Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/438

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

the same month; shortly afterwards he was fortunate in preventing the betrayal of that place by certain Irish officers. He was present at the raising of the siege of Valenciennes on 16 July 1656, and had the misfortune to see his eldest son, Otto, killed before his eyes. Being besieged in St. Guislain by twelve thousand Spaniards, he surrendered, after seventeen days' siege, on 22 March 1657, to Don John of Austria and the prince of Condé. He revenged himself for its loss by the capture of Bourbourg, ‘place rasée qui manquoit de tout,’ but of considerable strategic importance, on 18 Sept.; he accepted the governorship of the place, thereby preventing it falling into the enemy's hands as, according to Turenne, it would otherwise have assuredly done. By commission of 26 Jan. 1658 he raised another regiment of German infantry, and at the battle of the Dunes on 14 July commanded the second line of the left wing. He led the attack on Winoxbergen, of which place, together with Gravelines, Furnes, and Dixmuyden, he was appointed governor.

On the conclusion of the peace of the Pyrenees, on 7 Nov. 1659, Schomberg was induced, chiefly by the representations of Turenne, to enter the service of Portugal, whose independence was again being menaced by Spain. According to the terms of the bargain, concluded on 24 Aug. 1660, he was to receive, together with the title of maréchal-de-camp and position of general of the forces in the province of Alemtejo, a yearly salary of twelve thousand crusadoes, and two thousand crusadoes daily for table-money, and appointments for his two sons, Frederick and Meinhard. The enterprise was secretly countenanced by Louis XIV, but, in order not to compromise him, the arrangements were completed in England, whither, after visiting Geisenheim, Schomberg shortly afterwards repaired. He had already made the acquaintance of Charles II at The Hague, and, in consequence of former friendly services, Charles created him baron of Tetford (Kazner, i. 61n.; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 381). According to Burnet (u. s.), he used his opportunity to urge Charles to assert his position as head of protestant Europe, to retain Cromwell's officers—the best he had ever seen—and, above all, not to part with Dunkirk at any price. But the pleasure-loving king turned a deaf ear to his advice, and Schomberg, having completed his preparations, sailed from the Downs in October. Avoiding a trap on the part of the Spanish ambassador to waylay him in France, he reached Lisbon safely on 13 Nov. He was received with every mark of distinction; but his first occupation, after making himself acquainted with the extremely complicated state of affairs prevailing at the Portuguese court, to which his easy mastery of the language lent facility, was to inspect the fortifications in the province of Alemtejo, in which direction the attacks of Spain were chiefly to be apprehended. By his advice, several fortifications were taken in hand, but, before they had been completed, the Spaniards, under Don John of Austria, crossed the Guadiana and captured Arronches. A plan formed by Schomberg to cut off his base was frustrated by the dilatory conduct of the governor of the province, Count Atouguia; but he succeeded in checking Don John, who, after some skirmishing, retired. Afterwards, having seen his army into winter quarters, Schomberg returned to Lisbon, and during the winter was busily occupied in teaching his officers the art of war, and in personally superintending the fortifications of Evora, Xerumenha, and Estremos. He took the field in April 1662, but, failing to dissuade the nominal commander of the army, the Marquis of Marialva, from risking a battle with Don John, he retired to Elvas, whence he was speedily summoned to repair the damage done to the army through the neglect of his advice. He was persuaded against his wish to attempt the relief of Xerumenha, but, being compelled to retire, he was so disgusted at the small deference shown to his opinion that he was on the point of laying down his commission when the action of the patriotic party in Lisbon, in forcing the king to exert himself to retain him, coupled with assurances of support from both Louis XIV and Charles II, induced him to abandon his intention. But what encouraged him most of all was the arrival, in March 1663, of Frémont d'Ablancourt as clandestine envoy of the court of France. About the time of Frémont's arrival Schomberg was attacked by a sudden and mysterious illness, which gave rise to the belief that he had been poisoned; and it was not until the latter end of May that he was able to sit on horseback. By that time Don John had already opened the campaign by besieging Evora; but the place being, in the general opinion, well prepared for a siege, pressure was brought to bear on him to force a battle. The unexpected news of the capture of Evora, however, caused a sudden revulsion of opinion among the politicians of the capital, which was reflected in the indecision of their new commander-in-chief, the Marquis of Villaflor. But Schomberg, seeing his opportunity,