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François de Vendôme
Duke of Beaufort
Portrait by Jean Nocret
Born(1616-01-16)16 January 1616
Château de Coucy, Picardy, France
Died25 June 1669(1669-06-25) (aged 53)
Candia, Crete
François de Bourbon
FatherCésar de Bourbon
MotherFrançoise de Lorraine

François de Vendôme, duc de Beaufort (16 January 1616 – 25 June 1669)[1] was the son of César, Duke of Vendôme, and Françoise de Lorraine. He was a prominent figure in the Fronde, and later went on to fight in the Mediterranean. He is sometimes called François de Vendôme, though he was born into the House of Bourbon, Vendôme coming from his father's title of Duke of Vendôme.

In March 1665 he led a small fleet which defeated a small Algerian fleet near the Goletta, Tunisia (Action of March 1665). In 1669 he led the newly arrived French troops defending Candia against the Ottoman Turks, and was presumed to have been killed in a night sortie, on 25 June 1669. His body was brought back to France for a state funeral.


François was the second son of César de Vendôme and Françoise of Lorrain-Mercoeur.[2] His father was an illegitimate son of King Henry IV of France by his mistress, Gabrielle d'Estrées.[3] He began his career in the army and served in the first campaigns of the Thirty Years' War, but his ambitions and unscrupulous character soon found a more congenial field in the intrigues of the court. In 1642 he joined in the conspiracy of Cinq Mars against Cardinal Richelieu, and upon its failure was obliged to live in exile in England until Richelieu's death.[4]

Returning to France, Beaufort became the centre of a group, known as the "cabale des Importants", in which court ladies predominated, especially the Duchess of Chevreuse and the Duchess of Montbazon. For an instant after the king's death, this group seemed likely to prevail, and Beaufort to be the head of the new government. Cardinal Mazarin gained the office, and Beaufort, accused of a plot to murder Mazarin, was imprisoned in Vincennes, in September 1643.[4]

Beaufort escaped from prison on 31 May 1648, just in time to join the Fronde, which began in August 1648. He was then with Parliament and the princes, against Mazarin. His personal appearance, his affectation of popular manners, and his status as a grandson (legitimized) of Henry IV rendered him a favourite of the Parisians, who acclaimed him everywhere. He was known as the Roi des Halles ("king of the markets"), and popular subscriptions were opened to pay his debts. He had hopes of becoming prime minister. But among the members of Parliament and the other leaders of the Fronde, he was regarded as merely a tool. His intelligence was but mediocre, and he showed no talent during the war.[4]

He killed his sister's husband, Charles-Amédée of Savoy, in a duel in 1652.[5]

Mazarin, on his return to Paris, exiled Beaufort in October 1652; and he was only allowed to return in 1654, when the cardinal had no longer any reason to fear him. Thenceforth Beaufort no longer intrigued. In 1658 he was named general superintendent of navigation, or chief of the naval army, and faithfully served the king in naval wars from that on. In 1664 he directed the expedition against the pirates of Algiers. In 1669, during the siege of Candia he led the French troops defending Candia against the Turks, and was killed in a night sortie, on 25 June 1669. His body was brought back to France with great pomp, and official honours rendered it.[4]

Depictions in fiction

Beaufort is one of the characters of Twenty Years After and The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Alexandre Dumas's sequels to The Three Musketeers. The first book chronicles his escape on Whitsunday - plotted by Athos - and lampoons his tendency to utter malapropisms.

He also appears in Le Roi Soleil, a French musical which opened in Paris in 2005 where he was played by Merwan Rim. Beaufort is also one of the main characters in the trilogy "Secret d'État", by French novelist Juliette Benzoni.



  1. ^ Bardakçı, Özkan; Pugnière, François, eds. (2008), "Chapitre III. Les interventions françaises dans la guerre de Candie", La dernière croisade : Les Français et la guerre de Candie, 1669 (in French), Presses universitaires de Rennes, pp. 61–77, doi:10.4000/books.pur.5091, ISBN 9782753530904, retrieved 7 March 2021
  2. ^ Orr 2004, p. 19.
  3. ^ Ladurie 2001, p. 106.
  4. ^ a b c d Chisholm 1911, p. 586.
  5. ^ "Born Marie de Savoie-Nemours on June 21, 1646; died on December 27, 1683; daughter of Charles Amedee of Savoy (who was killed in a celebrated duel with his brother-in-law, Francois de Vendome, duke of Beaufort)... " (Commire & Klezmer 2001, p. 388).


  • Commire, Anne; Klezmer, Deborah (2001). Women in world history: a biographical encyclopedia. Vol. 10. p. 388.
  • Ladurie, Emmanuel Le Roy (2001). Saint-Simon and the Court of Louis XIV. Translated by Goldhammer, Arthur. University of Chicago Press.
  • Orr, Clarissa Campbell, ed. (2004). Queenship in Europe 1660-1815: The Role of the Consort. Cambridge University Press.


  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911), "Beaufort, François de Vendôme", Encyclopædia Britannica, vol. 3 (11th ed.), Cambridge University Press, p. 586 Endnotes:
    • See the memoirs of the time, notably those of La Rochefoucauld, the Cardinal de Retz, and Madame de Motteville.
    • D'Avenel Richelieu et la monarchie absolue (1884);
    • Chéruel, La France sous le ministère de Mazarin (1879)
    • La France sous la minorité de Louis XIV (1882).

7 Annotations

First Reading

MrsK  •  Link

François, Duque de Beaufort is also one of the main characters of Juliette Benzoni's series of three books "Secret d'Etat."

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Charles II probably didn't like or trust Francois de Vendome, Duc de Beauford.

During the Protectorate, France had also had a civil war, the Fronde. It was a power play by the French Princes to rout juvenile Louis XIV and the Mother-Regent, Anne of Austria. In an effort to discredit Charles and run the English Court out of the country, Charles was asked to mediate a sticky situation. Beaufort didn't like the deal so he ran back to Paris (where he was very popular) and told everyone that the English were meddling, etc. Riots erupted for months, and Henrietta Maria and her Court were frightened and isolated. Nasty deal -- but they did not leave, which was one of the Machiavellian plot behind the riots.

See THE KING IN EXILE -- By EVA SCOTT -- Pages 352-359…

Once Louis XIV became of age and had sent his mother into retirement, he found useful things for all these bad uncles to do.

To make a long story short, in 1658 François de Vendôme, Duc de Beaufort was named general superintendent of navigation, or chief of the naval army, and faithfully served Louis in naval wars from then on.

Starting in 1664, Beaufort directed the expedition against the pirates of Algiers.

To honor the French Treaty with the Dutch, Louis XIV seems to have told them he was sending Beaufort to help their landing in 1666. Beaufort never left the Med., so perhaps Louis was trying to make the Dutch overplay their hand?

Again in 1668, Beaufort appeared to be helping the Dutch without actually doing so. Clearly, if France/Louis XIV/Beaufort had wanted to make things worse for England, they could have.

In 1669, during the siege of Candia (today Heraklion on Crete), Beaufort led the French troops defending Candia against the Turks, and was killed on 15 June 1669. His body was take back to France with great pomp for a hero's burial.

During the Ottoman-Venetian Wars, Candia withstood one of the longest sieges in history, from 1648–1669. The Venetians had ruled there since the Fourth Crusade, as Candia was a key position in the Med. The commander, Gen. Francesco Morosini, knew the siege was over as he had no supplies and only 3,600 fighters left. On 27 August he surrendered to the Grand Vizier Ahmed Köprülü. According to the peace agreement, Venetia was allowed to keep the Aegean islands of Tinos and Kythera and some fortresses important for trade.…

Yes, the Barbary Pirates/Ottoman Empire was still wrecking havoc on shipping and taking Christian slaves. Every time you see a Navy squadron being sent to the Streights, it is to provide protection for the merchant ships.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

1662 -- the balance of power in western Europe rocked between the French and the Spanish. The Spanish held the Netherlands, and young King Louis XIV looked on that holding as a challenge to his northern border.

Technically a Treaty signed in 1662 between France and the Dutch Republic (the de Witts' faction was in charge) obligated France to aid the Dutch should war break out with England. This was a Cardinal Mazarin policy conceived in Cromwell's time which Louis inherited, and avoided acting on.

While hatred of the French ran deep in the English psyche, many of Louis' court objected to a war with England on principle. England was ruled by his cousin, an apparently pliable and penniless monarch, while the Dutch Republic was -- a Republic.
Also there was no French navy to speak of, so a rapid building program was introduced, but it was no match for the English.

More information see 1666: Plague, War and Hellfire by Rebecca Rideal -St. Martin' Press, New York - 2016 - ISBN 978-1-250-09707-1 (e-book) -- page 83

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

1665 -- When Philip IV of Spain died on 17 September 1665, their heir, Carlos, was 3 years old. Mariana of Austria, Queen of Spain, acted as regent for him, and she would continue to do so for most of his life, due to his illnesses. Carlos remained weak, by the age of six he could stand alone, but he still could not walk.

The question of who would inherit the Spanish territories was in question. Louis XIV wanted Dutch agreement on his planned expansion into the Spanish Netherlands. Louis knew that by honoring the treaty he would receive their agreement.

Charles II's desire to be a European power-broker made England more of a threat at a time when Spanish power was weakened. French and English warships challenged each other over salutes, and captured each other's merchant ships looking for Dutch merchandise.

If England won the second Anglo-Dutch War, overthrowing the States-General and the de Witt regime, the young Prince William of Orange would be in power, turning the Dutch Republic effectively into an English protectorate.

Consequently German princes were courted, the Swedish were purchased, and the Danes were pressured.

Meanwhile the English Court, exiled by the plague in Oxford, partied on.

More information see 1666: Plague, War and Hellfire by Rebecca Rideal -St. Martin' Press, New York - 2016 - ISBN 978-1-250-09707-1 (e-book) -- page 84-87

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

1666 -- On May 14 secret intelligence was received by Charles II that the French fleet had been seen at Belle Isle, just south of Brittany. The decision was made to split the fleet. In reality the French fleet was at Lisbon, a week's sail away.

The Venetian ambassador to France, Alvise Sagredo, writing a report from Paris at the beginning of June, said:
"It was agreed between France and Holland these last weeks that the most sure and certain way to bring the English to reason was that of time and not of arms and that the best way to conquer them was to tire them out."
The Ambassador continued that this split in warships was what the French Admiral, the duc de Beaufort, had intended.

Perhaps Louis IV also wanted to avoid the 1666 fighting, so the Dutch and the English would exhaust themselves while leaving the French Navy free to pick off their maritime vessels, and his captains and admiral gain experience in seamanship.

More information see 1666: Plague, War and Hellfire by Rebecca Rideal -- St. Martin' Press, New York -- 2016 -- ISBN 978-1-250-09707-2 (hard back) -- page 118-119

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

1666 -- end of August -- The Generals-at-Sea, Prince Rupert and the Duke of Albemarle, were anxious to score one last victory during the fighting season.
The ships were repaired and victualed, and went cruising off the Dutch coast.

By the end of August the duc de Beaufort and the French fleet has progressed as far as the Bay of Biscay. They were further away than even the Dutch appreciated. Their plan was to join the two fleets and attack the English fleet by stealth and by numbers.

Following some skirmishes the English fleet, anticipating the combined fleets, by the beginning of September was staying close to Portsmouth, with several ships needing repairs.

Then on September 5, the Duke of Albemarle received a letter from Secretary of State Sir William Morrice telling him that Charles II needed him back in London because "God had visited the city with a heavy calamity." He surrendered control of the fleet to Prince Rupert and began his 75-mile return to London the next morning.

More information see 1666: Plague, War and Hellfire by Rebecca Rideal -- St. Martin' Press, New York -- 2016 -- ISBN 978-1-250-09707-2 (hard back) -- page 165-166

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

1666 September -- It took more than a week for the news of the Great Fire to reach Paris.

Publicly Louis IV said publicly that he would not have "any rejoicings about it, being such a deplorable accident involving injury to so many unhappy people" and offered his condolences to Madame Henrietta Anne --- AKA Minette -- his sister-in-law.

He offered to send aid, food and other disaster relief. Privately he was thrilled at his stroke of good fortune. He had made a mess of his summer campaign, and the French fleet was in no position to fight. He believed the English maritime supplies and magazines had been destroyed, which would force the English to retire from the War.

More information see 1666: Plague, War and Hellfire by Rebecca Rideal -- St. Martin' Press, New York -- 2016 -- ISBN 978-1-250-09707-2 (hard back) -- page 199

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.