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Count D’Estaing

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

November 9.—The family of the Count D’Estaing is very ancient, and the only one in France allowed to bear the king’s arms, with a small distinction denoting a subject. It has enjoyed this extraordinary honor for near eight hundred years. The occasion of its being conferred was this: About the year 1000, Philip Augustus, King of France, was engaged in a war with the Flemings. In a bloody battle, in which his own force was much inferior, being only 30,000, while that of the enemy was 80,000, the king was personally attacked by a Flemish officer, who was on the point of slaying him with his lance. D’Estaing, an ancestor of the present count, and an officer of rank in the king’s army, perceiving the imminent hazard to which his master was exposed, instantly rushed between the lance and him, and receiving it in his own body, fell dead at the king’s feet. Philip was so affected with this instance of generous bravery, that he ordained that the descendants of one who had given his life for the preservation of his own, should forever wear his arms.

A number of Indian chiefs and delegates from the Penobscot and Nova Scotia tribes lately waited on the count at Boston, and were received on board the Languedoc, and treated by him with much civility. It was easy to discover that these savages had not lost their former strong attachment and predilection to the French. They inquired much after the king of France, whom the Indians almost universally call their father; whereas the appellation commonly given by their sachems to the British king has been only that of brother. Among other discourse with the French admiral, they told him they had heard a new thing which gave them pleasure, that their father, the king of France, had lately entered into a treaty of friendship with the States of America, and had sent a number of his great ships and best warriors to support them against the ships and armies of the king of Britain; but that this report had been often contradicted by the friends of the latter, who affirmed that only a few small French vessels had come to trade with the people of the United States, for the sake of the very high price they could now obtain. That not knowing what to rely on, they had come to see with their own eyes, and make report to their brethren on their return. The count gave them some handsome presents, sent by them some tokens of friendship to others, and gratified them with a particular view of the ships, &c., at which they expressed the greatest admiration, and went off highly satisfied.1


1 New Jersey Gazette, November 25.