About this Famous Person
Gilbert DU MOTIER DE LA FAYETTE
French aristocrat and military officer
Source : Mathieu NIVAL
Lafayette was born to Michel Louis Christophe Roch Gilbert Paulette du Motier, marquis de La Fayette, colonel aux Grenadiers de France, and Marie Louise Jolie de La Rivière, at the château de Chavaniac, in Chavaniac, near Le Puy-en-Velay, in the modern department of Haute-Loire. His full name is rarely used; instead he is often referred to as the marquis de La Fayette or Lafayette. Biographer Louis Gottschalk asserted that Lafayette indifferently spelled his name both Lafayette and LaFayette.
Lafayette's lineage is said to be one of the oldest in Auvergne. In this area the family is known for their contempt for danger. Lafayette's ancestor, Marshal of France Gilbert de La Fayette III, was a companion-at-arms who led Joan of Arc's army in Orléans. His great-grandfather was the comte de La Rivière, a former lieutenant general in the Royal Armées. According to legend, another ancestor acquired the Crown of Thorns during the 6th Crusade. Lafayette's uncle Jacques-Roch died fighting the Austrians and left the marquis title to Lafayette's father.
Lafayette's father, struck by a cannonball at the Battle of Minden in Westphalia, died on 1 August 1759. Lafayette became Lord of Chavaniac, but the estate went to his mother. Lafayette's mother and his maternal grandfather, marquis de La Rivière, died, on 3 April and 24 April 1770 respectively, leaving Lafayette an income of 25,000 livres. Upon the death of an uncle, the 12-year-old Lafayette inherited a handsome yearly sum of 120,000 livres. Lafayette was raised by his paternal grandmother, Mme de Chavaniac, who had brought the château into the family with her dowry. Also in the household were Mme de Chavaniac's daughters Madeleine de Motier, and Charlotte Guérin, the baronne de Chavaniac.