Claude Louis Hector de Villars

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Marshal Villars in 1704

Claude Louis Hector de Villars, Prince de Martigues, Marquis then Duc de Villars, Vicomte de Melun (8 May 165317 June 1734) was a was a general of Louis XIV of France, one of only six Marshals who have been promoted to Marshal General of France.

Quotes[edit]

  • God protect me from my friends, I can protect myself from my enemies. [Variation: Defend me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies myself].
    • The quote has been attributed to Voltaire, who was using it after Villars. Quoted in Connie Robertson, Dictionary of Quotations, 1998
  • I am going to fight your enemies, I leave you in the midst of my own.
    • Villars to Louis XIV, quoted by Voltaire ("Sire, je vais combattre les ennemis de votre majesté, et je vous laisse au milieu des miens"), [1]
  • Do you want to know where Prince Eugene’s real enemies are? They are in Vienna, while mine are in Versailles.
    • Also quoted by Voltaire ("Voulez-vous que je vous dise où sont les vrais ennemis du Prince Eugene? Ils sont à Vienne, et les miens à Versailles.")[2]
  • A general has to expose his life as much as he exposes the lives of others.
    • Quoted in D'après Th. H. Barrau, Livre de morale pratique, Paris, Hachette et Cie, 1852
  • What! Is it expected that I, a Marshal of France, should be the first to escalade, when I order you to attack?
    • Villars to his soldiers in 1703 after seeing them advance without spirit during a battle, quoted in The officer's manual. Napoleon's maxims of war
  • When the first shot is fired, no one can calculate what will be the issue of the war. It is, therefore, of vast importance to reflect maturely before we begin it.
    • Quoted in The officer's manual. Napoleon's maxims of war
  • When we are determined upon war, we should carry it on vigorously and without trifling.
    • Quoted in The officer's manual. Napoleon's maxims of war
  • In war everything depends upon being able to deceive the enemy; and having once gained this point, in never allowing him time to recover himself.
    • Quoted in The officer's manual. Napoleon's maxims of war
  • My principal attention was always directed to the study of the younger generals. Such a one I found, by the boldness of his character, fit to lead a column of attack; another, from a disposition naturally cautious, but without being deficient in courage, more perfectly to be relied on for the defence of a country.
    • Quoted in The officer's manual. Napoleon's maxims of war
  • No governor of a place should he permitted to excuse himself for surrendering, on the ground of wishing to preserve the king's troops. Every garrison that displays courage will escape being prisoners of war. For there is no general who, however well assured of carrying a place by assault, will not prefer granting terms of capitulation rather than risk the loss of a thousand men in forcing determined troops to surrender.
    • Quoted in The officer's manual. Napoleon's maxims of war
  • If God lets us have the grace of losing such a battle again, Your Majesty can count on all of his enemies being destroyed.
    • Villars to Louis XIV after the Battle of Malplaquet, quoted in Anquetil, Louis-Pierre, Histoire de France depuis les Gaulois jusqu'à la mort de Louis XVI (1819), Paris: Chez Janet et Cotelle, p. 241.
  • I am going to drive your enemies so far that they shall not again see the banks of the Scheldt; and by a battle on my arrival, to regain all that has been taken from your majesty.
    • Villars to Louis XIV upon departing for the 1709 campaign against the Allies, quoted in Prince Eugene's memoirs[3]
  • I was unable before starting to formulate a plan of campaign because I did not know whether I should find an army there ... In fact I found the troops in a deplorable condition, without clothes, without arms, and without bread.
    • Villars reflecting on the state of the French army in 1709 when he took command, quoted in Winston Churchill, Marlborough: His Life and Times
  • Where there are no peasants there are no supplies.
    • Villars to Louis XIV in 1703, quoted in John A. Lynn, The Wars of Louis XIV 1667-1714
  • My friends ... if you make the people run away, you will die of hunger.
    • Villars to his soldiers before the 1707 campaign in Germany, quoted in John A. Lynn, The Wars of Louis XIV 1667-1714
  • [Your nation] seems immovable, never doing glorious things but by halves, and never disgracing itself.
    • Villars to Prince Eugene about the Austrians, 1713, quoted in Prince Eugene's memoirs[4]
  • The most shameful, humiliating and disastrous of routs.
  • Fortify your towns, and above all the Schellenberg, that fort above Donauworth, the importance of which the great Gustavus taught us.
    • Villars to Max Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria, in 1703, on Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden's capture of Schellenberg on the Danube. It was to be captured again in 1704 by Marlborough after the Elector ignored Villars' advice. Quoted in Winston Churchill, Marlborough: His Life and Times

Quotes about Villars[edit]

  • Villars was a being into every atom of whose texture vanity and valour entered in equal proportions. Both were serviceable to his country in those dark days. He boasted, he postured, he gesticulated, but at the same time he organized, inspired, and acted. His self-admiration was matched by his patriotism. He was a greathearted braggart. When disasters befell the armies on other fronts he was heard to exclaim, “I can't be everywhere.” His indomitable ardour in facing adversity and the foe was of the highest service to his country.
  • He wanted very little to be a perfect general. Choosing an extremely advantageous position was one of his great talents.
    • Prince Eugene in his memoirs[5]
  • He foresees and provides for everything. He is the first Munitioner and Treasurer of his army. He has obtained the King's leave not to pass things through the channel of the Minister of War, who is an imbecile. He has himself formed a body of six munitioners for the army.
    • Marlborough's spy in 1709, quoted in Winston Churchill, Marlborough: His Life and Times
  • He knew by heart the beautiful plays of Corneille, Racine, and Molière. I heard him say one day to a very famous statesman, who was surprised that he knew so many lines of comedy: "I played less than you, but I know more!"
    • Voltaire, Le siècle de Louis XIV, Catalogue de la plupart des écrivains français qui ont paru dans le Siècle de Louis XIV, pour servir à l’histoire littéraire de ce temps, 1751
  • A fanfaron plein d'honneur.
    • Voltaire, Le siècle de Louis XIV, Catalogue de la plupart des écrivains français qui ont paru dans le Siècle de Louis XIV, pour servir à l’histoire littéraire de ce temps, 1751

External links[edit]