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Turenne, Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de


Subject History » Military History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631168485.1994.x


(1611–75) Turenne was the second son of the Duke de Bouillon and related to the house of Orange-Nassau. He first served as a volunteer in the Netherlands under Maurice of Nassau in 1625 and assumed command of a French regiment of foot in 1630. There followed a second period in Dutch service from 1632 to 1635 after which he returned permanently to the French army. Two successful campaigns in Italy in 1639 and 1640 assured his reputation and he commanded the French armies in Germany from 1643 to 1648, defeating the Bavarians at Zusmars-hausen in 1648. In 1658, he beat the insurgent Prince of Condé at the Battle of the Dunes. Although a Protestant, he was created Marshal of France in 1643 and Marshal General in 1660. He was trained in the Nassau style, a scientific and realistic approach to warfare. His Mémoires merely recount in a matter-of-fact way the various actions in which he was involved and, being a reserved if not a secretive man, he left no didactic work to posterity. He was a circumspect and calculating tactician who believed military intelligence to be of the utmost importance. Unhindered by preconceptions, he quickly assessed a situation and then acted with despatch. In order to reduce desertion and provide a greater freedom of action he emphasized adequate logistics and supply. In his view, it was wise to occupy hostile territory to hamper the enemy's recruitment and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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