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Chateau De Mores Lesson 1 - Family Biographies

The Marquis de Mores
Marquis de Mores with top hat

Antoine Amedee Marie Vincent Amat Manca de Vallombrosa, The Marquis de Mores was born in Paris, France on June 14, 1858. The son of a French nobleman, he was of French, Spanish and Italian heritage. The Manca family received the original title and lands on the island of Sardinia as reward for military service to the king of Spain. The Marquis’ grandfather was exiled to France for failing to stop a palace revolt against King Felix Albert of Sardinia in the 1820's. He married a French noblewoman who was related to the French king, Henry IV. Even though his landholdings were restored in 1832, he spent most of his time in Paris. Their son, Richard Manca took the title Duc de Vallombrosa. At the age of twenty-two, he led an expedition across India from Bombay to Cashmere and earned the Cross of the Commander of the Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazare. He married the daughter of the Duc de Cars, a lieutenant general in the French army and one of the top commanders in the conquest of Algiers. Their son, Antoine was born in Paris. The family divided their time between Paris and the Riviera filling their lives with sport, culture and travel. Duc de Vallombrosa founded the Yacht Club of France and the Society of Racing in Cannes.

Antoine’s early education was classically French: nurses and governesses, along with his parents, taught him French, English, Italian and German by the time he was ten years old. He then was taught by a tutor, who prepared the young Antoine in the traditional classics and the practical, everyday workings of the world. He mixed with sailors, workmen, and engineers. In 1870, he spent much time helping recuperating soldiers from the Franco-Prussian War. He was a brilliant student with a quick, analytical mind. A devout Catholic, religion had a part in his education and in his personal beliefs.

His plans to enter the navy after graduation were altered when illness forced him to miss the required entrance exams. He then entered the Jesuit College at Poiters in southwestern France. After graduation from college, he entered the military academy at St. Cyr. He entered the French army but resigned his commission in 1881 because he could not bear the monotony of peacetime; he craved more action. He became a reserve officer in the 22nd Regiment of the Dragoons.

Marquis de Mores on horseback

He returned to Paris, where he became the Marquis de Mores, the title which the eldest son of the Mancas received when he reached his age of majority. He invested in the Bourse, the Paris securities market. The year 1881 was marked by unequaled speculation and price fluctuation in the stocks of well-established companies. These more stable stocks came under great speculative pressures when many new companies were launched to the accompaniment of a torrent of promotional material. The speculative bubble burst and the Marquis’ market losses were in the neighborhood of 500,000 francs or about $110,000. These losses were paid by his father.

During this time is when he met and married Medora von Hoffman in France. After their marriage, they moved to the United States where he studied finance in his father-in-law’s bank. He came to Dakota Territory in 1883 to establish his cattle empire. After the failure of that dream, he returned to France in 1887 where he became involved in the politics of France. He spoke out against the Jews, but also exposed corruption in the government and tried to make things better for the underprivileged classes. Because of his outspoken views he was arrested several times and fought several successful duels. In 1893, his father, unhappy with his political activities, took him to court to appoint a guardian for his financial affairs He was in Africa trying to establish a Franco-Islamic alliance when he was murdered in 1896. His wife always believed that his death was politically motivated.

Something to think about:

Why do you think someone with the Marquis’ wealth and background wanted to go to Dakota?

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