1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Soubise, Benjamin de Rohan, Duc de
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Soubise, Benjamin de Rohan, Duc de
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|See also Benjamin, Duke of Soubise and Charles, Prince of Soubise on Wikipedia; and our 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica disclaimer.|
SOUBISE, BENJAMIN DE ROHAN, Duc de (? 1589-1642), Huguenot leader, younger brother of Henri de Rohan, inherited his title through his mother Catherine de Parthenay. He served his apprenticeship as a soldier under Prince Maurice of Orange-Nassau in the Low Countries. In the religious wars from 1621 onwards his elder brother chiefly commanded on land and in the south, Soubise in the west and along the sea-coast. His exploits in the conliict have been sympathetically related by his brother, who, if he was not quite an impartial witness, was one of the best military critics of the time. Soubise's chief exploit was a singularly bold and well-conducted attack (in 1625) on the Royalist fleet in the river Blavet (which included the cutting of a boom in the face of superior numbers) and the occupation of Oléron. He commanded at Rochelle during the famous siege, and (if we may believe his brother) the failure of the defence and of the English attack on Rhé was mainly due to the alternate obstinacy of the townsfolk and the English commanders in refusing to listen to Soubise's advice. When surrender became inevitable he fled to England, which he had previously visited in quest of succour. He died in 1642 in London. The Soubise title afterwards served as the chief second designation (not for heirs apparent, but for the chief collateral branch for the time being) of the house of Rohan-Chabot.
The name Soubise appears again in the military history of France in the person of Charles de Rohan, Prince de Soubise (1715-1787), peer and marshal of France, the grandson of the princess de Soubise, who is known to history as one of the mistresses of Louis XIV. He accompanied Louis XV. in the campaign of 1744-48 and attained high military rank, which he owed more to his courtiership than to his generalship. Soon after the beginning of the Seven Years' War, through the influence of Mme de Pompadour, he was put in command of a corps of 24,000 men, and in November 1757 he sustained the crushing defeat of Rossbach. He was more fortunate, however, in his later military career, and continued in the service until the general peace of 1763, after which he lived the life of an ordinary courtier and man of fashion in Paris, dying on the 4th of July 1787.