Charles Joseph Ligne, prince de

Ligne, Charles Joseph, prince de (shärl zhôzĕfˈ prăNs də lēˈnyə) [key], 1735–1814, Austrian field marshal. He belonged to an ancient princely family of Hainaut, in the Austrian Netherlands (now Belgium). He held high military and diplomatic posts, was an adviser of Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II, and won the favor of Catherine II of Russia while on a mission at her court. Though deprived of most of his estates by the French and sunk to relative obscurity, he remained active in European affairs. Ligne was celebrated for his cosmopolitanism and wit; his most famous remark, a reference to the Congress of Vienna, was Le congrès ne marche pas, il danse. [The congress does not walk (i.e., make progress), but it dances.] His selected letters and memoirs (tr. 1927) mirror his personal charm, polished gaiety, and unpretentious wisdom.

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