1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Besenval de Bronstatt, Pierre Victor, Baron de

BESENVAL DE BRONSTATT, PIERRE VICTOR, Baron de (1722–1794), French soldier, was born at Soleure. He was the son of Jean Victor Besenval, colonel of the regiment of Swiss guards in the pay of France, who was charged in 1707 by Louis XIV. with a mission to Sweden, to reconcile Charles XII. with the tsar Peter the Great, and to unite them in alliance with France against England. Pierre Victor served at first as aide-de-camp to Marshal Broglie during the campaign of 1748 in Bohemia, then as aide-de-camp to the duke of Orleans during the Seven Years’ War. He then became commander of the Swiss Guards. When the Revolution began Besenval remained firmly attached to the court, and he was given command of the troops which the king had concentrated on Paris in July 1789—a movement which led to the taking of the Bastille on the 14th of July. Besenval showed incompetence in the crisis, and attempted to flee. He was arrested, tried by the tribunal of the Châtelet, but acquitted. He then fell into obscurity and died in Paris in 1794. Besenval de Bronstatt is principally known as the author of Mémoires, which were published in 1805–1807 by the vicomte T. A. de Ségur, in which are reported many scandalous tales, true or false, of the court of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette. The authenticity of these memoirs is not absolutely established.