Saint Simon wrote "he was capable of nothing"! It is true that his penchant for men confined him to short history, to such an extent that he was despised by historians. On the other hand, his "women" weren't really kind to him; being the King's brother was not easy to bear, like all the second in families. So well done! Elisabetta lurgo, doctor in history, succeeded in his work "Philippe d´Orléans, brother of Louis XIV »To demonstrate the contrary and to make us love this character, very useful, even essential to the Sun King.
There are not many personal testimonies or memories of Philippe of Orleans. His correspondence, memories and letters from those around him (Mme de Maintenon, La Palatine his wife, La Grande Mademoiselle his cousin ... as well as a few rare letters between the two brothers) prove an intelligent and sensitive man who established genuine and true relationships. with his relatives.
The two brothers
Philippe was born in September 1640, Louis XIII rejoices, his second son looks a lot like him with his black hair, the succession is assured especially since Louis Dieudonné is of fragile health. "The prettiest child in the world" attracts those around him; certainly talkative, but very open and smiling, he is capable of making himself loved with his natural politeness. He is not keen on reading, but enjoys cultivated conversations and participates a lot in various renowned trade fairs.
When Louis Dieudonné became king in 1652, Philippe was involved in all the events, parades and ceremonies that he adored. Obedient and docile by nature, he does not want to displease his brother and will never challenge him, having been brought up with respect and loyalty to the king, quite the opposite of his uncle Gaston d´Orléans. Benevolent and endowed with great tenderness for his brother, Philippe panics in June 1658 when Louis falls ill. He does not want to lose him, but above all he is terrified when all the courtiers and all the major parties turn to him, not to mention all the women who throw themselves at his neck. Philippe is only 17 years old and is forever "disgusted" with women! Yet he loves their presence, in all honor while his brother "likes to see them very closely". His great joy is to adorn them, to style them, to find them superb clothes and precious stones. He rejoices at a masked ball and enjoys the atmosphere of the fairs where he buys fabrics and jewelry.
He trusts his brother when the rumor announces his affair with Henriette Anne; even more when it does everything to oust Philippe's friends and scheming with the king. The atmosphere and the understanding between the two brothers are not always good. Until 1670, Philippe was like a big child, lacking in self-confidence. There are several quarrels between them. Philippe is disturbed, oppressed until he leaves the Court; Louis is remorseful when he sees that he is acting under pressure from those around him, such as having the Chevalier de Lorraine, a great friend and confidant of Philippe, accused of Henriette's death, arrested; other cases such as the affair of the Comte de Vermandois involving Philippe, his friends, his wife….
Their relationship becomes a bit complicated with the appearance of Mme de Maintenon to the King. But she doesn't manage to completely confuse them. When Philippe was very ill in 1681, his brother watched over him and very often sat next to his bed, even if it meant delaying his departure on a trip to 1684, while waiting for Philippe to get better. It must be said that between 1685 and 1688, he very often suffered from discomfort, headaches and fever. Conversely, when the king was ill in 1693 and returned to Versailles during the war, upon his return Philippe went to see him and learn about his condition.
The older they get, the more they need each other, Louis XIV often seeks Philippe's company, they go for walks together, they visit each other regularly, they show each other the amenities of their respective estates.
The posts with his brother the King
Philippe hates politics and doesn't appreciate military triumphs, but in war he goes to the trenches to encourage and boost the morale of the soldiers. He doesn't worry about putting his relatives in government; if he asks for a province, it is only for the purpose of obtaining the revenues. When offered the government of Naples, he uses the excuse of the volcano and the earthquakes he is afraid of. He does not like aristocratic activities, he hates hunting and even more so he hates riding.
When the King rules alone, at the death of Mazarin in 1661, the ministers believe that Philippe will be removed because he is unreliable. On the contrary, Philippe is on the Council for Dispatches relating to the organization of the provinces. In 1672, the two brothers set out on a campaign. This is Philippe's first command. He has the full confidence of his brother: he learns quickly, he understands quickly, he has sound judgment and he wins many cities. Although a little effeminate, he knows how to obtain the respect of the soldiers, he shows bravery taking incredible risks until the victory of Cassel in 1677. He receives many flattering letters supporting the fact that he fought better that the king… to which he answers with modesty, because he is very embarrassed not seeking glory and not wanting to supplant his brother.
It was not until 1693 that Philippe again received a command to counter William of Orange in Brittany, Normandy and Picardy. The king knows that his brother will mobilize the nobility to help him. Philippe checks everything, organizes everything, takes stock of the situation and gives instructions.
Louis XIV's final installation in Versailles was quite chaotic and the king asked his brother to organize the ceremony. Philippe being very familiar with etiquette, succeeds brilliantly in enforcing the protocol of getting up, of the little table, of all daily life at court. He plays a central role in "the staging of the figure of the King", nowadays it looks like communication.
He will serve as ambassador between the king and the apostolic nuncio, as well as with Savoy, he is a reliable interlocutor who does his duty, defending the actions of the king. He also has a lot to do with his son-in-law Victor Amédée II of Savoy, especially when Savoy becomes a French protectorate while Victor Amédée wants to ally with the Empire, in hiding from France! The king explodes and sends Philippe as an emissary, who succeeds in putting Victor Amédée back on the right track. It is the same when, despite the marriage of the daughter of Victor Amédée and the grandson of the king, Savoy rekindles its desires wanting to obtain part of the Spanish succession and annex the principality of Monaco. Philippe is still and always sent as ambassador and mediator.
Saint Cloud and other masterpieces by Philippe
In October 1658, the two brothers discovered Saint Cloud. This is Philippe's real crush, who wants to buy the estate and turn it into a masterpiece. This is where he locks himself in to mourn the death of his mother. Saint Cloud becomes a miniature replica of the Royal Court. Passionate about building and art, Philippe transforms and inaugurates it before Versailles is completed; Louis XIV stamps like a child but does not hold it against his brother, unlike Fouquet. It will even finance some work. Philippe does not have a particular need: the sole legatee of his cousin La Grande Mademoiselle, he knows how to manage his great heritage and make his fortune grow by making high-income investments, so that his descendants have no worries about money for centuries to come.
Since he no longer had a command in the army between 1678 and 1691, he took care of his estate, the end of the work and launched a financial project close to his heart: the construction of a large canal between the Loire and the Loing to promote supplies and trade in Paris, mortgaging part of its property, until its opening in March 1692.
During the winter of 1690, which was very trying, Philippe melted his silverware three times to benefit the Charité hospital in Saint Cloud, which he founded, as well as the Orléans hospital, which he had built. . In 1693-1694, he gave firewood and water from his gardens to the Ursulines, in addition to distributing money to peasants between Paris and Brittany during his military campaigns.
His family life
His biggest flaw is his lack of will in the face of profiteers, in whom he does not see the deceptions as with his first wife. When the king finds Henriette Anne Stuart of England for his wife, Philippe agrees, since everyone around him is. Likewise, after Henrietta's death, the king thinks of an important new alliance with the Empire and it is Elisabeth Charlotte Princess Palatine, Duchess of Bavaria. Two totally different wives: with the first nothing goes, with the second they live in friendship and tenderness. Even the king appreciates this new sister-in-law very much, everyone is happy, so much so that Louis gives his brother a huge gift: let the Chevalier de Lorraine return, allow him to return to the Court and appoint him Field Marshal. in the King's army.
Close to his family, Philippe and the Palatine went through painful ordeals: the massacre of the Palatinate, the death of the little Duke of Valois. Philippe supports his wife and takes care of her from morning to night with passion and tenderness.
The stewardship problems in his house are piling up, he dismisses his first butler with a crash, considered as "reporter and spy of his brother", as well as his treasurer, superintendent of buildings trafficking charges, swindling Philippe for a amount of 1,500,000 pounds he will have to return!
The little duke of Chartres (son of Philippe) made a great impression on the king during his visits to Saint Cloud. In 1691 he joined the army and began with the Flanders campaign. The king congratulates him, admits he is promising, valiant and brave, although he prefers his rightful son the Duke of Maine. Once again, Philippe is happy.
Philip accepts alliances for the marriage of his daughters, even when one is to marry Charles II of Spain, suffering from physical and mental disorders. He hugs his daughter, explaining that she is a princess royal, having to comply with etiquette, not being able to refuse to work for the interests of France. The farewells are heartbreaking and he always listens to her. He reassures her when she feels watched and oppressed, but feels guilty for not having been able to do anything when he learns of his death in 1689. It is his turn to marry his son, a real challenge because he is lively, does not like constraints and is very ambitious. He was offered Melle de Blois; the father and the son approve not wanting to oppose the will of the king and the young Philippe receives (in exchange) the domain of the Royal Palace.
A new alliance is announced between his second daughter and Savoy. Philippe will spend his time calming the demands of his son-in-law, reassuring his daughter abused by her husband and will welcome with open arms, a few years later, his granddaughter Marie Adelaide who joins the Court to marry the grandson of the king the young duke. of Burgundy. The "grandpas" are very happy. This marriage reconciles everyone: Victor Amédée, Philippe and Louis XIV… for a short time. In 1700, Louis XIV decided on a marriage between his grandson and the youngest of Philippe's granddaughters, Marie Louise Gabrielle. Unfortunately, Philippe will no longer be there for the royal wedding.
Philippe's last years
In the spring of 1700, his health declined. He has more and more bouts of drips and faintness, things he never had before 1700. His mood is gloomy, he is sad, he is afraid of death, he is less and less talkative, he refuses to be treated by "charlatans". The conduct and libertine life of his son, the Duke of Chartres, displeases him, especially when he learns from his brother that he questions religion and that he has a relationship with a witch.
The king does not grant him prestigious offices even if he recognizes that he is much better than his sons, he removes him from all power and ousted him from all command. Philippe gets carried away with his brother because he loves his children, he wants to defend them and only wants their happiness. When the Duke of Chartres threatens to fight with the Spaniards, it is too much. The two brothers will explain themselves, accusing each other of all the Duke of Chartres’s faults and Louis knows Philippe is right but there is nothing he can do.
They spend time together regularly until one day Philippe has a heavy bleeding, Louis worries about it by sending him his doctor who recommends bleeding which Philippe refuses. On June 8, Philippe is better and in a good mood. At the table, talking about things and the like, he faints and begins to babble. Today, the diagnosis would be: brain hemorrhage and ruptured aneurysm. The king warned by his nephew, wants to join Saint Cloud as quickly as possible; he was made to wait and during the night, after a new alert message, he left for Saint Cloud with the princes and princesses. He finds him unconscious, Philippe will not wake up anymore. The next day, June 9, 1701, at 1 p.m., Philippe passed away. Louis will cry for over 24 hours, even on his walks, even during his meals and yet he has to appear, that's the etiquette. Several times he repeats "I cannot get used to thinking that I will never see my brother again".
Philippe of Orleans will be missed by many
Philippe was loved by all, the Dutch gazette writes “a prince full of merit and amiable qualities; affable and good-natured; he has done good for an infinite number of people ”. Louis organizes the funeral service and personally pays all expenses. Philippe de Chartres becomes the sole legatee of his father and the new Duke of Orleans. The king grants him all the pensions, all the houses, all the servants, all the guards, the chancellor, the cavalry regiments and the company of the gendarmes of which his father was the holder. Children and grandchildren go through a hard time losing a loving father and grandfather. Ambassadors are amazed at losing a precious ally and interlocutor. Versailles, Saint Cloud and the Royal Palace are losing "their beautiful hours, their dazzling celebrations, everything seems lifeless, joyless and without action with the death of Monsieur".
Louis feels very lonely "Louis XIV's brother was the only human creature living with him on a certain level of humanity and even of comradeship".
Philippe d'Orléans, biography of Elisabetta lurgo. Perrin, May 2018.