1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Charles (Prince of Lorraine)

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CHARLES [Karl Alexander] (1712–1780), prince of Lorraine, was the youngest son of Leopold, duke of Lorraine, and grandson of Charles V., duke of Lorraine (see above), the famous general. He was born at Lunéville on the 12th of December 1712, and educated for a military career. After his elder brother Francis, the duke, had exchanged Lorraine for Tuscany and married Maria Theresa, Charles became an Austrian officer, and he served in the campaigns of 1737 and 1738 against the Turks. At the outbreak of the Silesian wars in 1740 (see Austrian Succession, War of the), the queen made her brother-in-law a field marshal, though he was not yet thirty years old, and in 1742 Charles encountered Frederick the Great for the first time at the battle of Chotusitz (May 17th). The victory of the Prussians on that field was far from decisive, and Charles drew off his forces in good order. His conduct of the successful campaign of 1743 against the French and Bavarians heightened his reputation. He married, in January 1744, Marianne of Austria, sister of Maria Theresa, who made them jointly governors-general of the Austrian Netherlands. Very soon the war broke out afresh, and Charles, at the head of the Austrian army on the Rhine, won great renown by his brilliant crossing of the Rhine. Once more a Lorraine prince at the head of Austrian troops invaded the duchy and drove the French before him, but at this moment Frederick resumed the Silesian war, all available troops were called back to oppose him, and the French maintained their hold on Lorraine. Charles hurried to Bohemia, whence, aided by the advice of the veteran field marshal Traun, he quickly expelled the Prussians. At the close of his victorious campaign he received the news that his wife, to whom he was deeply attached, had died in childbirth on the 16th of December 1744 at Brussels. He took the field again in 1745 in Silesia, but this time without the advice of Traun, and he was twice severely defeated by Frederick, at Hohenfriedberg and at Soor. Subsequently, as commander-in-chief in the Low Countries he received, at Roucoux, a heavy defeat at the hands of Marshal Saxe. His government of the Austrian Netherlands during the peace of 1749–1756 was marked by many reforms, and the prince won the regard of the people by his ceaseless activity on their behalf. After the first reverses of the Seven Years’ War (q.v.), Maria Theresa called Charles again to the supreme command in the field. The campaign of 1757 opened with Frederick’s great victory of Prague, and Prince Charles was shut up with his army in that fortress. In the victory of the relieving army under Daun at Kolin Charles had no part. Nevertheless the battle of Breslau, in which the Prussians suffered a defeat even more serious than that of Kolin, was won by him, and great enthusiasm was displayed in Austria over the victory, which seemed to be the final blow to Frederick. But soon afterwards the king of Prussia routed the French at Rossbach, and, swiftly returning to Silesia, he inflicted on Charles the complete and crushing defeat of Leuthen (December 5, 1757). A mere remnant of the Austrian army reassembled after the pursuit, and Charles was relieved of his command. He received, however, from the hands of the empress the grand cross, of the newly founded order of Maria Theresa. For a year thereafter Prince Charles acted as a military adviser at Vienna, he then returned to Brussels, where, during the remainder of his life, he continued to govern in the same liberal spirit as before. The affection of the people for the prince was displayed during his dangerous illness in 1765, and in 1775 the estates of Brabant erected a statue in his honour at Brussels. He died on the 4th of July 1780 at the castle of Tervoeren, and was buried with his Lorraine ancestors at Nancy.