Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne
Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne,
often called simply Turenne (11 September 1611, Sedan, Ardennes – 27 July 1675) was the most illustrious member of the La Tour d'Auvergne
La Tour d'Auvergne
La Tour d'Auvergne was a French noble family. Its senior branch, extinct in 1501, held the titles of count of Auvergne and count of Boulogne for about half a century. Its junior branch, extinct in 1802, held the title of duke of Bouillon since 1594 and the titles of duke of Albret and duke of...

 family. He achieved military fame and became a Marshal of France
Marshal of France
The Marshal of France is a military distinction in contemporary France, not a military rank. It is granted to generals for exceptional achievements...

. He was one of six marshals who have been made Marshal General of France
Marshal General of France
The title Marshal General of France or more exactly "Marshal General of the King's camps and armies" was given to signify that the recipient had authority over all the French armies in the days when a Marshal governed only one army usually...


Background and early career

The second son of Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, vicomte de Turenne, duc de Bouillon
Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, vicomte de Turenne, duc de Bouillon
Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne was a member of the powerful, House of La Tour d'Auvergne, Prince of Sedan and a marshal of France.-Biography:The vicomte de Turenne was born at the castle of...

, sovereign prince of Sedan, by his second wife Elizabeth
Elisabeth of Nassau
Countess Elisabeth of Nassau was the second daughter of prince William of Orange and his third spouse Charlotte of Bourbon...

, daughter of William the Silent
William the Silent
William I, Prince of Orange , also widely known as William the Silent , or simply William of Orange , was the main leader of the Dutch revolt against the Spanish that set off the Eighty Years' War and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1648. He was born in the House of...

, Prince of Orange
Prince of Orange
Prince of Orange is a title of nobility, originally associated with the Principality of Orange, in what is now southern France. In French it is la Principauté d'Orange....

, he was born at Sedan. He received a Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

 education and the usual training of a young noble of the time, but physical infirmity, and particularly an impediment of speech (which he never lost), hampered his progress, though he showed a marked partiality for history and geography, and especial admiration of the exploits of Alexander the Great and Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

. After his father's death in 1623, he devoted himself to bodily exercises and in a great measure overcame his natural weakness. At the age of fourteen he went to learn war in the camp of his uncle, Maurice of Nassau the Stadtholder
A Stadtholder A Stadtholder A Stadtholder (Dutch: stadhouder [], "steward" or "lieutenant", literally place holder, holding someones place, possibly a calque of German Statthalter, French lieutenant, or Middle Latin locum tenens...

 of Holland and Prince of Orange, and began his military career (as a private soldier in that prince's bodyguard) in the Dutch Revolt
Dutch Revolt
The Dutch Revolt or the Revolt of the Netherlands This article adopts 1568 as the starting date of the war, as this was the year of the first battles between armies. However, since there is a long period of Protestant vs...


Frederick Henry of Nassau
Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange
Frederick Henry, or Frederik Hendrik in Dutch , was the sovereign Prince of Orange and stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel from 1625 to 1647.-Early life:...

, who succeeded his brother Maurice as Stadtholder and Prince of Orange in 1625, gave Turenne a captaincy in 1626. The young officer took his part in the siege warfare of the period, and won special commendation from his uncle (one of the foremost commanders of the time) for his skill and courage at the celebrated siege of 's-Hertogenbosch (Bois-le-Duc) in 1629. In 1630 Turenne left the Netherlands and entered the service of France, motivated not only by the prospect of military advancement but also by his mother's desire to show the loyalty of the Bouillon dominions to the French crown.

Cardinal Richelieu at once made him colonel of an infantry regiment. He still continued to serve at short intervals with the prince of Orange, who at the time had an alliance with France, and his first serious service under the French flag occurred at the siege of La Mothe
La Mothe-en-Bassigny
A citadel of the Duchy of Lorraine, La Mothe-en-Bassigny was meant to repel French invaders. It was destroyed in 1645 and is now a ruin.It is situated near Neufchâteau, between the villages of Outremécourt and Soulaucourt-sur-Mouzon ....

 in Lorraine
Lorraine (province)
The Duchy of Upper Lorraine was an historical duchy roughly corresponding with the present-day northeastern Lorraine region of France, including parts of modern Luxembourg and Germany. The main cities were Metz, Verdun, and the historic capital Nancy....

 by Marshal de la Force
Jacques-Nompar de Caumont, duc de la Force
Jacques-Nompar de Caumont, duc de la Force was a marshal of France and peer of France.He was born in La Force, the son of Francois de Caumont and Philippes de Beaupoil....

 (1634), where his brilliant courage at the assault won him immediate promotion to the rank of maréchal de camp (equivalent to the modern grade of major-general). In 1635 Turenne served under Louis de Nogaret, Cardinal de la Valette in Lorraine and on the Rhine. The French and their allies raised the Imperial siege of Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

 (8 August 1635), but the French army had to fall back on Metz
Metz is a city in the northeast of France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers.Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region and prefecture of the Moselle department. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, Metz forms a central place...

 for want of provisions. In the retreat Turenne measured swords with the famous imperial General Gallas
Matthias Gallas
Matthias Gallas, Graf von Campo und Herzog von Lucera , was an Austrian soldier, who first saw service in Flanders, then in Savoy with the Spaniards, and subsequently joined the forces of the Catholic League as captain during the Thirty Years' War.On the general outbreak of hostilities in Germany,...

, and distinguished himself greatly by his courage and skill. The reorganised army took the field again in 1636 and captured Saverne
Saverne is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France. It is situated on the Rhine-Marne canal at the foot of a pass over the Vosges Mountains, and 45 km N.W...

 (Zabern), at the storming of which place Turenne suffered a serious wound. In 1637 he took part in the campaign of Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, including the capture of Landrecies
Landrecies is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.It is the site of a skirmish between the British I Corps under Douglas Haig and the German Fifth Army on 25 August 1914.-Heraldry:-People:...

 (26 July). In the latter part of 1638, serving under Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar
Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar
Bernard of Saxe-Weimar was a German prince and general in the Thirty Years' War.-Biography:Born in Weimar within the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar, Bernard was the eleventh son of Johann, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, and Dorothea Maria of Anhalt.Bernard received an unusually good education and studied at the...

 (1608–1639), he directed the assault on Breisach
Breisach is a town with approximately 16,500 inhabitants, situated along the Rhine in the Rhine Valley, in the district Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, about halfway between Freiburg and Colmar — 20 kilometres away from each — and about 60 kilometres north of Basel near the...

 (reputedly the strongest fortress on the upper Rhine), which surrendered on December 17. He had now gained a reputation as one of the foremost of the younger generals of France, and Richelieu next employed him in the Italian campaign of 1639–1640 under "Cadet la Perle", Henri de Lorraine, count of Harcourt
Henri de Lorraine, count of Harcourt
Henri de Lorraine , known as Cadet la Perle, was a French nobleman. He was count of Harcourt, count of Armagnac, count of Brionne and viscount of Marsan...

 (1601–1666). On 19 November 1639 he fought in the famous rearguard action called the battle of the "Route de Quiers", and during the winter re-victualled the citadel of Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

, held by the French against the forces of Prince Thomas of Savoy
Thomas Francis, Prince of Carignano
Thomas Francis of Savoy was an Italian military commander, the founder of the Savoy-Carignano branch of the House of Savoy which reigned as kings of Sardinia from 1831 to 1861, and as kings of Italy from 1861 until the...

. In 1640 Harcourt saved Casale Monferrato
Casale Monferrato
Casale Monferrato, population 36,058, is a town and comune in the Piedmont region of north-west Italy, part of the province of Alessandria. It is situated about 60 km east of Turin on the right bank of the Po, where the river runs at the foot of the Montferrato hills. Beyond the river lies the...

 and besieged Prince Thomas' forces in Turin, which meanwhile besieged in their turn another French force in the citadel. The latter held out, while Prince Thomas had to surrender on 17 September 1640, a fourth army which had invested Harcourt's lines being at the same time forced to retire. Turenne, who had by now become a lieutenant-general, played a major role in achieving the favourable result of these complicated operations. He himself commanded during the campaign of 1641 and took Coni (Cuneo
Cuneo is a city and comune in Piedmont, Northern Italy, the capital of the province of Cuneo, the third largest of Italy’s provinces by area...

), Ceva
Ceva, the ancient Ceba, is a small Italian town in the province of Cuneo, region of Piedmont, 49 km east of Cuneo. It lies on the right bank of the Tanaro on a wedge of land between that river and the Cevetta stream.-History:...

 and Mondovì
Mondovì is a town and comune of Piedmont, northern Italy, located c. 80 km from Turin....


In 1642 he served as second-in-command of the French troops which conquered Roussillon
Roussillon is one of the historical counties of the former Principality of Catalonia, corresponding roughly to the present-day southern French département of Pyrénées-Orientales...

. At this time Richelieu discovered the conspiracy of Cinq Mars
Henri Coiffier de Ruzé, Marquis of Cinq-Mars
Henri Coiffier de Ruzé, Marquis de Cinq-Mars was a favourite of King Louis XIII of France who led the last and most nearly successful of the many conspiracies against the king's powerful first minister, the Cardinal Richelieu....

 in which Turenne's elder brother, the duc de Bouillon
Frédéric Maurice de La Tour d'Auvergne, duc de Bouillon
Frédéric Maurice de La Tour d'Auvergne, duc de Bouillon was prince of the independent principality of Sedan, and general in the French royal army....

, had become implicated.

Marshal of France

The relations of the principality of Sedan to the French crown markedly influenced the earlier career of Turenne; sometimes it proved necessary to advance the soldier to conciliate the ducal family, at other times the machinations of the ducal family against Richelieu or Mazarin prevented the king's advisers from giving their full confidence to their general in the field. Moreover his steady adherence to the Protestant religion provided a further element of difficulty in Turenne's relations with the ministers. Cardinal Richelieu nevertheless entrusted him with the command in Italy in 1643 under Prince Thomas (who had changed sides in the quarrel). Turenne took Trino
Trino is a comune in the Province of Vercelli in the Italian region Piedmont, located about 50 km northeast of Turin and about 15 km southwest of Vercelli, at the foot of the Montferrat hills....

 in a few weeks before his recall to France towards the end of the year. He gained the rank of Marshal of France
Marshal of France
The Marshal of France is a military distinction in contemporary France, not a military rank. It is granted to generals for exceptional achievements...

 (19 December 1643) and soon departed to Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

 to re-organize the "Army of Weimar" (the remnant of the late Duke Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar
Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar
Bernard of Saxe-Weimar was a German prince and general in the Thirty Years' War.-Biography:Born in Weimar within the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar, Bernard was the eleventh son of Johann, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, and Dorothea Maria of Anhalt.Bernard received an unusually good education and studied at the...

's troops) which had just suffered a severe defeat at Tuttlingen
Tuttlingen is a town in Baden-Württemberg, capital of the district Tuttlingen. Nendingen, Möhringen and Eßlingen are three former municipalities that belong to Tuttlingen...

 (November 24/25, 1643). At this time, having reached thirty-two years of age, Turenne had served under four famous commanders. The methodical prince of Orange, the fiery Bernhard, the soldierly Cardinal de la Valette and the stubborn and astute Harcourt had each contributed much to the completeness of Turenne's training, and he took the field in 1644 prepared by genius and education for the responsibilities of high command.

The work of re-organization over, Marshal Turenne began the campaign in June 1644 by crossing the Rhine at Breisach
Breisach is a town with approximately 16,500 inhabitants, situated along the Rhine in the Rhine Valley, in the district Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, about halfway between Freiburg and Colmar — 20 kilometres away from each — and about 60 kilometres north of Basel near the...

, but almost instantly an army under the duc d'Enghien (afterwards the great Condé) joined him. The Duke, as a prince of the royal house, took the chief command of the united armies of "France" and "Weimar". The four famous campaigns which followed brought to an end the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

. The desperately fought battle of Freiburg
Battle of Freiburg
The Battle of Freiburg, also called the Three Day Battle, took place on August 3, August 5 and August 9, 1644 as part of the Thirty Years' War...

 against Franz von Mercy's Bavarians (3, 5 and 9 August 1644) proved the chief event of the first campaign, after which the French successfully besieged Philippsburg
Philippsburg is a town in Germany, in the district of Karlsruhe in Baden-Württemberg.-History:Before 1632, Philippsburg was known as "Udenheim".The city was a possession of the Bishop of Speyer from 1371–1718...

. Before the capitulation Enghien withdrew and left Turenne in command. The marshal opened the campaign of 1645 with a strong forward movement, but Mercy surprised and defeated him at Mergentheim (Marienthal
Marienthal may refer to one of the following places:Germany*Marienthal , a quarter of Geisenheim, Hesse*Marienthal, Hamburg, a quarter in the Wandsbek borough of Hamburg*A part of Goosefeld, Schleswig-Holstein*A part of Zehdenick, Brandenburg...

) on 2 May. Enghien again came to the front with the army of France, and Turenne's army received substantial reinforcement with the arrival of a Swedish
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 force and of a contingent from Hesse-Kassel
The Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel or Hesse-Cassel was a state in the Holy Roman Empire under Imperial immediacy that came into existence when the Landgraviate of Hesse was divided in 1567 upon the death of Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse. His eldest son William IV inherited the northern half and the...

 (or Hesse-Cassel). The Swedes soon departed, but Enghien commanded 20,000 men when he met the Bavarians in a battle even more stubbornly contested than Freiburg. The French forces killed Mercy and decisively defeated his army at Allerheim
Battle of Nördlingen (1645)
The second Battle of Nördlingen was fought on August 3, 1645 southeast of Nördlingen near the village of Alerheim...

 (3 August 1645).

Ill-health forced Enghien to retire soon afterwards, leaving Turenne for the third time left in command of the French army. Again he did not fare well against the larger forces of the imperialists, but the campaign ended with a gleam of success in his capture of Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

 (Trèves). In the following year (1646) he obtained more decided successes, and, by separating the Austrians from the Bavarians, compelled Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria
Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria
Maximilian I, Duke/Elector of Bavaria , called "the Great", was a Wittelsbach ruler of Bavaria and a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire. His reign was marked by the Thirty Years' War ....

 to make peace (signed on 14 March 1647). In 1647 he proposed to attack the thus weakened army of the emperor, but the strategists ordered him into Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 instead. Not only did France thus lose an opportunity, but a serious mutiny broke out amongst the Weimar troops, who had not received their pay for many months. The marshal showed great tact and firmness in his treatment of the disaffected regiments, amongst whom in the end he succeeded in restoring order with little bloodshed. He then marched into Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, but soon received orders to switch to the Rhine, for in 1648 Bavaria had returned to her Austrian alliance and had taken up arms again. Turenne and his Swedish allies made a brilliant campaign, crowned by the decisive action of Zusmarshausen
Battle of Zusmarshausen
The Battle of Zusmarshausen was fought on May 17, 1648 between the Holy Roman Empire and Sweden and France in the modern Augsburg district of Bavaria, Germany...

 (17 May). Troops subsequently wasted Bavaria with fire and sword until a second and more secure armistice was obtained. This devastation, for which many modern writers have blamed Turenne, appeared no more harsh a measure than the spirit of the times and the circumstances of the case permitted.

The Peace of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia
The Peace of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October of 1648 in Osnabrück and Münster. These treaties ended the Thirty Years' War in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognizing the...

 (1648) brought little peace to France, which soon became involved in the civil war of the Fronde
The Fronde was a civil war in France, occurring in the midst of the Franco-Spanish War, which had begun in 1635. The word fronde means sling, which Parisian mobs used to smash the windows of supporters of Cardinal Mazarin....

 (1648–1653). Few of Turenne's actions caused sharper criticism than his adhesion to the party of revolt. The army of Weimar refused to follow its leader and he had to flee into the Spanish Netherlands, where he remained until the treaty of Rueil (March 1649) put an end to the first war of the Fronde. The second war began with the arrest of Condé and others (January 1650). Turenne, intended for arrest with them, escaped in time, and with the duchesse de Longueville held Stenay
Stenay is a commune in the Meuse department in Lorraine in north-eastern France.It was one of the last villages to experience fighting during World War I. Stenay was captured on 11 November 1918 by the American 89th Division under General William M. Wright only hours before the Armistice went into...

 for the cause of the "Princes" — Condé, his brother Conti, and his brother-in-law the duc de Longueville. Love for the duchess seems to have ruled Turenne's action, both in the first war, and, now, in seeking Spanish aid for the Princes. In this war Turenne sustained one of his few reverses at Rethel (15 December 1650); but the second conflict ended in the early months of the following year with the collapse of the court party and the release of the Princes.

The Fronde and the early reign of Louis XIV

Turenne became reconciled and returned to Paris in May 1651, but the trouble soon revived and before long Condé again raised the standard of revolt in the south of France. In this, the third war of the Fronde, Turenne and Condé stood opposed to each other, the marshal commanding the royal armies, the prince that of the Frondeurs and their Spanish allies. Turenne displayed the personal bravery of a young soldier at Jargeau
Jargeau is a commune in the Loiret department in north-central France.It lies about south of Paris.-External links:*...

 (28 March 1652), the skill and wariness of a veteran general at Gien
Gien is a commune in the Loiret department in north-central France.Gien is on the Loire River, from Orléans. The town was bought for the royal property by Philip II of France. The town is twinned with Malmesbury in England.-Sights:*Faience de Gien...

 (7 April), and he practically crushed the civil war in the Battle of the Faubourg St Antoine
Battle of the Faubourg St Antoine
The battle of the Faubourg St Antoine occurred on 2 July 1652 during the Fronde rebellion in France.-Details:During the period of the Second Fronde, between 1650 to 1653, Louis, the Prince of Condé, controlled much of Paris, having allied himself with the Parlement of Paris, which was in open...

 (2 July) and in the re-occupation of Paris (21 October). He still needed to deal with Condé and the Spaniards, however, and the long drawn-out campaigns of the "Spanish Fronde" gave ample scope for the display of scientific generalship on the part of both the famous captains. In 1653 Turenne had the advantage: he captured Rethel, Sainte-Menehould
Sainte-Menehould is a commune in the Marne department in north-eastern France.The town and its several restaurants pride themselves on serving a local specialty called pied de cochon or pig's trotters....

 and Mouzon
Mouzon, Ardennes
Mouzon is a commune in the Ardennes department in northern France.-Population:...

, while Condé succeeded only at Rocroi
Rocroi is a commune in the Ardennes department in northern France.The center was a fortified city, the walls of which are in the shape of a stylised star. The Battle of Rocroi was fought here.-Population:-External links:*...

. The short campaign of 1654 again favoured the French; on 25 July 1654 they defeated the Spanish at Arras
Arras is the capital of the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. The historic centre of the Artois region, its local speech is characterized as a Picard dialect...

. In 1655 French armies gained more ground, but in 1656 Turenne suffered a serious defeat at Valenciennes
Battle of Valenciennes (1656)
The Battle of Valenciennes was fought between the Spanish troops commanded by Don Juan José de Austria against the French troops under Marshal Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne, in the outskirts of this French town, within the context of the Franco-Spanish War...

, and though the causes of the defeat had been largely outside his control, he again showed his ability to recover from an outcome that would have overwhelmed lesser generals. The war eventually concluded soon after Turenne's victory at the Battle of the Dunes
Battle of the Dunes (1658)
The Battle of the Dunes, fought on 14 June , 1658, is also known as the Battle of Dunkirk. It was a victory of the French army, under Turenne, against the Spanish army, led by John of Austria the Younger and Louis II de Condé...

 near Dunkirk in 1658, in which a corps of English veterans sent by France's ally Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

 played a notable part (3–14 June); a victory which, followed by another successful campaign in 1658, led to the peace of the Pyrenees in 1659.

On the death of Cardinal Mazarin in 1661 Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

 took the reins of government into his own hands, and as one of his first acts appointed Turenne "marshal-general of the camps and armies of the king". He had offered to revive the office of connétable of France
Constable of France
The Constable of France , as the First Officer of the Crown, was one of the original five Great Officers of the Crown of France and Commander in Chief of the army. He, theoretically, as Lieutenant-general of the King, outranked all the nobles and was second-in-command only to the King...

 (suppressed in 1627) in Turenne's favour if the marshal would become a Roman Catholic. Turenne declined. Born of Calvinist parents and educated a Protestant, he had refused to marry one of Richelieu's nieces in 1639 and subsequently rejected a similar proposal from Mazarin.

Turenne married in 1652 Charlotte de Caumont, a daughter of the Protestant Marshal de la Force
Armand-Nompar de Caumont, duc de la Force
Armand-Nompar de Caumont, duc de la Force was a Marshal of France and peer of France.He was the son of another Marshal of France, Jacques-Nompar de Caumont, duc de la Force and Charlotte de Gontaut, daughter of Marshal Armand de Gontaut, baron de Biron...

, to whom he remained deeply attached. But he sincerely deplored the division of the Christian church into two hostile camps. He had always distrusted the influence of many dissident and uncontrolled sect
A sect is a group with distinctive religious, political or philosophical beliefs. Although in past it was mostly used to refer to religious groups, it has since expanded and in modern culture can refer to any organization that breaks away from a larger one to follow a different set of rules and...

s; the history of independence in the English army and people made a deep impression on his mind, and the same fear of indiscipline which drove the English Presbyterians into royalism drew Turenne more and more towards the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

. The letters between him and his wife show how closely both studied available evidence on the matter, and in the end, two years after her death, the eloquence of Bossuet
Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet was a French bishop and theologian, renowned for his sermons and other addresses. He has been considered by many to be one of the most brilliant orators of all time and a masterly French stylist....

 and the persuasions of his nephew, the Cardinal de Bouillon
Cardinal de Bouillon
Emmanuel Théodose de La Tour d'Auvergne was a French prelate and diplomat, known as the Cardinal de Bouillon.-Biography:...

 prevailed upon him to give his adhesion to the Roman Catholic faith (October 1668). In 1667 he had returned to the more congenial air of the "Camps and Armies of the King", directing (nominally under Louis XIV) the famous Promenade militaire in which the French overran the Spanish Netherlands. Soon afterwards Condé, now reconciled with the king, rivaled Turenne's success by the rapid conquest of the Franche-Comté
Franche-Comté the former "Free County" of Burgundy, as distinct from the neighbouring Duchy, is an administrative region and a traditional province of eastern France...

, shortly before the end the War of Devolution
War of Devolution
The War of Devolution saw Louis XIV's French armies overrun the Habsburg-controlled Spanish Netherlands and the Franche-Comté, but forced to give most of it back by a Triple Alliance of England, Sweden, and the Dutch Republic in the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.-Background:Louis's claims to the...

 in February 1668.

The Dutch War

In Louis XIV's Dutch War of 1672 Turenne accompanied the army commanded by the king which overran the Dutch United Provinces
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 up to the gates of Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

. The terms offered by Louis to the Prince of Orange
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

 only aroused a more bitter resistance. The Dutch opened the dikes and flooded the countryside around Amsterdam. This measure completely checked Turenne, whom the king had left in command. News of this event roused Europe to action, and the conflict spread to Germany. Turenne fought a successful war of manoeuvre on the middle Rhine while Condé covered Alsace. In January 1673 Turenne assumed the offensive, penetrated far into Germany, and forced the Great Elector of Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

 to make peace; later in the year, however, the famous imperial general Montecuccoli
Raimondo Montecuccoli
Raimondo, Count of Montecúccoli or Montecucculi was an Italian military general who also served as general for the Austrians, and was also a prince of the Holy Roman Empire and Neapolitan Duke of Melfi....

 completely out-manoeuvred Turenne: Montecuccoli evaded his opponent, joined the Dutch and took the important place of Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

. In June 1674, however, Turenne won the battle of Sinzheim, which made him master of the Palatinate. Under orders from Paris the French wasted the country far and wide, and this devastation with the sack of Türckheim usually counts as the gravest blot on Turenne's fame. In the autumn the anti-French allies again advanced, and though they again outmanoeuvered Turenne, the action of the neutral city of Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

 occasioned his failure by permitting the enemy to cross the Rhine by the bridge at that place. The battle of Enzheim followed; this proved a tactical victory, but hardly affected the situation, and, at the beginning of December, the allies remained in Alsace. The old marshal now made the most daring campaign of his career. A swift and secret march in mid-winter from one end of the Vosges
Vosges is a French department, named after the local mountain range. It contains the hometown of Joan of Arc, Domrémy.-History:The Vosges department is one of the original 83 departments of France, created on February 9, 1790 during the French Revolution. It was made of territories that had been...

 to the other took the allies by surprise. Sharply following up his first successes, Turenne drove the enemy to Turkheim
Battle of Turckeim
The Battle of Turckheim was a confrontation of the Franco-Dutch War fought on January 5, 1675 between the towns of Colmar and Turckheim in Alsace...

, and there inflicted upon them a heavy defeat (5 January 1675). As revenge for the active resistance the inhabitants of the city had shown, he let his troops loot it and massacre the remaining population during two weeks. In a few weeks he had completely recovered Alsace. In the summer campaign he once more faced Montecuccoli, and after the highest display of "strategic chess-moves" by both commanders, Turenne finally compelled his opponent to offer battle at a disadvantage at Salzbach
Battle of Salzbach
The Battle of Salzbach was fought July 27, 1675, between the armies of France and the Holy Roman Empire, during the Franco-Dutch War. The battle was won by the French, but at a high cost: the great French marshal, the Vicomte de Turenne, was killed in the fighting....

. There, on 27 July 1675, one of the first shots fired killed him. The news of his death produced universal sorrow.


Turenne's most eloquent countrymen wrote his éloges, and Montecucculi himself exclaimed: "II est mort aujourd'hui un homme qui faisait honneur à l'homme !" (A man is dead today who did honour to Man!) His body, taken to St Denis
Saint Denis Basilica
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Denis is a large medieval abbey church in the commune of Saint-Denis, now a northern suburb of Paris. The abbey church was created a cathedral in 1966 and is the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Denis, Pascal Michel Ghislain Delannoy...

, was buried with the kings of France. Even the extreme revolutionists of 1793 respected it, and, while they ignominiously reburied the bodies of the monarchs in a mass grave, they preserved the remains of Turenne at the Jardin des Plantes
Jardin des Plantes
The Jardin des Plantes is the main botanical garden in France. It is one of seven departments of the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle. It is situated in the 5ème arrondissement, Paris, on the left bank of the river Seine and covers 28 hectares .- Garden plan :The grounds of the Jardin des...

 until 22 September 1800, when Napoleon had them removed to the church of the Invalides at Paris, where they still rest.

Napoleon recommended all soldiers to "read and re-read" the campaigns of Turenne as one of the great captains. His fame as a general rivaled that of any other in Europe at a period when the populace studied war more critically than ever before, for his military character epitomized the art of war of his time (Prince de Ligne). Strategic caution and logistic accuracy, combined with brilliant dash in small combats and constancy under all circumstances - of success or failure - perhaps emerge as the salient points of Turenne's genius for war. Great battles he avoided. "Few sieges and many combats" he used as his own maxim. And, unlike his great rival Condé, who appeared as brilliant in his first battle as in his last, Turenne improved day by day. Napoleon said of him that, his genius grew bolder as it grew older, and a later author, the duc d'Aumale (Histoire des princes de la maison de Condé), took the same view when he wrote: "Pour le connaître il faut le suivre jusqu'à Sulzbach. Chez lui chaque jour marque un progrès."

In his personal character Turenne showed little more than the nature of a simple and honorable soldier, endowed with much tact; but in the world of politics and intellect he seemed almost helpless in the hands of a skilful intriguer or casuist. His morals, if not beyond reproach, were at least more austere than those prevalent in the age in which he lived. He operated essentially as a commander of regular armies. He spent his life with the troops; he knew how to win their affection; he tempered a severe discipline with rare generosity, and his men loved him as a comrade no less than they admired him as a commander. Thus, though Condé's genius appeared far more versatile, Turenne's genius best represents the art of war in the 17th century. For the small, costly, and highly trained regular armies, and for the dynastic warfare of the age of Louis XIV, Turenne functioned as the ideal army leader.

In fiction

Marshal of France Turenne is depicted in several alternative history novels written by Eric Flint
Eric Flint
Eric Flint is an American author, editor, and e-publisher. The majority of his main works are alternate history science fiction, but he also writes humorous fantasy adventures.- Career :...

. These include 1633 and 1634: The Baltic War
1634: The Baltic War
1634: The Baltic War is the direct novel sequel to 1633 in the collaboratively written alternate history shared universe 1632 series by David Weber and Eric Flint...


External links

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