Thursday, 22 June 2017

Charles de Bourbon-Condé, Comte de Charolais

Charles was born on 19 June 1700 to the Prince de Condé and Louise-Francoise de Bourbon; as such he was a grandson of Louis XIV. At the age of 20 he was made governor of Tournai. By this time he was not considered to be unattractive. He had long, curly hair which unfortunately made his neck look rather short. On the other hand his waist was still slender.

He was sent to Hungary where he participated in the on-going war against the Turks. Here, he managed to distinguish himself in the Battle of Belgrade.

With military honour and a direct connection to the royal family he made a good match. However, any plans his family may have had of arranging a marriage were dashed. Instead, he married Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy in secret. She herself had ties to French royalty; she was a descendant of Henri II through an illegitimate line. They had a son together, Louis-Thomas, but he was never recognized as legitimate by the king.

Charles also had a mistress by the name of Marguerite Caron de Rancurel. He had two children by her; both were legitimized and both married into the aristocracy.

At the age of 40 Charles' brother died which left Charles as governor of his nephew, Louis-Joseph de Bourbon, Prince de Condé.

Charles' character is reputed to have been very bad. Not merely common debauchery but also a violent temper and sadistic tendencies were attributed to him. His rank had completely gone to his head which led him to believe himself immune from public criticism. It did not help that Louis XV ordered the police reports concerning him to be kept secret. Apparently, Charles besieged the king for help the fourth and fifth time he had been found guilty of murder.

Billedresultat for comte de charolais
Charles de Bourbon-Condé

At the age of 20 he had already killed a man; allegedly the man, Anet, was shot in the streets by the Comte de Charolais "for his entertainment". This resulted in the Regent commenting that although he could not personally punish Charles (due to his rank) he would gladly pay another person to do it. The depravities of Charles knew little boundaries if the contemporary sources are to be believed. He was widely believed to have abducted women and young girls to be kept for his "sadistic orgies".
These orgies he quite likely enjoyed with the infamous Marquis de Sade; the two were connected by interests as well as relations. Charles' sister was the mistress of the Marquis de Sade.

His sadism would leave a trail of victims behind. Besides Anet the Comte was well-known for firing at peasants and workmen for no apparent reason. In a vicious prank he tied explosives to the skirt of the Marquise de Saint-Sulpice. Beforehand he had gotten her drunk enough to prevent her from untying them. The poor lady suffered severe burns to her legs.

Not everything about Charles' character was bad. It would seem that he was rather good at keeping his economy in order and had a talent for organization. It was he who settled the debts of his nephew when he took charge of his household.
The two appeared to have developed quite a good relationship. It was the Prince de Condé who managed to ensure the legitimization of Charles' two daughters. Charles himself had been dead for nine years when this took place.

Charles would die at the age of 60 on 23 July 1760.

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