Armand de Gontaut, baron de Biron

Armand de Gontaut, baron de Biron (1524 – 26 July 1592) was a celebrated French soldier of the 16th century.

Armand Gontaud, Baron de Biron, Grand Maître de l'Artillerie
Portrait Armand de Gontaut-Biron


His family, one of the numerous branches of the House of Gontaut, took its title from the territory of Biron in Périgord, where on a hill between the Dropt and the Lide still stands the magnificent Château de Biron begun by the lords of Biron in the 11th century.[1]

As a page of Queen Marguerite de Navarre, Biron attracted the notice of the marshal de Brissac, with whom he saw active service in Italy. A wound he received in his early years made him lame for life, and gave him the nickname Armand Le Boiteux (the limper). But he did not withdraw from the military career, and he held a command in Guise's regiment of light horse in 1557. A little later he became chief of a cavalry regiment, and in the French Wars of Religion he repeatedly distinguished himself.[1]

His service to the royal cause at the Battle of Dreux, Battle of Saint-Denis, Battle of Jarnac and Battle of Moncontour was rewarded in 1569 by his appointment as a privy councillor of the king and Grand Master of Artillery. He commanded the royal forces at the siege of La Rochelle in 1572, and four years later was made a marshal of France. From 1576 to 1588 he was almost continuously employed in high command.[1]

After the assassination of Henry III in 1589, he was among the first to support the cause of Henry of Navarre, but he was suspected of prolonging the civil wars in his own interest.[1] He brought a part of Normandy under subjection, and dissuaded Henry from going into England. He distinguished himself in the battles of Arques and Ivry against the Catholic League. Gontaud was killed by a cannonball at the siege of Épernay on 26 July 1592.[1]

In 1585 he was chosen a godfather for Armand-Jean du Plessis, future cardinal Richelieu.

He was a man of considerable literary attainments, and used to carry a pocketbook, in which he noted everything that appeared remarkable. Some of his letters are preserved in the Bibliothèque nationale and in the British Museum; these include a treatise on the art of war. His son, Charles de Gontaut, duc de Biron (1562–1602), also became Marshal of France in 1594. A grandson of his second son, Henry, was Charles-Armand de Gontaut, another Marshal of France.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Biron, Armand de Gontaut, Baron de" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 989.


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Year 1524 (MDXXIV) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

1524 in France

Events from the year 1524 in France


1592 (MDXCII)

was a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar, the 1592nd year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 592nd year of the 2nd millennium, the 92nd year of the 16th century, and the 3rd year of the 1590s decade. As of the start of 1592, the Gregorian calendar was

10 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1592 in France

Events from the year 1592 in France

Armand Nompar de Caumont

Armand-Nompar de Caumont, duc de La Force (30 October 1580 – 16 December 1675) was a Marshal of France and peer of France. He was the son of another Marshal of France, Jacques-Nompar de Caumont, duc de La Force and Charlotte de Gontaut, daughter of Marshal Armand de Gontaut, baron de Biron. Like his father, Armand-Nompar was a Huguenot Protestant.

Battle of Steenbergen (1583)

The Battle of Steenbergen, also known as the Capture of Steenbergen of 1583, took place on 17 June 1583 at Steenbergen, Duchy of Brabant, Spanish Netherlands (present-day North Brabant, the Netherlands), and was an important victory of the Spanish Army of Flanders led by Don Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma (Spanish: Alejandro Farnesio), Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands, over the French, English, and Dutch forces led by the French Marshal Armand de Gontaut, Baron de Biron, and the English commander Sir John Norreys, during the Eighty Years' War, the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604), and in the context of the French Wars of Religion. The victory of the Spaniards ended the Treaty of Plessis-les-Tours, and Francis, Duke of Anjou (French: François de France), left the Netherlands in late June.

Charles de Gontaut, duc de Biron

Charles de Gontaut, duc de Biron (1562 – 31 July 1602) was a French soldier whose military achievements were accompanied by plotting to dismember France and set himself up as ruler of an independent Burgundy.

Galerie des Batailles

The Galerie des Batailles (Gallery of Battles) is a 120 metre long and 13 metre wide (390 ft. x 43 ft.) gallery occupying the first floor of the aile du Midi of the Palace of Versailles, joining onto the grand and petit 'appartements de la reine'. It is an epigone of the Grande galerie of the Louvre and was intended to glorify French military history from the Battle of Tolbiac (traditionally dated 496) to the Battle of Wagram (5–6 July 1809).


Gontaut may refer to:

Armand de Gontaut, baron de Biron (1524–1592), celebrated French soldier of the 16th century

Armand Louis de Gontaut, Duc de Lauzun, later duc de Biron

Charles de Gontaut, duc de Biron (1562–1602), son of Armand de Gontaut, baron de Biron

Charles-Armand de Gontaut, duc de Biron (1663–1756), French military leader who served under Louis XIV and Louis XV

Germà de Gontaut (1355–1386), Occitan poet and merchant

Louis Antoine de Gontaut, (1700–1788), Duke of Biron and a French military leader who served under Louis XV

Marie Josephine Louise, Duchesse de Gontaut (1773–1857), daughter of Augustin François, comte de Montaut-Navailles

Prix Gontaut-Biron, Group 3 flat horse race in France open to thoroughbreds which are four-years-old or above

Henri-Nompar de Caumont, duc de La Force

Henri-Nompar de Caumont, duc de La Force (1582 – January 1678) was Duc de La Force and peer of France. He was the son of Marshal of France, Jacques-Nompar de Caumont, duc de La Force and Charlotte de Gontaut, daughter of Marshal Armand de Gontaut, baron de Biron. First marquis de Castelnau, later Duc de La Force after the death of his brother, he served King Louis XIII on many occasions in the army, under his father, as Maréchal-de-camp.

Jacques-Nompar de Caumont, duc de La Force

Jacques-Nompar de Caumont, duc de La Force (French pronunciation: ​[ʒak nɔ̃paːʁ də komɔ̃ dyk də la fɔʁs]) (30 December 1558 – 10 May 1652) was a marshal of France and peer of France. He was the son of a Huguenot, Francois de Caumont, lord of Castelnau, and Philippe de Beaupoil. He survived the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572, but his father and older brother Armand were killed.

James Westfall Thompson

James Westfall Thompson (1869–1941) was an American historian specializing in the history of medieval and early modern Europe, particularly of the Holy Roman Empire and France. He also made noteworthy contributions to the history of literacy, libraries and the book trade in the Middle Ages.

Born to a Dutch reform minister's family in Pella, Iowa, Thompson received an undergraduate degree from Rutgers University in 1892 and a PhD in history from the newly founded University of Chicago in 1895. Thompson remained at Chicago as a professor of history until 1933, when he left for the University of California, Berkeley. He remained at Berkeley until his death in 1941.

Thompson was one of the most prolific academics of his generation and wrote on a wide range of subjects, from the French Revolution to the economic structures of the Carolingian Empire to the history of espionage in early modern Europe. Some of his most important scholarly contributions came from his research on literacy and book collecting. His 1939 book The Literacy of the Laity in the Middle Ages remains a classic study of the subject. Thompson's two-volume study of the social and economic history of medieval Germany, Feudal Germany, appropriated elements of Frederick Jackson Turner's famous Frontier Thesis and applied them to the colonization of Slavic central Europe by German settlers in the Middle Ages.

Thompson served as president of the American Historical Association in 1941, but died before completing his term. His planned presidential address to the Association's annual meeting on the origins of critical historical scholarship in eighteenth-century France was edited by his students and published posthumously in the 1942 edition of the American Historical Review.

He is the namesake of the University of Chicago's Thompson Residence Hall, located in Pierce Tower.

Thompson was married to Anna Hawes Wilmarth (1873–1935) in 1897. They had a son, Wilmarth, and an adopted daughter, Frances. They divorced in 1909. Anna later married Harold L. Ickes.

List of Marshals of France

Marshal of France (French: Maréchal de France, plural Maréchaux de France) is a French military distinction, rather than a military rank, that is awarded to generals for exceptional achievements. The title has been awarded since 1185, though briefly abolished (1793–1804) and briefly dormant (1870–1916). It was one of the Great Officers of the Crown of France during the Ancien Régime and Bourbon Restoration, and one of the Grand Dignitaries of the Empire during the First French Empire (when the title was Marshal of the Empire, not Marshal of France).

A Marshal of France displays seven stars on each shoulder strap. A marshal also receives a baton: a blue cylinder with stars, formerly fleurs-de-lis during the monarchy and eagles during the First French Empire. The baton bears the Latin inscription of Terror belli, decus pacis, which means "terror in war, ornament in peace".

Between the end of the 16th century and the middle of the 19th century, six Marshals of France were given the even more exalted rank of Marshal General of France: Biron, Lesdiguières, Turenne, Villars, Saxe, and Soult.


Saint-Blancard (Gascon: Sent Blancat) is a commune in the Gers department in the Occitanie region in southwestern France.

Siege of Eindhoven (1583)

The Siege of Eindhoven, also known as the Capture of Eindhoven of 1583, took place between 7 February and 23 April 1583 at Eindhoven, Duchy of Brabant, Spanish Netherlands (present-day North Brabant, the Netherlands) during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). On 7 February 1583 a Spanish force sent by Don Alexander Farnese (Spanish: Alejandro Farnesio), Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands, commanded by Karl von Mansfeld and Claude de Berlaymont laid siege to Eindhoven, an important and strategic city of Brabant held by Dutch, Scottish and French soldiers under the States' commander Hendrik van Bonnivet. After three months of siege, and the failed attempts by the States-General to assist Bonnivet's forces, the defenders surrendered to the Spaniards on 23 April.With the capture of Eindhoven, the Spanish forces made great advances in the region, and gained the allegiance of the majority of the towns of northern Brabant. The Spanish victory too, increased the crisis between Francis, Duke of Anjou (French: François de France), and the States-General, despite the efforts of the Prince William of Orange (Dutch: Willem van Oranje) in preserving the fragile alliance between Anjou and the States-General by the Treaty of Plessis-les-Tours.

Siege of La Rochelle (1572–73)

The Siege of La Rochelle of 1572–1573 was a massive military assault on the Huguenot-held city of La Rochelle by Catholic troops during the fourth phase of the French Wars of Religion, following the August 1572 St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. The conflict began in November 1572 when inhabitants of the city refused to receive Armand de Gontaut, baron de Biron as royal governor. Beginning on 11 February 1573, the siege was led by the Duke of Anjou (the future Henry III). Political considerations following the duke's election to the throne of Poland in May 1573 resulted in negotiations, culminating on 24 June 1573, that lifted the siege on 6 July 1573. The Edict of Boulogne signed shortly thereafter brought an end to this phase of the civil war.

The siege of La Rochelle was contemporaneous with Catholic assaults on the cities of Sommières (led by Henri I de Montmorency) and Sancerre.

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