Duke of Berwick (1687-1734)
Marshal of France (1702-1734)
Born 1670 Died 1734
James Fitzjames was the natural son of James, Duke of York, afterwards James II of England, by Arabella Churchill (1648-1730), sister of the great Duke of Marlborough. He was born at Moulins (Bourbonnais) on the 21st of August 1670. He received his education in France at the hands of the Jesuits, and at the age of fifteen, his father having succeeded to the throne, he was sent to learn the business of a soldier under the famous general of the empire, Charles of Lorraine. He served his first campaign in Hungary, and was present at the siege of Buda. He then returned to England, was made a colonel of the 8th Foot, and in 1687 created Duke of Berwick, Earl of Teignmouth and Baron Bosworth. He then went out afresh to Hungary and was present at the battle of Mohacz.
On his return to England he was made K.G., colonel of the 3rd troop of Horse Guards (Royal Horse Guards Blue) and governor of Portsmouth, but soon afterwards the revolution forced him to flee to France. He served under James II in the campaign in Ireland, and was present at the battle of the Boyne. For a short time he was left in Ireland as commander-in-chief, but his youth and inexperience unfitted him for the post, and he was a mere puppet in stronger hands. He then took, service in the French army, fought under Marshal Luxembourg in Flanders, and took part in the battles of Steinkirk and Neerwinden, at the latter of which he was taken prisoner. He was, however, immediately exchanged for the Duke of Ormond, and afterwards he served under Villeroi. In 1695 he married the widow of Patrick Sarsfield, who died in 1698. His second marriage, with Anne Bulkeley, took place in 1700.
As a lieutenant-general he served in the campaign of 1702, after which he became naturalized as a French subject in order to be eligible for the marshalate. In 1704, he first took command of the French army in Spain. So highly was he now esteemed for his courage, abilities and integrity, that all parties were anxious to have him on their side (Eloge, by Montesquieu). His tenure of the command was, however, very short, and after one campaign he was replaced by the Marshal de Tess. In 1705 he commanded against the Camisards in Languedoc, and when on this expedition he is said to have carried out his orders with remorseless rigour. His successful expedition against Nice in 1706 caused him to be made marshal of France, and in the same year he returned to Spain as commander-in-chief of the Franco-Spanish armies. On the 25th of April 1707, the duke won the great and decisive victory of Almanza, where an Englishman at the head of a French army defeated Ruvigny, Earl of Galway, a Frenchman at the head of an English army. The victory established Philip V on the throne of Spain. Berwick was made a peer of France by Louis XIV, and Duke of Liria and of Xereca and lieutenant of Aragon by Philip.
Thenceforward Berwick was recognized as one of the greatest generals of his time, and successively commanded in nearly all the theatres of war. From 1709 to 1712 he defended the south-east frontier of France in a series of campaigns which, unmarked by any decisive battle, were yet models of the art of war as practised at the time. The last great event of the War of the Spanish Succession was the storming of Barcelona by Berwick, after a long siege, on the 11th of September 1714. Three years later he was appointed military governor of the province of Guienne, in which post he became intimate with Montesquieu.
In 1718 he found himself under the necessity of once more entering Spain with an army; and this time he had to fight against Philip V, the king who owed chiefly to Berwick's courage and skill the safety of his throne. One of the marshal's sons, known as the Duke of Liria, was settled in Spain, and was counselled by his father not to shrink from doing his duty and fighting for his sovereign. Many years of peace followed this campaign, and Marshal Berwick was not again called to serve in the field till 1733. He advised and conducted the siege of Philipsburg, and while the siege was going on was killed by a cannon-shot on the 12th of June 1734. Cool, self-possessed and cautious as a general, Marshal Berwick was at the same time not wanting in audacity and swiftness of action. He was a true general of the 18th century, not less in his care for the lives of his men than in his punctiliousness and rigidity in matters of discipline.
The Memoires of Marshal Berwick, revised, annotated and continued by the Abb Hooke, were published by the marshal's grandson in 1778. Montesquieu made many contributions to this.
Being the entry for BERWICK, JAMES FITZJAMES, DUKE OF in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.