James Fitzjames, 1st Duke of Berwick #history

Excerpt from 1492 and all that!

The Portuguese Marquês of Minas, António Luís de Sousa, met with a heavy defeat at the Battle of Almanza in 1707 at the hands of the 1st Duke of Berwick who was leading a strong force of Franco-Spanish cavalry.

James_FitzjamesThe Duke was an interesting character! As James Fitzjames he was the illegitimate son of King James II of England and Arabella Churchill, sister of the 1st Duke of Marlborough (ancestor to Winston).

The prefix ‘Fitz’ originally simply meant ‘son of’, but in the British royal court it was progressively applied to indicate illegitimacy. Fitzroy indicated the illegitimate son of the king, Fitzjames the illegitimate son of James and so on.

Fitzjames was born in France before his father’s accession to the throne. He served militarily during the siege of Buda and the Battle of Mohács. He then moved to England where he became governor of Portsmouth. He was active in the Irish campaign and took part in the Battle of the Boyne, fighting for his father against William of Orange. When his father was defeated he moved into military service with France, fighting at Steenkerque in the Netherlands and Lande in Belgium.

Marking his success in the War of the Spanish Succession he became a French Marshal. Bizarrely at Almanza he was the English commander of a Franco-Spanish army fighting the Marquis of Ruvigny, the French commander of a Portuguese/British/Dutch army. He completed that war by taking Barcelona in 1714.

He was awarded the governorship of a French province in Gascony but was called up again in 1733 in the War of the Polish Succession. He was decapitated by cannon during the siege of Philippsburg.

If that was not enough of an indelible mark on history, his first son married the Duquesa de Veragua, a descendant of Christopher Columbus.

More here

See also:

Mithra and sacred bulls

Here be dragons – and gorillas?

Guernica – trial run for Blitzkrieg

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