House of Harcourt

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Shield of the House of Harcourt – Gules, with two fesses or.

The House of Harcourt is a Norman family, descended from the Viking Bernard the Dane and named after its seigneurie of Harcourt in Normandy. Its mottos were "Gesta verbis praeveniant" (Olonde branch), "Gesta verbis praevenient" (Beuvron branch), and "Le bon temps viendra ... de France" (English branch).

In 1280 they established the Collège d'Harcourt in Paris, now the Lycée Saint-Louis at 44 boulevard Saint-Michel.

Origins[edit]

When in 911 the Viking chief Rollo obtained the territories that would make up Normandy through the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, he distributed domains to his main supporters among those who had accompanied him on his expeditions against the English and the Neustrians. After the conquest of Normandy, considerable lands (notably the seigneurie of Harcourt, near Brionne, were granted to Bernard the Dane as a reward for his exploits, and from him they descended upon the lords (seigneurs) of Harcourt.

French and English branches[edit]

The Harcourt family has been perpetuated up until the present day in a French branch and an English branch. The château d'Harcourt in Harcourt, Eure, Normandy, built around 1100, survives.

English branch[edit]

In the 11th century, Errand of Harcourt and his three brothers followed William the Conqueror, duke of Normandy, on the Norman invasion of England, and the brothers were installed with English lands. The English Harcourt branch entered the English peerage, as barons then viscounts then earls. At first the Harcourts had lands in Leicestershire, but in 1191 Robert de Harcourt of Bosworth inherited lands of his father-in-law at Stanton in Oxfordshire, which then became known as Stanton Harcourt.[1] The manor of Stanton Harcourt has remained in the Harcourt family to the present day, although from 1756 to 1948 their main residence was at Nuneham House, also in Oxfordshire. Simon Harcourt was created Baron Harcourt in 1711 and Viscount Harcourt in 1721. The third viscount was created Earl Harcourt in 1749, but all titles were extinguished with the death of marshal William Harcourt, 3rd Earl Harcourt, in 1830. His cousin Edward Vernon, Archbishop of York, thus inherited the majority of that branch's lands and titles and took the name and heraldic shield of the English Harcourt family by royal authorisation on 15 January 1831. This created the Vernon-Harcourt branch, descended from a Harcourt woman. The title Viscount Harcourt was created a second time in 1917 for Lewis Harcourt, but the title was again extinguished on the death of his son.

French branch

In France, Errand of Harcourt's brother, Robert I of Harcourt, sire of Harcourt, continued the Harcourt line in France. His descendents are sub-divided into several branches, with the two principal ones being the Olonde and Beuvron branches, which both descend to this day. The Harcourt family of France intermarried with other members of the French aristocracy, including the de Livet family.[2]

The Beuvron branch includes several marshal of France and lieutenant Generals of the ancien régime royal armies. These include

In 1966, 126 English and French Harcourts celebrated the 1000-year anniversary of the House of Harcourt at the Château du Champ de Bataille, headed by the head of the family, Lord Harcourt, Marquess of Harcourt, and by the duke of Harcourt, head of the Beuvron branch.

The first lords of Harcourt[edit]

The first seigneurs of Harcourt from the early 11th to 13th centuries:

The Harcourts and the Hundred Years' War[edit]

As with several Norman lords, several Harcourt possessions in England and France were placed in a difficult position during the wars between the Capetians and Plantagenets. In this context, the Harcourt family played a game all of its own, simultaneously independent of both the king of France and king of England. Geoffroy de Harcourt led King Edward III and the English Army into Normandy during the Crecy campaign as well as being involved in a reconnaissance mission that ended in a skirmish between Geoffroy of Harcourt and his elder brother, the Comte de Harcourt, at Rouen. Geoffroy of Harcourt was also placed in charge of Edward III's personal safety during the Battle of Crecy. Also, after Philip II's conquest of Normandy in 1204, the Harcourts habitually became the head of feudal movements against the king of France.

Notable members of the House of Harcourt[edit]

The Harcourts have a great reputation in England and France as:

Statesmen and governors[edit]

French and English marshals[edit]

French and British ambassadors[edit]

Governors of French and British heirs to the throne[edit]

Generals[edit]

Resistance-workers[edit]

Churchmen[edit]

Members of the Académie française[edit]

Scientists[edit]

Authors[edit]

Titles of the House of Harcourt[edit]

in France :

in England :

References[edit]

  • (French) Gilles-André de La Roque, Histoire généalogique de la maison de Harcourt, 1662
  • (French) Dom Lenoir, Preuves généalogiques et historiques de la Maison d'Harcourt, 1907
  • (French) Revue Art de Basse-Normandie n°78, La Famille d'Harcourt, 1979
  • (French) Georges Martin, Histoire et Généalogie de la Maison d'Harcourt, 1994
  • (French) Romain Auguste Laurent Pezet Les barons de Creully, Bayeux, St.-Ange Duvant, 1854
  • (French) Dictionnaire de biographie française, 1989

External links[edit]