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Counts

COUNTS or SOISSONS. In the middle ages Soissons was the chief town of a countship belonging in the loth and nth centuries to a family which apparently sprang from the counts of Vermandois. Renaud, count of Soissons, gave his property in 1141 to his nephew Yves de Nesle. By successive marriages the countship of Soissons passed to the houses of Hainaut, Chatillon-Blois, Coucy, Bar and Luxemburg. Marie de Luxemburg brought it, together with the counties of Marie and St Pol, to Francis of Bourbon, count of Vend6me, whom she married in 1487. His descendants, the princes of Conde, held Soissons and gave it to their cadets. Charles of Bourbon, count of Soissons (1566-1612), son of Louis, prince of Conde, whose political vacillations were due to his intrigues with Henry IV.'s sister Catherine, became grand master of France and governor of Dauphine and Normandy. His son, Louis of Bourbon (1604-1641), took part in the plots against Marie de Medici and Richelieu, and attempted to assassinate Richelieu. He had only one child, a natural son, known as the Chevalier de Soissons. The countship passed to the house of Savoy-Carignan by the marriage in 1625 of Marie de BourbonSoissons with Thomas Francis of Savoy. Eugene Maurice of Savoy, count of Soissons (1635-1673), married the beautiful and witty Olympia Mancini, a niece of Cardinal Mazarin, and obtained high military posts through his wife's influence. He defeated the Spaniards at the battle of the Dunes in 1658; took part in the campaigns at Flanders (1667). Franche-Comte (1668) and Holland (1672); and was present as ambassador extraordinary of France at the coronation of Charles II. of England. His wife led a scandalous life, and was accused of poisoning her husband and others. She was the mother of Louis Thomas Amadeus, count of Soissons, and of the famous Prince Eugene of Savoy. In 1734 the male line of the family of Savoy-Soissons became extinct, and the heiress, the princess of Saxe-Hildburghausen, ceded the countship of Soissons to the house of Orleans, in whose possession it remained until 1789.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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