He was descended from an old family which had for generations served the dukes of Burgundy and Lorraine, and after being educated with his brothers in Bavaria and Italy, was introduced to the court of Henry IV in 1598. He became a great favourite of the king and shared to the full in the dissipations of court life. In 1600 he took part in the brief campaign in Savoy, and in 1603 fought in Hungary for the emperor against the Turks.
In 1614 he assisted Marie de 'Medici in her struggle against the nobles, but upon her failure in 1617 remained loyal to the King Louis XIII and assisted the royalists when they routed Marie's supporters at Ponts-de-Cé in 1620. His services during the Huguenot rising of 1621-22 won for him the dignity of marshal of France. He was with the army of the king during the siege of La Rochelle in 1628, and in 1629 distinguished himself in the campaign against the rebels of Languedoc.
In 1615 Bassompierre had purchased from Henri, duc de Rohan (1579-1638), the coveted position of colonel-general of the Swiss and Grisons; on this account he was sent to raise troops in Switzerland when Louis XIII marched against Savoy in 1629, and after a short campaign in Italy his military career ended.
As a diplomatist his career was a failure. In 1621 he went to Madrid as envoy extraordinary to arrange the dispute concerning the seizure of the Valteline forts by Spain, and signed the fruitless treaty of Madrid. In 1625 he was sent into Switzerland on an equally futile mission, and in 1626 to London to secure the retention of the Catholic ecclesiastics and attendants of Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I. The personal influence of Henry IV had deterred Bassompierre from a marriage with Charlotte de Montmorency, daughter of the constable Montmorency, afterwards princesse de Condé, and between 1614 and 1630 he was secretly married to Louise Marguerite, widow of François, prince de Conti, and through her became implicated in the plot to overthrow Richelieu on the "Day of Dupes" 1630. His share was only a slight one, but his wife was an intimate friend of Marie de 'Medici, and her hostility to the cardinal aroused his suspicions. By Richelieu's orders, Bassompierre was arrested at Senlis on February 25 1631, and put into the Bastille, where he remained until Richelieu's death in 1643.
On his release his offices were restored to him, and he passed most of his time at the castle of Tillières in Normandy, until his death. He left a son, François de la Tour, by the princesse de Conti, and an illegitimate son, Louis de Bassompierre, afterwards bishop of Saintes. His Mémoires, which are an important source for the history of his time, were first published at Cologne in 1665. He also left an incomplete account of his embassies to Spain, Switzerland and England (Cologne, 1668) and a number of discourses upon various subjects.
The best edition of the Mémoires is that issued by the Société de l'Histoire de France (Paris, 1877); see also G Tallemant des Reaux, Historiettes de la princesse de Conti, et du maréchal de Bassompierre (Paris, 1854-1860).