Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, vicomte de Turenne

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Turenne, portrait by Charles Le Brun , 1665.

Turenne's signature:
Signature Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, vicomte de Turenne.PNG

Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, vicomte de Turenne (born September 11, 1611 in Sedan , † July 27, 1675 near Sasbach , Baden , died) was a French military leader and Marshal of France . He was one of only seven Marshals General of France .

Alongside Condé, Henri de Turenne is considered the most important French general of his time and in France the most important general before and in the hierarchy after Napoleon . He was a methodically trained and cautious general, an excellent tactician, who also carefully looked after the supply and use of his troops.


Father Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne; Portrait of Merry-Joseph Blondel (1835)

The future Marshal of France came from the Huguenot house of La Tour d'Auvergne . The political rise of the family took place in the late 16th century under Turennes' father, Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne (1555–1623). In 1591, the Prince's marriage to Charlotte von der Marck (1574–1594) and her early death brought the Duchy of Bouillon and the Principality of Sedan into the possession of the house. This step was of great importance, because the two territories were sovereign states, so-called terres souveraines . Her possession made Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne Duc de Bouillon and thus one of the Princes étrangers . As independent masters, these nobles were directly subordinate to the French royal family and played an important role in the political life of the time.

After the death of his first wife, the Duke married Princess Elisabeth of Orange-Nassau (1577–1642), a daughter of William I of Orange (1533–1584) in 1595 . This second marriage resulted in two sons and six daughters as well as close family ties to the representatives of the House of Orange who ruled as governor of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands .

First of Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne served as Maréchal de France to the French crown, but soon the Duke one of the leading actors of the Huguenot opposition to the policies of the king of France was Henri IV. Since Henri in the " Biron conspiracy " in 1602 was involved in an intrigue against the king, he fled to Genoa the following year . Although he was reconciled with the king in 1606 and returned to his possessions, as a member of the Maria de 'Medicis Regency Council he again joined the opposition and was briefly declared a "rebel". In 1621 the Huguenot assembly of La Rochelle offered him supreme command of their armed forces, but the old duke refused. When the duke died in 1623, there was therefore considerable tension and mistrust between the new French king Louis XIII. and the representatives of the House of La Tour d'Auvergne.


Adolescent years

Sedan Castle, family seat of La Tour d'Auvergne

Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne was born on September 11, 1611 in Sedan. As the second-born son, a military career was planned for him , while his brother Frédéric-Maurice (1605-1652) would inherit the title of Duc de Bouillon as head of the family . When his father died, his title and property passed to his sons in 1623, with the young Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne receiving the vice-county of Turenne and henceforth calling himself Viscount de Turenne .

Little is known about the youth of the young Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne. As it was often said, he was a rather sickly and thin child. According to a legend passed down by his biographer Ramsay, the 10-year-old boy sneaked onto the walls of Sedan on a winter night to stand guard and prove to his father that he was able to cope with the rigors of a military career . Apparently he was later found asleep on a carriage . At a young age, Henri was taught mathematics , history and foreign languages by the pastor and private tutor Daniel Tilenus . His teacher, born in Silesia in 1563 , was a professor at the Sedan Academy and had already taught other members of the Bouillon family. The pupil's special preference was the Latin descriptions of the deeds of Caesar and Alexander the Great (especially Quintus Curtius Rufus ). According to his teacher, however, he was slow to learn and easily confused. The educator Chevalier de Vassignac was responsible for his other training and physical education such as riding , dancing and hunting . From this he also received his basic military knowledge. The Chevalier accompanied Turenne from an early age, so that a close fatherly relationship developed between the two. The influence of mother Elizabeth of Nassau-Orange cannot be underestimated either. She loathed life at the royal court and largely kept her family away from it. As a result, the young Henri hardly left Sedan during his youth. It was also she who ensured that her sons were brought up by Tilenus strictly in the Calvinist faith.

According to older biographers such as Weygand , Roy or Morris, Turenne was sent to his uncle in Holland as early as 1625, where he entered Dutch military service and was promoted to captain in 1626. The French historian Jean Bérenger showed in his biography of the marshal in 1987 a different life path: According to this, Turenne received ownership of a regiment as early as 1625, at the age of 14 . When this was dissolved the following year, his mother sent him to the Académie de Benjamin in Paris that fall . In the spring of 1628, however, the duchess decided to take her son back from school. The reasons for this are not entirely clear. On the one hand, the school fees of 3600 livres per year could have been too expensive, and on the other hand, the religious differences in France intensified again at this point, which culminated in the simultaneous siege of La Rochelle . As a precaution, the duchess could have brought her son home for fear of a second Bartholomew Night. It was not until the campaign of 1629 that the young Turenne served as a volunteer in the Dutch army and took part in the siege of Herzogenbusch . It was here that he was given his first military duties, such as command of a gun battery and reconnaissance patrols. However, Turennes' educator and long-time friend, the Chevalier de Vassignac, was fatally wounded during the siege. As is evident from the Viscount's letters, this loss hit him hard.

Career in the French military

In 1630 he changed to French service as Mestre de camp , made a campaign to Lorraine under Jacques Nompar de Caumont and in 1634 as Maréchal de camp under La Valette a march to the Rhine, where he horrified the fortress of Mainz and besieged Breisach in 1638. Appointed Lieutenant-General , he fought 1639-1643 first under the Count of Harcourt , then under Prince Thomas of Savoy in Italy and in 1640 took Turin .

In 1643 Turenne was appointed Marechal de France and entrusted with the supreme command of the French troops in Germany. He reorganized the troops in Alsace , crossed the Rhine in May 1644, tried in vain with the Duke of Enghien (Condé) to relieve Freiburg , which had already fallen when the two were forming the imperial army in the undecided battle of Freiburg . The Imperialists claimed Freiburg, but had to withdraw their army to Württemberg as a result of the battle, which cleared the way for Turenne and Condé to the north. With the conquest of Philippsburg they then brought the north of the Rhine plain under their control. In 1645 Turenne dared to invade Württemberg, but was defeated by the Bavarian Marshal Franz von Mercy in the battle of Herbsthausen and forced to retreat behind the Rhine. Here he reunited with Condé, and both won a victory on August 3 at the battle of Alerheim near Nördlingen with heavy losses, in which their main adversary Mercy fell. The losses forced them to withdraw again, but before the end of the year Turenne captured Trier on November 18 . The conclusion of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 is also traced back to the occupation of Bavaria up to the Inn in 1648 by Turenne.

Turenne and the Fronde

During the Fronde he was initially in exile. After the arrest of Princes Armand and Louis on January 18, 1650, he united the troops of the Fronde with the Spanish and invaded France from Belgium. He conquered Le Catelet , La Capelle and Rethel, but was defeated on December 15, 1650 by Marshal du Plessi-Praslin in the battle of Rethel and reconciled with Queen Anna of Austria in 1651 . He now sided with the government and on July 2, 1652 defeated Condé, his former comrade-in-arms, before Paris and pushed him back to the border of Flanders.

Further career

Portrait of Robert Nanteuil

In the war against Spain from 1654 to 1659 he suffered his greatest defeat in the Battle of Valenciennes in 1656, won the Battle of the Dunes near Dunkirk in 1658 , occupied all of Flanders and thus made possible the Peace of Pyrenees of 1659. From 1657 to 1675 he held the post of Colonel général of the light cavalry. In 1660 he was given the title of maréchal général des camps et armées du roi (meaning: "Commander in chief of the king's armies"). However, this was only an honorary title that was not associated with any authority. At the request of Louis XIV , he converted from Calvinism to Catholicism in 1668.

In the war against Holland in 1672 he commanded the army on the Lower Rhine against the imperial and Brandenburgers. In 1673 he forced the "Great Elector" Friedrich Wilhelm to make the Peace of Vossem (June 16, 1673). In August 1673, Turenne, invading Franconia from the area of ​​Frankfurt and Aschaffenburg, established himself on the left bank of the Main to order the imperial Army expected, which under Raimund von Montecuccoli gathered at Eger and was approaching via Nuremberg. On September 8th the French marshal arrived on his train with his army in front of Mergentheim but was then pushed back by the superior, 40,000-strong army of Montecuculi, after the opposing armies here at Marktbreit were undecided at the end of September, but with considerable losses on both sides had fought. An Austrian detachment had captured the right bank of the Main near Würzburg and, after grazing on Wertheim, had destroyed and cut off the French warehouses and supplies after a few skirmishes. Due to the further advance of the Austrians on the right bank of the Main and the lack of magazines, Turenne felt compelled to back down. On October 23, he reached Ladenburg and went to Philippsburg on the left bank of the Rhine. Before he withdrew from the Würzburg area, he left the bishop's lands to the looting addiction and the violence of his army.

Tomb in the Invalides in Paris

In 1674 he crossed the Rhine near Philippsburg, defeated the Duke of Lorraine in the battle of Sinsheim on June 16 and conquered the entire Palatinate, which he completely devastated. After defeating Alexander de Bournonville in the battle of Enzheim on October 4th , he evacuated Alsace, but drove the allies out of this country again at the beginning of 1675, crossed the Rhine and met the imperial forces in the battle of Sasbach in July Montecuccoli. But before the battle broke out, Turenne was killed on July 27, 1675 during a reconnaissance of the terrain when a cannonball hit a walnut tree and a large branch falling on it killed him. To this day, he is remembered there, on German soil, in the Turenne Museum.

Turenne's body was buried in the royal tomb of Saint-Denis cathedral on Ludwig's orders . When the royal tombs of Saint-Denis were sacked during the Revolution, he was the only one not buried in the mass grave, but first buried in the Jardin des plantes in Paris, then taken to the Musée des monuments français , and later on orders from Napoléon Bonaparte in the Invalides Cathedral opposite the tomb Vaubans buried.

Turenne as a military

Turenne was one of the first generals to attach great importance to the feeding of their troops. Often he gave up an advantageous venture when it jeopardized supplies. He is therefore also considered the creator of a clever maneuvering strategy that avoids unnecessary losses . He got to know and adopted this practice during his training in the Dutch army . In his memoirs he himself repeatedly emphasizes these food considerations. For example, in 1644 he renounced the promising pursuit of General Mercy after he had forced him to withdraw from Freiburg after the battle of Freiburg im Breisgau, because “all the infantry one owned was used to getting ready-made bread and not like the old troops who had long served in Germany to bake it themselves, so one could follow the enemy to Wuerttemberg all the less as one found no magazines prepared there. "


Turenne monument

In Sasbach, Turenne was erected a memorial stone at the place of his death by the sovereign, the Bishop of Strasbourg Cardinal Rohan , in 1781, which the French government had replaced by a granite obelisk in 1829. Today in Sasbach you can find the Turenne monument, which was built in 1945 (the fourth; the third was removed by the Nazis in 1940) and inaugurated by General de Gaulle , and the Turenne Museum, a Franco-German cooperation project. The area immediately around the monument is owned by the French state (similar to the Latour monument in Oberhausen ). A portrait bust is located in Thuringia in the Kromsdorf Palace Park .

Turenne left behind his memoirs, which range from 1643 to 1658 and were published under the title Collection des mémoires du maréchal de Turenne .


Collection des lettres et mémoires trouvés dans les porte-feuilles du Marechal de Turenne published by Philippe-Henri de Grimoard, Paris 1782 Digitized by the Munich digitization center


Older representations

  • André Michel, chevalier de Ramsay ( Andrew Michael Ramsay ): Histoire du Vicomte de Turenne, Marechal, Général des Armées du Roi. 2 vols. Maziere & Garnier, Paris 1735. Digitization of the Munich digitization center
  • André Michel, chevalier de Ramsay: Histoire du Vicomte de Turenne, maréchal-général des armees du roi. 4 vols. Arkstée & Merkus, The Hague 1736.
  • François Raguenet : Histoire du vicomte de Turenne. Amsterdam 1787.
  • Friedrich Wilhelm von Zanthier: Campaigns of the Viscount Turenne: Marechal-General of the armies of the King of France , 1779 Google Books
  • Léo Armagnac: Histoire de Henry de La Tour d'Auvergne, Viscount de Turenne. Mame, Tour 1880 (digitized version) .
  • Jules Roy : Turenne. Sa vie et les institutions militaires de son temps. Pigoreau, Paris 1883.
  • CA Neuber: Turenne as a war theorist and general. Vienna 1869. Google Books
  • William O'Connor Morris: Turenne. In: The English Historical Review. Vol. 2, 1887, No. 6, pp. 260-280.
  • George Duruy: Histoire de Turenne. Hachette, Paris 1889.
  • Maxime Weygand : Turenne. Kastner & Callwey, Munich 1938.
  • Thomas Longueville: Marshal Turenne , Longman, Green and Co., London 1907, PDF online

Newer literature

Web links

Commons : Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. On the historical development in detail François Velde: Account of the Duchy of Bouillon (as of April 22, 2008)
  2. On life and work: Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne: Mémoires de Henry de la Tour d'Auvergne, vicomte de Turenne, et depuis duc de Bouillon, adressés à son fils le prince de Sedan . (= M. Petitot (Ed.): Collection complète des mémoires relatifs à l'histoire de France. Vol. 35, Foucault, Paris 1823.)
  3. a b Maxime Weygand: Turenne. Munich 1938, p. 10.
  4. ^ William O'Connor Morris: Turenne. In: The English Historical Review , Vol. 2, No. 6 (April 1887), p. 261.
  5. ^ André Michel, chevalier de Ramsay: Histoire du Vicomte de Turenne, maréchal-général des armees du roi. Vol. 1, La Haye 1736.
  6. ^ Jules Roy: Turenne - Sa vie et les institutions militaires de son temps. Paris 1883, p. 54.
  7. ^ Maxime Weygand: Turenne. Munich 1938, p. 9 f.
  8. ^ William O'Connor Morris: Turenne. P. 261 f.
  9. ^ Jean Bérenger: Turenne. Paris 1987, p. 54 f.
  10. ^ Jean Bérenger: Turenne. Paris 1987, pp. 54-56.
  11. ^ Maxime Weygand: Turenne. Munich 1938, pp. 10-14.
  12. ^ William O'Connor Morris: Turenne. P. 262.
  13. ^ Jules Roy: Turenne - Sa vie et les institutions militaires de son temps. Paris 1883, p. 55.
  14. ^ Jean Bérenger: Turenne. Paris 1987, pp. 58-67.
  15. ^ Maxime Weygand: Turenne. Munich 1938, p. 11 f.
  16. ^ Jean Bérenger: Turenne. Paris 1987, p. 55.
  17. Émile Charvériat: Histoire de la guerre de trente ans, 1618-1648: Période suédoise et période française, 1630-1648. volume 2, éditeur E. Plon et cie, 1878 présentation en ligne
  18. a b c d Description of the Mergentheim Oberamt / Chapter A 7 at Wikisource
  19. ^ Joseph-François Michaud, Jean-Joseph-François Poujoulat: Nouvelle collection des mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de France. 1838, pp. 315-317.
  20. Turenne Museum in Sasbach ( Memento of the original from February 10, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.hdgbw.de
  21. ^ Oberhausen: Care of the French exclave. Retrieved February 14, 2020 .
  22. Marshal Turenne is guarded. Retrieved February 14, 2020 .
  23. ^ Badische Zeitung: The Turenne Museum deals with Franco-German history - Südwest - Badische Zeitung. Retrieved February 14, 2020 .