Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

however, and died by poisoning in 1579. His nephew, Roger de Saint-Lary de Termes, a favourite with Henry III., Henry IV. and Louis XIII., was royal master of the horse and governor of Burgundy. His estate of Seurre in Burgundy was created a duchy in the peerage of France (duché-pairie) in his favour under the name of Bellegarde, in 1619. In 1645 the title of this duchy was transferred to the estate of Choisy-aux-Loges in Gâtinais, and was borne later by the family of Pardaillan de Gondrin, heirs of the house of Saint-Lary-Bellegarde. When Seurre passed into the possession of the princes of Condé they in the same way acquired the title of dukes of Bellegarde.  (M. P.*) 

BELLEGARDE, HEINRICH JOSEPH JOHANNES, Count von (1756–1845), Austrian soldier and statesman, was born at Dresden on the 29th of August 1756, and for a short time served in the Saxon army. Transferring his services to Austria in 1771 he distinguished himself greatly as colonel of dragoons in the Turkish War of 1788–1789, and served as a major-general in the Netherlands campaigns of 1793–1794. In the campaign of 1796 in Germany, as a lieutenant field marshal, he served on the staff of the archduke Charles, whom he accompanied to Italy in the following year. He was also employed in the congress of Rastatt. In 1799 he commanded a corps in eastern Switzerland, connecting the armies of the archduke and Suvarov, and finally joined the latter in north Italy. He conducted the siege of the citadel of Alessandria, and was present at the decisive battle of Novi. He served again in the latter part of the Marengo campaign of 1800 in the rank of general of cavalry. In 1805, when the archduke Charles left to take command in Italy, Bellegarde became president ad interim of the council of war. He was, however, soon employed in the field, and at the sanguinary battle of Caldiero he commanded the Austrian right. In the war of 1809 he commanded the extreme right wing of the main army (see Napoleonic Campaigns). Cut off from Charles as the result of the battle of Eckmühl, he retreated into Bohemia, but managed to rejoin before the great battles near Vienna (Aspern and Wagram). From 1809 to 1813 Bellegarde, now field marshal, was governor-general of Galicia, but was often called to preside over the meetings of the Aulic Council, especially in 1810 in connexion with the reorganization of the Austrian army. In 1813, 1814 and 1815 he led the Austrian armies in Italy. His successes in these campaigns were diplomatic as well as military, and he ended them by crushing the last attempt of Murat in 1815. From 1816 to 1825 (when he had to retire owing to failing eyesight) he held various distinguished civil and military posts. He died in 1845.

See Smola, Das Leben des F.M. von Bellegarde (Vienna, 1847).

BELLE-ÎLE-EN-MER, an island off the W. coast of France, forming a canton of the department of Morbihan, 8 m. S. by W. of the peninsula of Quiberon. Pop. (1906) 9703. Area, 33 sq. m. The island is divided into the four communes of Le Palais, Bangor, Sauzon and Locmaria. It forms a treeless plateau with an average height of 130 ft. above sea-level, largely covered with moors and bordered by a rugged and broken coast. The climate is mild, the fig-tree and myrtle growing in sheltered spots and the soil, where cultivated, is productive. The inhabitants are principally engaged in agriculture and the fisheries, and in the preservation of sardines, anchovies, &c. The breed of draught horses in the island is highly prized. The chief town, Le Palais (pop. 2637), has an old citadel and fortifications, and possesses a port which is accessible to vessels drawing 13 ft. of water. Belle-Île must have been inhabited from a very early period, as it possesses several stone monuments of the class usually called Druidic.

The Roman name of the island seems to have been Vindilis, which in the middle ages became corrupted to Guedel. In 1572 the monks of the abbey of Ste Croix at Quimperlé ceded the island to the Retz family, in whose favour it was raised to a marquisate in the following year. It subsequently came into the hands of the family of Fouquet, and was ceded by the latter to the crown in 1718. It was held by English troops from 1761 to 1763 when the French got it in exchange for Nova Scotia. A few of the inhabitants of the latter territory migrated to Belle-Île, which is partly peopled by their descendants. In the state prison of Nouvelle Force at Le Palais political prisoners have at various times been confined.

BELLE-ISLE, CHARLES LOUIS AUGUSTE FOUQUET, Comte, and later Duc, de (1684–1761), French soldier and statesman, was the grandson of Nicholas Fouquet, superintendent of finances under Louis XIV., and was born at Villefranche de Rouergue. Although his family was in disgrace, he entered the army at an early age and was made proprietary colonel of a dragoon regiment in 1708. He rose during the War of the Spanish Succession to the rank of brigadier, and in March 1718 to that of maréchal de camp. In the Spanish War of 1718–1719 he was present at the capture of Fontarabia in 1718 and at that of St Sebastian in 1719. When the duke of Bourbon became prime minister, Belle-Isle was imprisoned in the Bastille, and then relegated to his estates, but with the advent of Cardinal Fleury to power he regained some measure of favour and was made a lieutenant-general. In the War of the Polish Succession he commanded a corps under the orders of Marshal Berwick, captured Trier and Trarbach and took part in the siege of Philippsburg (1734). When peace was made in 1736 the king, in recognition both of his military services and of the part he had taken in the negotiations for the cession of Lorraine, gave him the government of the three important fortresses of Metz, Toul and Verdun—an office which he kept till his death. His military and political reputation was now at its height, and he was one of the principal advisers of the government in military and diplomatic affairs. In 1741 he was sent to Germany as French plenipotentiary to carry out, in the interests of France, a grand scheme of political reorganization in the moribund empire, and especially to obtain the election of Charles, elector of Bavaria, as emperor. His diplomacy was thus the mainspring of the War of the Austrian Succession (q.v.), and his military command in south Germany was full of incidents and vicissitudes. He had been named marshal of France in 1741, and received a large army, with which it is said that he promised to make peace in three months under the walls of Vienna. The truth of this story is open to question, for no one knew better than Belle-Isle the limitations imposed upon commanders by the military and political circumstances of the times. These circumstances in fact rendered his efforts, both as a general and as a statesman, unavailing, and the one redeeming feature in the general failure was his heroic retreat from Prague. In ten days he led 14,000 men into and across the Bohemian Forest, suffering great privations and harassed by the enemy, but never allowing himself to be cut off, and his subordinate Chevert defended Prague so well that the Austrians were glad to allow him to rejoin his chief. The campaign, however, had discredited Belle-Isle; he was ridiculed at Paris by the wits and the populace, even Fleury is said to have turned against him, and, to complete his misfortunes, he was taken prisoner by the English in going from Cassel to Berlin through Hanover. He remained a year in England, in spite of the demands of Louis XV. and of the emperor Charles VII. During the campaign of 1746 he was in command of the “Army of Piedmont” on the Alpine frontier, and although he began his work with a demoralized and inferior army, he managed not only to repel the invasion of the Spanish and Italian forces but also to carry the war back into the plain of Lombardy. At the peace, having thus retrieved his military reputation, he was created duke and peer of France (1748). In 1757 his credit at court was considerable, and the king named him secretary for war. During his three years’ ministry he undertook many reforms, such as the development of the military school for officers, and the suppression of the proprietary colonelcies of nobles who were too young to command; and he instituted the Order of Merit. But the Seven Years’ War was by that time in progress and his efforts had no immediate effect. He died at Versailles on the 26th of January 1761. Belle-Isle interested himself in literature; was elected a member of the French Academy in 1740, and founded the Academy of Metz in 1760. The dukedom ended with his death, his only son having been killed in 1758 at the battle of Crefeld.