1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Condé, Princes of
CONDÉ, PRINCES OF. The French title of prince of Condé, assumed from the ancient town of Condé-sur-l’Escaut, was borne by a branch of the house of Bourbon. The first who assumed it was the famous Huguenot leader, Louis de Bourbon (see below), the fifth son of Charles de Bourbon, duke of Vendôme. His son, Henry, prince of Condé (1552–1588), also belonged to the Huguenot party. Fleeing to Germany he raised a small army with which in 1575 he joined Alençon. He became leader of the Huguenots, but after several years’ fighting was taken prisoner of war. Not long after he died of poison, administered, according to the belief of his contemporaries, by his wife, Catherine de la Trémouille. This event, among others, awoke strong suspicions as to the legitimacy of his heir and namesake, Henry, prince of Condé (1588–1646). King Henry IV., however, did not take advantage of the scandal. In 1609 he caused the prince of Condé to marry Charlotte de Montmorency, whom shortly after Condé was obliged to save from the king’s persistent gallantry by a hasty flight, first to Spain and then to Italy. On the death of Henry, Condé returned to France, and intrigued against the regent, Marie de’ Medici; but he was seized, and imprisoned for three years (1616–1619). There was at that time before the court a plea for his divorce from his wife, but she now devoted herself to enliven his captivity at the cost of her own liberty. During the rest of his life Condé was a faithful servant of the king. He strove to blot out the memory of the Huguenot connexions of his house by affecting the greatest zeal against Protestants. His old ambition changed into a desire for the safe aggrandizement of his family, which he magnificently achieved, and with that end he bowed before Richelieu, whose niece he forced his son to marry. His son Louis, the great Condé, is separately noticed below.
The next in succession was Henry Jules, prince of Condé (1643–1709), the son of the great Condé and of Clémence de Maillé, niece of Richelieu. He fought with distinction under his father in Franche-Comté and the Low Countries; but he was heartless, avaricious and undoubtedly insane. The end of his life was marked by singular hypochondriacal fancies. He believed at one time that he was dead, and refused to eat till some of his attendants dressed in sheets set him the example. His grandson, Louis Henry, duke of Bourbon (1692–1740), Louis XV.’s minister, did not assume the title of prince of Condé which properly belonged to him.
The son of the duke of Bourbon, Louis Joseph, prince of Condé (1736–1818), after receiving a good education, distinguished himself in the Seven Years’ War, and most of all by his victory at Johannisberg. As governor of Burgundy he did much to improve the industries and means of communication of that province. At the Revolution he took up arms in behalf of the king, became commander of the “army of Condé,” and fought in conjunction with the Austrians till the peace of Campo Formio in 1797, being during the last year in the pay of England. He then served the emperor of Russia in Poland, and after that (1800) returned into the pay of England, and fought in Bavaria. In 1800 Condé arrived in England, where he resided for several years. On the restoration of Louis XVIII. he returned to France. He died in Paris in 1818. He wrote Essai sur la vie du grand Condé (1798).
Louis Henry Joseph, duke of Bourbon (1756–1830), son of the last named, was the last prince of Condé. Several of the earlier events of his life, especially his marriage with the princess Louise of Orleans, and the duel that the comte d’Artois provoked by raising the veil of the princess at a masked ball, caused much scandal. At the Revolution he fought with the army of the emigrés in Liége. Between the return of Napoleon from Elba and the battle of Waterloo, he headed with no success a royalist rising in La Vendée. In 1829 he made a will by which he appointed as his heir the duc d’Aumale, and made some considerable bequests to his mistress, the baronne de Feuchères (q.v.). On the 27th of August 1830 he was found hanged on the fastening of his window. A crime was generally suspected, and the princes de Rohan, who were relatives of the deceased, disputed the will. Their petition, however, was dismissed by the courts.
Two cadet branches of the house of Condé played an important part: those of Soissons and Conti. The first, sprung from Charles of Bourbon (b. 1566), son of Louis I., prince of Condé, became extinct in the legitimate male line in 1641. The second took its origin from Armand of Bourbon, born in 1629, son of Henry II., prince of Condé, and survived up to 1814.
See Muret, L’Histoire de l’armée de Condé; Chamballand, Vie de Louis Joseph, prince de Condé; Crétineau-Joly, Histoire des trois derniers princes de la maison de Condé; and Histoire des princes de Condé, by the duc d’Aumale (translated by R. B. Borthwick, 1872).