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stood in close order, they presented a formidable front
to cavalry. These tactics, however, were sometimes
modified, especially in the Swedish army; and it

1 In the background of the equestrian portrait of Turenne,
given as an illustration later in this book, troopers may be observed
galloping to the front, carrying, not swords, but carbines in their
hands, ready to fire. The officers are carrying swords.


gradually became more common to place larger groups
of musketeers between the companies of pikemen.

It was in strategy that Turenne was chiefly re-
markable, in comparison with the other great generals
of his period. A soldier who lived in his days said
that he should like to be with Conde at the end of a
battle and with Turenne at the end of a campaign.
Battles and sieges had been, and still were, considered
the main part of war ; but Turenne thought marches,
countermarches, and manoeuvres at least as important.
He said, " It is a grreat mistake to waste men in taking-
a town when the same expenditure of soldiers will gain
a province ".

The conditions of those times presented many
difficulties to a strategist. Roads were very bad, very
few, and very far between ; as a consequence of their
rarity, the enemy was pretty safe from attack, except
from perhaps one or two well-known lines of communi-
cation. A general, therefore, could rarely surprise
his enemy.

Roads frequently ran along the sides of rivers, and
the important bridges across those rivers were generally
commanded by fortified towns. One of these fortified
towns on a line of communication could not be left
behind neglectfully, lest the garrison should cut off, or
carry off, the convoys ; therefore, if they could not be
taken, forces had to be left to invest them. Not only
were the roads very bad, being mere tracks, undrained,
and with stones thrown into them, but worse still was
the ground on either side through which they passed.


Scarcely anywhere was there agricultural drainage,
and, near the rivers, the roads often ran through bogs,
quagmires and morasses.

Very little land was cultivated, except close to the
towns or villages. Even in times of peace an isolated
farm would have been pillaged by robbers. In con-
sequence of the scarcity of tillage, an army had to carry
nearly everything with it. This stood much in the
way of any division of forces and, as a result, in the
way of many strategical operations. On the other
hand, a general was not obliged to weaken his force by
dividing it in order to feed it, and he therefore always
had it with him, under his own eyes, under his im-
mediate command, and ready for action at any moment.
But when, as often happened, an army had consumed
the provisions which it had been carrying, all this was
chano^ed and it had to divide and foraore as best it could.

In fortifications, as in other military matters, there
were important developments in the seventeenth
century. Errard, of Bois-le-Duc, had been the chief
authority on fortifications in France at the beginning
of that century, and in 1629 Antoine de Ville published
his treatise in which the system of Errard was de-
veloped and improved. But in 1645 Comte de Pagan,
an author who had written works upon astronomy and
mathematics, brought out a book in which he demon-
strated that fortifications were at that time planned too
much upon abstract mathematical principles and vener-
able custom, and not enough upon practical experience
and the necessities of modern arms. Unfortunately


this eminent engineer, after serving at twenty five
sieges and gaining a great reputation, became blind at
the age of thirty-eight. But an engineer of at least
equal ability was in readiness to work upon Pagan's
principles and to develop, if not to perfect, his system.
S^bastien le Prestre de Vauban, who was born in
1633 and had shown extraordinary geometrical talent
as a boy, conducted fifty-three sieges, and took part
in a great number of batdes. He combined experi-
ence with theory ; as the inventor of parallels in sieges
he became one of the most distinguished engineers of
all history, and he left behind him twelve folio manu-
script volumes recording both his principles and his
practice. In the later campaigns of Turenne, Vauban
played an important part ; and he revolutionised the
art of fortification to such an extraordinary extent that,
whereas before he had established his system, a period
including all the earlier campaigns of Turenne, the
advantage in a siege lay with the defence, it after-
wards rested with the attack, provided that the attack
was conducted with adequate means and on scientific

In accounts of the wars of the seventeenth century,
a reader might naturally be surprised at the wholesale
returns of prisoners to their own countries and even
to their own armies; but, in those times, a large
capture of prisoners was a great embarrassment, on
account of the difficulty in feeding them. For this
reason it was usual to t;ike from them their arms and
their equipments— very valuable things when little


machinery had been invented for making such things ^ —
and then to set them free. For the same reason, when
an enemy suffered defeat the slaughter may possibly
have been continued rather longer than in more modern
battles. ' ' Putting-to-the-sword " — a prettier expression
than "killing the prisoners " — occasionally comes in for
casual mention in the history of seventeenth century

1 " The Arsenal at Woolwich or the factories at Essen probably
turn out more military armaments in the course of a week, than
did the sword makers of Toledo or the armourers of Mons in the
course of a century, at the time which we are considering "
{Turentie. By H. M. Hozier, p. 53).


If the princes and the courtiers imagined their troubles
to be ended by the death of Richelieu, or that Richelieu
was the only ambitious ecclesiastic in France, they were
mightily mistaken ; for, if six was the quantity repre-
sented by Cardinal Richelieu, that represented by
Cardinal Mazarin may be roughly estimated at half a
dozen. Voltaire couples them together thus in his
Henriade (vii., 327 seq.'): —

Richelieu, Mazarin, ministres immortels,
Jusqu' au trone eleves de I'ombre des autels,
Enfants de la fortune et de la politique,
Marcheront a grand pas au pouvoir despotique,
Richelieu, grand, sublime, implacable enemi :
Mazarin, souple, adroit, et dangereux ami ;

Tous deux hais du peuple, et tous deux admires ;
Enfins, par leurs efforts, ou par leurs Industrie,
Utiles a leurs rois, cruels a la patrie.

When Turenne returned to Paris in the autumn of
1643 Queen Anne of Austria was Regent ; Gaston,
Duke of Orleans, was Lieutenant-General of the
Kingdom, and the direction of the Government was
under a council, consisting of the Prince of Conde,
Cardinal Mazarin, Seguier the Chancellor, and two

i643 ^T. 32] THE COURT 55

others. The Queen had always had the support of
what may be called the old Court party, and, through
her, that party hoped to be paramount for a long lease,
as the King was only four and a half years old. The
Court party tolerated, even encouraged, Mazarin, be-
cause he was necessary for putting foreign affairs on a
satisfactory footing ; but, that done, they intended him
to sink into a subordinate position. During the last
illness of her husband the Queen had entrusted her
children to the charge of the Duke of Beaufort, the
youngest son of the Duke of Vendome. The con-
fidence thus shown to him had led the courtiers to
suppose that he would be the Queen's chosen adviser
and minister on the death of the King. For some
time after that event the Queen apparently showed
equal favour to Beaufort and to Mazarin. Beaufort
used to spend much of his time by her side ; meanwhile
Mazarin, who was determined to be supreme, was
quietly biding his time.

At a moment when everything seemed to promise
profound peace at Court an absurdly trivial incident
led to very serious consequences, consequences with
an important bearing upon the future of Turenne. A
reception was being held at the house of a great
Duchess, when a girl noticed a small piece of paper
lying upon the floor. Having picked it up and — of
course — read it, she found it to be an unaddressed and
unsigned love-letter. Of so harmless a thing she
thought it fair to make a little fun, so she showed it
to her friends. Out of mere fun, again, her friends


suggested possible names for the writer and the re-
ceiver. The story of this little incident was repeated,
and repeated again ; so also were the names, until it
came to be said that the letter had actually and indeed
been written and received by the persons named, but
named only in jest. One of these persons happened
to be a Princess of the blood royal and she appealed
to the Queen, maintaining that the great Duchess, who
was reported to have spread the calumny, had com-
mitted the crime of lese-fimjestc. The Duchess was
made to repudiate the scandal, in words written out for
her on a piece of paper fastened upon the back of her
fan ; but she did so in a tone of such scornful derision
that her reparation was an aggravation of her offence ;
and ultimately she was banished from Paris on account
of it. As a consequence, the Court became divided
into two parties, one of which sided with the exiled
Duchess, the other with the calumniated Princess.
Very soon men became as violent partisans on either
side as the women who had brought about the feud.
And thus it happened that a little bit of unsigned and
undirected writing had led to a joke, the joke had led
to a personal quarrel, the personal quarrel had led to a
Court scandal, the Court scandal had developed into
an affair of State; and the Court itself received a
shake from which it may be said never to have re-
covered until Louis XIV. had grown old enough to
take the reins of Government into his own hands after
the death of Mazarin. Obviously, the gunpowder had
been lying waiting for ignition, and the flame from the

i643 ^T. 32] QUARRELS 57

scrap of paper had caused the explosion. One faction
was headed by Beaufort and the other by Conde, who
was at that time still Duke of Enghien. As a matter
of fact, however, the man who had most control over
the party opposed to that of Beaufort was Mazarin,
who had begun by attempting, or at least by pretend-
ing to attempt, to act as peacemaker between the rival
factions. The two ladies at their heads were both
very beautiful; one was the Duchess of Montbazon,
the alleged scandal-monger, whom De Retz describes
as extremely beautiful but wanting in modesty, little
to be trusted in her amours and not at all in general
affairs ; the other was the Princess of Conde, mother
of the object of the scandal. Of this Princess Madame
de Motteville says that, even when more than fifty, she
was fair and white, with eyes blue and beautiful, and
that her manner was most charming when she was
pleased ; but quite the contrary when she was vexed.
The quarrels among these princes and princesses,
dukes and duchesses, weakened the Court and event-
ually resulted in civil wars, in which Turenne was
destined to take a very prominent part.

The Queen was not inclined to place herself entirely
at the bidding of either rival faction ; nor could she
endure to be hampered by the indecision and delays
of the council prescribed by her late husband ; and
she gradually placed the government of the country to
all intents and purposes under the control of one man,
and that man Cardinal Giulio Mazarin.

This ecclesiastic, who was forty-one at the date of


the opening of this chapter, after studying law in Rome
and in Spain, had become a soldier in the papal army.
He was next employed on several diplomatic missions
by the Roman Curia, and eventually he became an
ecclesiastic, though never a priest.^ He was so useful
a servant to the Holy See, in foreign affairs, that Pope
Urban VIII. made him a cardinal in 1641. He was
employed a good deal in France, where he acquired the
friendship of Richelieu, who, on his deathbed, recom-
mended him to Louis XIII. as his successor. Con-
cerning the piety of these two cardinals, another
cardinal. Cardinal de Retz, who was well acquainted
with both Richelieu and Mazarin, said that Richelieu's
"stock of religion was sufficient for this world," but that
Mazarin "turned religion into a jest".-

Mazarin was ambitious, avaricious and unscrupu-
lous. He looked upon men and women as mere tools,
and he was an adept at playing them against each other.
He followed Richelieu's policy of weakening the powers
of the crreat nobles of France, and amontr these one of
the earliest to whom he applied this process was
Turenne's brother, the Duke of Bouillon. Instead of
carrying out the agreement of his predecessor, he
made all sorts of difficulties about the estates which had
been promised to the Duke in place of Sedan ; and,

^ This has been questioned ; but on weak grounds, namely
that it was said that he gave a certain lady the last sacraments ;
but this may merely have meant that he was present at her death-
bed and directed that they should be administered.

'^Memoirs of the Cardinal de Retz, vol. i., pp. 73-74.


i643 ^T. 32] DUTLINGEN 59

when Bouillon exhibited considerable impatience and
resentment, Mazarin proposed, in open council, to arrest
him. On hearing of this, Bouillon went to Rome,
where, to Mazarin's great annoyance, he was received
with royal honours and was offered the post of general-
issimo of the troops of the Church. Mazarin, thinking
that it was dangerous to leave Bouillon's brother so
near him, in command of a French army, summoned
Turenne from Italy to Paris, a recall which turned out
much to Turenne's military advancement, although that
had been far from the intention of Mazarin in ordering it.

One of the armies of the allies of France, that of
the Duke of Saxe- Weimar, met with a disastrous
defeat on the 24th and 25th of November, 1643, at
Diitlingen. Its commander-in-chief was taken prisoner
by General von Mercy, and 7,000 of its soldiers were
lost. This was a heavy blow to France. Mazarin
then ordered Turenne to go towards the Rhine, to
collect the scattered remnants of the defeated army
and to endeavour to defend the banks of the river
from the Dukes of Bavaria and Lorraine, who had
united against France now that they observed her to be
in an awkward predicament.

It went against the grain with Mazarin to entrust
an important command to the brother of a man he
had done his best to ruin, but Turenne was undoubtedly
the best marshal upon whom he could lay his hand at
the moment ; and it went equally against the grain
with Turenne to accept an appointment from the
greatest enemy of his house; but he was above all


thinors a soldier, and a command in the orreat war
between France and her allies against the Empire
promised splendid opportunities of brilliant service.

The Empire is a term the significance of which has
changed so often, and it is one which will be so frequendy
used in these pages, that it may not be superfluous
to remind readers of its signification during the particular
period dealt with. Nominally, from first to last, the
Empire claimed to be the Roman Empire founded by
Julius Csesar and Augustus ; actually it was something
widely different. In a.d. 395 the Roman Empire was
divided between two brothers, one of them becoming
Emperor of the East and the other Emperor of the
West. After various subsequent changes, divisions
and subdivisions, the Prankish King, Charlemagne,
was elected Emperor of the Western Empire in the
year 800 and was crowned in Rome by Pope Leo IIL
Por many ages afterwards, there was again one Em-
peror in the West and another in the East, each claiming
to be the true Roman Emperor. It was not until
nearly another 800 years had passed that various
marriages resulted in reuniting several portions of the
mudlated Empire under the dominion of one ruler,
who was crowned Emperor by Pope Clement VII.
at Bologna. Then the Empire, in spite of having been
robbed of much territory in the East by the inroads
of the Turks, once more became the greatest power in
Europe under the Emperor, Charles V., only ninety-
eight ye^irs before the birth of Turenne.

The Empire had changed gready during the half

i643 ^T. 32] THE EMPIRE 61

century which passed between the abdication of Charles
V. and the birth of Turenne. Proud as Charles V.
had been of the restoration of the Empire, he himself
effected its final destruction ; for he granted all his
German possessions, except the Netherlands, to his
brother Ferdinand, who divided those possessions at
his death between his three sons. Charles's son, Philip
II., inherited Spain and the Netherlands from his
father, but the title of Emperor went to his uncle and
the Austrian branch of the House of Hapsburg.

During the life of Charles V. Europe had been
disturbed by the religious revolution known as the
Reformation, a revolution which led to many com-
plicated wars ; and, when Turenne first entered the
army, the nominal Emperor was Ferdinand II., who
was also nominally supreme over a large part of Ger-
many, but in reality only over Austria, Bohemia, Silesia
and Hungary. A war — the well-known Thirty Years'
War — was raging in Europe between Catholics and
Protestants — we might almost use the word "nomi-
nally " once more — about religion ; the Emperor with
Spain and the Catholic Princes of Germany forming
an alliance against the United Provinces, the Protestant
Princes of Germany — some of them Princes of the
Empire itself — Denmark and Sweden.

The farce of calling this a religious war became
broadest when Cardinal Richelieu allied Catholic France
to the Protestant League. Turenne, a Protestant, fought
in the Catholic army of France, on the Protestant side,
in the latter part of this war. After the Peace (of


Westphalia) which followed it, the Empire, says Mr.
James ^vycQ {Ency. Brit., viii., 181), "was no Empire
at all, but a federation of very numerous principalities,
some large, some very small, united under the presidency
of a head who bore the title of Emperor, but enjoyed
scarcely any actual power, and represented in a Diet
which was now not so much a national parliament as
a standing congress of envoys and officials". It was
against the Empire in this latter, and last, condition
that Turenne fought some of his most important battles.
At the time, however, with which we are dealing in the
present chapter, the Thirty Years' War was still in

Turenne reached Alsace in December, 1644, col-
lected the scattered forces and marched them into winter
quarters among the mountains of Lorraine. His army
was in want of everything ; but, at a time when most
of the great men of France were selling their smallest
services at high prices, Turenne, with his own and
borrowed money, remounted 5,000 cavalry and clothed
4,000 infantry, before he had received any remittances
from the Government.

Early in the spring of 1644 Turenne crossed the
Rhine at Breisach, surprised Gaspard von Mercy, a
brother of General von Mercy, near the source of the
Danube in the Black Forest, and defeated him, taking
prisoners 400 of the 2,000 men that Gaspard von
Mercy had with him. Then he returned to, and
occupied, Breisach, a frontier town on the right bank
of the Rhine, then regarded as the key of Germany on


1644 ^T. 33] FREIBURG 63

the West ; but now only remarkable for its magnificent

Turenne also occupied Freiburg, a town fifteen miles
to the east of Breisach. For some reason, which is not
very clear, he then returned to the west of the Rhine.
For this he is criticised by Napoleon, who says : " The
marshal should have encamped under Freiburg, which
would have hindered Mercy from besieging that
place ".

In May, Turenne, being with his army at Colmar in
Alsace, about a dozen miles to the west of Breisach, re-
ceived intelligence that Mercy had laid siege to Frei-
burg, where Turenne had left a garrison of 600 or 700
men. On hearing of the siege, Turenne immediately
gave orders that his army should cross the Rhine and
spend the night at Breisach. With some reinforce-
ments which he had received, he had now about 10,000
men, half infantry, half cavalry, and fifteen or twenty
guns, a large proportion of artillery for the times. ^ If
Turenne had made a mistake in retreating to the west
of the Rhine, Mercy made another in not sending
scouts to watch for the first sign of Turenne's re-
crossing that river, and the French army was well on
its way from Breisach to Freiburg, on the following-
day, before Mercy was aware of it.

When he was some six miles distant from Frei-
burg, Turenne observed the Bavarian army drawn
up on a plain in order of battle. The mountains of
the Black Forest, which rise above Freiburg, form a

^The usual proportion then was one gun to 1,000 men.


semicircle half round this plain ; on another side of it
was some marshy ground, and the only available
entrance to the plain before Freiburg was very narrow.
Mercy's position was very strong ; but Turenne noticed
that one mountain commanding the plain had not yet
been defended, and he at once ordered two regiments,
about 1,500 men in all, to seize that position. This
movement of Turenne's, unnoticed by Mercy until its
object had been almost accomplished, was observed
by him only just in time to order fifteen or twenty
musketeers, who were on guard on his side of the
hill, to run up to the top of it and make a demon-
stration. This handful of Bavarians reached the crest
before the French and fired a volley at them, Turenne's
men, believing the hill to be undefended, were so sur-
prised at receiving this fire that they imagined a large
body of the enemy's troops to be awaiting them on the
other side of the hill. They hesit^ited and then went
alonorside the hill instead of ascending it. This oave
the Bavarian musketeers time to reload and fire again,
which confirmed the French in their mistake ; and, to
their shame be it spoken, they ran, some 1,500 men
being thus put to flight by fifteen or twenty. This
disgraceful flight was led by two young ensigns who
came running down the hill, colours in hand, and
Turenne degraded them immediately on their return.
So good an opportunity of seizing an advantageous
position being lost, Turenne was obliged to remain for
some time encamped about four and a half miles from
Freiburg, as he was not strong enough in numbers to


i644 ^T. 33] ENGHIEN 65

attack the enemy; and, although he kept harassing
Mercy's troops with skirmishes, he was unable to re-
lieve Freiburg, which, to his intense chagrin, capitulated.
Napoleon, however, says that "with so considerable an
army, although inferior to that of Mercy, he might have
done more than he did to defend Freiburg. He should
at least have taken a position to intercept the enemy's

While Turenne was experiencing " unfortunate
occurrences " in the south, another French Qfeneral
was victorious in the north. This was Louis de
Bourbon, Duke of Enghien, who was to succeed his
father a couple of years later as Prince of Conde. As
he is best known by the name of Conde, he will be so
styled throughout these pages. Madame de Motteville
has presented us with his portrait:^ "His eyes were
very blue and full of vivacity ; his nose was aquiline,
his mouth very disagreeable from being very large and
his teeth too prominent : but in his countenance gener-
ally there was something great and haughty, somewhat
resembling an eagle. He was not very tall ; but his
figure was perfectly well proportioned. He danced
well, had an agreeable expression, a noble air, and a
fine head." As to his dress, however. Mademoiselle
de Montpensier calls him "the most slovenly man in
the world "•

Ramsay described him at great length, among
other things saying of him: "Fiercely resolute in
command, he husbanded neither the lives of his soldiers

^ Monoirs of Madame de Alotteville, vol. iii., p. 526 (cd. 1723).


nor his own ; and, in every engagement intrepid to
excess, seemed always determined to conquer or to die.
He had an understanding sublime and profound, was
eloquent, improved by letters, acquainted with the

Online LibraryThomas LonguevilleMarshall Turenne → online text (page 5 of 26)