Duke of Noailles

Coat of arms of the Dukes of Noailles as peers of France

The title of Duke of Noailles was a French peerage created in 1663 for Anne de Noailles, Count of Ayen.


Noailles is the name of a prominent French noble family, derived from the castle of Noailles in the territory of Ayen, between Brive and Turenne in the Limousin, and claiming to date back to the 11th century. The family did not obtain fame until the 16th century, when its head, Antoine de Noailles (1504–1562), became admiral of France and was ambassador in England during three important years, 1553–1556, maintaining a gallant but unsuccessful rivalry with the Spanish ambassador, Simon Renard. Henri de Noailles (1554–1623), son of Antoine, was a commander in the religious wars and was made comte d'Ayen by Henry IV of France in 1593.[1]

Anne de Noailles (d. 1678), the grandson of the first count, played an important part in the Fronde and the early years of the reign of Louis XIV, became captain-general of the newly-won province of Roussillon, and in 1663 was made duc de Noailles and peer of France.[2]

The sons of the first duke raised the family to its greatest fame. The eldest son, Anne Jules de Noailles (1650–1708), was one of the chief generals of France towards the end of the reign of Louis XIV. After raising the regiment of Noailles in 1689, he commanded in Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession and was made marshal of France in 1693. A younger son, Louis Antoine de Noailles (1651–1729), was made archbishop of Paris in 1695, holding this high dignity until his death; he was made a cardinal in 1699.[3]

The name of Noailles occurs with almost confusing reiteration throughout the 18th century. Adrien Maurice (1678–1766), the third duke, served in all the most important wars of the reign of Louis XV in Italy and Germany, and became a marshal in 1734. His last command was in the War of the Austrian Succession, when he was beaten by the English at the battle of Dettingen in 1743. He married Françoise Charlotte d'Aubigné, a niece of Madame de Maintenon, and two of his sons also attained the rank of marshal of France.[3]

The elder son of Adrien Maurice, Louis (1713–1793), who bore the title of duc d'Ayen until his father's death in 1766, when he became duc de Noailles, served in most of the wars of the 18th century without particular distinction, but was nevertheless made a marshal in 1775. He refused to emigrate during the Revolution, but escaped the guillotine by dying in August 1793, before the Terror reached its height. On the 4th Thermidor (July 22), the aged duchesse de Noailles was executed with her daughter-in-law, the duchesse d'Ayen, and her granddaughter, the vicomtesse de Noailles.[3] His younger brother, Philippe (1715–1794), comte de Noailles, afterwards duc de Mouchy, was a more distinguished soldier than his brother.[3]

Jean Paul François (1739–1824), the fifth duke, was in the army, but his tastes were scientific, and for his eminence as a chemist he was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences in 1777. He became duc d'Ayen in 1766 on his grandfather's death, and duc de Noailles on his father's in 1793. Having emigrated in 1792, he lived in Switzerland until the Restoration in 1814, when he took his seat as a peer of France.[3]

He had no son, and was succeeded as duc de Noailles by his grand-nephew, Paul (1802–1885), who won some reputation as an author and who became a member of the French Academy in the place of Chateaubriand in 1849. The grandfather of Paul de Noailles, and brother of the fifth duke, Emmanuel Marie Louis (1743–1822), marquis de Noailles, was ambassador at Amsterdam from 1770–1776, at London from 1776–1783, and at Vienna from 1783–1792.[3]

Dukes of Noailles (1663)

No. From To Portrait Duke of Noailles Notes
1 1663 1678 Anne Also count of Ayen
2 1678 1708 Anne Jules Also marshal of France
3 1708 1766 Adrian Maurice Also marshal of France; married Françoise Charlotte
, niece of Madame de Maintenon.
4 1766 1793 Louis Also marshal of France
5 1793 1824 John Louis
6 1824 1885 Paul
7 1885 1895 Jules Charles
8 1895 1953 Adrian Maurice
9 1953 2009 Francis Agenor
10 2009 present Hélie Marie Auguste Jacques Bertrand Philippe

Other notable family members

Arms of the counts and dukes of Noailles (gules, a bend or)

See also the cadet branch, the ducs de Mouchy.




Further reading

See also

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