Louis_Joseph_de_Bourbon,_duc_de_Vendôme

Louis Joseph de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme

Louis Joseph de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme (1 July, 1654-11 June 1712) was a French military commander during the War of the Grand Alliance and War of the Spanish Succession, Marshal of France and third Duke of Vendôme.

He was the son of Louis II de Bourbon-Vendôme, and the great-grandson of Henry IV of France and his mistress, Gabrielle d'Estrée. He was born in Paris. His mother was Laura Mancini, the elder sister of Olympia Mancini, the mother of Prince Eugene of Savoy, his future opponent.

Entering the army at the age of eighteen, he soon distinguished himself by his vigour and personal courage in the Dutch wars, and by 1688 he had risen to the rank of lieutenant-general. In the Nine Years' War he rendered conspicuous service under the duc de Luxembourg at the Battle of Steinkeerke and under Nicolas Catinat at Marsaglia, and in 1695 he was placed in command of the army operating in Catalonia where he took Barcelona (1697).

Soon afterwards, he was made a maréchal. In 1702, after the first unsuccessful campaign of Catinat and François de Neufville, duc de Villeroi, he was placed in command of the Franco-Spanish army in Italy. During three campaigns in that country he proved himself a worthy antagonist to Prince Eugène of Savoy, whom at last he defeated in 1705 at Cassano by his magnificent courage and command over his troops, converting the defeat that his indolent brother Philippe, the Grand Prior, had incurred, into a glorious success.

The next year, after holding his own as before, and gaining another victory at Calcinato, he was sent to Flanders to repair the disaster of Ramillies with the result that his successors Ferdinand de Marsin and Philip of Orléans were totally defeated, while in the new sphere Vendôme was merely the mentor of the pious and unenterprising Duke of Burgundy, and was unable to prevent the defeat of Oudenarde.

He therefore retired in disgust to his estates, but it was not long before he was summoned to take command of the army of Philip in Spain, and there he won his last victories, crowning his work with the battles of Brihuega and Villaviciosa. Before the end of the war he died suddenly at Vinaròs on the June 11 1712 and was buried in El Escorial, Spain.

Vendôme was one of the most remarkable soldiers in the history of the French army. He had, besides the skill and the fertile imagination of the true army leader, the brilliant courage of a soldier. But the real secret of his uniform success was his extraordinary influence over his men.

He married Marie Anne de Condé (1678-1718), a daughter of Henry III Jules de Bourbon, prince de Condé and granddaughter of Le Grand Condé. They had no children.

References

Publications

  • De Bellerive, Les dernières campagnes de Louis Joseph de Vendôme (Paris, 1714)
  • Voltaire, Le siècle de Louis XIV

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