Louis II Bourbon, de

First name
Louis II
Last name
Bourbon, de
Date of Birth
Date of Death
Born in
Died in
Palace of Fontainebleau

In late July 1673, Spinoza travelled from The Hague (still under Dutch command) to town of Utrecht by then occupied by the French army. It is documented that he carried in his pockets a dated and signed passport of the French general Louis II de Bourbon—the illustrious Prince of Condé who stayed in Utrecht from 31 April to 25 July—and, quite likely, also one from the Prince of Orange. The occasion for the trip was an invitation officially directed to him by lieutenant colonel Jean Baptiste Stouppe—chief of one of the five cantons dividing Utrecht—to visit the French military headquarters temporarily. A letter by Stouppe, written up sometime [before 25 July 1673]) and addressed to the Utrecht professor of history and rhetoric Johannes Georgius Graevius, proves that the Swiss army officer was the organisational lynchpin in the daring plan to bring Spinoza to Utrecht. The same document also establishes the fact that Stouppe asked Graevius to communicate the invitation to Spinoza. Stouppe himself took care of the needed travelling money and other expenses. He arranged that a passport signed by the Prince of Condé was handed to Spinoza to guarantee him free and safe passage through occupied Dutch territory heavily guarded by French troops. Graevius’s answer has not survived. From his correspondence with Spinoza’s Amsterdam confidant Johannes Bouwmeester, it becomes plain that the latter physician directed (July 21) the invitation to the philosopher in The Hague. It is now known with certainty that Spinoza accepted the invitation. Bouwmeester confirmed in another letter to Graevius (July 29) that the philosopher had left The Hague on the 26th to travel to Utrecht via Gouda. There, he crossed the Holland Water line at the smallest strip and probably arrived in Utrecht either on 27 or on 28 July. A letter of the 28th, sent by Stouppe’s younger brother ‘brigadier’ Pierre-Alexandre—military governor of Utrecht—to Condé proves that Spinoza had safely arrived by then.

The true reasons how and why exactly Spinoza won grace with aristocrats in the French army staff still form a perplexing issue. It is also a complete mystery for whatever reasons the philosopher was summoned to Utrecht and why he accepted the invitation. Apart from Jean Baptiste Stouppe, Graevius (and perhaps the Marquis de Feuquières), it is unknown who Spinoza met in Utrecht. There are also strong indications that he called on the Utrecht Cartesian doctor of medicine and town councillor Lambert van Velthuysen and another city magistrate, Joachim Nieustadt. The date of Spinoza’s return is undocumented. In any case, he was back in The Hague in late August 1673.

Several contemporary writers agree that Spinoza went to Utrecht at the invitation of Condé, but the evidence produced in their accounts about the vexed trip is conjectural and ill-founded. These authors particularly differ in opinion as to the question whether Spinoza had a rendezvous with Condé. It is documented that the French army commander was involved in the plan to call Spinoza to Utrecht by implication only, but it is certain that they never made each other’s acquaintance. A letter by Condé written on 18/28 July to François-Michel le Tellier, Marquess of Louvois, irrefutably shows that the Prince had left Utrecht on 25 July—hence, before Spinoza’s arrival—to take up military positions elswhere. There are no other indications that the army chieftain returned to Utrecht to confer with Spinoza.

See: Van de Ven, 2015.


Isaac Peyrère, de la

Personal secretary