James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick

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James FitzJames, Duke of Berwick

James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick-upon-Tweed (August 21, 1670- June 12, 1734) was a French military leader, illegitimate son of King James II of England and VII of Scotland by Arabella Churchill, sister of the Duke of Marlborough. In 1695 he married Honora Burke, the widow of Patrick Sarsfield, who died in 1698. His second marriage, with Anne Bulkeley, took place in 1700.

FitzJames was born at Moulins in France before his father's accession to the throne, and was brought up a Roman Catholic and educated by the Jesuits. He went into the service of Charles, Duke of Lorraine and was present at the siege of Buda. FitzJames was created Duke of Berwick by his father in 1687, as well as Baron of Bosworth and Earl of Tinmouth. He then returned to Hungary and participated at the Battle of Mohács.

He returned to England and was made Governor of Portsmouth. King James made Fitzjames a Knight of the Garter, but due to the invasion of the Prince of Orange, the installation never took place. In the following year, James was overthrown and Berwick went into exile with him, taking an active part in the Irish campaign, including the Battle of the Boyne. After his father's final exile, Berwick served in the French army. He fought at the battles of Steinkirk and Landen. At the latter, Berwick was taken prisoner, but was exchanged for the Duke of Ormonde.

As a soldier, Berwick was highly esteemed for his courage, abilities and integrity. As a result of distinguished service in the War of the Spanish Succession, he became a French subject and was appointed a Marshal of France after his successful expedition against Nice in 1706. On the April 25, 1707, Berwick won the great and decisive victory of Almanza, where an Englishman at the head of a French army defeated Ruvigny, a Frenchman at the head of an English army. After Almanza, Berwick was created Duc de Fitz-James in the peerage of France by Louis XIV, and Duque de Liria y Xéreca and lieutenant of Aragon by Philip V of Spain. The last great event of the War of the Spanish Succession was the storming of Barcelona by Berwick, after a long siege, on September 11, 1714.

Not long thereafter, Berwick was appointed military governor of the province of Guienne, where he became friendly with Montesquieu. In 1718 he found himself under the necessity of once more entering Spain with an army; and this time he had to fight against Philip V. Many years of peace followed this campaign, and Berwick was not again called to serve in the field until 1733. In that year he was chosen to lead the army of the Rhine in the War of the Polish Succession, but was killed by a cannon ball at the siege of Philippsburg, June 12, 1734.

FitzJames had children by both his marriages: to Honora Burke and Anne Bulkely. His descendants were the French Ducs de Fitz-James and the Spanish Duques de Liria.

Preceded by:
New Creation
Duke of Berwick-upon-Tweed Succeeded by:
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