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Lally at Pondicherry, by Paul Philipotteaux.
Thomas Arthur, comte de Lally, baron de Tollendal (January, 1702 - 1766) was a Frenchmarker general.

He was born at Romans-sur-Isèremarker, Dauphiné, the son of Sir Gerald Lally, an Irish Jacobite from Tuammarker, County Galwaymarker, who married a French lady of noble family, from whom the son inherited his titles.

Entering the French army in 1721 he served in the war of 1734 against Austriamarker; he was present at Dettingen (1743), and commanded the regiment de Lally in the famous Irish brigade at Fontenoymarker (May 1745). He was made a brigadier on the field by Louis XV.

He had previously been mixed up in several Jacobite plots, and in 1745 accompanied Charles Edward to Scotlandmarker, serving as aide-de-camp at the battle of Falkirkmarker (January 1746). Escaping to France, he served with Marshal Saxe in the Low Countries, and at the capture of Maastrichtmarker (1748) was made a maréchal de camp.

When war broke out with Britain in 1756 Lally was given the command of a French expedition to Indiamarker. He reached Pondicherrymarker in April 1758, and at the outset met with some trifling military success.

He was a man of courage and a capable general; but his pride and ferocity made him disliked by his officers and hated by his soldiers, while he regarded the natives as slaves, despised their assistance, and trampled on their traditions of caste. In consequence everything went wrong with him. He was unsuccessful in an attack on Tanjore, and had to retire from the Siege of Madras (1758) owing to the timely arrival of the British fleet. He was defeated by Sir Eyre Coote at the Battle of Wandiwash (1760), and besieged in Pondicherry and forced to capitulate in 1761.

He was sent as a prisoner of war to England. While in Londonmarker, he heard that he was accused in France of treason, and insisted, against advice, on returning on parole to stand his trial. He was kept prisoner for nearly two years before the trial began; then, after many painful delays, he was sentenced to death (May 6, 1766), and three days later beheaded. Louis XV tried to throw the responsibility for what was undoubtedly a judicial murder on his ministers and the public, but his policy needed a scapegoat, and he was probably well content not to exercise his authority to save an almost friendless foreigner.

See GB Malleson, The Career of Count Lally (1865); "Z's" (the marquis de Lally-Tollendal) article in the Biographie Michaud; and Voltaire's Ňíuvres compl√®tes. The legal documents are preserved in the Biblioth√®que Nationalemarker.

See also

Thomas Carlyle, in his The French Revolution, has a brief but typically vigorous passage describing the death of Lally as a judicial murder, reporting that Lally was driven to execution gagged so that he could not cry out against the injustice done him. Carlyle further reports that his son, when he came of age, sought to have his father's name cleared in the Parlement de Paris, which continued to refuse to repent of the injustice done. The orator Despreminil is described as acting as the spokesman of Parlement in the matter, much to his discredit in Carlyle's eyes. (French Revolution, volume 1, book 3, chapter 5.)


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