Prussian Generals of the Napoleonic Wars  1793-1815

Prussian Generals of the Napoleonic Wars  1793-1815: Hatzfeld, Franz Ludwig Fürst von

By: Digby Smith

Hatzfeld, Franz Ludwig Fürst von (P924 )

Born on 23 November 1756 in Bonn / Rhein. His father was Graf Karl Ferdinand, kurfürstlich kölnischer Geheimer Rat (privy councilor to the prince-bishop of Cologne), Oberhofmarschal (senior courtier) and knight of the Order of St Michael. He entered military service in 1769, being commissioned as Hauptmann, in the kurköln. IR von Kleist, appointed by Kurfürst Maximilian Friedrich von Köln. In 1779 he was an Obristwachtmeister (lieutenant-colonel) and he transferred to the service of the Archbishop Friedrich Karl Joseph von Mainz as Maj and Kämmerer (Treasurer), in the IR von Gymnich. In 1782 he was promoted to Obst, in the IR Fachenbach. In 1785 he was promoted to GM. In 1787 he was appointed Geheimrat (Privy Councellor) in Kur-Mainz. In 1790 he commanded the Kur-Mainz contingent on a punitive expedition against the republicans in Liege. In 1792 he was placed on the inactive list. On 8 December 1795 he transferred to Prussian service as GM von der Armee (on the army staff) and was awarded the RAO Ch. On 1 January 1798 he was appointed Titularoffizier von der Armee (Honorary Officer on the Army Staff). On 20 August 1802 he was appointed Herr auf Trachenberg (Steward) (now Smigrod, in Poland). On 10 August 1803 he was created Fürst (prince). On 17 October 1805 he left Prussian military service and retired to his estate in Silesia. Von Hatzfeld was a GM at 29 years of age; he produced the constitution of the Kur-Mainz engineer corps and did much to improve the defences of the fortress of Mainz. In Liege in 1790 he put down the pro-revolutionary revolt there and reinstated the Fürstbischof (prince bishop) Hönsbröch. After the French General Custine occupied Mainz in 1792, von Hatzfeld left active military service. In 1798 he recommended several ex-Kur-Mainz officers for Prussian service. In mid-1805 he applied to Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm III for a field command but there were none available. He reapplied on 5 October but was again rejected; he thus resigned on 6 October 1805. When Berlin was evacuated in 1806, von Hatzfeld was appointed governor of the city. In a subsequent letter to the king, he included details of the strength of the occupying French army. The French secret police intercepted this letter and reported the matter to Napoleon who had him arrested and threatened to have him shot. Von Hatzfeld`s wife interceded on her husband`s behalf and Napoleon relented. In 1811 von Hatzfeld was appointed ambassador to Paris and was received in a friendly fashion by the Emperor.

On 7 March 1812 he was awarded the HOSA Ch.

After General von Yorck signed the Convention of Tauroggen with the Russians in December 1812 and removed his Prussian contingent from under French command , von Hatzfeld was despatched to Napoleon to explain that Friedrich Wihelm III was innocent of any blame in the affair. Hardenberg wrote to Yorck: `Seine Majestät haben den Fürsten von Hatzfeld nach Paris geschicht, um Ihrem hohen Allierten über diesen unerwarteten und höchst unangenehmen Vorfall die nötigen Aufklärung zu geben.`

(`His Majesty has sent the Prince of Hatzfeld to Paris in order to explain the details of this unexpected and most unpleasant event.`)

Von Hatzfeld had however not been told the entire truth when he was sent to Paris, that his king had already decided to break with Napoleon.

On 4 August 1816 he was appointed Prussian emissary to the Netherlands court in den Haag. On 11 June 1821 he went to the UK to attend the coronation of George IV. On 5 May 1822 he was appointed Prussian ambassador to the Austrian court. He died on 3 February 1827 in Vienna.

Placed on the Napoleon Series: December 2010


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