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Armand de Bourbon, prince de Conti

Armand de Bourbon, Prince de Conti (1629 – 1666) was the second son of Henry II, Prince of Condé and brother of Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé and Anne Genevieve, Duchess of Longueville. As a member of the reigning House of Bourbon, he was a Prince du Sang.

The title of Prince de Conti was revived in his favor in 1629. He was destined for the church and studied theology at the university of Bourges, but although he received several benefices he did not take orders. He played a conspicuous part in the intrigues and fighting of the Fronde, became in 1648 commander-in-chief of the rebel army, and in 1650 was with his brother Condé imprisoned at Vincennes.

Life in prison

Very mystic and full of strange ideas, he turned slightly mad while in prison. Having a secret passion for his sister the Duchess of Longueville, he invented tricks to make her notice him. He tried alchemy and potions for some time and eventually bruised himself with a candelier. This episode was finally fortunate for him because he could not be refused external help from physicians anymore. Some of them would pass letters and pleas to the outside world which speeded up his eventual release.

Later life

Released when Mazarin went into exile, he wished to marry Charlotte-Marie de Lorraine (1627-1652), the second daughter of the Duchesse de Chevreuse, the confidante of the queen, Anne of Austria, but was prevented by his brother, who was now supreme in the state. He was concerned in the Fronde of 1651, but soon afterwards became reconciled with Mazarin, and in 1654 married the cardinal's niece, Anne Marie Martinozzi (1639-1672), and secured the government of Guienne.

He took command of the army which in 1654 invaded Catalonia, where he captured three towns from the Spaniards. He afterwards led the French forces in Italy, but after his defeat before Alessandria in 1657 retired to Languedoc, where he devoted himself to study and mysticism until his death.

At Clermont, Conti had been a fellow student of Molière's for whom he secured an introduction to the court of Louis XIV, but afterwards, when writing a treatise against the stage entitled Traité de la comédie et des spectacles selon les traditions de l'Église (Paris, 1667), he charged the dramatist with keeping a school of atheism. Conti also wrote Lettres sur la grâce, and Du devoir des grands et des devoirs des gouverneurs de province.




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