Marquis de St Ruth

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Marquis de Saint Ruth
Charles Chalmont
Born c. 1650
Died(1691-07-12)12 July 1691
Attidermot, Aughrim, County Galway

Charles Chalmont, marquis de Saint-Ruth [1] (French pronunciation:  [ʃaʁl ʃal.mɔ̃ maʁ.ki də sɛ̃.ʁut] ; c. 1650 – 12 July 1691) was a French general. Early in his military career, he fought against Protestants in France. Later, he fought in Ireland on the Jacobite side in the Williamite War. While in command of the Jacobite Irish Army, he was killed at the Battle of Aughrim. [2]

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Kingdom of Ireland Historical kingdom on the island of Ireland between 1542 and 1801

The Kingdom of Ireland was a client state of England and then of Great Britain that existed from 1542 until 1800. It was ruled by the monarchs of England and then of Great Britain in personal union with their other realms. The kingdom was administered from Dublin Castle nominally by the King or Queen, who appointed a viceroy to rule in their stead. It had its own legislature, peerage, legal system, and state church.

Jacobitism political ideology

Jacobitism was the name of the political movement in Great Britain and Ireland that aimed to restore the House of Stuart to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The movement was named after Jacobus, the Latin form of James.


Edict of Nantes

After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, there was an exodus of thousands of Protestants from France in the direction of Geneva. France exerted much pressure upon the Duchy of Savoy for the Protestants fleeing to Geneva to be arrested and handed over. The duke was not in a position to accept another new war or another French occupation. The Marquis de Saint-Ruth, the general of the King of France, ordered the burning of the dwellings if "...the Ternier clann and the Gaillard clann did not pay the eight quarter and a half (tax) of the normal, plus 8 other quarters to the contribution of war that one had just imposed by the king". The population, confronted with a dilemma, had to pay the tax to the Marquis de Saint-Ruth.

Edict of Nantes granted the Calvinist Protestants of France (Huguenots) substantial rights

The Edict of Nantes, signed in April 1598 by King Henry IV of France, granted the Calvinist Protestants of France substantial rights in the nation, which was still considered essentially Catholic at the time. In the edict, Henry aimed primarily to promote civil unity. The edict separated civil from religious unity, treated some Protestants for the first time as more than mere schismatics and heretics, and opened a path for secularism and tolerance. In offering general freedom of conscience to individuals, the edict offered many specific concessions to the Protestants, such as amnesty and the reinstatement of their civil rights, including the right to work in any field or for the state and to bring grievances directly to the king. It marked the end of the religious wars that had afflicted France during the second half of the 16th century.

Geneva Large city in Switzerland

Geneva is the second-most populous city in Switzerland and the most populous city of Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Situated where the Rhône exits Lake Geneva, it is the capital of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.

In Savoy

In 1690, the Marquis de Saint Ruth besieged the town of Annecy and played a part in the victory at the Battle of Staffarda, among other battles. [3] He directed the operations against the Château d'Aléry. (The château, belonging to the Aussedat family, has today been restored.)

Battle of Staffarda

The Battle of Staffarda, 18 August 1690, was fought during Nine Years' War in Piedmont-Savoy, modern-day northern Italy. The engagement was the first major encounter in the Italian theatre since Victor Amadeus, the Duke of Savoy, had joined the Grand Alliance in opposition to France earlier that year. The battle was a clear victory for the French commander, Nicolas Catinat, who proceeded to take other Piedmontese strongholds. The French also overran most of the Duchy of Savoy, but due to sickness, lack of infantry, and problems with supply, Catinat was unable to besiege Amadeus's capital Turin as King Louis XIV had hoped.

Arrival in Ireland

On 20 March, General St. Ruth [4] arrived at Limerick from Brest, France, [5] with the lieutenants-general and the governor. At his landing on the quay, he was saluted by a discharge of artillery from the castle. Proceeding, he found the soldiery of the town ranged on each side of the street. The Viceroy came to meet him a hundred paces from his palace, welcomed him to Ireland, and took him to dinner. In the evening St. Ruth was lodged in a house prepared for his residence. Along with him came a fleet bringing arms, clothes for several regiments, powder, ball, and a considerable quantity of oats, meal, biscuit, wine, and brandy, which was much appreciated in the country. A few days later, the general began to apply himself to his charge and issued orders that the army should prepare to take the field, except for such battalions as were posted for the defence of a few important towns which remained in the possession of the loyal party, such as Limerick, Galway, Athlone, and Sligo, besides some petty strongholds.

Limerick City in Munster, Ireland

Limerick is a city in County Limerick, Ireland. It is located in the Mid-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. Limerick City and County Council is the local authority for the city. The city lies on the River Shannon, with the historic core of the city located on King's Island, which is bounded by the Shannon and the Abbey River. Limerick is also located at the head of the Shannon Estuary where the river widens before it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 94,192, Limerick is the third most populous urban area in the state, and the fourth most populous city on the island of Ireland.

Brest, France Subprefecture and commune in Brittany, France

Brest is a city in the Finistère département in Brittany. Located in a sheltered bay not far from the western tip of the peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon. The city is located on the western edge of continental Europe. With 142,722 inhabitants in a 2007 census, Brest is at the centre of Western Brittany's largest metropolitan area, ranking third behind only Nantes and Rennes in the whole of historic Brittany, and the 19th most populous city in France; moreover, Brest provides services to the one million inhabitants of Western Brittany. Although Brest is by far the largest city in Finistère, the préfecture of the department is the much smaller Quimper.

A viceroy is an official who runs a country, colony, city, province, or sub-national state, in the name of and as the representative of the monarch of the territory. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roy, meaning "king". A viceroy's territory may be called a viceroyalty, though this term is not always applied. The adjective form is viceregal, less often viceroyal. The term vicereine is sometimes used to indicate a female viceroy suo jure, although viceroy can serve as a gender-neutral term. Vicereine is more commonly used to indicate a viceroy's wife.

In April the Dutch Baron de Ginkel, general of the Prince of Orange's army, issued commands that his troops should leave their quarters and march to the town of Mullingar in the county of Westmeath, some twenty miles from Athlone, and from there begin the campaign. In compliance with these commands, some regiments arrived there on 27 April; the rest of the Williamite soldiers were still on the march.

Godert de Ginkell, 1st Earl of Athlone Dutch general in the service of England

Godard van Reede, 1st Earl of Athlone, Baron van Reede, Lord of Ginkel, born in the Netherlands as Baron Godard van Reede was a Dutch general in the service of England.

Mullingar Town in Leinster, Ireland

Mullingar is the county town of County Westmeath in Ireland. It is the 3rd most populous town in the midlands region, with a population of 20,928 in the 2016 census.

On the Jacobite side the Marquis de St. Ruth sent forth similar orders, that King James's army should march out of their quarters to Athlone and encamp nearby, on the Connaught side of the Shannon, having understood that General Ginkel intended to open the campaign with the siege of Athlone in order to enter the province of Connaught. From there the plan was to obtain entire possession of Ireland. In order to do so, several foot regiments came there at the beginning of May. At the same time their cavalry was marching from all parts.

Athlone Town in County Westmeath, on the River Shannon, near the geographical centre of Ireland

Athlone is a town in County Westmeath, Ireland. It is located on the River Shannon near the southern shore of Lough Ree. It is the second most populous town in the Midlands Region with a population of 21,349 in the 2016 census.

Connacht province in Ireland

Connacht, formerly spelled Connaught, is one of the provinces of Ireland, in the west of the country. Up to the 9th century it consisted of several independent major kingdoms.

River Shannon Longest river in Ireland, and on the island of Ireland

The River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland at 360.5 km. It drains the Shannon River Basin which has an area of 16,865 km2 (6,512 sq mi), one fifth of the area of Ireland.

By the beginning of June, William of Orange's English, Danish, German, Dutch, and Huguenot army was assembled at Mullingar, and on 6 June they began their march towards Athlone, with the intention of taking that great pass into Connaught. On 7 June, they came to the village of Ballymore, midway on the road between Mullingar and Athlone. There was a fort close by at the side of a lough, which had been fortified a little by the Irish the previous winter.

The Siege of Athlone

The town of Athlone was defended well for many days; however, a combination of Jacobite underestimation and bad judgement played a large role in its loss.

St. Ruth, hearing the town of Athlone had been taken, fell into a sensible grief. However, he ordered a few troops to march down and retrieve the place if it was practicable. But the officers observed that the entrenchment was extraordinarily guarded and might be supported by the hostile army, so they returned to their camp.

The loss of Athlone on 30 June supported the judgment against the Tyrconnell opponents of this decision, which, if it had not been taken, would have preserved Athlone town, and by the same occasion, the province of Connaught. When the news of this misfortune came to the Duke of Tyrconnell, then at Limerick, he redoubled his sorrow that he was so unfortunate as not to be believed when he proposed clear and sure ways of saving his country from total ruin. However, he needed to deliver his opinion concerning the operation of the remaining campaign. He would not now risk the kingdom in a single battle, having heard of such a design, but he would conduct a defensive and delaying war in the expectation of being superior the next year with reinforcements from France. In the interim and ad hoc (the foot being brought to Limerick), he would send the Irish cavalry over Banagher bridge into the province of Leinster, to bring away from thence great booty, and also recruits from the Catholic inhabitants.

Arrival at Aughrim

General St. Ruth, knowing that he could not justify to King James his loss of Athlone while at the head of a considerable army, thought fit not to share Tyrconnell's sentiment, and chose to risk the kingdom upon a fair combat, being unalterably resolved to bury his body in Ireland or regain the country speedily. Whereupon, observing the strength of his army, he commanded it to decamp from Athlone in the afternoon of that day, 30 June 1691. He marched towards Limerick, proceeding with short marches until he arrived a little beyond the village of Aughrim, twenty miles from Athlone, and some thirty miles from Limerick, in the county of Galway. Viewing the surrounding ground, he judged it convenient for his purposes, and so encamped there, to wait for the enemy, with his army facing east, towards Athlone. In front of his position were marsh-lands, over which foot-soldiers could come but not cavalry. At each end of these marsh-lands there was a passage through which the enemy's horse could come towards his right and left flank.

The passage on the right was a little ford at a stream issuing from the marsh-lands. That on the left was an old broken causeway, only large enough for two horses to pass it at a time, which was sixty yards long. Beyond this causeway, and on the left within forty yards, was the castle of Aughrim, into which St. Ruth put Colonel Walter Bourk and two hundred men. St. Ruth marshalled his army in two lines. The cavalry on his right were the regiments of the Duke of Tyrconnell, of the Earl of Abercorn, and of Colonel Edmund Prendergast, in front of the regiment of Sutherland and the dragoons. This wing was to see that the enemy's horse did not break in on the right of the army through the pass of the ford and then through the narrow ground lying between two morasses. The English had double the number in cavalry; however, the Irish had some advantage in infantry.

It was here that Lieutenant-General de Tessé and Major-General Patrick Sarsfield, by then Earl of Lucan, were posted. The other Lieutenant-General, the Marquis d'Usson, had gone to Galway after the siege of Athlone. On the left St. Ruth placed the Earl of Lucan's regiment of horse, and those of Colonel Henry Luttrell, of Colonel John Parker, and Colonel Nicholas Purcell, with a body of dragoons. Lord Galmoy, with his regiment, was put behind the second line of the foot, in the nature of a reserve for contingencies. The conduct of this left wing was given to Major-General Sheldon, with Brigadier Henry Luttrell commanding the first line. Their business was to defend the pass of the causeway, near to which there were set two regiments of foot.

Death at the Battle of Aughrim

On Sunday 12 June, during the celebration of the soldiers' 6:00 am mass, the Williamite army was seen arriving from the direction of Ballinasloe.

Observing that the Williamite force was losing the battle, General Ginkel, seeing that his centre was totally and wholly broken, and that his left wing had had massive losses without being able to gain their objective, that his right wing could not get over to the left of the Irish with any safety, and that the foe was on his field of battle, apparently became so disturbed in his thoughts that he could not well resolve what to do, unless it were to take flight, of which some indications appeared immediately. On the Jacobite side, General St. Ruth, [6] noting the condition of the enemy and his own success, cried out with joy: "The day is ours, my children!"

General St. Ruth, having sent his command to the cavalry to march and oppose the enemy at the pass, himself felt the need go along to see them perform their duty, that there might be no failure in the last scene of this bloody tragedy with victory within their grasp. They moved and General St. Ruth followed with his guards. While he was riding down a little hill, a cannonball missed all other soldiers targeted and struck the Marquis in the head, killing him.

His body, carried off and brought to the town of Loughrea, was later interred privately at night at the Carmelite Abbey cemetery. A deserteris took the news of his death to the enemy, who thereupon advanced in haste to the pass.

Without direction and coordination, a winning battle was turned into yet another battle lost by the Jacobites in this succession of circumstances. More than 7,000 European soldiers of different nations were killed.

Personal life

St Ruth married Marie de Cossé, widow of Charles de La Porte, Duc de La Meilleraye. [7] Marie, born in 1622, was many years older and the marriage was childless; she lived until 1710.

Saint-Simon, in his Memoirs, paints a most unflattering portrait of Saint-Ruth, which should be treated with some caution as he was only sixteen when St. Ruth died, though he did apparently meet him. He describes St. Ruth as a "gentleman in a small way", tall and well built but exceptionally ugly; a gallant soldier but notorious for domestic cruelty. [8] According to Saint-Simon, St. Ruth's treatment of his wife became so brutal that she eventually asked the King to intervene. Louis treated her with great sympathy and ordered her husband to desist, but when the ill-treatment continued the King began sending St. Ruth on unnecessary missions to free his wife of his company. [9] [10]

References and Notes

  1. A Jacobite narrative of the war in Ireland (A light to the blind; Pluncket memoirs)
  2. BBC NI - Learning - William and Ireland
  3. En Tarentaise Vanoise - Conseil Général de Savoie
  5. 03
  6. Battle of Aughrim - Cath Eachroma
  7. Norton, Lucy editor Historical Memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon Hamish Hamilton 1968 Vol.II pp.33,513
  8. Norton p.33
  9. Norton p.34
  10. Saint-Simon 1829, p.  186: "Saint-Ruth était un fort simple gentilhomme fort pauvre, grand, bien fait, et que tout le monde a connu, extremement lait, je ne sais s'il l'était devenu depuis son mariage. C'était un fort brave homme, qui acquit de la capacité à la guerre, et parvint avec distinction à devenir lieutenant des gardes-du-corps, et lieutenant-général. Il était aussi fort brutal ..."

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