Meinhard Schomberg

Meinhard Schomberg
Portrait of Schomberg
Meinhard Schomberg by John Smith
Born:30 June 1641
Duke of Leinster1691
Died:5 July 1719

1 Meinhard von Schomberg's family

1.1 Meinhard's family

Meinhard Schomberg1 was born in 1641. He was the second of the five sons of the famous Friedrich von Schomberg(1615-1690) 2 and his (distant) cousin Johanna Elizabeth von Schomberg3. His father was a French field marshal and three of his brothers died in the service of France.

1.2 Meinhard in Portugal

Meinhard served with his father in Portugal as lieutenant-colonel from 1660 to 1668. On his return to France he was naturalised a French subject.

1.3 The Franco-Dutch War

Meinhard attained the rank of brigadier and later marechal-de-camp in the Franco-Dutch war. He served under Marshal Créqui and distinguished himself at Kochersburg on 7 October 1677 and before Freiburg on 14 November. In 1678 he was at Rheinfelden on 6 July 1678, and at Kinzing on the 23 July 1678.

1.4 Marriage

On 4 Jan. 1683 Meinhard married Raugravine Caroline Elizabeth, daughter of Charles Lewis, elector palatin. With her he one son and three daughters.

1.5 In Hungary and Prusssia

After the revocation of the edict of Nantes Meinhard served against the Turks in Hungary during the campaign of 1686. Afterwards he joined his father in Berlin. He entered the service of the Elector Frederick William, by whom he was appointed general of cavalry and colonel of a corps of dragoons.

2 In the service of William III

2.1 Hired by Stadtholder William III

When the Elector of Brandenburg hired out part of his army to William III Meinhard's father came to command this detachment. When William came to the throne the Schombergs became part of the English army and his father became commander of the English army.

Meinhard arrived in England only after the revolution, about March 1689. He was sent to his father in Ireland in August 1689. Here he probably saw the fortified camp at Dundalk that was establuished 7 September. Afterwards he got leave to visit Berlin. Probably to get his dismission, and to regulate some affairs.

2.2 The Battle of the Boyne

Meinhard returned to England in early 1690. On 19 April he was appointed General of the Horse.

At the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690 Meinhard's father Frederick was second in command of the army. Frederick got killed and so the title Duke of Schomberg went to Meinhard's elder brother Charles Schomberg4. Meinhard distinguished himself during the Battle of the Boyne. He furthermore participated in the failed first siege of Limerick, and appears to have returned to England with William III in Spetember.

2.3 Duke of Leinster

His service in Ireland led to Meinhard's naturalisation on 25 April 1691. On 3 March 1692 he was made Baron of Tarragh, Earl of Bangor, and Duke of Leinster.

2.4 Proposed expedition to St. Malo

Meinhard was made a Lieutenant-general of British forces in 1692, and was designated to command an expedition to St. Malo. The expedition came to nothing, and so he went to Flanders.

2.5 Becomes Duke of Schomberg

In Ocotber 1693 Charles Schomberg was killed during the Battle of Marsiglia. Meinhard now became Duke of Schomberg in the English Peerage, and took his seat in the House of Lords on 19 November. On 9 May 1695 he joined the Privy Council. On 22 December 1696 he had an annuity of 4000 pounds yearly, that had once been granted to his father settled upon his person.

3 Schomberg during the War of the Spanish Succession

3.1 Captain General in Portugal

Somewhere in July or August 1703 Schomberg was appointed as Captain General of the English forces in Portugal5. Somewhat later he was also made a knight of the garter and so he was ready to take up this prestigious command. In January 1704 he started out for Portugal and after some trouble he arrived in March.

On arrival he was appointed as maitre de camp general, a rank which he deemed below his dignity. Whether he was serious about this or that his apprehensions were only caused by the Dutch General Fagel getting appointed in the same rank is not clear.

Because the Portuguese troops were not that well organized Schomberg wanted to keep the Anglo-Dutch troops together, but the Portuguese king adopted another plan. Fagel was to operate north of the Taag and Schomberg south of it. Fagel suffered some defeats against Berwick, who outnumbered him. Schomberg's opponent T'Serclaes was very passive, but Schomberg himself did almost nothing.

A counteroffensive by Das Minas and Fagel then regained the terrain which had been lost in the north, but by then the English government had drawn its conclusions. Schomberg was dismissed in June 17046 and on 10 August 1704 Galway arrived to succeed him as commander in Portugal. Schomberg would arrive home somewhere about November of that year7.

3.2 Schomberg in the House of Lords

It's said that while in the House of Lords, Schomberg only voted on ecclesiastical matters. In 1703 he voted in favour of the bill against occasional conformity. In 1710 he supported the motion for the impeachment of Dr. Sacheverell. In 1714 he voted against the Schism Bill.

Schomberg built Hillingdon House as a hunting lodge in 1717. It has since been been destroyed, and replaced by a new building in 1844.

4 Generalship and Career of Schomberg

Career of Meinhard Schomberg
c. 1685colonel of a French cavalry regiment
?French Brigadier
?French Maréchal de Camp
1690 19 AprilGeneral of the Horse
1692Duke of Leinster
1693Duke of Schomberg
1695 9 MayAppointed as Commander in Chief in England
1703 AugustKnight of the Garter9
1703 16 AugustAppointed as General
1703Appointed as commander for Portugal
Service of Meinhard Schomberg
1660-1668Lt-Colonel in Portugal
1677 OctKochersburg
1677 Nov.Freiburg
1678 JulyRheinfelden
1678 JulyKinzig
1686Campaign in Hungary
1690 JulyBattle of the Boyne
1690First siege of Limerick

Schomberg's career in supreme command was extremely short, after only one spring campaign it was finished. The fact that he did not suffer a major defeat during this time is not at all positive. It points to him probably being that incompetent or weakened by old age that observers drew their conclusions from his maneuvers (or the absence of any maneuvers) and did not want to take the risk of him engaging the enemy. Het Staatse Leger says Schomberg lacked the military competencies his father had8.

5 Sources

This biography was first scraped together from various sources. Later a biography of Meinhard Schomberg in the Dictionary of National Biogrpahy came online and was used to add more details

6 Notes

1) The name Schomberg is a latinization of Schönberg
2) Frederick Schomberg (1615-1690) Maréchal de France in 1675
3) According to De La Roque Frederic Schomberg married his 'cousine' Elisabeth de Schomberg, but they were not direct cousins
4) Charles Schomberg (1645-1693) would die in the battle of Marsiglia
5) Letter from Sauniere de L'Hermitage to Heinsius 8 August 1703 H.A. 1703 Nr. 1002 in resume.
6) Letter from by Galway to Heinsius on 27 June 1704 in which he lets Heinsius know that he will replace Schomberg.
7) Letter from Vrijbergen to Heinsius on 28 November 1704 in which he lets Heinsius know Schomberg will probably arrive on 4 English ships which are to return to England.
8) Staatse Leger VIII/I page 510
9) Letter from Sauniere de L'Hermitage to Heinsius 21 August 1703 H.A. 1703 Nr. 1062 in resume.