of his brother's friend, who was mortally wounded at Cholet. Marie Louise Victoire de Donnissan, born at Versailles on the 2Sth of October 1772, belonged to a court family and was the god-daughter of Mme Victoire, daughter of Louis XV. At the age of seventeen she married the marquis de Lescure, whom she accompanied in the war of La Vendee. After his death she went through various adventures recorded in her memoirs, first published at Bordeaux in 1815. They are of extreme interest, and give a remarkable picture of the war and the fortunes of the royalists. She saved much of her own property and her first husband's, when a conciliatory policy was adopted after the fall of the Terrorists. After her second marriage she lived with her husband on her estates, both refusing all offers to take service with Napoleon. In 1814 they took an active part in the royalist movement in and about Bordeaux. In 1815 the marquis endeavoured to bring about another Vendean rising for the king, and was shot in a skirmish with the Imperialist forces at the Pont des Marthes on the 4th of June 1815. The marquis died at Orleans in 1857.

Their eldest son, HENRI AUGUSTE GEORGES, marquis de La Rochejacquelein, born at Chateau Citran in the Gironde on the 28th of September 1805, was educated as a soldier, served in Spain in 1822, and as a volunteer in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828. During the reign of Louis Philippe he adhered to the legitimist policy of his family, but he became reconciled to the government of Napoleon III. and was mainly known as a clerical orator and philanthropist. He died on the 7th of January 1867.

His son and successor, JULIEN MARIE GASTON, born at Chartres on the 27th of March 1833, was an active legitimist deputy in the Assembly chosen at the close of the German War of 1870-1871. He was a strong opponent of Thiers, and continued to contest constituencies as a legitimist with varying fortunes till his death in 1897.

AUTHORITIES. Henri de La Rochejacquelein el la guerre de la Vendee d'apres des documents inedits (Niort, 1890) ; A. F. Nettement, Vie de Mme la Marquise de La Rochejacquelein (Paris, 1876). The Memoirs of the marquise were translated into English by Sir Walter Scott, and issued as a volume of " Constable's Miscellany " (Edinburgh, 1827).

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

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