- Louis François I de Bourbon, prince de Conti
Louis François I de Bourbon (
August 13, 1717– August 2, 1776) was the Prince of Contifrom 1727 to his death, following his father Louis Armand II. His mother was Louise-Élisabeth de Bourbon-Condé, a natural granddaughter of Louis XIV. As a member of the reigning House of Bourbon, he was a Prince du Sang.
Louis François pursued a military career, and when the
War of the Austrian Successionbroke out in 1741, he accompanied the Duc de Belle-Isle to Bohemia. His services there led to his command of the army in Italy, where he distinguished himself by forcing the pass of Villafranca and winning the battle of Coni in 1744.
In 1745 he was sent to check the Austrians in
Germany. In 1746, he was transferred to the Netherlands, where conflicts with the Maréchal de Saxe led to his retirement in 1747.
Candidate to the Polish Throne
In that same year, a faction of Polish nobles offered Conti the throne of
Poland, where King Augustus III was expected to die soon. Conti was able to win the personal support of Louis XV of Francefor his candidacy. However, the policy of the king's ministers was to establish the ruling house of Saxonyupon the throne in Poland, as Louis XV's daughter-in-law, Marie-Josèphe of Saxony, was a daughter of the ailing Augustus. As a result of this conflict, Louis XV began secret communications with his ambassadors at certain influential foreign courts that were in direct opposition to the official communications being sent to those same ambassadors by his ministers. The system of couriers used to relay the king's secret messages developed later into a spy-network known as the " Secret du Roi".
Although Conti did not secure the Polish throne, he did remain in the confidence of the king until 1755, when his influence was destroyed by the intrigues of the king's mistress,
Madame de Pompadour. His relationship with Louis XV deteriorated so, that when the Seven Years' Warbroke out in 1756, Conti was refused the command of the army of the Rhine. Angry, he began opposing the royal government, which caused Louis to refer to him as, "my cousin, the advocate".
In 1771, Conti took the lead in opposing the chancellor, Maupeou. He supported the "
parlements" against the government and was especially hostile to Turgot. Due to the intensity of his anti-government feelings, he was suspected of aiding an uprising which took place in Dijonin 1775.
Conti inherited literary tastes from his father, was a brave and skillful general, and a diligent student of military history. His mistress, the cultivated Comtesse de Boufflers (1725-1800), presided over a "salon" at his home in Paris, which attracted many men of letters. Through his mistress, he became a patron of
Jean Jacques Rousseau.
He was succeeded by his son, Louis François Joseph (1734-1814), who was the last person to bear the Conti title.
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