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Frederick Schomberg, 1st Duke of Schomberg

Friedrich Hermann (or Frédéric-Armand), 1st Duke of Schomberg, 1st Count of Mertola (originally von Schönberg), KG (December 1615 or January 1616 – 11 July 1690), was a marshal of France and a General in the English and Portuguese Army.


Descended from an old family of the Electorate of the Palatinate, he was born at Heidelberg, the son of Hans Meinard von Schönberg (1582–1616) and Anne, daughter of Edward Sutton, 5th Baron Dudley. An orphan within a few months of his birth, he was educated by various friends, among whom was Frederick V, Elector Palatine, in whose service his father had been. He began his military career under Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange, and passed (1634) into the service of Sweden, entering that of France in 1635. His family, and the allied house of the Saxon Schönbergs had already attained eminence in France.[1]

After a time he retired to his family estate at Geisenheim on the Rhine, but in 1639 he re-entered the Dutch army, in which, apparently, apart from a few intervals at Geisenheim, he remained until about 1650. He then rejoined the French army as a general officer (maréchal de camp), served under Turenne in the campaigns against Condé, and became a lieutenant-general in 1665, receiving this rapid promotion perhaps partly owing to his relationship with Charles de Schomberg, duc d'Halluin.[1]

After the peace of the Pyrenees (1659), the independence of Portugal was threatened by Spain, and Schomberg was sent as military adviser to Lisbon with the secret approval of Charles II of England. Louis XIV of France, in order not to infringe the treaty just made with Spain, deprived Schomberg of his French officers. After many difficulties in the three first campaigns resulting from the insubordination of Portuguese officers, Schomberg won the victory of Montes Claros on 17 June 1665 over the Spaniards under Luis de Benavides Carrillo, Marquis of Caracena.[1]

After participating with his army in the revolution which deposed the reigning king Afonso VI of Portugal in favour of his brother Dom Pedro, and ending the war with Spain, Schomberg returned to France, became a naturalised Frenchman and bought the lordship of Coubert near Paris. He had been rewarded by the king of Portugal, in 1663, with the rank of Grandee, the title of count of Mértola and a pension of f 5000 a year. In 1673 he was invited by Charles to England, with the view of taking command of the army, but sentiment was so strong against the appointment, as savouring of French influence, that it was not carried into effect.[1]

He therefore again entered the service of France. His first operations in Catalonia were unsuccessful owing to the disobedience of subordinates and the rawness of his troops, but he retrieved the failure of 1674 by retaking Fort de Bellegarde in 1675. For this he was made a marshal, being included in the promotion that followed the death of Turenne. The tide had now turned against the Huguenots, and Schomberg's merits had been long ignored on account of his adherence to the Protestant religion. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) forced him to leave his adopted country.[1]

Ultimately he became general-in-chief of the forces of the elector of Brandenburg, and at Berlin he was the acknowledged leader of the thousands of Huguenot refugees there. Soon afterwards, with the electors consent, he joined the prince of Orange on his expedition to England in 1688, as second in command to the prince. The following year he was made a knight of the Garter, was created Duke of Schomberg, was appointed Master-General of the Ordnance, and received from the House of Commons a vote of £100,000 to compensate him for the loss of his French estates, of which Louis had deprived him.[1]

In August he was appointed commander-in-chief of the expedition to Ireland against the Jacobite supporters of James II. After capturing Carrickfergus he marched unopposed through a country desolated before him to Dundalk, but, as the bulk of his forces were raw and undisciplined as well as inferior in numbers to the enemy, he deemed it imprudent to risk a battle, and entrenching himself at Dundalk declined to be drawn beyond the circle of his defences. Shortly afterwards pestilence broke out, and when he retired to winter quarters in Ulster his forces were more shattered than if they had sustained a severe defeat.[1]

His conduct was criticized in ill-informed quarters, but the facts justified his inactivity, and he gave what was said at the time to be a "striking example of his generous spirit" in placing at William's disposal for military purposes the £100,000 recently voted him. ln the spring he began the campaign with the capture of Charlemont, but no advance southward was made until the arrival of William. At the Battle of the Boyne (1 July 1690), Schomberg gave his opinion against the determination of William to cross the river in face of the opposing army. In the battle he commanded the centre, and while riding through the river without his cuirass to rally his men, he was surrounded by Irish horsemen and instantly killed.

His eldest son Charles Schomberg, the second duke in the English peerage, died in the year 1693 of wounds received at the Battle of Marsaglia.[2]

Burial and Inscription

Latin inscription inside St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland, dedicated to the memory of the Duke of Schomberg. Written by Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

He was buried in St Patricks Cathedral, Dublin, where there is a monument to him, erected in 1731, with a Latin inscription by Jonathan Swift.[1]

Latin text of the inscription:

Hic infra situm est corpus Frederici Ducis de Schonberg, ad Bubindam occisi, A.D. 1690. Decanus et Capitulum maximopere etiam atque etiam petierunt, ut haeredes Ducis monumentum in memoriam parentis erigendum curarent. Sed postquam per epistolas, per amicos, diu ac saepe orando nil profecere; hunc demum lapidem statuerunt; saltem ut scias, hospes, ubinam terrarum SCHONBERGENSIS cineres delitescunt. Plus potuit fama virtutis apud alienos quam sanguinis proximitas apud suos. A.D. 1731

The English translation:

Here below is placed the body of Frederick, Duke of Schomberg, killed at the Boyne, A.D. 1690. The dean and the chapter fervently sought, again and again, that the heirs of the Duke see to the erection of a monument in memory of (their) parent. But, after asking for a long time and often, through letters, through friends, they accomplished nothing; finally they set up this stone; so that at least, visitor, you might know where in the world the ashes of Schomberg are concealed. The fame of his valor had more influence among strangers than the relationships of blood did among his own (family). A.D. 1731


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Chisholm 1911, p. 357.
  2. Chisholm 1911, p. 358.


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. "[[Wikisource:1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Schomberg, Friedrich Hermann|]]" Encyclopædia Britannica 24 Cambridge University Press pp. 357, 358  Endnotes:
    • The most important work on Schomberg's life and career is Kazner's Leben Friedrichs van Schomberg oder Schönberg (Mannheim, 1789). The military histories and memoirs of the time should also be consulted.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Dumbarton
Colonel of His Majesty's Royal Regiment of Foot
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Douglas, Bt
Preceded by
The Lord Dartmouth
Master-General of the Ordnance
Title next held by
The Earl of Romney
Portuguese nobility
New creation Count of Mértola
Succeeded by
Meinhardt Schomberg
Peerage of England
New creation Duke of Schomberg
Succeeded by
Charles Schomberg

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