Born on December 17, 1619, at Prague, Rupert was given the title Prince Rupert of the Rhine because he had come into the world while his father was still king of Bohemia. By his late teens he had grown into a handsome youth. He stood 6'4”and was an accomplished athlete and horseman. Although given an education the equal provided to any member of royalty of the time, the Prince's personal interest—from an early age—concerned military matters.
With no formal war colleges or course of study in civilian institutions of higher learning yet established, an aspiring military commander in 17th-century Europe had to acquire his knowledge of strategy and battlefield tactics by reading about them, and—when the opportunity arose—taking part in actual campaigning. Rupert was fortunate to be able to do both in the 1630s. As a personage of note (Rupert's mother was the sister of King Charles I of England) the young Prince was allowed to mingle with the leading elements of Dutch society, including the hereditary Stadtholders (political leaders) of the country. He was deeply influenced by them, especially Maurice of Nassau, who rose to prominence in the late 16th and early 17th centuries as commander of Holland's army in its wars against Spain.