Henri Jacques Guillaume Clarke

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General Henri Jacques Guillaume Clarke.

Henri-Jacques-Guillaume Clarke, 1st Count of Hunebourg, 1st Duke of Feltre (17 October 1765 – 28 October 1818), born to Irish parents in Landrecies, was a Marshal of France and French politician of Irish descent.

Clarke was one of the most influential and charismatic Franco-Irish generals in the French army during the Napoleonic period. He had close links to the Irish Brigade of France. His father served in Dillon's (where Clarke himself served for a time) and his mother's father and several uncles served in Clare's. With the outbreak of the French Revolution, Clarke served in the early French Revolutionary Wars in the Army of the Rhine and by 1793 had been promoted to general de brigade. In 1795 Clarke was briefly arrested. After his release, Clarke lived in Alsace until Lazare Carnot sent him to Italy to serve as Napoléon Bonaparte's Chief topographical officer until he was sent to Sardinia. After 18 Brumaire, Clarke served as Chief of the Topographical Bureau, State Councillor, state secretary for the army and navy. During the war against Austria in 1805, Clarke was appointed governor of Vienna and during the war against Prussia in 1806 he served as governor of Erfurt and of Berlin.

In 1807, Napoléon appointed Clarke Minister of War. His role in thwarting the British invasion of the Netherlands, the Walcheren Campaign in 1809, lead to the emperor creating him Duke of Feltre (extinguished in 1852 but extended in 1864). Clarke served as Minister of War until the end of Napoléon's reign. When the allies neared Paris, Clarke mounted an ineffectual defense of the capital and was one of the generals pressing for Napoléon's abdication. After Napoléon's abdication he was replaced as minister of war by Dupont de l'Étang but Louis XVIII of France made him a Peer of France. When Napoléon landed in Southern France in March 1815 to reclaim his throne, Clarke was again made Minister of War and served until the Bourbon government fled. When the King fled to Ghent, Clarke followed him. After Napoléon's second abdication, Clarke was made Minister of War once more and served in that capacity until 1817 when Gouvion Saint-Cyr took over. He was then given command of the 15th Military Division.

In 1816 he was made a Marshal of France. Clarke died in 1818.

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Political offices
Preceded by
Louis Alexandre Berthier
Minister of War
19 August 1807 – 1 April 1814
Succeeded by
Dupont de l'Étang
Preceded by
Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult
Minister of War
11 March 1815 – 20 March 1815
Succeeded by
Louis Nicolas Davout
Preceded by
Gouvion Saint-Cyr
Minister of War
26 September 1815 – 12 September 1817
Succeeded by
Gouvion Saint-Cyr