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Taaffe, Francis (DNB00)

TAAFFE, FRANCIS, fourth Viscount Taaffe and third Earl of Carlingford (1639–1704), Austrian field-marshal, was the second son of Theobald Taaffe, second viscount Taaffe and first earl of Carlingford [q.v.] Born at Ballymote, co. Sligo, in 1639, he was sent to the university of Olmütz, and, through the influence of Charles II, his father’s fellow-exile, was appointed page to the emperors Ferdinand III and Leopold I. Charles, nephew, and in 1675 titular successor of the Duke of Lorraine, gave him a captaincy in his Austrian cuirassier regiment, with which he served in Hungary in 1670. In 1673 he commanded the regiment at the siege of Bonn, and in the following year he was present at the battles of Sanzheim and Mühlhausen. In 1674 Charles of Lorraine, a second time candidate for the crown of Poland, sent him to the Polish diet to deliver a Latin oration in advocacy of his claims (printed in Calmet’s Hist. de Lorraine). In 1675 he commanded the right wing at Sasbach, and showed strategic ability, as also at Altenheim and Goldscheuer. In 1676 he was sent to the elector palatine to dissuade him from concluding a separate treaty with France, and he took part in the siege of Philippsburg. Duke Charles pressed the emperor to reward Taaffe by giving him a colonelcy, and on its being objected that there was none vacant, Charles resigned that position in his favour. In 1683 he commanded the rearguard at Petronel, and repulsed an attack of the Turks on the baggage train. He also helped to relieve Vienna. Six letters from him to his brother, Lord Carlingford, containing valuable information about the campaign, are printed in ‘Akta do Dziejow Króla Jana III’ (Cracow, 1883, tom, vi.) Some of the trophies captured from the Turks were presented by the duke to James II, who in 1686 sent Berwick to Austria, recommending him to Taaffe’s care. In 1687 he received the grade of lieutenant-general of cavalry, and an Irish regiment in the Austrian service was placed under his command. In 1690 the Duke of Lorraine died. In his will he styled Taaffe his best friend, and begged his widow, during his son Leopold’s minority, to follow Taaffe’s counsels. The widow died in 1697. In 1691 Taaffe succeeded to the viscounty of Taaffe and the earldom of Carlingford, and thenceforth bore that title. Although two of his brothers had fallen in the Jacobite cause, he, being in the service of the emperor and the Duke of Lorraine, found favour with their ally, William III, who in 1699 gave him an audience at Loo, and confirmed him in his earldom (cf. Rapin, Hist. d’Angleterre, bk. xxv.) Carlingford represented the young Duke of Lorraine in the negotiations of Ryswick, and on the duke’s reinstatement in his dominions in 1697, after twenty- eight years of French occupation, became his chamberlain, prime minister, and minister of finance, as also governor of Nancy. In 1694 the emperor had made him field-marshal and knight of the Golden Fleece. In 1697 he visited London (Luttrell, Diary), and may also have visited Ireland, for an act of the Irish parliament (9 Will, and Mary) exempted him from attainder or forfeiture. He accompanied the duke to the French court in 1699 on his doing homage for the duchy of Bar. and was presented to Louis XIV. He died at Nancy in August 1704, and was buried in the cathedral. He married, in 1676, Elizabeth Maximiliana, countess Traudisch, widow of Counts William Henry and George Ernest Schlick. He left no children. A daughter Anna, the only issue of the marriage, predeceased him.

By a will, dated 1702, Taaffe gave considerable bequests for wounded soldiers and for the completion of Cologne Cathedral, the residuary legatee being his nephew Theobald, son of his brother John, fourth and last earl, who was also in the Austrian service, and distinguished himself at the siege of Buda by the Turks. Theobald married Amelia Plunket, countess of Fingall, and died in 1738, when the viscounty passed to Nicholas Taaffe [q. v.], the earldom becoming extinct. Berwick testifies to Francis Taaffe’s culture and wit, and his sagacity in counsel, but, contrary to all other authorities, says he had little repute as a soldier.

[Memoirs of the Family of Taaffe, privately printed by Count Charles, afterwards acknowledged as tenth Viscount Taaffe, at Vienna, 1856 (contains interesting letters in French, 1671–1704, from Francis Taaffe to his father, his brother Nicholas, and other correspondents); Wurzbach’s Biogr. Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich; Mémoires de Berwick; Journal de Dangeau; Mém. de Saint-Simon; Lodge’s Irish Peerage, ed. Archdall, iv. 296; Spectator, 16 Dec. 1893; Times, 30 Nov. 1895.]

J. G. A.