21 March 1804 – Louis-Antoine-Henri de Bourbon-Condé, duc d’Enghien

Louis-Antoine-Henri de Bourbon-Condé, duc d’EnghienWho’s got the longest name in France? Louis-Antoine-Henri de Bourbon-Condé, duc d’Enghien was certainly a contender until he was executed in 1804.

Bourbon-Condé took up arms against the newly kingless France, which was in the grip of Napoleon Bonaparte following the overthrow of the Monarchy.

The duke has been exiled after the fall of the Bastille, which saw the last monarch of France, Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette, lose their heads.

During this time Napoleon – who’d been a mere general on the side of the revolutionaries – capitalised on the headless state of affairs and took over at the helm of France. And the vengeful leader was later to lead to the downfall of the Duke.

Of course, being of royal descent, seeing the rise of the proletariat was like an anathema to Bourbon-Condé. So, naturally he took up arms to reinstate the monarchy. The force of émigrés was exactly that – a force made up of exiled aristocratic Frenchmen, and together they became known as the ‘French Royal Army’. Bourbon-Condé was successful enough in his endeavours, despite teaming up with the ill-fated Duke of Brunswick, whose invasion singly failed.

Family affair

However real success came to Bourbon-Condé when he went on to serve under his dad and grandfather. Ultimately, peace was declared in Luneville and he was able to put his feet up, even take a wife before settling in Baden…but Napoleon wasn’t done with him yet.

In what became known as the Cadoudal-Pichegru conspiracy, two men spearheaded a plot to take over the throne. Funnily enough they were named Cadoudal and Pichegru. The authorities found some tenuous link to connect the Duke with the co-conspirators. The connection was false, after all, the Duke would have been quite happy living out his days in the Rhineland. But Napoleon couldn’t forget the humiliation of a defeat and this was pay-back time.

Bourbon-Condé was shipped off the Salzburg then to Paris, where injustice was swift. In the absence of a fair hearing and trial, the 31-year-old was found guilty of treason and promptly shot surreptitiously in the moat surrounding the Château de Vincennes, before being unceremoniously dumped in a shallow grave. All this took place amid Bonaparte’s mistress Josephine’s entreaties to let the duke go free.

His remains were later exhumed and he was given a proper burial on consecrated ground within the castle.

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