Vallière, Joseph-Florent de
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Joseph Florent de Vallière
French Brigadier of Infantry (1744-47), Maréchal-de-Camp (1747-48), Lieutenant-General (1748-76), governor of Bergues-Saint-Vinox (1759-76), Knight of the Ordre de Saint-Louis (1743-76), director general of engineering and artillery (1771-76)
born June 22, 1717, Paris, France
died January 10, 1776, Paris, France
Louis was the son of Jean Florent de Vallière, director general of the battalions and schools of artillery, and of Marguerite Martin.
Joseph Florent initially studied with the Jesuits at the Louis-le-Grand College.
In 1731, at the age of 14, Joseph Florent entered at the École d'Artillerie to follow the footsteps of his father who had completely reorganised the French artillery.
In 1734, during the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), Joseph Florent served at the siege of Philisbourg, the same place where his father had launched his own career in 1688.
In 1736, Joseph Florent was appointed Provincial Lieutenant of Artillery of Bourgogne (Burgundy).
In 1739, Joseph Florent was promoted to Provincial Commissary.
In 1741, at the beginning of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), Joseph Florent took part in the campaign of Bohemia and in the capture of Prague.
In 1742, on his return to France, Joseph Florent was appointed Lieutenant of the Grand-Master of Artillery and served under the command of his father.
In 1743, Joseph Florent was accepted as Knight of the Ordre de Saint-Louis. On June 27, he was at the Battle of Dettingen where he commanded the battery located along the Main, on the right of the army. This battery was one of those who seriously bothered the Allies.
In 1744, Joseph Florent served with the Army of the Rhine, cumulating the ranks of Lieutenant of the Grand-Master and Brigadier of Infantry. Along with his father, he supervised the siege of Freiburg. However, his father fell ill due to continuous rain and Joseph Florent replaced him until the capture of the place.
In 1745, Joseph Florent was second in command of the artillery for all the sieges undertaken in Flanders, notably the siege of Namur who rapidly surrendered.
In 1746, Joseph Florent served in all sieges undertaken during the campaign and the Maréchal de Lowendahl admitted that he had been instrumental in the prompt successes of these sieges. On October 11, Joseph Florent took part in the Battle of Rocoux.
In 1747, Joseph Florent was promoted to Maréchal-de-Camp and succeeded to his father as director general of the School of Artillery. He served once more in the campaign in Flanders where he significantly contributed to the capture of the Fortress of Bergen op Zoom, besieged by the Maréchal de Lowendahl. The beginning of this siege proved to be very slow and very lethal due to the superiority of the artillery of the place that could not be silenced by the batteries established by the French. Lowendahl asked Joseph Florent de Vallière to supervise the siege artillery. He immediately extended the front of attack which he considered much too narrow. With only two ricochet-batteries placed at the extremities of the front, he made the defenders' artillery useless. Then, he convinced Lowendahl to simultaneously attack the main defences of the place and the ravelin.
In 1748, Joseph Florent was second-in-command of the artillery during the siege of Maastricht which was interrupted by the cease fire in preparation of peace negotiations. The same year, he was promoted to lieutenant-general.
In 1755, King Louis XV regrouped the Corps of Engineers and the Corps Royal de l'Artillerie and appointed M. de Vallière ad general director of this unit.
In 1756, at the outbreak the Seven Years' War, Joseph Florent de Vallière was sent to the Island of Minorca where an army under the command of the Maréchal de Richelieu had failed to make any progress in the Siege of Fort St. Philip. As he re4ached Lyon, Vallière was informed that the fortress had finally been stormed and captured.
In 1757, de Vallière was appointed commander of the artillery of the army assembled under the Comte d'Estrées for the conquest of Hanover. On July 26, he distinguished himself at the Battle of Hastenbeck, judiciously placing his batteries.
In 1758, an ordonnance re-established two separate corps for the artillery and the engineers despite Vallière's opposition. On June 23, Vallière commanded the artillery at the Battle of Krefeld.
For the rest of the Seven Years' War, Joseph Florent de Vallière successively served under the Maréchal de Richelieu, the Comte de Clermont, the Maréchal de Contades.
In 1759, at the death of his father, Joseph Florent de Vallière was appointed governor of Bergues-Saint-Vinox.
In 1761, Joseph Florent de Vallière was admitted in the Académie Française. The same year, he was sent to Spain where he inspected arsenals, fortifications and military manufactures. For his work, King Charles III of Spain elevated him to the title of marquis, a title later confirmed in France after his return.
In 1765, Joseph Florent Marquis de Vallière married Marie-Louise-Victoire du Bouchet de Sourches with whom he had two children, a son and a daughter.
The King of Spain once more required the services of Vallière, this time to inspect and organise the artillery of the Kingdom of Naples.
In 1771, when the Marquis de Monteynard became Secretary of State for War, Vallière was appointed once more as director general of artillery.
Joseph Florent de Vallière died in Paris on January 10 1776.
This article incorporates translated texts from the articles:
- Anon.: Histoire de l'Académie Royale des Sciences – Année M. DCCLXXVI Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1779: pp. 53-64
French Wikipedia – Joseph-Florent de Vallière
N.B.: the section on the Seven Years' War is partly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.