Étienne François, duc de Choiseul

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Étienne-François, comte de Stainville, duc de Choiseul (28 June 1719 - 8 May 1785) was a French military officer, diplomat and statesman. Between 1758 and 1761, and 1766 and 1770, he was Foreign Minister of France and had a strong influence on France's global strategy throughout the period. He is closely associated with France's defeat in the Seven Years War and subsequent efforts to rebuild French prestige.


Early life

The eldest son of François Joseph de Choiseul, marquis de Stainville (1700–1770), Étienne-François was born in Nancy in the Duchy of Lorraine where his father was one of the leading advisors to the Duke of Lorraine who ruled an independent French-speaking state with close cultural and political links with France. At birth, he bore the title of Comte de Stainville. In 1737 Stephen Henry, Duke of Lorraine was pressured into giving up Lorraine and becoming ruler of Tuscany in Italy. Realising that continue loyalty to the House of Lorraine would limit his opportunities, Étienne François transferred his allegiance towards France.[1]

Military career

After gaining experience of warfare during the Austro-Turkish War[2] he entered the French army, and during the War of the Austrian Succession served in Bohemia in 1741 and in Italy, where he distinguished himself at the Battle of Coni, in 1744. He was also present at the Battle of Dettingen in Germany and carried news of the French defeat there to Paris.[3] He had been appalled by what he had witnessed of the French forces at Dettingen, particularly what he later described as their "indifference and ignorance", and his experiences there would provide him with motivation for his later reforms of the French military.[4]

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