Philippe, Duke of Vendôme

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grand prior of France [fr]
Born23 August 1655
Paris, France
Died24 January 1727
Paris, France
FatherLouis de Bourbon
MotherLaura Mancini

Philippe, Grand Prior of Vendôme (1655–1727) was a French general and grand prior of France [fr] in the order of Malta. He fought in many battles and sieges for Louis XIV starting with the Siege of Candia (1669), and ending with the Battle of Cassano (1705), where he failed to join his brother Louis Joseph, Duke of Vendôme, at the battle. He fell in disgrace and left the army. He was 49.

He spent some years in Italy and was banned to Lyon when he returned. He was allowed back to Paris and the court with the onset of the Régence. In 1715 he hurried to Malta to defend it against the Turks, but the expected attack never came. He was the host of the Temple Society [fr], a literary, philosophical, and "libertine" circle, of which the young Voltaire was a member. In 1719 he sold his office of Grand Prior. He died unmarried in Paris in 1727.

Family tree
Phillippe de Vendôme with parents and other selected relatives.[a][citation needed]. He never married.[citation needed]
Henri IV

1st Duke

de Lorraine

2nd Duke


de Beaufort

Louis Joseph
3rd Duke

XXXSubject of
the article
XXXDukes of
of France

Birth and origins[edit]

Philippe was born on 23 August 1655 in Paris[1] and baptised together with his elder brother Louis Joseph in the Sainte Chapelle of the Château de Vincennes on 17 October 1656 by Cardinal Antonio Barberini.[2] Philippe was the younger of the two sons of Louis, Duke of Vendôme, and his wife Laura Mancini.[3]

His father was, at the time of his birth, styled duke of Mercœur, while his grandfather César was duke of Vendôme. César was an illegitimate son of Henri IV, who had created the second House of Bourbon-Vendôme for him in 1598.[4]

His mother was Italian, the eldest daughter of Baron Lorenzo Mancini and his wife Girolama, a sister of Cardinal Mazarin. She therefore was one of the Mazarinettes, as the cardinal's nieces were called.[5] His parents had married in 1651.[6][3]

Youth and Candia[edit]

Philippe's mother died in 1657, when he was still an infant.[6] In 1661, aged seven, he became commendatory abbot of the Trinity of Vendôme. Cardinal Mazarin died in March 1661,[7] and Louis XIV, much less favourable to the Vendômes, started to rule by himself.

Philippe's grandfather César died in 1665. His father succeeded as the 2nd duke of Vendôme.[8] His brother became duke of Mercœur. The brothers inherited the Hôtel de Vendôme [fr] in Paris that César had bought.[9] They sold it quite soon to Louis XIV for 666,000 livres. Louvois had it demolished to create a royal square in its place, the present Place Vendôme.

In 1666 Philippe joined the Knights of Malta.[10] This made him chevalier de Vendôme. In 1667 his father, who had not remarried after Laura's death, was created Cardinal de Vendôme.

In 1669, aged 14, the Chevalier followed his uncle François de Beaufort in the French expedition to Crete.[11] Louis XIV wanted to please Pope Clement IX by helping the Venetians in the Siege of Candia.[12] Beaufort was admiral of the fleet (except the galleys).[13] The Chevalier fought in the desastrous sally undertaken by the French on 25 June, shortly after their arrival, in which his uncle went missing.[14]

On 6 August 1669 his father died in France and his brother succeeded as 3rd duke of Vendôme.

The French at Candia were running out of resources and planned to leave. At the eve of their departure, the Chevalier organised a parley with the Turks in an effort to find outm what had happened to his uncle, but they did not know.[15][b] The French left Crete on 31 August.[17].

In 1676 the Chevalier seduced Isabelle de Ludres who had an affair with Louis XIV.

Grand prior[edit]

The Chevalier became grand prior of France [fr] in 1678 succeeding Henry d'Estampes de Valencay.[18] The pope had promised him the succession. The Grand Prior's seat was the Hôtel du Prieur at the Temple in Paris. The two brothers moved in together. His friend Chaulieu entered into their service as secretary and financial adviser, probably in 1680.

A lover of literature, poetry, food, and drink, the Grand Prior helped by Chaulieu held suppers at the Temple, where the members of the Temple Society [fr] met. The young Voltaire wasone of them.[19]

Dutch war[edit]

The Franco-Dutch war (1672–1678) began so well for the French that the Dutch called 1672 the Rampjaar (desaster year). In June the Grand Prior fought at the crossing of the Rhine under Condé. In 1673 he was at the Siege of Maastricht.[20] In 1674 he fought under Turenne against Imperial troops at Sinsheim in Germany. By 1676 he was back in Flanders and fought at the Siege of Valenciennes under Luxembourg and Vauban.

First interwar[edit]

After peace was concluded, the Grand Prior spent some time in England where in 1683 he seduced Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth, mistress of Charles II of England.

Nine Years' War[edit]

The Nine Years' War (1688–1697), was also known as the "War of the Grand Alliance" or the "War of the League of Augsburg". It started with the Siege of Philippsburg in Germany. The Grand Prior served in Flanders, later in Italy, and finally in Spain.

In Flanders in 1690 he fought as colonel at the Battle of Fleurus under Luxembourg. He was promoted marechal de camp on 7 March 1691.[21] He fought together with his brother at the Siege of Mons, which started on 15 March. The town surrendered in April 1691. In September he fought at the Battle of Leuze. In 1692 he was at the Siege of Namur in June and the Battle of Steenkerke in August. In March 1693 he was promoted Lieutenant general,[22] at which rank he would stay to the end of his career. The Grand Prior and his brother were jealous of Conti. All three had excelled at Steenkerk, but Luxembourg singled out Cont.[23]

In April 1693 the brothers were transferred to Italy to serve under Catinat.[22] In October they fought the Savoyards at Marsaglia,[24] where the Grand Prior was wounded.[25] In 1694 they were in Provence, to where Catinat had dispatched them.[26] In 1695 his brother was transferred to Catalonia while the Grand Prior stepped into place.[27]

In 1697 he joined his brother in Spain, where he fought at the Siege of Barcelona.

Second interwar[edit]

In 1698 the Grand Prior quarelled with Conti over a card game. Louis XIV sided with Conti and sent the prior to the Bastille.[28]

Spanish Succession[edit]

The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) started in northern Italy, where the French and the Savoyards under Catinat were defeated by Imperial troops under Prince Eugen at Carpi in July 1701. Catinat lost the command to Villeroy, and now served under him. Villeroy in turn was defeated at Chiari in September. Catinat was then transferred to the Rhine, where the Grand Prior served under him in 1702. When Prince Eugene took Villeroy prisoner in January 1702 at Cremona, Louis XIV appointed the Duke of Vendôme, the Grand Prior's brother, commander-in-chief in Italy. Vendôme arrived at Cremona in March.[29] Maine persuaded the king to let the Grand Prior join his brother in Italy, where he arrived shortly before May 1703.[30][31]

In 1703 Victor Amadeus II, Duke of Savoy, switched sides. In 1704 Vendôme fought Victor Amadeus in Piemont while the Grand Prior commanded in Lombardy and kept Prince Eugene away.[32] In May 1705 the Grand Prior helped to capture Mirandola. In August 1705 both brothers held the Adda river against Prince Eugene, who tried to join Victor Amadeus and to relief the Turin, besieged by La Feuillade. His brother sent him to Rivolta to pursue Prince Eugene who had feigned a retreat but then bypassed the Grand Prior and attacked his brother at Cassano. The Grand Prior stayed where he was and did not join his brother having received no order to do so. He was severely critisised by his brother and fell in disgrace at the court. He went to Paris and tried to see the king at Versailles but was not admitted.[33] By September he had lost all employment in the French Army.[34]

Later life[edit]

The Grand Prior lived at Genoa with his cousin Marie Charlotte de La Porte de La Meilleraye [fr]. He then established himself in Rome. In Italy he met the painter Jean Raoux whom he took under his protection. In 1708 Michel Chamillart spoke to the king in his favour. The king allowed him to return to France but forebade him Paris and the court.[35] In October 1710 while travelling in Switzerland, he was held hostage in Chur, by Thomas Masner,[36] whose son was held in France. The Grand Prior was released in 1711 but the king still forbade him to attend the court or come to Paris.[37]

When Vendôme died childless in 1712, Louis XIV annexed the duchy of Vendôme into the royal domain,[38] on the pretext that the grand prior's vows in the Order of Malta prevented him from holding it. However, the Grand Prior assumed the title. In 1713 he returned to Rome together with Jean Raoux from whom he commanded the four ages of life, completed in 1714.

At the end of January 1715, the grand master asked the knights to come to defend Malta as a Turkish attack seemed imminent.[39] The Grand Prior, still at Lyon, asked Louis XIV whether he could come and say good-bye before leaving. The king refused but gave him permission to travel to Malta.[40] HThe Grand Prior reached Malta in April.[41] He was appointed commander-in-chief of all the troops of the order.[42] However, the attack never came. In October he was back in France,[42] where his friend Jean-Baptiste Rousseau celebrated him by an ode in the style of Horace. See the following extract:

Le Rhin, le Pô, l'Èbre, la Meuse
Tour à tour ont vu ses exploits,

The Rhine, the Po, the Ebro, the Meuse
One by one, have seen his achievements,[43]

Louis XIV died in September 1715.[44] Louis XV was five years old. The regency was assumed by Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, who admired the Grand Prior.[45] He revoked the Great Prior's banishment. The Grand Prior moved back into his palace at the Temple and was admitted to the court.[46] At the Temple he again presided the suppers of the Temple Society. In 1717 Voltaire wrote an epitre dedicated to him. In the following extract he declares himself a member of the Temple Society :

Je sais que vous avez l’honneur,
Me dit-il, d'être des orgies
De certain aimable prieur,

I know that you have the honour,
he told me, to attend the orgies
Of a certain kind prior,

A painted full-length portrait of Philippe de Vendôme, at the age of 69 with his dog and a open book in front of a landscape
Portrait by Jean Raoux (1724)[c]

In 1719 he sold his office of grand prior to the Chevalier d'Orléans, an illegitimate son of the regent. He was paid in cash and shares of the Mississippi Company.[47] Having sold his office, he became once more Chevalier de Vendôme. He also had to leave the Temple and moved into a townhous in the Rue de Varenne [fr]. Jean Raoux moved with him.[48] His friend Chaulieu died in 1720.[49]

He planned to renounce his vows and marry but did not find a suitable wife. In 1724 Raoux painted his portrait as an old man turning his back on military glory and love.

Death and timeline[edit]

Th4e Chevalier died unmarried on 24 January 1727 at his townhouse in the Rue de Varenne.[50] His body was brought to the Temple before being buried in the church of the Chartreuse de Paris [fr]. With him died the name of Vendôme.[51]

Italics for historical background.
Age Date Event
0 23 Aug 1655 Born in Paris[1]
1 8 Feb 1657 Mother died aged 21 in Paris[6]
5 9 Mar 1661 Cardinal Mazarin died.[7]
10 22 Oct 1665 Grandfather César died in Paris[8]
10–11 1666 Joined the Order of Malta[10]
13 5 Jun 1669 Departed for Crete with his uncle[11]
13 6 Aug 1669 Father died
14 31 Aug 1669 The French left Crete[17]
14 5 Sep 1669 Candia surrendered to the Turks
23–24 26 Jan 1679 Treaties of Nijmegen ended the Franco-Dutch War between France and the Empire.[52]
34–35 1690 Wignacourt succeeds to Carafa as grand master.[53]
34 1 Jul 1690 Battle of Fleurus (1690)
34 30 Mar 1693 Promoted Lieutenant General[22]
41–42 1697 Ramon Perellós succeeds to Wignacourt as grand master.[54]
49 16 Aug 1705 Criticised for his behaviour at the Battle of Cassano
56 11 Jun 1712 His brother died[38]
57 11 Apr 1713 Peace of Utrecht ended the War of the Spanish Succession[55]
60 1 Sep 1715 Death of Louis XIV; Regency until the majority of Louis XV[44]
71 20 Apr 1719 Died in Paris[50]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ This family tree is derived from written genealogies of the Vendômes
  2. ^ Coucelles maintains that the Turks knew very well what happened, as the Grand Vizier, Achmed Köprülü, had his uncle's head cut off and sent to Constantinople.[16]
  3. ^ Portrait at the Musée Fabre at Montpellier. In this portrait the Chevalier de Vendôme bids good bye to his military career (arms hung at the tree on the right behind him) and to the pleasures of life (symbolised by the dancers) as he turns to study and méditation (open book at his left above the dog).


  1. ^ a b Anselme 1726, p. 199, line 21. "... est né à Paris le 23. aoust 1655."
  2. ^ Anselme 1726, p. 200, line 4. "... baptisé avec son frère Philippe dans la Ste Chapelle du château de Vincennes, par le cardinal Antoine Barberin, grand aumônier de France le 17. octobre 1656."
  3. ^ a b Anselme 1730, p. 463. Paragraph on his mother
  4. ^ Anselme 1726, p. 196. "... ;reçut du roy son père le duché de Vendôme en 1598."
  5. ^ Hassall 1903, p. 20. "Laura Mancini married Louis of Vendome, Duke of Mercoeur, and eldest son of the Duke of Vendome, and brother of Beaufort;"
  6. ^ a b c Anselme 1726, p. 199, line 1. "Femme Laurer Mancini, fille aînée de Michel-Laurent Mancini gentilhomme Romain, & de Jeronime Mazurin, (sœur puînée de Jules Cardinal Mazarin, mariée à Pans le 4. février 1651. y mourut d'apoplexie dans l'hôtel de Vendôme le huit février 1657, en sa 21. année ..."
  7. ^ a b Hassall 1903, p. 161. "On March 9, 1661 Mazarin died ..."
  8. ^ a b Petigny 1882, p. 663. "Le 22 octobre de cette malheureuse année 1665, le duc César de Vendôm mourut à Paris ..."
  9. ^ Saint-Germain 1950, paragraph 4. "Le duc de Vendôme mort, ses deux petit—fils—le futur vainqeur de Steinkerque et le futur grand-maitre (sic) de l'ordre de Malte—s'entendent pour céder le vieil hôtel familial au roi ... pour 666,000 livres."
  10. ^ a b La Roque 1891, p. 250
  11. ^ a b Setton 1991, p. 224. "François de Bourbon, duke de Beaufort, left Toulon with the transports on 5 June (1669)."
  12. ^ Petigny 1882, p. 665. "En 1669, le roi, qui ne voulait rester étranger à aucun genre de gloire, équipa une flotte pour sécourir les Vénetiens, assiégés dans Candie par les Turcs."
  13. ^ Setton 1991, p. 223. "The naval armament was supposed to include 15 ships, 13 galleys, and three galliots under Beaufort, with the galleys and galliots, however, under the direct command of Louis Victor de Rochechouart, count de Vivonne."
  14. ^ Setton 1991, p. 225. "Beaufort, in the front line of the French assault, was struck with a musket shot, fell from his horse, and was never seen again."
  15. ^ Bardakci & Pugniere 2008, Chapter V. "La veille du départ de l'armée, le chevalier de Vendôme ... qu'il n'avait pas de nouvelles à leur donner de monsieur l'amiral."
  16. ^ Courcelles 1823, p. 403, note. "Le grand-visir fit trancher la tête au duc de Beaufort sur le champ de bataille, et lénvoya à Constantinople ..."
  17. ^ a b Bigge 1899, p. 197. "Am Abend des 31. August erfolgte der gemeinsame Aufbruch sämtlicher Päpstichen, Französischen unb Maltesischen Schiffe von Candia."
  18. ^ Anselme 1733, p. 550. "3. Henry d'Estampes, chevalier de Malte, grand-croix & bailly de son ordre, grand prieur de Bapaume, puis de France, abbé de Bourgueil, ambassadeur à Rome pour le Roy en 1652, mourut à Malte sur la fin d'avril 1678, en sa soixante-quinzième année."
  19. ^ Petigny 1882, p. 677, line 21. "Voltaire, fort jeune encore, fut admis dans cette cour ... "
  20. ^ Anselme 1726, p. 199, line 25. "...  au sîegc de Mastrick en l'année 1673."
  21. ^ Courcelles 1823, p. 404, line 11. "... fut crée marchal-de-camp, le 7 mars 1691."
  22. ^ a b c Courcelles 1823, p. 404, line 16. "Il fut promu au grade de lieutenant-général, le 30 mars 1693 et employé par lettres du 27 avril à lármée d'Italie."
  23. ^ Saint-Simon 1879a, p. 185. "La jalousie de M. de Vendôme, en tout genre, contre le prince de Conti, n'osant s'en prendre ouvertement à lui, l'avoit brouillé avec M. de Luxembourg."
  24. ^ Petigny 1882, p. 677, line 13. "... il s'était distingué à côté de son frère à Steinkerque, à Marsaille, au passage du Rhin."
  25. ^ Quincy 1726a, p. 900. "Quoique M. le Grand Prieur eut reçû un coup de feu à la cuisse ..."
  26. ^ Saint-Simon 1879a, p. 159. "MM. de Vendôme passèrent presque toute la campagne en Provence, où le maréchal Catinat les avoit détaché ..."
  27. ^ Saint-Simon 1879a, p. 288. "M. de Vendôme, qui obtint en même temps pour le grand prieur, son frère, le commandement de ce corps séparé vers Nice."
  28. ^ Saint-Simon 1879b, p. 313. "Le Roi lui manda qu'il lui [the Grand Prior] défendoit de se présenter devant lui, et lui ordonna de s'en aller sur-le-champ à la Rastille,"
  29. ^ Quincy 1726b, p. 634. "... parti de Paris le 10. de Février, & arriva le premier de Mars à Crémone."
  30. ^ Quincy 1726c, p. 152. "... Grand-Prieur qui étoit arrivé en Italie quelque temps auparavant pour y sèrvir en qualité de Lieutenant Gêneral."
  31. ^ Saint-Simon 1895, p. 74. "Parlant d'Italie, M. du Maine obtint avec grand paine que le Grand Prieur allat servir sous son frère en Italie ..."
  32. ^ Saint-Simon 1896, p. 26. "Tout de suite le Grand Prieur, si mal avec le roi, et qui avoit eu tant de peine à servir, puis à aller avec son frère, fur envoyé commander les troupes dans le Mantouan et le Milanous ..."
  33. ^ Saint-Simon 1923, p. 471. "... il n'a revu le Roi de sa vie."
  34. ^ Courcelles 1823, p. 405. "Mais le peu de diligence que ce général mis dans ses mouvements, dans l'affaire de Cassano, le fit rappeller par la cour. Il arriva à Clichy près de Paris, le 24 septembre, et n'eut plus de commandement dans les armées du roi."
  35. ^ Saint-Simon 1902, p. 22 ps=. "Il avoit eu permission de revenir en France où il voudroit, à condition de n'approcher de Paris ni de la cour plus près de quarante lieues, excepté pour voir son frère un jour ou deux à la Ferté-Alais**."
  36. ^ Saint-Simon 1910, p. 452. "... Masner a eu la hardiesse, le 28 octoble 1710, de mettre de nouveau la main sur S. A. M. [Son Altesse Monseigneur] de Vendome  ..."
  37. ^ Saint-Simon 1910, p. 168, line 9. "... permission du Roi [for the grand prior] de venir démeurer à Lyon, mais sans approcher la cour ni Paris ..."
  38. ^ a b La Chenaye-Desbois 1876, p. 568, right column. "Sa postérité en a joui jusqu'au 11 Juin 1712, qu'il fut réuni à la Couronne, & la Pairie éteinte, par le décès sans enfants de Louis-Joseph, Duc de Vendôme."
  39. ^ Dangeau 1858b, p. 350. "Les chevaliers de Malte ont reçu leur dernière citation; ils ont ordre de se rendre à Malte au commencement d'avril. Le grand maître envoie les vaisseaux de la religion à Marseille ..."
  40. ^ Saint-Simon 1914, p. 135. "... Le grand prior qui faisait toujours son sejour à Lyon, fit demander au roi la permission de venir prendre congé de lui pou y aller. Il fut refusé de voir le Roi et de sápprocher de Paris, et eut liberté de se rendre à Malte."
  41. ^ Anselme 1726, p. 199, line 46. "... il [Philip] passa en 1715 à Malthe au secours de sa religion, menacée par les Turcs; y arriva le 7. avril;"
  42. ^ a b Courcelles 1823, p. 405. "Lorsque le Sultan Achmed III déclara la guerre aux Vénétiens, et menaça líle de Malte, en 1715, le Grand Prieur de Vendôme fut nommé généralissime des troupes de la réligion, mais, les desseins des Ottomans n'ayant pas eu d'exécution, il revint en France, au mois dóctobre de la même année."
  43. ^ Rousseau 1851, p. 150. As cited
  44. ^ a b Goubert 1984, p. 406, line 5. "1715, 1er septembre: Mort de Louis XIV."
  45. ^ Saint-Simon 1919, p. 68. "[Le Grand Prieur était] revenu aussitôt après la mort du Roi, considéré, même respecté de M le duc d'Orléans qui avait toujours été le jaloux admirateur ..."
  46. ^ Dangeau 1859, p. 199. "M. le grand prieur revient à la cour; on lui fait déjà meubler le grand prioré."
  47. ^ Dangeau 1858a, p. 173. "Il vendit en 1719 son grand prieuré de France ..."
  48. ^ Dezallier d'Argenville 1752, p. 259. "Lorsque M. de Vendôme céda fon Grand-Prieuré au Chevalier d'Orléans, il alla loger dans la rue de Varenne; Raoux l'y suivit & ne le quitta qu'à sa mort."
  49. ^ Chisholm 1910, s:1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chaulieu, Guillaume Amfrye de. "Chaulieu died on the 27th of June 1720."
  50. ^ a b Michaud junior 1854, p. 108, right column. "... il mourut le 24 janvier 1727 ..."
  51. ^ Vertot 1855, p. 277. "... le nom de Vendôme s'éteignit pour ne plus revivre."
  52. ^ Lynn 1999, p. 156, line 33. "... the French and Dutch signed the Treaty of Nijwegen on 10 August [1678]. ... and peace followed with the emperor on 6 February 1679 [N.S.]."
  53. ^ Vertot 1855, p. 272, line 9. "(1690) Mort du grand maître. Les suffrages se réunissent en faveur de frère Adrien de Vignacourt, grand trésorier de l’Ordre."
  54. ^ Vertot 1855, p. 272, line 21. "(1697) Mort du grand maître; les électeurs se réunissent en faveur de frère Raimond Perellos de Roccafoull , de la langue d’Aragon."
  55. ^ Miller 1971, p. 147, line 8. "On 11 April 1713 the peace was signed at Utrecht: in return for the acknowledgement of his grandson as Philip V of Spain, Louis had had to recognize the Hanoverian and Protestant succession in England."


Philippe, Duke of Vendôme
Cadet branch of the House of Bourbon
Born: 23 August 1655 Died: 24 January 1727
French nobility
Preceded by Duc de Vendôme