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Antoine de Bourbon
Count of Moret

Jean-Jacques, otherwise known as Antoine, was the natural son of Henri IV and Jacqueline de Breuil, Countess of Moret[1]

He was born at the castle of Moret on May 9, 1607. Legitimized "of France"by letters patent given in the course of January 1608, he spent the first days of his life at the "nursery" of Saint-Germain-en-Laye where the Marquise de Montglat was responsible for supervising the education of the king's children, legitimate or not. The Dauphin, future Louis XIII, did not appreciate the presence of the bastards of his royal father. It seems that Antoine, six years his junior, was particularly affected by this animosity. He spent a large part of his childhood in Pau, where the king his father, had him driven "in order to preserve the affection of the Béarnais by entrusting them with a prince of his blood that he hoped they would consider as another himself. - even ”(Father Grandet“ Life of an unknown solitary ”(1699)).

There is no portrait of Antoine as a child but we know from that "of all the children of Henri IV, the Comte de Moret was the one who most resembled him" [2]

As an adult, Louis XIII did not show a grudge against his half-brother and enrolled Antoine in the college of Bourbon with the aim of having him then enter into orders. In this spirit, he also endowed it with several rich abbeys ( Saint Etienne de Caen, Savigny d'Avranches, Signy en Champagne, Saint Victor de Marseille, Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire and others). Appointed commendatory abbot of Saint-Étienne de Caen in 1620, he benefited from the rich income of the Norman abbey. During the 12 years, he was at the head of the abbey, he constantly came into conflict with the religious who reproached him for not releasing the funds necessary for their personal needs and for the reconstruction of buildings, ruined by the religious war. 

The religious vocation was not however to Antoine's taste. who profited a lot from the easy life of the court. A time in love with Madame de Chevreuse, lady companion and confidant of Queen Anne of Austria, Antoine made a lot of talk about him by the tumultuous nature of his sentimental life. It is, it seems, as far as Venice that his reputation as a seducer spread! 

Beginning military training in 1621, he also defended a thesis in philosophy in January 1625. If the king wanted to make him a man of the church, Antoine had nothing that is necessary to wear the ecclesiastical habit with dignity.

“Handsome, well made, ambitious, greedy for glory, holding onto his father, he only dreamed of adventure. "[3]

He had a tall stature, a majestic air, a cheerful face, keen and shining eyes, noble manners, and a lot of wit. He knew four languages: French, Latin, Spanish, and Italian. He had studied and possessed very well philosophy, geography, and history. He knew perfectly well the secret of fortifications, the art of besieging cities, and the way of arranging armies in battle.

The adventure, fatal for Antoine, is presented in the guise of Gaston d'Orléans, also his half-brother, brother of Louis XIII. Antoine, perhaps influenced by his father-in-law, the Marquis de Vardes, indeed sided with Gaston d'Orléans against the king and conspired against Richelieu whom he wanted to exclude from his ministry. 

On August 12, 1631, like all supporters of “Monsieur” (Gaston d'Orléans), Antoine was declared a lèse-majesté criminal. His goods confiscated, he went into exile in Belgium with his mother, Jacqueline de Bueil, and Vardes, his stepfather. But, very quickly, Antoine leaves Brussels, rejoins the Duke of Montmorency in France, and with an army assembled by the Duke of Orleans, advances towards Languedoc where await two royal armies commanded by Marshals de La Force and Schomberg.

Antoine de Bueil advances towards Castelnaudary in the company of the Duke of Montmorency, governor of Languedoc. They are accompanied by 2,000 footmen and 3,000 horsemen. The meeting with the royal armies takes place at the gates of the city on September 1, 1632.

The combat is in fact only a simple skirmish of the avant-garde, a sort of duel between the leaders of the two parties who have gone too far. without securing their rear. Injured, Montmorency is overturned under his horse while Antoine, burning to show himself as a hero, receives a pistol shot from the captain of arms Bitran which goes through his stomach. The main body of the rebel army, faced with the fall of its leaders, abandons the battlefield without having really engaged. Turning around, Gaston d'Orléans thinks only of making peace with Richelieu. 

We have seen how Montmorency, transported, and tried in Toulouse, was beheaded for example.

It was on September 1, 1632, under the walls of Castelnaudary, where Montmorency was defeated and taken prisoner.  Antoine de Bueil-Bourbon's official existence ends on the evening of the battle of Castelnaudary.

Historians are in fact divided on whether or not Antoine was killed on this occasion. Despite the decision of the Toulouse parliament of September 14, 1632, mentioning his death, his body was never found.

For some, Antoine would have died a few hours after the battle, in the carriage of Gaston d'Orléans who transported him to the Convent of Prouilles.

For others, he would have been treated in this convent before disappearing. A valuable argument plays in favor of this version: the abbess of Prouilles, Madame de Ventadour, was after this affair stripped of her abbey by order of Richelieu, officially for having taken in the Count de Moret, probably for having protected his flight. 

Going into hiding, Antoine de Bueil would then have started, as much for security as for real conviction, that he resolved to leave the military state and the world a religious life. 

[1] ttps://

[2] G. Lioret (see bibliography) page 62)

[3] G. Lioret, page 129

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