1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Noailles

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NOAILLES, the name of a great French family, derived from the castle of Noailles in the territory of Ayen, between Brive and Turenne in the Limousin, and claiming to date back to the 11th century. It did not obtain fame until the 16th century, when its head, Antoine de Noailles (1504-1562), became admiral of France, and was ambassador in England during three important years, 1553-1556, maintaining a gallant but unsuccessful rivalry with the Spanish ambassador, Simon Renard. Henri (1554-1623), son of Antoine, was a commander in the religious wars, and was made comte d'Ayen by Henry IV. in 1593. Anne (d. 1678), the grandson of the first count, played an important part in the Fronde and the early years of the reign of Louis XIV., became captain-general of the newly won province of Roussillon, and in 1663 was made duc d'Ayen, and peer of France. The sons of the first duke raised the family to its greatest fame. The eldest son, Anne Jules (1650-1708), was one of the chief generals of France towards the end of the reign of Louis XIV., and, after raising the regiment of Noailles in 1689, he commanded in Spain during the war of the Spanish succession, and was made marshal of France in 1693. A younger son, Louis Antoine (1651-1729), was made archbishop of Paris in 1695, holding this high dignity until his death; he was made a cardinal in 1699. The name of Noailles occurs with almost confusing reiteration throughout the 18th century. Adrien Maurice (1678-1766), the third duke, served in all the most important wars of the reign of Louis XV. in Italy and Germany, and became a marshal in 1734. His last command was in the war of the Austrian succession, when he was beaten by the English at the battle of Dettingen in 1743. He married Francoise d'Aubigné, a niece of Madame de Maintenon and two of his sons also attained the rank of marshal of France. The elder, Lours (1713-1793), who bore the title of duc d'Ayen till his father's death in 1766, when he became duc de Noailles, served in most of the wars of the 18th century without particular distinction, but was nevertheless made a marshal in 1775. He refused to emigrate during the Revolution, but escaped the guillotine by dying in August 1793, before the Terror reached its height. On the 4th Thermidor (July 22) the aged duchesse de Noailles was executed with her daughter-in-law, the duchesse d'Ayen, and her granddaughter, the vicomtesse de Noailles. Jean Paul François (1739-1824), the fifth duke, was in the army, but his tastes were scientific, and for his eminence as a chemist he was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences in 1777. He became duc d'Ayen in 1766 on his grandfather's death, and duc de Noailles on his father's in 1793. Having emigrated in 1792, he lived in Switzerland until the Restoration in 1814, when he took his seat as a peer of France. He had no son, and was succeeded as duc de Noailles by his grand-nephew, Paul (1802-1885), who won some reputation as an author, and who became a member of the French Academy in the place of Chateaubriand in 1849. The grandfather of Paul de Noailles, and brother of the fifth duke, Emmanuel Marie Louis (1743-1822), marquis de Noailles, was ambassador at Amsterdam from 1770-1776, at London 1776-1783, and at Vienna 1783-1792.

One other branch of the family deserves notice. Philippe (1715-1794), comte de Noailles, afterwards duc de Mouchy, was a younger brother of the fourth duke, and a more distinguished soldier than is brother. He served at Minden and in other campaigns, and was made a marshal on the same day as his brother. He was long in great favour at court, and his wife was first lady of honour to Marie Antoinette, and was nicknamed by her Madame Etiquette. This Court favour brought down punishment in the days of the Revolution, and the old marshal and his wife were guillotine on the 27th of June 1794. His two sons, the prince de Poix and the vicomte de Noailles, were members of the Constituent Assembly.

Philippe Louis Marc Antoine, duke of Noailles and prince of Poix (1752-1819), was born on the 21st of November 1752. In 1789 he was elected deputy of the States-General by the nobility of the bailliages of Amiens and Ham, but was compelled to resign in consequence of a duel with the commander of the Garde Nationale at Versailles. He left the country for some time, but returned to France and took part in the revolution of the 10th of August 1792. He was, however, forced to quit the country once more to evade the fate of his father and mother. Returning to France in 1800, he lived quietly at his residence at Mouchy during the empire. At the Restoration he was brought again into favour and became a peer of France. He died at Paris on the 17th of February 1819.

Louis Marie (1756-1804), vicomte de Noailles, was the second son of the marshal. He served brilliantly under La Fayette in America, and was the officer who concluded the capitulation of Yorktown. He was elected to the States-General in 1789. He began the famous “orgie," as Mirabeau called it, on the 4th of August, when all privileges were abolished, and with d'Aiguillon proposed the abolition of titles and liveries in June 1790. When the revolution became more pronounced he emigrated to America, and became a partner in Bingham's bank at Philadelphia. He was very successful, and might have lived happily had he not accepted a command against the English in San Domingo, under Rochambeau. He made a brilliant defence of the mole St Nicholas, and escaped with the garrison to Cuba; but in making for Havana his ship was attacked by an English frigate, and after a long engagement he was severely wounded, and died of his wounds on the 9th of January 1804.