1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Harcourt

HARCOURT, a village in Normandy, now a commune in the department of Eure, arrondissement of Bernay and canton of Brionne, which gives its name to a noble family distinguished in French history, a branch of which was early established in England. Of the lords of Harcourt, whose genealogy can be traced back to the 11th century, the first to distinguish himself was Jean II. (d. 1302) who was marshal and admiral of France. Godefroi d’Harcourt, seigneur of Saint Sauveur le Vicomte, surnamed “Le boiteux” (the lame), was a marshal in the English army and was killed near Coutances in 1356. The fief of Harcourt was raised to the rank of a countship by Philip of Valois, in favour of Jean IV., who was killed at the battle of Creçy (1346). His son, Jean V. (d. 1355) married Blanche, heiress of Jean II., count of Aumale, and the countship of Harcourt passed with that of Aumale until, in 1424, Jean VIII., count of Aumale and Mortain and lieutenant-general of Normandy, was killed at the battle of Verneuil, and with him the elder branch became extinct in the male line. The heiress, Marie, by her marriage with Anthony of Lorraine, count of Vaudémont, brought the countship of Harcourt into the house of Lorraine. The title of count of Harcourt was borne by several princes of this house. The most famous instance was Henry of Lorraine, count of Harcourt, Brionne, and Armagnac, and nicknamed “Cadet la perle” (1601–1666). He distinguished himself in several campaigns against Spain, and later played an active part in the civil wars of the Fronde. He took the side of the princes, and fought against the government in Alsace; but was defeated by Marshal de la Ferté, and made his submission in 1654.

The most distinguished among the younger branches of the family are those of Montgomery and of Beuvron. To the former belonged Jean d’Harcourt, bishop of Amiens and Tournai, archbishop of Narbonne and patriarch of Antioch, who died in 1452; and Guillaume d’Harcourt, count of Tancarville, and viscount of Melun, who was head of the administration of the woods and forests in the royal domain (souverain maître et réformateur des eaux et forêts de France) and died in 1487.

From the branch of the marquises of Beuvron sprang Henri d’Harcourt, marshal of France, and ambassador at the Spanish court, who was made duke of Harcourt (1700) and a peer of France (1709); also François Eugène Gabriel, count, and afterwards duke, of Harcourt, who was ambassador first in Spain, and later at Rome, and died in 1865. This branch of the family is still in existence.

See G. A. de la Rogne, Histoire généalogique de la maison d’Harcourt (4 vols., Paris, 1662); P. Anselme, Histoire généalogique de la maison de France, v. 114, &c.; and Dom le Noir, Preuves généalogiques et historiques de la maison de Harcourt (Paris, 1907).  (M. P.*)