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Saturday, 8 September 2012

Louis II of Bourbon, Royal Prince , Master General

b. Sep 8, 1621
d. Nov 11, 1686

Called "The Great Condé", Louis de Condé was a prince of royal blood, the son of Henri de Bourbon, Prince de Condé and Charlotte Marguerite de Montmorency, and cousin to the king. At the age of twenty-two Condé was victorious during the Thirty Years' War at the Battle of Rocroi (Ardennes, 1643), and later at Lens (1648), which prevented France from being invaded by the Spanish armies in the north.

He rebelled in 1651 taking the side of the Fronde, which on occasions served the enemy, and entered the Spanish service. Pardoned in 1660, he commanded Louis XIV's armies against the Spaniards and the Dutch.

It is on his military character that the Grand Condé’s fame rests. Unlike his great rival, Turenne, Condé was equally brilliant in his first battle and in his last. The one failure of his generalship was in the Spanish Fronde, and, in this, everything united to thwart his genius; only on the battlefield itself was his personal leadership as conspicuous as ever.

That he was capable of waging a methodical war of positions may be assumed from his campaigns against Turenne and Montecucculi, the greatest generals opposing him. But it was in his eagerness for battle, his quick decision in action, and the stern will which sent his regiments to face the heaviest losses, that Condé is exalted above all the generals of his time. Upon the Grand Condé’s death, Louis XIV pronounced that he had lost "the greatest man in my kingdom."

In 1643 his success at the Battle of Rocroi, in which he led the French army to an unexpected and decisive victory over the Spanish, established him as a great general and popular hero in France. Together with the Marshal de Turenne he led the French to victory in the Thirty Years' War.

During the Fronde, he was courted by both sides, initially supporting Mazarin; he later became a leader of the princely opposition. After the defeat of the Fronde he entered Spanish service and led their armies against France. He returned to France only after the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, but soon received military commands again.

Condé conquered the Franche-Comté during the War of Devolution and led the French armies in the Franco-Dutch War together with Turenne. His last campaign was in 1675, taking command after Turenne had been killed, repelling an invasion of an imperial army.

He is regarded as one of the premier generals in world history, whose masterpiece, the Battle of Rocro is still studied by students of military history.

Condé was a proud, imperious man whose personal gain came before the general interest. Despite being of a violent disposition and a bisexual libertine (he was married and had several affairs with his soldiers), he was also a cultured man, including in his circle many men of genius such as Molière, Racine, Boileau, La Fontaine, Nicole, Bourdaloue and Bossuet.

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