Saturday, 10 January 2015

Louis Auguste de Bourbon, Prince de Dombes

Louis Auguste de Bourbon (not to be confused with Louis XVI) was born on 4 March 1700 to the Duc du Maine (also a Louis Auguste) and Louise Bénédicte de Bourbon. As such he was the grandson of Louis XIV and his mistress Madame de Montespan. Fortunately for him, his father had been legitimized. The title of Prince de Dombes was given to him immediately upon birth.

From the very beginning of his life it became obvious that Louis Auguste possessed great tactical skills which rendered him an ideal soldier. His military career took off early for him. In 1710 - when Louis Auguste was only 10 yeas old - he was given the title of Colonel General of Swiss Guards. At the age of 16 Louis Auguste was sent to fight under the Prince of Savoy in the war between Austria and Turkey. It need hardly be said that he seemed to have found his right environment despite his young age. During the years to come he would also participate in the War of the Polish Succession and the War of the Austrian Succession.

Despite being the fourth child born to his parents he had the advantage of being the only surviving male which meant that he was the heir of his father. Usually, noble parents did not have a very close relationship with their children but that was not the case with the Duc du Maine and Louis Auguste. Their relationship was not only a close and happy one but also an enduring one. It does not seem that they ever fell seriously out with each other. In 1736 the Duc du Maine died to Louis Auguste's great despair.  

By then Louis Auguste seemed a good match. Wealthy, directly related to the King and remarked for his military success meant that several courtiers set their eyes on him as potential match for their daughters. Among these were the powerful Duc d'Orlèans whose daughter Charlotte Aglaé was suggested; as was Louise Anne de Bourbon who as the niece of the Duc du Maine was his first cousin. But it never came to be. Like most of his siblings Louis Auguste never married and never had an heir.

Still, the titles seemed to rain on him. The year that saw his father's death also saw his rewarding of the title of Comte d'Eu and the year after he became the Governor of Languedoc. His mother was determined to see her son further distinguished so she bestowed the title of Prince d'Anet and Comte de Dreux on him as well as several estates. Three years later she died.
It could be assumed that such a man would relish life at Louis XV's court but that was not the case. He rarely ever came there unless his duties called on him. Instead he spent his time at his estate, the Château d'Anet. Here he enjoyed embellishing his estate and even managed to invent a hydraulic system to water the extensive gardens. Whenever he was not at d'Arnet he could be found hunting at the Château d'Eu.

Even though he stayed clear of the intrigues of the court, Louis Auguste must have had a serious row with someone. On 1 October 1755 he went to Fontainebleau with the intention of fighting a duel. He lost and died at the age of 55 years old.

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