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room and he was in a bent position. He was meditat-
ing in profound peace, when he suddenly received a
stinging blow upon the upper part of his thighs. Turn-
ing sharply round, he was confronted by one of his
upper-servants, who immediately fell upon his knees
and exclaimed in confusion: "Please forgive me,
Monseigneur, I thought it was George".

"Well! " replied Turenne, in a gentle voice, as he
fondled the injured part, "even if it had been George,
there would have been no need to hit quite so hard."
And that was the only notice which he took of the

Lest these pages about Turenne should be expected
to consist solely of panegyric, it shall be stated that
Ramsay admits nature to have "denied him that fire
of genius, that liveliness of imagination, those qualities
which constitute a sparkling, entertaining wit. ... He
neither said nor did anything that was useless." Such
a description would, in most cases, mean that its subject
was a dull companion.

Without questioning the above description as a
whole, it may be open to doubt whether Ramsay
was accurate in saying that he lacked imagination.
Would it not be almost impossible for a successful
commander-in-chief to be wanting in that quality?
Could the strategist succeed unless he vividly imagined
every movement which his adversary would be likely

^ Louis XIV. in Court and Camp. By Col. A. C. P.
Haggard, p. 79.



to make, in a given locality, under given circumstances?
Again, although Turenne's strongest characteristics
were truth and straightforwardness, he was a past
master in the art of deceiving an enemy. And while
Ramsay declared Turenne to be wanting in "enter-
taining wit," such a celebrated wit as Grammont said
that " M. de Turenne was fond of merriment".

In the matter of food and drink, Turenne was ex-
ceedingly simple and exceptionally moderate. He
ate little and was very quick over his meals. Des
Maizeaux, in his notes to Bayle's Dictionary (vol. v.,
p. 35), says that the foreign officers with Turenne's
armies used to praise "the good cheer of his table, but
could not endure that the meals should be so short ".
On campaigns he sometimes shared the food of the
private soldiers. While very generous, he was scrupu-
lously economical. And he was at least as scrupulously
honest. Unlike most generals of his period, he never
sought to obtain wealth through his military successes ;
nor did he attempt advancement by interest ; and when
he died, he was rather poorer than when he had first
inherited his patrimony.

In the seventeenth century the same men were fre-
quently generals, admirals and politicians. Turenne
never tried his hand as an admiral ; but although he
hated politics, he was inevitably mixed up in them.
Cardinal de Retz, ^ who had ample opportunities of
judging, considered Turenne much more suited to be
at the head of an army than of a party, as he was " not

^ Memoirs of Cardinal de Retz, vol. i., p. 1 60.

i635 ^T. 24] A MAJOR-GENERAL 19

venturesome enough for politics, although sufficiently
courageous for warfare " — a rather remarkable distinc-
tion !

Such was the man whom Richelieu made a major
general at the age of twenty-four. It was at a mo-
ment when that very politic ecclesiastic had much upon
his mind. He had made an alliance with the Swedes
to try to crush the Emperor Ferdinand II.; he had
made another alliance with Bernard, Duke of Saxe-
Weimar, in hope of wresting Franche-Comte from
Philip IV. ; he had made others with the Dukes of
Savoy, Parma and Mantua, for the purpose of in-
vading Milan ; and he had made one more with the
United Provinces, with the agreement that he and they
should divide Flanders between them. In short,
Richelieu now joined for the first time in the Thirty
Years' War, a war which was originally undertaken with
the object of obtaining liberty for Protestants, but was
converted by that astute diplomatist into a war for the
aggrandisement of Catholic France.

Besides the powers already described on either side,
there was a perfidious potentate who fought sometimes
on one side and sometimes on the other. "The Duke
of Lorraine," Ramsay tells us, "although deprived of
his sovereignty by Richelieu, still kept up a small army
of between ten and twelve thousand men, which by
turns served the Empire, Spain and France. The
money designed for the payment of his soldiers he
retained for his private use and suffered them to live
at discretion," which meant pillaging without scruple


any country in which they might happen to be at the
moment. When he was fighting on one side he was
generally negotiating with the other. At the time of
which we are now thinking Lorraine happened to be
on the side of Spain.

Cardinal Richelieu placed his main army of 20,000
infantry, 5,000 cavalry and fourteen guns under the
command, notofa soldier from his youth, but of a brother
cardinal, Cardinal de la Valette, a son of the Duke of
Epernon, and, formerly, Archbishop of Toulouse, a see
which he had resigned some years earlier. "His in-
difference to the wrath of Pope Urban VIII." says Dr.
Ward in The Cmnbridge Modern History (iv., Z^l)^
"made him a fitting agent of the present policy of his
fellow cardinal." His army advanced towards the
Rhine and Turenne was one of its generals.

In 1635 La Valette, who was as indifferent a
general as a bishop, advanced through Metz, joined his
army with that of the Duke of Saxe- Weimar near the
Rhine, and, after various manoeuvres and adventures,
fearlessly and imprudently established himself close to
Mayence, on that river. The Imperial army was sta-
tioned about twenty-five miles to the south, at Worms,
under General Galas, who, considering his forces too
weak to attack La Valette, endeavoured to sever La
Valette's communications by seizing Kaiserslautern,
Sa^irbriicken and other towns, which lay on the road
from Metz to Mayence, thus cutting off the convoys,
which should have brought provisions to the French
army. As a consequence, La Valette's soldiers were


soon reduced to living on roots and herbs, and his
horses on the leaves of trees and vines. Under these
circumstances, retirement was inevitable, and it was
conducted under exceptionally difficult conditions. In
this retreat, one of the most trying and disastrous in the
history of the seventeenth century, Turenne did splendid
service under great disadvantages, fighting a series of
rearguard actions, personally enduring severe bodily
privations, and labouring to alleviate the sufferings of
the troops.

At one point, when Galas was pursuing them,
Turenne lay in ambush with 9,000 horse as the Im-
perial troops were entering a defile, and routed them
with great loss ; but sufficient of the enemy remained
to dog the footsteps of the retreating allies. Some of
Turenne's men deserted to their foes in hope of having
their hunger appeased. He threw out of the waggons
all baggage which could possibly be dispensed with to
make room for his men who were too weak to walk ;
and he shared the food provided for his own personal
use with the common soldiers. "In short, he showed
an activity, a courage, and above all a humanity,
which drew the admiration of the army and the atten-
tion of the Court. "^

In the summer of the following year (1636) La
Valette besieged Saverne, a city of Alsace about
twenty miles north-west of Strasburg. On the last
day of the siege Turenne was wounded in the right
arm by a musket-bullet. The surgeons decided to
^ Ramsay.


amputate, but the operation, put off, was never per-
formed. Later in the autumn 1636, Turenne had
not quite recovered from this wound, when he was
sent by La Valette to drive the Imperial army under
Galas, which had already sustained a heavy defeat near
Dijon, out of Franche-Comte and across the Rhine, a
service which he performed with success.

These accounts of Turenne's early military experi-
ences will seem brief, abrupt and dry : the cause of
their brevity is the necessity of reserving space for
more detailed descriptions of his services when a com-

In 1637 Richelieu sent La Valette to attack
Flanders. That general entrusted to Turenne the
task of besieging two fortresses, Landregies, a city on
the borders, and Sobre-sur-Sambres, the strongest
castle in Hainaut. After the capitulation of the
last named, a fortress garrisoned by 2,000 men
which surrendered in a few hours, the soldiers found
a woman of extraordinary beauty and, knowing that
Turenne was highly susceptible to female charms,
they brought her to him, thinking to please him
by giving him the choicest gem of all the booty.
He thoroughly understood their meaning; but, pre-
tending not to do so, he commended their conduct
in bringing so dangerously beautiful a woman under
his protection. Finding that she was married, he
sent some soldiers to find her husband. When he
had arrived, Turenne delivered her into his hands
and told him that he owed the preservation of

1638 ^T. 27] BREISACH 23

the honour of his wife to the virtue and discreet
behaviour of the soldiers of France then present.
This story goes far to disprove the assertion that
Turenne was unimaginative.

Cardinal de la Valette was now opposed by
another military cardinal, the Cardinal Infant of Spain. ^
This Spanish cardinal outgeneralled the French
cardinal and would have given him a serious defeat,
had it not been for the presence of mind and rapid
movements of a layman, Turenne, now a lieutenant-
general, who obliged the Cardinal Infant to fly and,
in so doing, to lose many of his men in crossing a river.
Like those of 1635 and 1636, the campaign of 1637
was indecisive and unsatisfactory.

In 1638 Turenne was sent to the assistance of
the Duke of Weimar, who took Breisach, after a siege
of eight months, a siege in which Turenne proved the
main factor of success. Breisach, a fortress on the
Rhine, some forty or fifty miles south of Strasburg,
was a most important place to conquer, as its retention
included the submission of Alsace and protected Bur-
gundy. Reynac, who commanded at Breisach, made
a gallant defence, but that defence entailed terrible and
ghastly sufferings. " Provisions became so excessively
scarce," says Ramsay, "that he was obliged to post
some of his soldiers in the churchyard, to prevent

1 There was yet another contemporary fighting bishop. When
Schomberg took Tortosa in 1648, its bishop "was found amongst
the foremost killed in the breach, with a pike in his hand " (De
Motteville, i., chap. xi.).


digging up the bodies of the dead;" and Ramsay
quotes Pussendorf in support of this statement. At
last Reynac had only one fort left, but it made him
master of the principal branch of the Rhine, by which
he hoped for succour; and so long as he held it, he
would not listen to terms. The Duke of Weimar
ordered Turenne to attack it. " Turenne advanced
to it at the head of 400 men, who cut down the
palisades with hatchets, entered it in three places at
once, and put all who defended it to the sword." This
may sound cruel ; but it was the custom of the times,
when a fortress was obstinately defended after its
garrison had had terms offered and had refused them.
At the end of this long and tedious campaign under
Weimar, in 1638, Turenne had a serious attack of
quartan ague ; and, not very long afterwards, Weimar

In the winter, 1638, Turenne went to Court, where
Richelieu received him with great honour, and at that
time Richelieu was practically King of France. Of
poor Louis XIII. Madame de Motteville {Memo27'S,
vol. i., chap, ii.) says: "He found himself reduced to
the most melancholy, most miserable life in the world ;
without suite, without court, without power, and with-
out honour. In this way several years of his life were
passed at St. Germain, where he lived like a private
person . . . amusing himself by snaring birds. . . .
Jealous of the grandeur of his minister [Richelieu]
. . . he began to hate him." Richelieu offered to
Turenne one of his nieces in marriage. This offer

1638 yET. 27] OFFERED A WIFE 25

opened a prospect of high military advancement as
well as of wealth ; but Turenne refused it because, as
he told the cardinal, he was a Protestant and the lady
was a Catholic, and husbands and wives were unlikely
to be happy together if they were of different religions.
To so staunch a Calvinist as Turenne, it must have
been a great grief that, a little before this time, his
elder brother, the Duke of Bouillon, to use a phrase
common in this country, "went over to Rome".
The apparent cause of the Duke's change of faith,
was the "piety void of ostentation and free from
all trifling devotions" of his wife Eleanor, who
came from the family of De Bergues in Gelderland.
This led him to inquire into "the doubts and diffi-
cukies which her conversation raised in his mind about
Calvinism " ; and he soon perceived " the absurdity
of a sect whose fundamental principles, by denying
freewill, by consequence make God the author of
evil".^ From a worldly point of view, Bouillon
was a heavy loser by becoming a Catholic, as he
thereby offended his uncle, the old Prince of Orange,
who had intended to nominate him as his successor
in the o-overnment of the United Provinces, and he
thus lost all interests in Holland, while he had
Richelieu as an enemy because, although he had
changed his religion, he had not chanored the re-

publican principles which he had imbibed in that

If Turenne, who had no republican principles, had

1 Ramsay.


thought only of his temporal advancement, it would
have been greatly to his interest to have made his
brother's change of religion an excuse for following his
example and to have married the niece of Richelieu ;
but he was not the kind of man who would change
his faith for such a reward.

An event of great importance had happened in this
year of 1638. The Court party had hoped for the fall,
or, at any rate, for the diminished importance of Riche-
lieu, when the weakly Louis XIII. should die, if that
King were to be succeeded by the Duke of Orleans ;
but in 1638 a son was born to Louis, and the courtiers
had good reason for fearing that the government would
be bequeathed to Richelieu during the boy's minority,
in which case the power of the cardinal, instead of
being decreased by the death of Louis XIII., would
be rendered almost absolute. In short, it is doubtful
whether any visitor to a court was less welcome to the
majority of its inmates than the royal baby who was in
four years to reign as Louis XIV. and to become cele-
brated in history as Le Grand Monarque.


In our times the family affairs of a monarch never lead
to a war ; and, much more than this, near relationships
between the royal families of two countries never
prevent one; but in the seventeenth century it was
far otherwise.

Louis XIII.'s sister, Marie Christine, widow of
the Duke of Savoy, implored the help of her brother
against her brother-in-law, Prince Thomas, and against
the Cardinal of Savoy, upon whom the Emperor had
bestowed the regency during the minority of the young
Duke, Charles Emmanuel. In 1638 La Valette was
sent by the King of France to her assistance, but he
was very unsuccessful and incurred thereby the dis-
pleasure of Richelieu. So threatening indeed became
the wrath of Richelieu, that, to escape from it. La
Valette fled to England, where he joined the banished
Queen-Mother ; and he died in the following year.

It was supposed that Turenne would be appointed
to La Valette's command ; but his brother, the Duke
of Bouillon, had just done something which offended
Richelieu, who was probably also not overpleased at
Turenne's refusal of his niece. Therefore, Richelieu
gave the command-in-chief to Count d'Harcourt, and
placed Turenne under him.

How far the successes of Count d'Harcourt were


owing to the skill and courage of Turenne may be
doubtful ; but Turenne's biographers claim them in
every instance. After the success known as the battle
of La Route de Quiers, a place about five or six miles
from Turin, in a letter to Paris Turenne said little
or nothing about his own part in it ; but, in reply, a
friend wrote back that, according to Turenne's account,
Fame must have been mistaken, "since she every-
where published that he had had the principal part in
the victory ",

The next spring (1640) at Casal, a town a few
miles to the north of Turin, Count d'Harcourt, with
10,000 men, defeated Leganez, the Spanish general,
who had 20,000 ; and this battle is interesting, because
it is the first instance we meet with of Turenne's
wonderful skill in deceiving his enemies. At one
moment of that battle, Harcourt was nearly sur-
rounded and taken prisoner by the enemy's cavalry;
but Turenne "immediately drew up all the cavalry of
the army together so close in one single front that the
enemy could not discern whether they were supported
or not. Deceived by this disposition, their courage
failed them, and they Hed to the right and to the left.
Turenne pursued them till night, took twelve pieces of
cannon, six mortars, and the greatest part of their
baggage ; 3,000 men were killed in the field of battle,
1 ,800 were made prisoners, great numbers were drowned
in the Po, and the rest owed their safety to the night

^ Ramsay.


In the tactics of Tureiine, deception of the enemy
as to the numerical strength of his troops took a very
prominent position. Among the maxims attributed to
him are these : —

"If your army be small, you must give it more
front and less depth ; and let the same troops pass in
the sight of the enemy several times ; widen your
intervals, let your drums beat and your trumpets sound
out of sight of the enemy, and where you have no
troops. On the contrary, if you are strong, hide part
of your troops behind some cover, and let your front
be narrow, by giving depth to your regiments and
drawing one or more in the rear of the other." And
again, " To throw terror and consternation into the
enemy's country, separate your troops into several
bodies as secretly as you can, to execute several enter-
prises at the same time. Let it be reported abroad
that your troops are more numerous than they are, and
to confirm this opinion let bodies of them appear in
different places at the same time."^

Contrary to the advice of the other generals,
Turenne persuaded Harcourt to besiege Turin. His
opponents urged that it was rash to attack with 10,000
men a fortified town garrisoned by 12,000 men, when
Leganez, who still had 15,000 men, was coming to its
assistance. So also thought Leganez himself, who
wrote to Prince Thomas, the commander-in-chief in
Turin, that Harcourt could not possibly escape him

MVilliamson's Military Memoirs and ATaxitns of MarsJial
Turenne, 1740-


this time ; and that the ladies of Turin had better hire
windows looking into the principal street, as soon as
possible, for the day when Leganez should lead
Harcourt through it as a prisoner.

The siege of Turin brought about a very curious
condition of affairs, which is thus described by Napoleon
in his Memoirs dictated to Montholon.^ " The siege
afforded an extraordinary spectacle : the citadel occu-
pied by the French was besieged by Prince Thomas of
Savoy, who was master of the city, but he was himself
besieged by the French army, whilst the latter was
besieged in its lines of countervallation by the Spanish
army under the command of the Marquis de Leganez."

Turenne was with that portion of the French army
which was besieging Prince Thomas ; and not with
the portion which was besieged in the citadel. In the
course of a skirmish he was wounded in the shoulder
by a musket-bullet. Both the French in the citadel
and the troops of Prince Thomas in the city were so
short of provisions as to be nearly starving. " It is as-
serted, that the town was supplied for some time by
Francesco Zignoni Bergamesco, an Engineer, who
filled several large bombs with meal, and threw them
into the town over Count d'Harcourt's camp: but the

1 Memoirs of the History of France During the Reign of
Napoleon Dictated by the Emperor at St. Helena to the Generals
who Shared his Captivity and Rihlished from the Original Manu-
scripts Corrected by Himself. Historical Miscellanies, vol. iii.
Dictated to the Comte de Montholon. London : Printed for Henry
Colburn & Co., etc., 1823. Copious quotations from this work
will be found in these pages.

1640 yET. 29] TURIN 31

French having the benefit of such as fell by the way,
this expedient was laid aside, which became almost
as advantageous to the besiegers as to the besieged."^

The French besieged in the citadel fared much
better; for Turenne, although still suffering from his
wound, fought his way through ambuscades laid by
Leganez, and conducted a convoy of provisions into the
citadel. The result was that on the 1 7th of September,
while the French in the citadel were able to withstand
their besiegers, Prince Thomas, in the city, was forced
by sheer want of food to capitulate. Leganez then
retreated across the Po, and Marie Christine, Duchess
of Savoy, re-entered Turin.

Count d'Harcourt remained in France during the
early part of the Italian campaign of 1641, and left in
command Turenne, who took Montecalvo and besieged
Yvree. This year, while Turenne was serving Richelieu
in Piedmont, his brother, the Duke of Bouillon, was
quarrelling with that cardinal. He, the Duke of
Guise, and the Comte de Soissons, issued a manifesto
throughout France, signing themselves "The Princes
of Peace". In this manifesto they abused Richelieu
and all his works. As a reply Richelieu sent an army
of 10,000 men towards Sedan, in opposition to which
Bouillon enlisted the assistance of the Imperial army.
There was one great battle, in which the King's army
was defeated; but soon afterwards the Imperial troops
were withdrawn and Bouillon would have been in diffi-

1 Ramsay. See also L' hist aire de la Republ. dc Venise. By
Nani, torn, iv., lib. xi.


culties if the King of France had not granted him a
pardon. In the course of the battle Soissons was
found dead among his own guards, without having
fought. "It is probable that he had unfortunately
killed himself in attempting to raise the visor of his
helmet with the end of his pistol,"^ an action which one
could scarcely imagine possible except on the stage of a
theatre devoted to burlesque and broad farce.

For the details of the long and complicated dispute
which followed, there is no room in these pages ; but it
may be stated that the Duke was arrested, in 1642, for
being implicated in the plot of the Marquis of Cinq-
Mars, who instigated Gaston, Duke of Orleans, to rebel
and made a secret treaty with Spain for military assist-
ance in that rebellion. Cinq- Mars was executed; but
Bouillon, although he had joined in the conspiracy, had
had nothing to do with the secret treaty with Spain.
The Duchess of Bouillon announced that, if her husband
were executed, she would immediately deliver up Sedan
to the Spanish troops ; and the Prince of Orange, the
Landgrave of Hesse, and Turenne interceded for the
Duke to such purpose that he was liberated and given
certain large estates in France, on condition that he
retired to the town of Turenne with the loss of his little
sovereignty, and that the King's troops should occupy
Sedan, which then became French territory.

The year 1642 was very eventful to France, for
Cardinal Richelieu died in the course of it ; and five
months later died also his King, Louis XIII. When

^ Ramsay.

i643 ^T. 32] CAMPAIGN IN ITALY 33

this wretched King was told that his case was hopeless,
he thanked his informant for "that good news, and
assured him that he had never felt such joy in life,
as he received in hearing that he was to lose it "
(Memoirs of Madame de Motteville, vol. i., chap. ii.).
The litde new King, Louis XIV., was then only four
and a half years old ; and his mother, Queen Anne of
Austria, was left Regent during his minority. Her
regency was destined to be beset by many troubles, as
we shall find in due time ; but, for the present, we must
turn our attention from France to Italy.

Prince Thomas of Savoy, not being treated by the
Spaniards as he desired, openly broke away from them
and took up the cause of his sister-in-law, the Duchess

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