Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Turenne, Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de
TURENNE, HENRI DE LA TOUR D’ AUVERGNE, VICOMTE DE, a French military officer, second son of Henri, Duc de Bouillon, and of Elizabeth, daughter of William I., Prince of Orange; born in Sedan, Sept. 11, 1611. He was brought up in the Reformed faith. At the age of 13 he went to learn the profession of arms under his uncles, the Princes Maurice and Henry of Nassau. Recalled (1630) to France by Richelieu, he was made colonel of a regiment, and first distinguished himself at the siege of La Motte in Lorraine. During the retreat of the French army from Mainz (1635), his courage, fortitude, and humanity were conspicuous. In the campaign of 1637-1638 he captured Landrecies, Soire-le-Château, Maubeuge, Breisach, etc. During 1639-1642 he served in Italy, chiefly under the Comte d'Harcourt, winning numerous small victories, and capturing Turin, Moncalvo, Ceva, Mondovi, and Coni. His military reputation was now firmly established, and he received the title of Marshal of France.
Toward the close of 1643 he was sent to the Rhine, and intrusted with the command of the French troops. His achievements during the last five campaigns of the Thirty Years' War covered him with glory, and proved him to be a leader indomitable in spirit and inexhaustible in resource. He captured Philipsbourg and Mainz (September, 1644); held in check his three opponents, Mercy, Gleen, and the Duke of Lorraine; saved Speyer and Baccarat; retook Kreuznach; overran during the winter Suabia and Franconia to the gates of Nuremberg and Würzburg; won the battle of Nördlingen (Aug. 3, 1645) in spite of the obstinate rashness of the Duc d'Enghien; drove the Spaniards out of the electorate of Treves; by a rapid and skillful march through Westphalia and Hessen united himself with the Swedes; swept over Suabia and Franconia; invaded Bavaria; was on the point of totally overwhelming the Imperialists, when orders came to withdraw to the Rhine, and, finally (May 17, 1648), utterly defeated Montecuculi and Melander at Sommerhausen on the road to Augsburg. This victory, followed by that of Condé, over the Spaniards at Lens, brought about the peace of Westphalia (Oct. 24, 1648), and closed the Thirty Years' War.
Then followed the troubles of the Fronde, in which he at first took the side of the Frondeurs, and through the seductive influence of Mme. de Longueville was induced to enter into culpable negotiations with the Spaniards for an invasion of France. But after a defeat at Rethel (Dec. 15, 1650) he became ashamed of civil war, and returned to his allegiance to the crown. Condé, meanwhile, had quarreled with Mazarin, and became a Frondeur. The two greatest generals of the age were now opposed to each other; and the firmness, coolness, and scientific skill of Turenne proved more than sufficient to baffle and defeat the impetuous valor of his adversary. In 1652 the victories of Jargeau (March 30), of Etampes (March 4), of the Faubourg St. Antoine (July 2), together with his later splendid strategy, placed the young king in possession of Paris (Oct. 21). In 1653 he was in command of the N. frontier, and frustrated all the attempts of Condé and the Spaniards to penetrate through Picardy; in 1654 he stormed the Spanish camp near Arras, and inflicted enormous loss on the enemy; and in 1658 forced Dunkirk to surrender, after destroying the Spanish army of relief. The fall of Dunkirk was followed by the capture of Bergues, Furnes, Dixmude, Oudenarde, Ypres, Comines, De Gramont, Ninoye, etc. The treaty of the Pyrenees Nov. 7, 1659, was the result of the brilliant successes of Turenne. When war broke out between France and Holland in 1667, fortune still attended him. In less than four months he captured Charleroi, Ath, Tournai, Douai, Oudenarde, Lille, and Alost. In 1668 he formally abjured Protestantism after considerable reading and reflection—an act which still further advanced him in the favor of Louis. The war between France and Holland (1672-1678) witnessed his last and greatest achievements. His defense of the Rhine with an inferior force, and his invasion of north Germany, were prodigies of military skill and daring; but his devastation of the Palatinate (1674), though done under express orders, has left a dark stain on his reputation. On July 27, 1675, he was killed by a cannon ball at the battle of Salzbach. He was buried at St. Denis amid a national mourning. As a general Turenne has rarely been surpassed. Napoleon admired him without limit. His character as a man is still more admirable. He was modest, simple, truthful, and full of genuine kindliness to all beneath him, especially to his war-worn veterans, to whom he liberally gave of his private resources.