Henri de la Tour d’Auvergne, Viscount Turenne

The name could hardly sound more French, and yet Henri was the grandson of William of Orange ‘The Silent’, which should make him at least a Netherlander. Henri’s grandfather had earned his nickname by keeping his mouth firmly shut about French plans to murder every Protestant in France and the Netherlands. This Hitler-style plot had had success only in Paris in the form of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day (24 August, 1572 q.v.). Henri was born in 1611.

In his twenties Henri fought with distinction in the Thirty Years War (another unnecessary and bloody conflict to add to the list of those caused by religion mixed with politics). He became a leader in the Protestant Alliance. He took Breisach in 1638 when he was twenty-seven years old; and then Turin in 1640 at almost thirty.

The Spanish were holding Roussillon in 1642 and Henri took the town from them, becoming a Marshal of France in the process. He made a mild political mistake by fighting with the frondeurs in the Fronde civil wars, but then changed sides just in time to save the government of the young Louis XIV (the Sun King q.v.) and his minister Mazarin.

A painting by Lariviere of Henri at the Battle of the Dunes / en.wikipedia.org

A painting by Lariviere of Henri at the Battle of the Dunes / en.wikipedia.org

Later in the Franco-Spanish War he conquered most of the Spanish Netherlands, winning the Battle of the Dunes (1658) by brilliant strategy and outstanding leadership. It was his campaigning in the United Provinces during ‘The Dutch War’ which sealed his fame and provoked the mounting of many equestrian statues. While advancing along the Rhine was unfortunately shot and killed by a sniper at Sasbach, in 1675. He was sixty-four years old and still very much a fighting soldier.

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