Campaign of the Month: August 2011
Le Ballet de l'Acier
Claude de Gercourt, comte de Gercourt
Retired Lorrainois soldier
Captaincy – Master
Strategy – Master
Claude de Gercourt was raised on his family’s estate along the Meuse River. Longtime allies of the Guise family, Gercourt (b. 1579) fought for the Catholic League under the dukes of Lorraine and Mayenne agaisnt King Henri IV and the French Royal Army at the Battle of Fontaine-Française in 1595; he was captured after he was thrown from his horse and later paroled by Henri. The fall fractured the young cadet’s hip, leaving him with a slight limp thereafter.
The following year Gercourt traveled east to fight the Turks on behalf of the Holy Roman Emperor, participating in the Battle of Keresztes in 1596. He continued to serve the Imperial forces until 1602, when he was shot through the hips by an arquebus ball during a skirmish. Following a lengthy and painful recovery, Gercourt attempted to return to Imperial service during the War of the Jülich Succession in 1610, but riding and the rigors of the campaign proved too much for his wounded body, and he retired, by all accounts a courageous soldier.
Gercourt returned to his estate, with occasional visits to the ducal court at Nancy. He married in 1604 and his wife delivered a son the following year; a second boy was born in 1608 and a girl in 1609. Following in his father’s footsteps, Gercourt’s eldest son saw action at the Battle of White Mountain in 1620 and at the battles of Wiesloch, Wimpfen and Höchst in 1622, but the son proved less enthusiastic about martial life than his father; he returned to Lorraine, then travelled to Paris in 1624. In March 1625, Gercourt’s eldest son and heir was killed in a duel in Paris by an unknown assailant.