De Broglie, the name of a noble French family which, originally Piedmontese, emigrated to France in the year 1643. The head of the family, François Marie (1611-1656), then took the title of comte de Broglie. He had already distinguished himself as a soldier, and died, as a lieutenant-general, at the siege of Valenza on the 2nd of July 1656. His son, Victor Maurice, Comte de Broglie (1647-1727), served under Condé, Turenne and other great commanders of the age of Louis XIV., becoming maréchal de camp in 1676, lieutenant-general in 1688, and finally marshal of France in 1724.
The eldest son of Victor Marie, François Marie, afterwards Duc de Broglie (1671-1745), entered the army at an early age, and had a varied career of active service before he was made, at the age of twenty-three, lieutenant-colonel of the king's regiment of cavalry. He served continuously in the War of the Spanish Succession and was present at Malplaquet. He was made lieutenant-general in 1710, and served with Villars in the last campaign of the war and at the battle of Denain. During the peace he continued in military employment, and in 1719 he was made director-general of cavalry and dragoons. He was also employed in diplomatic missions, and was ambassador in England in 1724. The war in Italy called him into the field again in 1733, and in the following year he was made marshal of France. In the campaign of 1734 he was one of the chief commanders on the French side, and he fought the battles of Parma and Guastalla. A famous episode was his narrow personal escape when his quarters on the Secchia were raided by the enemy on the night of the 14th of September 1734. In 1735 he directed a war of positions with credit, but he was soon replaced by Marshal de Noailles. He was governor-general of Alsace when Frederick the Great paid a secret visit to Strassburg (1740). In 1742 de Broglie was appointed to command the French army in Germany, but such powers as he had possessed were failing him, and he had always been the "man of small means," safe and cautious, but lacking in elasticity and daring.
The only success obtained was in the action of Sahay (25th May 1742), for which he was made a duke. He returned to France in 1743, and died two years later.
His son, Victor François, Duc de Broglie (1718-1804), served with his father at Parma and Guastalla, and in 1734 obtained a colonelcy. In the German War he took part in the storming of Prague in 1742, and was made a brigadier. In 1744 and 1745 he saw further service on the Rhine, and in 1756 he was made maréchal de camp. He subsequently served with Marshal Saxe in the low countries, and was present at Roucoux, Val and Maastricht. At the end of the war he was made a lieutenant-general. During the Seven Years' War he served successively under d'Estrées, Soubise and Contades, being present at all the battles from Hastenbeck onwards. His victory over Prince Ferdinand at Bergen (1759) won him the rank of marshal of France from his own sovereign and that of prince of the empire from the emperor Francis I. In 1760 he won an action at Corbach, but was defeated at Vellinghausen in 1761. After the war he fell into disgrace and was not recalled to active employment until 1778, when he was given command of the troops designed to operate against England. He played a prominent part in the Revolution, which he opposed with determination.
After his emigration, de Broglie commanded the "army of the princes" for a short time (1792). He died at Münster in 1804.
Another son of the first duke, Charles François, Comte de Broglie (1719-1781), served for some years in the army, and afterwards became one of the foremost diplomatists in the service of Louis XV. He is chiefly remembered in connexion with the Secret du Roi, the private, as distinct from the official, diplomatic service of Louis, of which he was the ablest and most important member. The son of Victor François, Victor Claude, Prince de Broglie (1757-1794), served in the army, attaining the rank of maréchal de camp. He adopted revolutionary opinions, served with Lafayette and Rochambeau in America, was a member of the Jacobin Club, and sat in the Constituent Assembly, constantly voting on the Liberal side. He served as chief of the staff to the Republican army on the Rhine; but in the Terror he was denounced, arrested and executed at Paris on the 27th of June 1794. His dying admonition to his little son was to remain faithful to the principles of the Revolution, however unjust and ungrateful.
Achille Charles Léonce Victor, Duc de Broglie (1785-1870), statesman and diplomatist, son of the last-named, was born at Paris on the 28th of November 1785. His mother had shared her husband's imprisonment, but managed to escape to Switzerland, where she remained till the fall of Robespierre. She now returned to Paris with her children and lived there quietly until 1796, when she married a M. d'Argenson, grandson of Louis XV.'s minister of war. Under the care of his step-father young de Broglie received a careful and liberal education and made his entrée into the aristocratic and literary society of Paris under the Empire. In 1809, he was appointed a member of the council of state, over which Napoleon presided in person; and was sent by the emperor on diplomatic missions, as attaché, to various countries. Though he had never been in sympathy with the principles of the Empire, de Broglie was not one of those who rejoiced at its downfall. In common with all men of experience and sense he realized the danger to France of the rise to power of the forces of violent reaction.
With Decazes and Richelieu he saw that the only hope for a calm future lay in "the reconciliation of the Restoration with the Revolution." By the influence of his uncle, Prince Amédée de Broglie, his right to a peerage had been recognized; and to his own great surprise he received, in June 1814, a summons from Louis XVIII. to the Chamber of Peers. There, after the Hundred Days, he distinguished himself by his courageous defence of Marshal Ney, for whose acquittal he, alone of all the peers, both spoke and voted. After this defiant act of opposition it was perhaps fortunate that his impending marriage gave him an excuse for leaving the country. On the 15th of February 1816, he was married at Leghorn to the daughter of Madame de Staël. He returned to Paris at the end of the year, but took no part in politics until the elections of September 1817 broke the power of the "ultra-royalists" and substituted for the Chambre introuvable a moderate assembly. De Broglie's political attitude during the years that followed is best summed up in his own words: "From 1812 to 1822 all the efforts of men of sense and character were directed to reconciling the Restoration and the Revolution, the old régime and the new France. From 1822 to 1827 all their efforts were directed to resisting the growing power of the counter-revolution. From 1827 to 1830 all their efforts aimed at moderating and regulating the reaction in a contrary sense." During the last critical years of Charles X.'s reign, de Broglie identified himself with the doctrinaires, among whom Royer-Collard and Guizot were the most prominent.