Meinhard Schomberg

30 June 1641 - 5 July 1719

Portrait of Schomberg

Meinhard von Schomberg's family

Schomberg1 was the second of the five sons of the famous Friedrich von Schomberg2 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. During his stay in France Meinhard was colonel of a French cavalry regiment. Upon the revocation of the Edict of Nantes Schomberg's father left France and went to Brandenburg. Here his father became commander of the Prussian army. Meinhard and his older brother also got commissions in the Brandenburg army.

When the Elector of Brandenburg hired out part of his army to William III his father came to command this detachment. We can therefore suppose that the two brothers were present in the invasion of England by William III. When William came to the throne the Schombergs became part of the English army and his father became commander of the English army.

Subsequent Career of Schomberg

One of the first tasks of his father was subduing Ireland. This began with him landing and taking Carrickfergus and then marching to Dundalk where the army camped in the winter of 1689-1690. We can assume that his two sons accompanied him in this campaign4. We get somewhat more certainty about Meinhard Schomberg by the events of the battle of the Boyne. Here his father was killed and so the title Duke of Schomberg went to his elder brother Charles Schomberg5. Meinhard had however signaled himself so well that he was made Duke of Leinster in 1691.

Schomberg during the War of the Spanish Succession

Somewhere in July or August 1703 Schomberg was appointed as Captain General of the English forces in Portugal6. 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 17047 and on 10 August 1704 Galway arrived to succeed him as commander in Portugal. Schomberg would arrive home somewhere about November of that year8.

Generalship of Schomberg

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 had9.

Career

Service

Sources

This biography has been scraped together from various sources.

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) Some sources say Meinhard was delayed because the Elector of Brandenburg would not let him go, but I've been unable to check these.
5) Charles Schomberg (1645-1693) would die in the battle of Marsiglia
6) Letter from Sauniere de L'Hermitage to Heinsius 8 August 1703 H.A. 1703 Nr. 1002 in resume.
7) Letter from by Galway to Heinsius on 27 June 1704 in which he lets Heinsius know that he will replace Schomberg.
8) 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.
9) Staatse Leger VIII/I page 510
10) Letter from Sauniere de L'Hermitage to Heinsius 21 August 1703 H.A. 1703 Nr. 1062 in resume.