Henri Massue marquis de Ruvigny Viscount Galway

9 April 1648- 3 September 1720

Portrait of Galway

Galway's background and early career

Galway was born1 as Henri de Massue in Paris on 9 April 1648. He was the son of Henri de Massué marquis de Ruvigny (1605-1689) deputy of the Protestants to the king, and Marie Tallemant de Rambouillet. His younger brother was named De la Caillemotte. Henri joined the French army and served with distinction up to 1685, when he was a brigadier. That year the revocation of the edict of Nantes compelled the family to flee and finally settle in Greenwich. Even so De Ruvigny seems to have retained some credit with Louis XIV because he was allowed to retain his estate in France.

Galway serving William III

When his brother De la Caillemotte was killed on the Boyne in 1690 Henri offered his services to William III. He was made a major general and got Schomberg's Huguenot cavalry regiment. He then served under Athlone in the taking of Athlone and the battle of Aughrim. In the latter he greatly distinguished himself. William then made Henri Viscount of Galway in November 1692 and gave him confiscated lands in Ireland to support himself.

In 1693 Galway was at Neerwinden where he again signaled himself and was afterwards promoted to Lieutenant General. During the battle he was captured but, knowing he would be killed for treason, some old acquaintances let him go. In 1694 Galway was sent to support Savoy as commander of an expeditionary force and envoy2. After the Duke of Savoy switched sides Galway started the retreat of parts of this force in November 1696. In 1697 he was made Lord Justice of Ireland, a post he held up to 1701.

Galway left his mark on the history of Ireland by founding the town of Portarlington. Here a few hundred Huguenot families settled and so established an enclave of French culture in Ireland. Personally Galway gained little from his Irish lands because the Commons quickly revoked the grant.

Galway during the Spanish Succession War

Confronted with the meager English compensation for his zeal Galway must have enjoyed his appointment as colonel of the Dutch Horse guards on 7 August 17013. Galway came into the high command again when England was dissatisfied with Schomberg's conduct in the 1704 Portuguese campaign. He arrived in Portugal on 10 August 1704 but did not succeed in accomplishing much that year. 1705 saw him again in command of the English troops in Portugal, which were nominally under an old Portuguese general. In fact the actual command was rotated on a weekly basis between Galway, Fagel and a Portuguese general. The campaign started with the siege and successful assault of Valencia de Alcantara under Fagel's command. On 22 May Galway then took Albuquerque by capitulation. Next the allies tried to do battle with Tessé, but he evaded them. After the summer pause the allies started the siege of Badajoz in 1705. Here Galway lost the lower part of his right arm to a cannonball. In the end the siege of Badajoz failed due to some serious initial mistakes on the allied side.

In 1706 Das Minas commanded the alliance army. It got an early success when it conquered Alcantara on 16 April and took a big booty. Against the protests of Galway and others the Portuguese then opted to take Ciudad Rodrigo which was taken on 27 May. In June the alliance then marched on Salamanca, where it was welcomed on 7 June. On 25 June the alliance army entered Madrid, but on 28 July it decided to march in the direction of Catalunia and later the kingdom of Valencia.

1707 saw Galway again in command of the English troops but also in supreme command. At Almanza he suffered a terrible defeat against Berwick who had a vast majority over him. Here he was wounded in his face by two saber cuts. After Almanza Galway seems to have done reasonably well on the defensive, but this could not redress the damage suffered at Almanza. In 1708 he returned to Portugal to command the English troops there and be the English envoy. In 1709 he then fought in the lost battle of La Gudina, but suffered only minor losses. However, for his military career this new defeat seems to have spelled the end.

Galway after the Spanish Succession War

After the war Galway again became Lord Justice of Ireland and lived out his life in Portarlington.

Generalship of Galway

Galway does not feature in the list of great commanders. Let's say that one cannot doubt his personal courage and one also cannot doubt that on occasion he performed excellently when commanding part of an army. However, on the occasions that Galway was supreme commander he failed. This was true, but perhaps excusable, for the siege of Badajoz and the battle of La Gudina. However, in the case of the battle of Almanza Galway's conduct cannot stand up to scrutiny. At Almanza Galway was outnumbered 3:5 or perhaps even 1:2. Trying to force a battle in such circumstances meant taking a huge risk. Doing so outside of one's territory can however only be classified as irresponsible or ignorant. Sometimes people try to excuse Galway for his decision by stating that he had to fight in order to save the kingdom of Valencia. Perhaps this is true, but this could just as well have been done closer to his own lines of communication. Doing battle would still have been a great risk, but the consequences of loosing would have been far less serious. Therefore, in my opinion Galway was not a competent supreme commander, however successful he may have been in subordinate command.


Service record


1) Details of Galway's life can be found in Histoire des réfugiés protestants de France by Charles Weiss
2) Staatse Leger VIII/I Page 521
3) Staatse Leger VII Page 449 about these appointments