Charles de St.Denis, Sieur de St. Evremond
Died: 09 Sep, 1703
Field: Writer; soldier
Location in the Abbey: South transept, poets corner
Type of memorial: Grave; plaque
Type of material: Marble

Charles de St.Denis, Sieur (or Lord) of St Evremond, soldier and writer, was buried in the centre part of Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. A white marble monument was erected nearby by Dr Peter Birch, a clergyman of the Abbey (his father in law Edmund Waller was a friend of St Evremond). It has been moved from its original position and is now sited high on the wall in the east aisle, behind Shakespeare's memorial. The Latin inscription can be translated:

"Charles de St Denis, Lord of St Evremond, descended from a noble family in Normandy; who, when young, applied himself to military affairs and, by several meritorious advances, was preferred to be Marshal in the army, where he more than once gave proofs of his probity and courage with Conde, Turenne and other famous generals. At length, leaving his country, he came into Holland, and was from thence invited into England by Charles II. He very happily cultivated philosophy and the useful arts of learning. He polished, adorned and enriched the French language by his writings, both in prose and verse. He deservedly gained the favour and bounty of the kings of England and the esteem and friendship of the nobility, and having reached beyond his 90th year, died 9 September 1703. That this ingenious man may be remembered among the best writers of his age, his friends, concerned at his loss, have placed this monument".

His coat of arms shows "argent, a cinquefoil gules".

He was baptised in January 1614 at St Denis-le-Gast near Coutances in Normandy, a son of Charles de Saint Denis (d.1649) and his wife Charlotte de Rouville. He was educated in Paris and in 1630 served in the army at the attack on Piedmont and was a noted swordsman, gourmet and wit. In 1645 he was severely wounded in the knee and was later imprisoned twice in the Bastille by Cardinal Mazarin, possibly because of his closeness to Fouquet. After Fouquet's arrest he left France and came to London, where he became the most celebrated Frenchman in England. He introduced London Society to the art of drinking champagne and Charles II was very impressed with the still version of the wine. The King appointed him governor of the duck islands in St James' Park. He never married and his literary reputation is base on his short informal essays and on an historical study.

A photo of the monument can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004.

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