Gabriel, comte de Montgomery

Gabriel, comte de Montgomery, seigneur de Lorges
Gabriel-montgommery.jpg
Gabriel de Lorges comte de Montgomery (1530-1574), Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Born(1530-05-05)5 May 1530
Died26 June 1574(1574-06-26) (aged 44)
NationalityFrench
CitizenshipFrench

Gabriel, comte de Montgomery, seigneur de Lorges (5 May 1530 – 26 June 1574), a French nobleman, was a captain of the Scots Guards of King Henry II of France. He is remembered for mortally injuring King Henry II in a jousting accident and subsequently converting to Protestantism, the faith that the Scots Guard sought to suppress. He became a leader of the Huguenots.

Career

On either 30 June or 1 July 1559, during a jousting match to celebrate the Peace of Cateau Cambrésis between Henry II and his longtime Habsburg enemies, a splinter of wood from Montgomery's shattered lance pierced Henry's eye and entered his brain, mortally injuring him. From his deathbed Henry absolved Montgomery of any blame, but, finding himself disgraced, Montgomery retreated to his estates in Normandy. There he studied theology and converted to Protestantism, making him an enemy of the state.

The fatal tournament between Henry II and Montgomery (Lord of Lorges)
Remains of the Montgomery Tower in the wall of Philippe Auguste in Paris, where Montgomery was briefly imprisoned after accidentally killing Henry II in a jousting accident. Rue des Jardins-Saint-Paul, Paris

In 1562, Montgomery allied himself with another Protestant convert, Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé. He was one of the few refugees to survive the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre after a wounded Huguenot swam across the Seine to warn him that rioting had begun. He took control of Bourges and during September and October defended Rouen from the Royal Army. A price was put on his head, but he managed to escape to England. The queen mother, Catherine de' Medici, asked Queen Elizabeth I for his extradition, but Elizabeth refused.

German print of the Siege of La Rochelle (1572–1573), with the city in the background, and the fleet of Montgomery in the upper left corner

Montgomery returned to France with a fleet in an attempt to relieve the Siege of La Rochelle in 1573. The following year he attempted an insurrection in Normandy, but was captured, taken to Paris,[1] and sentenced to death. On 26 June 1574, as he was about to be beheaded, Montgomery was informed that a royal edict had proclaimed that his property would be confiscated and his children deprived of their titles.

A freely adapted version of Montgomery's life is told in Alexandre Dumas' novel The Two Dianas.