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Victor de Fay de La Tour-Maubourg

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Victor de Fay de La Tour-Maubourg

Marie Victor de Fay
Born 22 May 1768
Château de La Motte-de-Galaure, France
Died 20 May 1834(1834-05-20) (aged 76)
Allegiance France
Rank général de division (France)
Commands held IV Reserve Cavalry Corps
I Cavalry corps

Napoleonic Wars




Wife: Pétronille van Rysse

Brother: Charles César de Fay de La Tour-Maubourg
Brother: Juste-Charles de la Tour-Maubourg
Other work


Marie Victor Nicolas de Fay, marquis de Latour-Maubourg (22 May 1768 in Château de La Motte-de-Galaure, near Grenoble – 1850 in Dammarie-lès-Lys) was a French cavalry commander starting under the Ancien Régime of France, and rising to prominence during the First French Empire. He was a diplomat after the Bourbon Restoration, where he served as Minister of War, from 1819-1821.

Early years

His father was Claude Florimond de Fay (1712–1790), and his mother was Vacheron Bermont Marie Françoise (b.1712).

Marie-Victor was a sous lieutenant in the Gardes du Corps.[1]

He was appointed Colonel of the 3rd Régiment des Chasseurs-a-Cheval, 5 February 1792, and served at Philippeville, Grisville, and Maubeuge.

In August 1792, he was captured at Rochefort, Belgium, and taken prisoner by the Austrians, with Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette. He was released soon, while his brother was only released after the treaty of Campo-Formio 18 October 1797. He lived in Hamburg, and then Brussels as an émigré, where he was joined by his family.


At the end of 1799 he returned to France and was sent to Egypt by the First Consul,. There he served as aide-de-camp to General Kléber, with whom he received a head wound, from an exploding shell, at Alexandria, 13 March 1801, and after Kléber's assassination as aide-de-camp to General Menou.

Campaigns of 1805-7

He was present at the battle of Austerlitz, serving in Germany under General Édouard Jean Baptiste Milhaud, in command of the 22nd Chasseurs-a-Cheval, forming part of Joachim Murat's cavalry reserve, and was shortly promoted to Brigadier General, 24 December 1805.

He campaigned in Prussia and Poland, fought at Jena; he found himself in the 3rd Division of Dragons under General-de-Division Louis-Chretien Carriere de Beaumont. He was made général de division, 14 May 1807, fought at the Battle of Heilsberg, where he commanded, the 1er Division de Dragoons,[2] and was wounded, again at Friedland, where his division supported Marshal Victor's I Corps on the right.[3]

Spain and Russia

In 1808 he commanded the cavalry of the Armée du Midi, under Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessières, Marshal Claude Victor, and Marchal Soult in the Peninsular War, in Spain, participating in the fall of Madrid, then at the battles of Uclés, Cuenca, Medellín, Talavera, Ocana, Gebora, Albuquerque, Albuera,[4] Usagre, Elvas, was wounded at the Villafranca,[5] winning the title of Baron de l'Empire. One of his dispatches was deciphered by the British.[6]

He was recalled to participate in the march on Moscow, given command of the IV Cavalry Corps. He was wounded at the Battle of Borodino, and gave distinguished service at Mojaisk, led a sacred squadron,[7] surviving the retreat, later commanded the I Cavalry Corps at Bautzen, Reichenbach,[8] Goldberg, Lutzen,[9] and Dresden.

At Wachau, his corps along with François Étienne de Kellermann's IV Cavalry Corps and the dragoons of the Guard charged the center of Duke of Württemberg. The reserve Russian Guard, counterattacked, stabilizing the line.[10] He lost a leg above the knee: famously responding to his body-servant's weeping at the sight, he remarked to his man, "What are you crying about, man, you have one less boot to polish".[11]

The amputation was practised by the famous surgeon of the imperial armies, Dominique Jean Larrey who notes in his memoirs:
He received a ball of small caliber which crashed his right knee to pieces, a serious wound which required the amputation of the thigh, requested by the casualty himself: I immediately practised it under fire of the enemy. It was made in less than three minutes.[12]


With the restoration of the Bourbons he pledged loyalty to Louis XVIII and remained with him during the Hundred Days,[13] for which he was made a Pair de France, 1814, made a marquis in 1817.

He served at several diplomatic posts, including Ambassador to London in 1819. (Castlereagh corresponded with him).[14] He was briefly Minister of War (November 1819 - December 1821), and governor of Invalides (December 1821), and sat on the tribunal that condemned Marshal Michel Ney to death.

In August 1831, he negotiated with the Belgians about the frontier forts, but the British intervened.[15]

He was awarded the Grand Croix of the Ordre de la Réunion, and of the Legion of Honor by Napoleon, and Grand Croix of the Order of Saint Louis by Louis XVIII, and Chevalier de the Order of the Holy Spirit.

He married Pétronille van Ryssel (d. 17 July 1844).[16]

His older brother, Charles César de Fay de La Tour-Maubourg also became a general. His younger brother, Juste-Charles de la Tour-Maubourg, married Anastasie de la Fayette (1777–1863).


External links

  • Maubourg World Heritage Encyclopedia France article
  • , VirtualArc

External links

  • Terry J. Senior, "The Top Twenty French Cavalry Commanders: #11. General Marie-Victor-Nicolas de Fay Latour-Maubourg"
  • National Portrait Gallery, London
  • , National Portrait Gallery, London
  • , Gaspard Gourgaud
  • , Philippe-Paul Ségur
  • Biographie des célébrités militaires des armées de terre et de mer de 1789 à 1850
Political offices
Preceded by
Laurent de Gouvion-Saint-Cyr
Minister of War
19 November 1819 - 14 December 1821
Succeeded by
Claude Victor-Perrin, Duc de Belluno

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