From Academic Kids

Louis-Antoine-Henri de Bourbon-Condé, duc d'Enghien (August 22, 1772March 21, 1804) was a relative of the Bourbon monarchs of France, and is more famous for his death than his life. He was executed on trumped-up charges during the French Consulate.

The Duke was the only son of Louis Henry II, Prince of Condé, and of Louise Marie Thérèse Mathilde, sister of the duke of Orléans (Philippe Egalité), and was born at Chantilly.

He was educated privately by the abbé Millot, and received a military training from Commodore de Vinieux. He early showed the warlike spirit of the house of Condé, and began his military career in 1788. On the outbreak of the French Revolution he emigrated with very many of the nobles a few days after the fall of the Bastille, and remained in exile, seeking to raise forces for the invasion of France and the restoration of the old monarchy. In 1792, on the outbreak of war, he held a command in the force of émigrés (styled the French Royal Army ) which shared in the duke of Brunswick's unsuccessful invasion of France.

He continued to serve under his father and grandfather in what was known as the Condé army, and on several occasions distinguished himself by his bravery and ardour in the vanguard. On the dissolution of that force after the peace of Lunéville (February 1801) he married privately the princess Charlotte, niece of Cardinal de Rohan, and took up his residence at Ettenheim in Baden, near the Rhine.

Early in the year 1804 Napoleon, then First Consul of France, heard news which seemed to connect the young duke with the Cadoudal-Pichegru conspiracy then being tracked by the French police. The news ran that the duke was in company with Charles François Dumouriez and made secret journeys into France. This was false; the acquaintance was Thumry, a harmless old man, and the duke had no dealings with Cadoudal or Pichegru. Napoleon gave orders for the seizure of the duke. French mounted gendarmes crossed the Rhine secretly, surrounded his house and brought him to Strassburg (March 15, 1804), and thence to the castle of Vincennes, near Paris. There a commission of French colonels was hastily gathered to try him.

Meanwhile Napoleon had found out the true facts of the case, and the ground of the accusation was hastily changed. The duke was now charged chiefly with bearing arms against France in the late war, and with intending to take part in the new coalition then proposed against France. The colonels hastily and most informally drew up the act of condemnation, being incited thereto by orders from Anne Jean Marie René Savary, who had come charged with instructions. Savary intervened to prevent all chance of an interview between the condemned and the First Consul; and the duke was shot in the moat of the castle, near a grave which had already been prepared.

He was the last descendent of the house of Condé; his grandfather and father died after him, but without producing further heirs. In 1816 the bones were exhumed and placed in the chapel of the castle. It is now known that Joséphine and Madame de Rémusat had begged Napoleon for mercy towards the duke; but nothing would bend his will. The blame which the apologists of the emperor have thrown on Talleyrand or Savary is undeserved. On his way to St. Helena and at Longwood he asserted that, in the same circumstances, he would do the same again; he inserted a similar declaration in his will.

About this execution, the great diplomat Talleyrand made his most famous quip: "That was worse than a crime; it was a mistake".


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The 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, in turn, gives the following references:

  • H Welschinger, Le Duc d'Enghien 1772-1804 (Paris, 1888)
  • A Nougarède de Fayet, Recherches historiques sur le procès et la condamnation du duc d'Enghien, 2 vols. (Paris, 1844)
  • Comte A Boulay de la Meurthe, Les Dernières Années du duc d'Enghien 1801-1804 (Paris, 1886)
  • For documents see La Catastrophe du duc d'Enghien in the edition of Mémoires edited by MF Barrière, also the edition of the duke's letters, etc., by Count Boulay de la Meurthe (tome i., Paris, 1904; tome ii., 1908).de:Louis Antoine Henri de Condé, Herzog von Enghien

fr:Louis Antoine Henri de Bourbon pl:Ludwik (książę Enghien)


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