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1st duke of Berwick, James FitzJames

(1670—1734) army officer in the French service


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1st duke of Marlborough, John Churchill (1650—1722) army officer and politician

 

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(1670–1734). Berwick spent almost all his life abroad in foreign military service. He was a natural son of James, duke of York, by Arabella Churchill, sister of the future duke of Marlborough. Born and educated in France, Berwick volunteered to join the emperor's forces besieging the Turkish redoubt of Buda in 1686. His father's succession as James II suggested a great career in Britain. He was created duke in 1687, made governor of Portsmouth (a post of responsibility in troubled times), and awarded the Garter. But James's flight in 1688 condemned Berwick to a life of distinguished exile. He fought for his father in Ireland and then settled down in France, being naturalized in 1702 and created a marshal of France in 1706. Sent to Spain to restore the flagging fortunes of Philip V, he won a great victory at Almanza in 1707. He was given French and Spanish dukedoms, which still survive in the family. In 1734, at the age of 64, still fighting for his adopted country in the War of the Polish Succession, he was killed outside Philipburg by a stray cannon-ball. His reputation was as a brave soldier and a sensible adviser. Montesquieu wrote of him that ‘he was brought up to support a sinking cause’.

From The Oxford Companion to British History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: British History.


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