Louis Joseph, Duke of Vendome, Passport 1704

Louis Joseph, Duke of Vendome, Passport 1704

Louis Joseph de Bourbon, Duke of Vendome (Louis Joseph; 1 July 1654 – 11 June 1712) was a French military commander during the War of the Grand Alliance and War of the Spanish Succession Marshal of France. Vendome was one of the most remarkable soldiers in the history of the French army. Besides the skill and the fertile imagination of the actual army leader, he had the brilliant courage of a soldier. However, the secret of his continuous success was his extraordinary influence over his men.


He was the son of Louis de Bourbon and the great-grandson of Henry IV of France. He was born in Paris. His mother was Laura Mancini, the elder sister of Olympia Mancini, the mother of Prince Eugene of Savoy, his future opponent.

Orphaned at the age of fifteen, he inherited a vast fortune from his father that had been handed down from his great-grandmother, the Duchesse de Mercœur et Penthièvre in her own right. Before succeeding his father in 1669, he was known as the Duc de Penthièvre. He was raised by his aunt, Marie Anne Mancini, Duchesse de Bouillon.

Entering the army at eighteen, he soon distinguished himself by his vigor and personal courage in the Dutch wars, and by 1688 he had risen to the rank of lieutenant-general. In the Nine Years’ War, he rendered conspicuous service under the Duc de Luxembourg at the Battle of Steenkerke and under Nicolas Catinat at Marsaglia. In 1695, he was placed in command of the army operating in Catalonia, where he took Barcelona in 1697.

Soon afterward, he was made a maréchal. In 1702, after the first unsuccessful campaign of Catinat and Villeroi, he was placed in command of the Franco-Spanish army in Italy. During three campaigns in that country, he proved himself a worthy antagonist to Prince Eugène of Savoy, whom he at last defeated in 1705 at Cassano in a magnificent show of courage and command over his troops, converting the impending defeat that his indolent brother, Philippe, the Grand Prior, had incurred, into a glorious success.

The following year, after holding his own as before and gaining another victory at Calcinato, he was sent to Flanders to repair the disaster of Ramillies. Following the departure of Vendôme to shore up the shattered army in the Flanders, Prince Eugène and the Duke of Savoy inflicted a heavy loss on the French under the Duc d’Orléans and Ferdinand de Marsin at the Battle of Turin, driving the French out of Italy by the end of the year. In Flanders, Vendôme quarreled with the king’s unenterprising grandson, the Duc de Bourgogne, and could not prevent the French defeat at the Battle of Oudenarde.

In disgust, Vendôme retired to his estates. It wasn’t long, however, before he was summoned back to take command of the army of his cousin, Philip, in Spain. He won his last victories there, crowning his work triumphantly in the battles of Brihuega and Villaviciosa. Before the end of the war, he died suddenly at Vinaròs on 11 June 1712 and was buried in the El Escorial in Spain.

A very early passport signed by Vendome. The paper is professionally taped, and the document is in fair collectible condition. Remember, this passport is 310 years old! A collection stamp on the back says “Collection Philippe van Heuck.”

Louis Vendome 1704

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