William's Commanders - Armand-Frederic/Frederick Hermann, Duke of Schomberg
Updated: Jun 1
Rank: General. Nationality: French (Huguenot exile).
Frederick Hermann, Duke of Schomberg was William’s principal general in Ireland between 1689 and his death at the Battle of the Boyne on 1 July 1690.
Hermann had a long and distinguished military career serving in various military roles in the Palatine, Sweden, and France. Originally born into a German family, he became a French citizen and rose quickly to become a Marshal in the army of Louis XIV.
In 1685 Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes that had help end the French Wars of Religion in the Sixteenth Century by ensuring that non-Roman Catholics could practice their faith without interference. Despite his power and position Hermann, as a Protestant, was forced to flee. He was appointed commander in chief of the Brandenburg army, which included a large proportion of exiled Huguenots. It was in the service of Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg, that he would move to join William, Prince of Orange.
In 1688 he accompanied the Prince of Orange to England as second in command only to William himself. During the Glorious Revolution he was appointed 1st Duke of Schomberg. In July 1689 he was given command of the military expedition to crush the Jacobite forces in Ireland. On 13 August he arrived in Ballyholme Bay, Bangor, from where he proceeded to Carrickfergus Castle, which was occupied by a Jacobite garrison. After a 10 day siege the Jacobites surrendered and were allowed to parade away. As they left, they were set upon by the citizens of the town and Schomberg was forced to ride out with pistols drawn to dissuade any violence.
Schomberg pursued the Jacobites south and set up a camp outside Dundalk. It was here that his army was beset with disease and disquiet and he was forced to withdraw to Ulster and take winter quarters. His failure to deliver a decisive victory annoyed William who decided to travel to Ireland to prosecute the war with more energy and conviction.
Often criticised for his cautious approach in 1689, Schomberg did make a significant gesture by offering the £100,000 voted to him by Parliament to William to off set the costs of the campaign.
Schomberg would meet his end at the Battle of the Boyne. Early on the 1 July 1690 his Huguenot troops were some of the first regiments to cross the river. They came under heavy fire from the Jacobites and the 80-year-old Schomberg rode out to rally his fellow exiles. “Allons, messieurs, voila vos persecuteurs” (Come on, gentlemen, these are your persecutors) were some of his last words as he tried to enthuse his troops against the French fighting for James. He was surrounded and killed. Nevertheless, his death had the desired effect and his Huguenot soldiers rallied to their fallen leader.
Schomberg’s remains were initially buried on the battlefield site before being reinterred in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.