Comte de Gramont
Titles and Honours
Chevalier de Gramont
Knight of the Orders of the King (France)
Governor of La Rochelle
Governor of Aunis
Lieutenant general of Béarn
Philippe was destined for the church, and was educated at the college of Pau, in Béarn. He refused the ecclesiastical life, however, and joined the army of Prince Thomas of Savoy, then besieging Trino in Piedmont. He afterwards served under his elder half-brother, Antoine, marshal de Gramont, and the prince of Condé. In spite of his record in the army he never received any important commission either military or diplomatic, perhaps because of an incurable levity in his outlook. He was, however, made a governor of the Pays d'Aunis and lieutenant of Béarn. During the Commonwealth he visited England, and in 1662 he was exiled from Paris for paying court to Mademoiselle de la Motte Houdancourt, one of the king's mistresses. He went to London, where he found at the court of Charles II an atmosphere congenial to his talents for intrigue, gallantry and pleasure. He married in London, under pressure from her two brothers, Elizabeth Hamilton, the sister of his future biographer.
In 1664, he was allowed to return to France. He revisited England in 1670 in connection with the sale of Dunkirk, and again in 1671 and 1676. In 1688, he was sent by Louis XIV to congratulate James II, on the birth of an heir. From all these small diplomatic missions he succeeded in obtaining considerable profits, being destitute of scruples whenever money was in question. At the age of seventy-five he had a dangerous illness, during which he became reconciled to the church. His penitence does not seem to have survived his recovery. He was eighty years old when he supplied his brother-in-law, Anthony Hamilton with the materials for his Mémoires. Hamilton said that they had been dictated to him, but there is no doubt that he was the real author. Philippe, though he had a reputation for wit, was no writer, and there is no reason to suppose that he was capable of producing a work which remains a masterpiece of style and of witty portraiture. When the Mémoires were finished, it is said that Philippe sold it for 1500 francs, and kept most of the money himself.
Philippe distinguished himself at the siege of Trino (1643); the battles of Fribourg (1644), Nordlingen (1645) and Lens (1648); the siege of Arras (1654); the conquest of the Franche-Comté (1668) and Holland (1672); the sieges of Maastricht (1673), Cambray (1677) and Namur (1678).
Place of birth: Bidache?
Place of marriage: London
1. A. de Gramont. Histoire et généalogie de la maison de Gramont. Paris: Schlesinger Frères, 1874.
2. Encyclopaedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information, 11th edn, vol. 12. New York: Encyclopaedia Britannica Co., 1911.
3. La Chenaye-Desbois, de, et Badier. Dictionnaire de la noblesse, 3rd edn, vol. 9. Paris: Chez Schlesinger frères, Libraire, 1865.
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