Lesdiguieres, Francois De Bonne
LESDIGUIERES, FRANCOIS DE BONNE, DUC DE (1543-1626), constable of France, was born at Saint-Bonnet de Champsaur on the 1st of April 1543, of a family of notaries with pretensions to nobility. He was educated at Avignon under a Protestant tutor, and had begun the study of law in Paris when he enlisted as an archer. He served under the lieutenant-general of his native province of Dauphine, Bertrand de Simiane, baron de Gordes, but when the Huguenots raised troops in Dauphine Lesdiguieres threw in his lot with them, and under his kinsman Antoine Rambaud de Furmeyer, whom he succeeded in 1570, distinguished himself in the mountain warfare that followed by his bold yet prudent handling of troops. He fought at Jarnac and Moncontour, and was a guest at the wedding of Henry IV. of Navarre. Warned of the impending massacre he retired hastily to Dauphine, where he secretly equipped and drilled a determined body of Huguenots, and in 1575, after the execution of Montbrun, became the acknowledged leader of the Huguenot resistance in the district with the title of Commandant general, confirmed in 1577 by Marshal Damville, by Cond6 in 1580, and by Henry of Navarre in 1582. He seized Gap by a lucky night attack on the 3rd of January 1577, re-established the reformed religion there, and fortified the town. He refused to acquiesce in the treaty of Poitiers (1578) which involved the surrender of Gap, and after two years of fighting secured better terms for the province. Nevertheless in 1580 he was compelled to hand the place over to Mayenne and to see the fortifications dismantled. He took up arms for Henry IV. in 1585, capturing Chorges, Embrun, Chateauroux and other places, and after the truce of 1588-1589 secured the complete submission of Dauphine. In 1590 he beat down the resistance of Grenoble, and was now able to threaten the leaguers and to support the governor of Provence against the raids of Charles Emmanuel I. of Savoy. He defeated the Savoyards at Esparron in April 1591, and in 1592 began the reconquest of the marquessate of Saluzza which had been seized by Charles Emmanuel. After his defeat of the Spanish allies of Savoy at Salebertrano in June 1593 there was a truce, during which Lesdiguieres was occupied in maintaining the royal authority against Eperon in Provence. The war with Savoy proceeded intermittently until 1601, when Henry IV. concluded peace, much to the dissatisfaction of Lesdiguieres. The king regarded his lieutenant's domination in Dauphine with some distrust, although he was counted among the best of his captains. Nevertheless he made him a marshal of France in 1609, and ensured the succession to the lieutenant-generalship of Dauphine, vested in Lesdiguieres since 1597, to his son-in-law Charles de Crequy. Sincerely devoted to the throne, Lesdiguieres took no part in the intrigues which disturbed the minority of Louis XIII., and he moderated the political claims made by his co-religionists under the terms of the Edict of Nantes. After the death of his first wife, Claudine de Berenger, he married the widow of Ennemond Matel, a Grenoble shopkeeper, who was murdered in 1617. Lesdiguieres was then 73, and this lady, Marie Vignon, had long been his mistress. He had two daughters, one of whom, Francoise, married Charles de Crequy. In 1622 he formally abjured the Protestant faith, his conversion being partly due to the influence of Marie Vignon. He was already a duke and peer of France; he now became constable of France, and received the order of the Saint Esprit. He had long since lost the confidence of the Huguenots, but he nevertheless helped the Vaudois against the duke of Savoy. Lesdiguieres had the qualities of a great general, but circumstances limited him to the mountain warfare of Dauphine, Provence and Savoy. He had almost unvarying success through sixty years of fighting. His last campaign, fought in alliance with Savoy to drive the Spaniards from the Valtelline, was the least successful of his enterprises. He died of fever at Valence on the 21st of September 1626.
The life of the Huguenot captain has been written in detail by Ch. Dufuyard, Le Connetable de Lesdiguieres (Paris, 1892). His first biographer was his secretary Louis Videl, Histoire de la vie du connestable de Lesdiguieres (Paris, 1638). Much of his official correspondence, with an admirable sketch of his life, is contained in Actei et correspondence du connetable de Lesdiguieres, edited by Comtt Douglas and J. Roman in Documents historiques inedits pour servil d I'histoire de Dauphin^ (Grenoble, 1878). Other letters are in th Lettres et memoires (Paris, 1647) of Duplessis-Mornay.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)