BIRON, ARMAND DE GONTAULT, Dile de, d. July 26,1.592; a French gen. of the 16th c.; grand master of artillery, commanding at the siege of Rochelle and in Guienne. Ile was among the first to declare for Henry IV. Ile brought Normandy under subjec tion, and dissuaded Henry from going to England. B. was killed by a cannon-shot at the siege of Epernay.
laRON, or BUREN, ERNEST JOHN DE, Duke of Courland, b. 1687, was the son of a landed proprietor in Courland, of the name of Billiren. Ile studied at NAnigsberg, and in 1714 visited St. Petersburg, where his handsome person and cultivated mind soon gained him the favor of Anna. Ivanovna, niece of Peter the great. When Anna ascended the throne of Russia in 1730, Biron repaired to eourtand was loaded with fibuor. Ile assumed the 1111,111C and arms of the French dukes de Bimn, and soon swayed all Russia through his royal mistress. Proud and despotic by nature. lie hated every one who stood in the way of his ambition. The princes Dolgortieki and their friends were his first victims. More than a thousand persons were executed by his orders, and a still greater number sent into banishment. The empress is said to have often thrown herself at his feet to induce him to relent, but her prayers and tears were of no avail. It is, however, undeniable, that by the strength of his character he introduced vigor and power into every branch of the public administration throughout Russia. In the
year 1722, he married a Courland lady, and in 1737 the Courlanders were compelled to choose him as their ducal ruler. By Iris desire the empress, on her•death-bed, appointed him guardian and regent during, the minority of her presumptive heir, prince Ivan. On the death of the empress (28th Oct., 17401. Biro') assumed the regency. and acted with great prudence and moderation. A secret conspiracy was, however, soon formed against Min, and on the night of the 19t11 Nov. he was arrested, by the orders of field-marshal Mfinnich, and conveyed to the fortress of Schlfissellairg. where he was tried and sentenced to death. His sentence was afterwards commuted to imprisonment for life, and contisealon of his property. lie was now, along with his family, conveyed to Pelini, in Siberia. When. in the following year, Elizabeth ascended the throne of Russia, B. was recalled. and sent to occupy his prison in Siberia. The sledges net at KaSall; the two enemies looked at each other, hut continued their jourueys with out exchanging a word. During the remainder of Elizabeth's reign, 13. continued to reside with his family at Jaroslaw. The empress Catharine H. restored to him the duchy or Courland, and he died 28th Sept., 1772.