The family was founded in 1147 when Gaston de Gontaut married the daughter of the seigneur de Biron - hence Gontaut-Biron. The house continued until 1798 when the main line died out; however, a cadet line survives.
From the reign of Louis XIV to the revolution these are the family-members:
I. François I de Gontaut-Biron and Élisabeth de Cossé-Brissac
François was the Marquis de Biron and Lieutenant General in the king's army. In 1651 he was awarded a knighthood by the king for his efforts in Italy.
Élisabeth was the daughter of the Duc de Brissac.
The couple had five children:
- Louis de Gontaut-Biron - died in childhood
- Henriette Marie de Gontaut-Biron - died unmarried
- Agnès de Gontaut-Biron - later Marquise de Nogaret
- Charles Armand de Gontaut-Biron - later Duc de Biron
- Louise de Gontaut-Biron - later Marquise d'Urzé
II. Charles Armand de Gontaut-Biron and Marie Antonine de Bautru de Nogent
Charles was made peer of France when he was elevated to the rank of Duc de Biron; in the army he excelled and made Marèchal de France.
Marie Antonine was the daughter of the Comte de Nogent. Her marriage to Charles Armand was arranged and the contract was signed on 12 August 1686.
The couple had no less than 26 children of which 12 died in childhood. Amongst those who survived were:
- François Armand de Gontaut-Biron, Duc de Biron
- Jean-Louis de Gontaut-Biron, Abbot of Biron
- Louis-Antoine de Gontaut-Biron, Comte de Biron
- Charles-Armand de Gontaut-Biron, Abbot of Gontaut
- Marguerite de Gontaut-Biron - became a nun
- Françoise-Madeleine de Gontaut-Biron, Marquise de Bonnac
- Judith-Charlotte de Gontaut-Biron - Comtesse de Bonneval
- Geneviève de Gontaut-Biron, Comtesse de Gramont
- Marie-Antonine-Victoire, Marquise de Roure
- Marie-Renée de Gontaut-Biron, Comtesse de Seignelay
- Charlotte-Antonine de Gontaut-Biron, Mademoiselle de Gontaut
III. François Armand de Gontaut-Biron and Marie Adélaïde de Gramont
François Armand inherited his father's peerage and became maître de camp to a regiment named after himself. At court he was lieutenant of the 100 gentlemen employed in the king's civilian household.
Marie Adélaïde was a dame du palais to Marie Leszczynska.
The couple had 2 children:
- Antoine-Charles de Gontaut-Biron, Duc de Biron (he took the title of Duc de Lauzun)
- He died childless
- Louise Antonine de Gontaut-Biron, Marquise de Courtanvaux
IV. Jean Louis de Gontaut-Biron
Upon the death of François Armand, the title of Duc de Biron went to his uncle, Jean Louis, However, Jean Louis was an abbot and thus could not marry. Therefore, the title was quickly passed on to his brother, Louis Antoine.
V. Louis Antoine de Gontaut-Biron and Françoise Pauline de La Rochefoucauld
Louis Antoine was a soldier for most of his life; he served in the War of the Austrian Succession. When he retired he had reached the rank of Marèchal de France.
Françoise Pauline was Marquise de Severac in her own right. She was guillotined at the age of 71.
The couple had no children and the heir was Louis Antoine's brother, Charles-Antoine.
|Françoise Pauline de La Rochefoucauld|
VI. Charles-Antoine de Gontaut-Biron and Antoinette-Eustachie Crozat du Châtel
Charles-Antoine was, like his brother, a soldier. He had been a musketeer since 1728 and twenty years later found himself promoted to Lieutenant General. He was further awarded the governorship of Viverais, Velay and Cévennes. He was given his own peerage in 1758 when he was made Duc de Gontaut.
Antoinette-Eustachie died giving birth to the couple's only child: Armand-Louis de Gontaut-Biron.
VII. Armand-Louis de Gontaut-Biron and Marie-Amélie de Boufflers
Armand-Louis inherited his father's title of Duc de Biron in 1788 but before that he received his own peerage in the style of Duc de Lauzun by Louis XV in honour of his marriage. He became a great favourite with Marie-Antoinette but did not get on well with his wife. As was custom in his family, he joined the military which he served almost until the outbreak of revolution.
Marie-Amélie was the daughter of the last Duc de Boufflers. Once she met Jean-Jacques Rousseau while traveling.
The couple had no children.
Interesting facts and anecdotes:
- The revolution took its toll on the de Gontaut-Biron-line. Armand-Louis de Gontaut-Biron and his wife, Marie-Amelié de Boufflers, were both executed in 1793
- Louis-Antoine was extremely popular amongst his troops. He was present when the firework display following the wedding of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette descended into disaster. He was actually caught and would likely have died in the stampede that followed if his troops had not recognized him and ran back to carry him out
- Charles-Armand lived to the ripe old age of 92 - he died just before his 93rd birthday. He had seen the births of 14 children, 32 grandchildren and 47 great-grandchildren. Of these he had also seen the death of 10 of his children, 12 of his grandchildren and 8 of his great-grandchildren.
|Geneviève de Gontaut-Biron|
|Françoise Madeleine de Preissac, Comtesse de|
|Madeleine de Gontaut-Biron, Marquise de Bonnac|
|...and a pamphlet of Louis-Antoine as a peacock|