Friday, 6 September 2019

The Violence of the Prince de Conti

Louis Armand II was the son and heir of the Prince de Conti and Marie Thérèse de Bourbon and was born in 1695. Throughout his life, Louis Armand would struggle with his temper and would often burst into violent fits.

His behaviour did not improve when he inherited the title of Prince de Conti. The person who bore the brunt of his fury was his wife, Louise Élisabeth de Bourbon. He was known to beat her and she had to seek medical aid on at least two occasions - one of these assaults was the result of his discovering her affair with a Monsieur de La Fare.

Cardinal Dubois described the Prince de Conti as having "fits of mad brutality". The Cardinal relates the tale of how the Prince once again lost his temper at a ball at the Opera in Paris. For some unknown reason, Louis Armand had become enraged with a masked lady whom he grabbed a hold of and "ruthlessly mistreated". According to the Cardinal, he repeatedly beat her, pinched her arms and even tearing at her eyes. The unknown lady was only saved because John Law (the financial adventurer) passed by and rescued her - meanwhile the Prince was continuously laughing. 

Elizabeth-Charlotte of the Palatinate refers to a similar situation which may very well have been the same incident. She informs us of the following:
"... he seized a poor, little girl ... and placing her between his own legs, amused himself by slapping and filliping her until he made her mouth and nose bleed. The young girl, who had done nothing to offend him, wept bitterly; but he only laughed, and said: "Cannot I give nice fillips?"

The reaction by those witnessing the scene gives a clear indication of how the Prince de Conti was perceived by his contemporaries. Madame admits that while everyone felt terribly sorry for the poor girl but no one intervened because they were too afraid to have "anything to do with this violent madman".

Billedresultat for Louis Armand ii de Bourbon
Louis Armand II

It would not be completely out of the question that Louis Armand actually was mad. After all, he shared a great-grandfather with the notoriously mad Prince de Condé. Madame gives us another indication that Louis Armand's mind was not quite right. The Prince de Conti was said to have his whimsies which might be innocent enough in itself. However, she also mentions that he is not only aware of his whimsical tendencies but unable to control them.

The appearance of the Prince de Conti appears to have matched his vile temper. He was described as being "hideous" and had a distinct hunched back. Madame certainly had little to say in praise of him; she painted a picture of a "horridly made little man, and is always absent, which gives him a distracted air, as if he were really crazy". 

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