Sunday, 18 August 2013

Armand de Bourbon, Prince de Conti

Conti, Armand de.jpgArmand de Bourbon was born on 11 October 1629 to Henry, Prince de Condé and Anne Geneviève, Duchesse de Longueville - and cousin to Louis XIV.
It had always been the plan that Armand (as the younger son) should join the clergy when he became an adult and this was indeed what his education aimed at but in the end Armand never became a priest. Instead he appeared to have an interest in war and became the commander-in-chief of the rebel army in 1648 - this earned him a prison sentence alongside his two brothers the Prince de Condé and the Prince de Longueville.

Armand had always been a mysterious character with a taste for the abnormal and his time in prison made this even worse. He is said to have gone slightly insane while imprisoned and developed a dominating interest in alchemy. There was another thing that was a bit off with the Prince de Conti. He loved his sister (the Duchesse de Longueville after their mother's death) but not in the conventional way: he was in love with her. This strange passion led to a series of even stranger ideas to catch her attention - these included injuring himself with a spatula! After that episode Armand was given several physicians which had previously been denied to him.

It was to be the exile of Cardinal Mazarin that triggered Armand de Bourbon's release from prison. When he did emerge from the shadows of his cell he found his brother the very head of state as the actual ruler of France. It appears that Armand's love for his sister had faded because he expressed a deep wish to marry Charlotte-Marie de Lorraine; the match never happened because Armand's brother intervened. Eventually, Armand made peace with Cardinal Mazarin and was consequently allowed to marry the Cardinal's niece, Anne Marie Martinozzi. This marriage would result in three children, two boys and a girl.

Through all this time Armand's military interest remained strong. He was given an army of his own in 1654 to invade Catalonia and was successful in doing so. However, his success was not to last forever. Armand lost a battle in Italy in 1657 after which he retired from his military career altogether. His time was now spent at Languedoc where he could enjoy his love for mysticism. It was actually Armand who was responsible for the presentation of Molière at court.
Armand died on 26 February 1666 at the age of just 36.

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