Military Wiki

Henri II Duke of Montmorency

Engraving by Pierre Daret (1610-1675)

The funerary monument, by Michel Anguier.

Henri II de Montmorency (1595 – October 30, 1632) was a French nobleman and military commander.


Born at Chantilly, Oise, Henry was the son of duke Henry I. He was the godson of Henri IV, and was constantly receiving marks of the royal affection. His name and his personality, rendered him at an early age the darling of the court and the people. He was only seventeen when Louis XIII raised him to the office of grand admiral. He succeed to his father's title in 1614.[1][2] He also was governor of Languedoc.[2]

He wrested several important places from the Protestants, and was present at the sieges of Montauban and Monpellier. On the renewal of the civil war in 1625, the fleet sent from Holland to the aid of the French King was placed under his command.[1] In 1625 Henry defeated the French Protestant fleet under Soubise, and seized the islands of and Oleron, but the jealousy of Cardinal Richelieu deprived him of the means of following up these advantages.[2]

In 1628–1629 Henry took command of a Royal army to fight the forces of duke of Rohan in Languedoc and bested that famous leader of the Huguenots.[1]

In 1630, he won renown as a military leader in the war against the Spaniards in Piedmont (Italy).[1] He defeated the Piedmontese, at the battle of Avigliana where he charged across a ditch at the head of the gendarmes of the King, captured Carlo Doria, the hostile general, with his own hand, and fought like a common soldier until the enemy was completely driven from the field. This victory was followed by the raising of the siege of Casal and the taking of Saluzzo. For these achievements he was appointed a Marshal of France later in the same year. [1][2]

At the height of his fame and influence he was solicited to join the opponents of Cardinal Richelieu, Louis XIII's chief minister. Disliking Richelieu's attempts to rein in the influence of his class. In 1632, using his position as governor of Languedoc, he raised levies of troops and money, joined the party of Gaston, duke of Orleans (the Kings brother) and took command of an army of six or seven thousand.[1][2]

Negotiation was tried in vain; Henry was confronted and defeated by Marshal Schomberg at the battle of Castelnaudary (September 1, 1632).[2] Trying to emulate his victory at Avigliana Henry lead a charge into the royal camp at the head of a few horsemen, he cut his way through six ranks of infantry amidst a continued shower of shot, and fought against overwhelming numbers, until his horse dropped dead. Severely wounded, he was captured.[1][2]

Abandoned by Gaston, he was doomed to death by the inexorable Richelieu, as an example to the rest of the plotting nobility. In vain was his life begged by all ranks throughout France. The only palliation of punishment that could be obtained from Louis XIII was that the execution should be in private. Henry was therefore beheaded in the Hôtel de Ville de Toulouse on 30 October 1632.[1][2] His title passed to his sister Charlotte-Marguerite, princess of Condé.[2]




Further reading[]

Preceded by
Henry I
duc de Montmorency Next:

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).