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The House of Rougé

The House of Rougé is one of the most ancient noble families of Europe, mentioned for the first time in the year 1045 in the charter of the Béré de Bretagne Priory. Its legendary origins say that this house is descended from the prince Rivallo IV, himself the son of the King "Saint" Salomon of Brittany (crowned 854 and killed 874).


The family takes its title from the original fiefdom, the Châtellenie of Rougé, in Brittany. This town is today in the Loire-Atlantique département.


The first members of the House of Rougé lived near their original fiefdom, of which the castle was destroyed in 1173 by the mercenaries of the King of England, while the Lord of Rougé was held in captivity. Wars and alliances pushed the Lords of Rougé thoughout the centuries to settle in the Duchy of Anjou, as well as in Picardie and Île-de-France, but they always kept possessions and a deep attachment to their roots in Brittany.

In about 1220, Aimeri or Aymeric de Rougé became owner of the Rues seigneury, in the Duchy of Anjou. This was to be the origin of the line from which all the present members of the family are direct descendants.


In 1275, Olivier IV de Rougé received the town and lands of Derval following his marriage to Agnès de Derval. This estate increased considerably the power of the Rougés and became one of nine principal fiefdoms of Brittany.


In 1361, Bonabes IV, Lord of Rougé and Derval, is Viscount of La Guerche. He would become hostage for the person of the King of France in the Tower of London. 1651, lieutenant-general Jacques de Rougé is made Marquis du Plessis-Bellière by the King Louis XIV. His nephew Pierre-François, Marquis de Rougé, lieutenant-général, becomes Baron de Coëtmen when marrying the heiress and last member of that house. Gabriel-François, Comte de Rougé, becomes Marquis de Cholet in 1763. Bonabes-Alexis, Marquis de Rougé, is named Peer of France in 1815 (by the King Louis XVIII), and his brother Adrien, Comte de Rougé, is named Peer of France in 1827 by the last King of France, Charles X. In 1893, Arthur de Rougé, Comte de Rougé & du Plessis-Bellière, becomes 5th Duke of Caylus with Grandee of Spain.


Read below for the biographies of some notable members of the House of Rougé from 1045 to the XXth century.

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Warinus de Rougé, Lord of Rougé, took part in the First Crusade in 1096 with Alain Fergent, Duke of Brittany (according to the historian Gabriel du Moulin, in Catalogue des seigneurs qui furent à la première Croisade, 1631).


Bonabes I de Rougé, Lord of Rougé was one of the 40 Breton knights who fought with the Baron Raoul de Fougères against Henry II, King of England, and encamped in 1173 in the Tour de Dol to resist King Henry’s attacks. During this period, Brabancons mercenaries of Henry II ravaged the rebel lands, including the Rougé castle. Founder of the Abbey de la Meilleraye in 1180, he was known henceforth as Bonus Abbas, which in French is translated as Bonabes, a first name which the Rougé family has carried ever since.

Olivier IV de Rougé, Lord of Rougé, Derval, La Chappelle-Glain, Le Bouays and Le Theil. Son of Bonabes II de Rougé and of Alix de Châteaubriand, he took part in the Seventh Crusade with the King Saint Louis and was 1248 in Damiette (Egypt). Through his marriage to Agnès de Derval, he became Lord of Derval in 1275, and added to his titles, coats of arms and names, those of the Derval House. In 1285, he was one of 12 Breton knights who followed the King of France, Philippe III, into Aragon to avenge the French who were slaughtered during what would then be know as "the Sicilian Vespers".


Jean I de Rougé, Lord of Rougé, Derval, Grez-Neuville, La Cornouaille, and La Roche d'Iré (killed in 1347). Son of Guillaume I and Eustasie de Neuville, he was killed in the War of the Succession of Brittany, during the Battle of de la Roche-Derrien, on 20 June 1347, with his father Guillaume I, his son Jean II, and his brother-in-law Olivier II de Tournemine de La Hunaudaye.


Jean II de Rougé de La Chapelle-Glain, Lord of La Chapelle-Glain was the son of Jean Ist de Rougé de La Chapelle-Glain, and of Philippa de Saffré, grandson of Olivier IV de Rougé de Derval. Jean II was one the few breton knights who, in 1340, gave help to Alphonse, King of Castille, who was attacked by Muslims from Grenada and Morocco. He fought in the Battle of Tarifa, which King Alphonse won on 29 October 1340, and at the Siege of Algeziras, which lasted 20 months.

Bonabes IV de Rougé, Lord of Rougé and Derval, Viscount of La Guerche, Lord of the Castle of Pontcallec (died in 1377), was Governor of La Mee-Land and of Redon in 1352. Son of Jean I de Rougé and of Jeanne de Leon, he lost his lands in Brittany for being an enemy of the Duke of Brittany, Jean de Montfort. He was named counsellor to French King Jean le Bon. In 1356, he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Poitiers. 


"During this captivity, King Jean chose The Lord of Rougé to go into France to resolve some of the difficulties which were opposing a peace settlement. But Edward (King of England), put an abrupt condition to his short-lived freedom: to guarantee Bonabes’ return, he stipulated that Philippe of France, first prince of the blood, and 48 of the leading nobles, gave themselves as hostages, and agreed to lose their honour, lands, towns, castles, and fortresses, and to pay him 12 000 pounds, should Bonabes de Rougé not come back into captivity at the agreed time", the Chevalier de Courcelles tells us, quoting Dom Morice in his "Mémoires pour servir de preuves à l'Histoire de Bretagne". 


Bonabes IV negociated the Treaty of Brétigny (near Chartres) in 1360 on behalf of the King. The same King made him a Viscount of La Guerche in 1361. The King of England, Edward III, imprisoned him in the Tower of London as a hostage to take the place of the King of France. On his return, he took part in several battles and tried to regain his Castle of Derval in 1377, which was occupied by the English mercenary Robert Knolles. Despite the help of Olivier de Clisson, the Dauphin of Auvergne and Constable of France Bertrand du Guesclin, the attack on Derval was not successful, although it was remembered for the bloody confrontation between Knolles and Clisson.

Guillaume II de Rougé, chevalier banneret, Lord of Rougé, Derval, Cinq-Mars La Pile, La Roche d'Iré and Neuville, Viscount of La Guerche (died in about 1398), was the son of the former and of Jeanne de l’Isle-Bouchard. In 1383, he regained his Breton lands (mainly Rougé and Derval) after long negotiations between England, France and the Duke of Brittany. He represented the nobility of Basse-Bretagne in 1386 at the States of Brittany, the assembly of the Duchy.


Le Galoys de Rougé, Lord of Bouays (died in about 1469), was the son of Jamet de Rougé. He became governor of Saint-Malo, Auray and Ingrande, conseiller and chamberlain of the Duke of Brittany. He fought for the King of France in Gascogne and became Chatelain of the Royal Castle of Verdun, in the senechaussee of Toulouse, in 1446. Le Galoys de Rougé was one of the only Breton nobles to have taken part in the battles fought to expel the English from Guyenne in 1453. He was then ambassador for the King of France to the Duke of Modena in 1460, to try to drive out Francesco Sforza from Milan.

Mathurin I de Rougé, Lord of Les Rues, Chenillé, Lorière, Marigné, Le Plessis-Gaudin, Le Bois, La Cour-du-Bois, Maigné and Chigné, Les Mortiers, Dissé, La Courtaillé and Le Plessis-Courtimont, etc. (died in 1596) was the son of Robert de Rougé and Louise de Lorière. Governor of Le Mans, he was particularly active during the Wars of Religion. He became a lieutenant of the Hundred Gentlemen of the King’s Household, Ordinary Gentleman of His Majesty’s Chamber (24 December 1562), chevalier de Saint-Michel (February 1586), and deputy representative of the nobility of Anjou in Blois at the General States in 1576. He fought with the Marechal Duke of Aumont in 1589.

Jacques de Rougé, Marquis of Plessis-Bellière and of Faÿ-les-Nemours, etc. (1602-1654) was a French general, son of René Ier de Rougé and of Marguerite de La Court, he fought in the Thirty Years War. Marshall in 1646, he became governor of Rethel and of Armentières. Jaques de Rougé took part in the Battle of Rethel in 1650, and became governor of La Bassée, then of Dieppe, before becoming commander in chief of the Army of Catalogne in 1653 and Lieutenant-General. The Sun-King retained him for his next promotion of knights of the Saint-Esprit and planned to make him Field-Marshall of France.


In 1654, he was killed in a cavalry charge in Torre d’Anunziata near Castellamare in Naples. Representations of Jaques de Rougé can be seen in the Chateau of Versailles. Cardinal Mazarin reacted thus on the announcement of his death: "I am in despair at the death of Plessis-Bellière".


The King, Louis XIV, wanted to confer the Honneurs du Louvres on the Marquis, which were usually reserved for Dukes and Peers of France. His widow refused them. She wrote the following lines, inscribed in the Church of Faÿ-les-Nemours: "The heart of my husband rests in this urn. However mine sighs incessantly, agitated by pain and overwhelmed with misfortune, and will follow him to the grave everyday from now onwards. The most sensitive part of my soul is enclosed in this vase where death imprints its colours."

Suzanne de Bruc de Monplaisir, Marquise du Plessis-Bellière and of Faÿ-les-Nemours (1599-1705), was the wife of Jaques de Rougé du Plessis-Bellière. She was known for her spirit and left a considerable mark upon her time. She was befriended with the superintendent Nicolas Fouquet, Finance minister to the King Louis XIV. She was very close to the greatest artists of the time and had an extensive personal art collection. She was also, with Madame de Lafayette and Mademoiselle de Scudéry, part of the first literary circles.


In 1661, she tried to save Fouquet from disgrace, and sheltered him in the Hotel de Rougé in Nantes. But the superintendent was arrested by the Captain d'Artagnan, and the Marquise du Plessis-Bellière was also arrested: she was interned by order of the King Louis XIV in the Chateau de Montbrison.


Her state of health permitted her early release, and she was allowed to join her children in her house of Charenton, near Paris. She spent her last years there, surrounded by the great poets and artists. The Marquise de Sevigné was also one of her closest friends. Suzanne de Rougé, Marquise de Plessis-Bellière, had a passionate life, which inspired many adventure novels, among which the character of Elise in "Le Vicomte de Bragelonne" by Alexandre Dumas, or historical novels that later would make successful movies, like "Angélique, Marquise des Anges".

Pierre François de Rougé, Marquis of Rougé, Baron of Coëtmen, Lord of La Bellière, Le Tremblay, etc. (1702-1761) French general, was a son of Pierre III, Marquis de Rougé and of Jeanne Prézeau de La Guilletière.


Pierre-François de Rougé took part in the Battle of Kehl in 1733 and in the Battle of Philipsburg in 1734. He was made a colonel in the War of Succession in Austria.


He also fought in the Battles of Corbach and Kassel against Prussian Armies. He later became governor of Givet and of Charlemont.


On 7 September 1759, the Marquis de Rougé signed a treaty which later became famous under the name of ‘Convention de Brandenburg’. This agreement, signed with the representative of the Prussian armies, General Major Baron Buddenbrock, stipulated that the military hospitals and lazarets, aswell as medical personnel, would not be considered as fighting units.


This act was considered a century later by Henri Dunant, founder of the Red Cross, as being the first treaty ‘de Croix Rouge’, as he demanded funds from Napoleon III. The Marquis de Rougé was fatally wounded, as was his cousin, the Duke de Croy d'Havré (by the same bullet), during the Battle of Vellinghausen in Westphalia in 1761.

Innocente Catherine de Rougé du Plessis-Bellière, Duchess of Elbeuf, Princess of Lorraine and of the Holy Roman Empire, Marquise de Faÿ, Marquise de Coëtanfao, etc. (1707-1794). She was the daughter of Jean Gilles de Rougé, Marquis du Plessis-Bellière and of Florimonde de Lantivy de Crosco. In 1761 she adopted her nephews, Bonabes Alexis Marquis de Rougé and Francois Pierre Olivier, Comte de Rougé and Plessis-Bellière, after the death of their parents. Several years before, she had become the widow of the Marquis de Coetanfao, and in 1747 had married the Prince of the Holy Roman Empire Emmanuel Maurice de Lorraine, Duke of Elbeuf. She survived the turbulent times of the Revolution and wrote particularly interesting letters, in which she analysed the events of the times with insight and intelligence. She complained about the passivity of the King Louis XVI in the early times of the Revolution, and described the frequent encounters with the Archdukes of Austria, to encourage them to intervene against the Revolution and the Terror which followed it. She was imprisoned, then released several times, and finally died in total destitution. She was remembered in her lordships as ‘la mere des pauvres’ – the ‘mother of the poors’.


Gabriel François de Rougé, Count of Rougé, Marquis of Cholet, Count of Chemillé, Baron of Montfaucon, Le May, Vienne-le-Châtel, etc. (1729-1786) was a French general, son of the Comte Gabriel César and of Marie du Bois de La Ferté. At the age of 11, he went into the army; at 19, he was made a colonel following his exceptional bravery at the Battle of Mahon against the English troops in Minorca in the Mediterranean. Two years later, he married the Princess Marie Anne Christiane Joséphine de Croÿ d'Havré, daughter of the Duke Louis Ferdinand Joseph de Croÿ d'Havré, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire and Field-Marshall, and of the Princess Marie Louise de Montmorency-Luxembourg. He fought in many battles with his "Regiment de Rougé". In 1763, he bought the Marquisat de Cholet, to which he later devoted all his spare time and his entire fortune improving the infrastructure of the city, and developing local businesses and people's wealth, partly thanks to the installation of regular markets. Cholet became a relatively modern town, with a thriving economic centre. A large part of the town was transformed, and a square has since been named after its benefactor. Nowadays, a shopping area and economical complex called "Les Arcades Rougé" is named after him.

Bonabes Jean Catherine Alexis de Rougé, Marquis de Rougé, Baron de Coëtmen (1751-1783), son of the Marquis Pierre François de Rougé and of Marie Claude Jeanne Julie de Coëtmen. Colonel of the French armies, Bonabes Jean Catherine Alexis de Rougé fought voluntarily in the American War of Independence. He unfrtunately died on the battelship Le Zélé on the Atlantic Ocean, while returning to France, in 1783.


François Pierre Olivier de Rougé, Count of Rougé & Plessis-Bellière, Marquis of Faÿ-les-Nemours (1756-1816), french general, brother of the previous one, chevalier of the Order of Saint Louis, colonel of the infantry in 1780, deputy of the Nobility to the General States in 1789, marechal de camp in 1791, lieutenant-general in 1816. On 13 April 1779 he married Marie Josèphe Vincente de Robert de Lignerac de Caylus, daughter of the Marquis de Lignerac, Duke of Caylus, and of Marie de Lévis de Châteaumorand.

Bonabes Louis Victurnien Alexis, Marquis of Rougé, Peer of France, Baron of Coëtmen and of Montfaucon, etc. (1778-1839), was the eldest son of the Marquis Bonabes Jean Catherine Alexis and of the Victurnienne Delphine Nathalie de Rochechouart de Mortemart. 


The Marquis de Rougé was initially an aide de camp to Prince Christian of Waldeck in 1794 in the Austrian Army. He then served in the Army of the Princes in the regiment of the Duke of Montemart, his uncle.


In 1804, he married Alexandrine Célestine Zoé Emmanuelle Thimarette de Crussol d'Uzès, daughter of the Duke of Uzès, first Peer of France and of Amable Emilie, Duchess of Châtillon. In 1815, he was made Peer of France and lieutenant-colonel of the Cent-Suisses of the Kings Guards, then chevalier of the Order of Saint Louis, then officer of the Legion d’Honneur. He was president of the electoral college of the Somme département in 1823 and 1827.


At the time of the accession to power of the King Louis-Philippe of Orleans, in 1830, the Marquis de Rougé gave up his military and political activities, as did his brother Adrien.

Adrien Gabriel Victurnien de Rougé, Count of Rougé & Peer of France (1782-1838) Brother of the former, he first enlisted in the regiment of Mortemart, in March 1800, and attended the officer's school in Vienna (Austria). After the Restoration, he was made sub-lieutenant to the grey musketeers in July 1814. Lieutenant-colonel of the 1st military division in Paris in 1816. Deputy of the Somme in 1815 and 1823. He was made Peer of France on 5 November 1827. He commanded one of four of the military divisions of Paris, and became the leader of the Chevaliers de la Foi, an ultra-royalist group under the reign of King Charles X. In 1830 he ceased his military and political activities.

Emmanuel de Rougé, Viscount de Rougé (1811-1872) was an egyptologist, philologist, member of the Institute, of the Académie des Sciences, curator of the Egyptian museum at the Louvre (1894), councillor of the State (1854), professor of egyptian archeology at the Collège of France (1864). He is, among others, the author of the following: Mémoire sur l'inscription du tombeau d'Ahmès, chef des nautoniers (1851), Le Poème de Pentaour (1861), Rituel funéraire des anciens égyptiens (1861-1863); Recherches sur les monuments qu'on peut attribuer aux six premières dynastie de Manéthon (1865); Chrestomathie egyptienne (1867-1876).


The Vicomte de Rougé was the last senator to be created by Emperor Napoleon III before the defeat of Sedan, which prevented the announcement from being made public. Busts of Vicomte Emmanuel are held in the Louvre and in the Cairo Museum in Egypt.

Arthur de Rougé, Count of Rougé & Plessis-Bellière, Duke of Caylus, Grandee of Spain, etc. (1844-1913) Bailli-Grand-Cross of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and president of the French Association of the Knights of Malta. Son of Adophe de Rougé and Marie de Saint-Georges de Vérac, in 1888 he married Marie Agnès de Rohan-Chabot, daughter of Charles Louis Josselin, Duke of Rohan and of Étiennette Catherine Rouillé de Boissy.


Olivier de Rougé, Viscount of Rougé (1862-1932) was the founder of the Maine-Anjou cattle in 1908 (now also know as "Rouge des Prés"), senator between 1920 and 1932, and member of the Académie d'Agriculture. President of the Association des agriculteurs. Son of the Vicomte Camille de Rougé and of Marthe de Charnières, Vicomte Olivier was also a talented poet and writer.

Charles de Rougé, Viscount de Rougé, one of France's earliest pilots, he invented the Elytroplan airplane (aujourd'hui visible au Musée du Bourget).


Charles-Armand de Rougé, Viscount of Rougé (1918-1940). Although he was just a junior cavalry officer, he volunteered to organize the defence of a strategic military point, the bridge of Château-Thierry on the Marne. Having successfully covered the retreat of hundreds of families, he was killed by a lone sniper. At the end of the war, the bridge he defended was named in his memory: ‘Pont Aspirant de Rougé’.

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