Nugent, Laval(l) (1777–1862), field-marshal and count in Austria, was born 3 November 1777 at Ballinacor, Co. Wicklow, eldest son of John Nugent, landowner, from Westmeath, and Jane Nugent (née McDonagh). His father died when he was four, and in 1789 he moved to Austria, where he was adopted by his uncle Oliver, Count Nugent, a colonel in the army. On 1 November 1793 he became a cadet in the empress's regiment, and was promoted to captain two years later. Transferred to the quartermaster-general's staff, he fought in the Italian campaign in 1799 and was present at the siege of Turin in June, and subsequent battles; for this campaign he was awarded the Maria Theresa cross and the rank of major. He was soon a lieutenant-colonel and fought at the victory over the French at Caldiero, near Verona, on 29–30 October 1805. Briefly commander of the 61st Infantry Regiment in 1807, he returned to the general staff in 1809 with the rank of major-general.
Disapproving strongly of the Austrian negotiations with Napoleon in 1810, he refused to sign the peace treaty and resigned his military commission. Moving to England, he was welcomed by Marquess Wellesley (qv), the foreign secretary, in 1811 and gave much advice on military operations on the Continent. A commission in the British army did not materialise, and in 1813 he returned to Italy, visiting the duke of Wellington (qv) in Spain to gather intelligence. On 1 July 1813 he rejoined the Austrian army, and prepared plans for liberating Croatia in the approaching conflict. With the resumption of war between Austria and France on 1 August 1813 Nugent led 2,000 men into Croatia to raise an insurrection, but was soon ordered to return to the Italian theatre, where he won battles at Izonza, captured Trieste, and laid siege to Venice; for this campaign he was awarded an honorary KCB. With the tide now turning against the French, Nugent directed attacks against their armies in northern Italy in 1814, winning battles at Reggio, Parma, and Piacenza. Based in Piedmont when news of the French surrender came through, he was promoted to lieutenant-general for his contribution. In 1815 he was awarded an honorary KCB by the British government, and served in Sicily and later Marseilles. After the congress of Vienna peace was restored to Europe and Nugent was made a prince of the Holy Roman Empire by the pope in 1816 and colonel-proprietor of the 30th Infantry Regiment. With the permission of the emperor he accepted the command of the army of Naples, with the rank of captain-general (1817–20). Created a magnate of Hungary in 1826, he now had a hereditary seat in the upper house of the Hungarian parliament. Master-general of the ordnance (1830–40), he was raised to the rank of full general in 1838, and was created Count (Graf) Nugent of Westmeath by Emperor Ferdinand I in Vienna (27 November 1847). After commanding various Austrian districts in the 1840s he returned to active service in 1848, when he was in charge of the reserve army in Italy, but resigned citing ill-health. He then raised a reserve corps and helped crush the revolt in Lombardy. He retired from the army in autumn 1849 after suffering a defeat in battle, and was conferred with a field marshal's baton in November. Present as a volunteer at the battle of Solferino on 24 June 1859, he was too old for active service but tended to the wounded. The sovereign order of St John of Jerusalem awarded him the extinct title of lord grand prior of Ireland in 1860.
He married (1815) Jane, duchess of Riario Sforza; they had several children. He died 22 August 1862 at his home at Bosjilievo Castle, near Karlstadt, Croatia, and was buried in the courtyard. The Universal News announced a week later: ‘The bravest, the loyalest, the wisest, and the oldest soldier in the service of the emperor has won his last victory’ (quoted in Ir. Sword, iv (1960), 200).