Philippe d'Orléans (1640-1701), brother of Louis XIV

Philippe of Orleans, Monsieur brother of the Sun King, nephew of Gaston, father of the Regent and like all those of the Orleans line, was bullied, excluded from politics and war. Despite their desire to do well, their desire to fight, they were only the seconds of the great kings. Historians have made comparisons between the two "pairs" of brothers Louis XIII and Gaston d'Orléans with Louis XIV and Philippe d'Orléans: the two Louis are Bourbons, the two Orléans are Medici… attracted by the things of the spirit, subject to mood swings at the slightest affront or annoyance!

The little gentleman, Duke of Anjou

Philippe d´Orléans, Louis XIV's only brother, was born on September 21, 1640, at 10 p.m. at the Château de Saint Germain, accompanied by the cannon and a Te Deum at Notre Dame. Louis XIII is especially happy, especially as his first child Louis screams whenever they see each other. Philippe took little advantage of his father who died in 1643, he was thirty two months old then and became the Little Mister.

The tutor develops in this lively, charming and generous child a taste for letters and the arts; his uncle often welcomes him to Luxembourg and shows him the books in the library, his collections of rare objects; his mother Anne of Austria, his housekeeper Mme Lansac and a company of French Guards are around him to preserve him. Surrounded by women and obliged to play with the future Abbot of Choisy, resembling a little girl, he is dressed in dresses, with ribbons, perfumes, flies, earrings ... in order to restrain any kind of virility in him. Her mother often calls her "my little girl" and stays by her side during her first measles and her first dysentery, but has to intervene during the two brothers' frequent arguments, as the queen's valet de chambre recounts in her Memoirs. “The king wanted Monsieur to sleep in his room, which was so small that there was only one person passing through. In the morning, when they were awakened, the king without thinking about it immediately spat on Monsieur's bed; who spat on the king's bed on purpose, who, a little angry, spat in his face; Monsieur jumped onto the king's bed and pissed on it; the king did the same on Monsieur's bed. Since they had no more to spit or to piss, they began to pull the sheets together in the square and soon after they began to fight. "

Despite the Fronde, Philippe's education continued thanks to Hardouin de Beaumont, Comte Duplessis-Praslin, Millet de Jeure, with literature, Latin, arithmetic, science, lessons in posture, horse riding and fencing.

In September 1648, Louis officially became of age and king. During the ceremony in September 1651, Philippe realizes that now this brother with whom he was playing, with whom he had spent hard months on the roads of France, is the Master. He also felt it on the day of the coronation in June 1654, when he received the order of the Holy Spirit from his hands and even more so during the first wars in which he could not participate, according to the King's will. He made up for it in 1656 at the siege of Montmédy and under the responsibility of Marshal Duplessis-Praslin, he proved himself, with courage and valor.

Philippe is seventeen ... it's time to get him married. He has a great affection for the Grande Mademoiselle but she discovers a powdered being, made up, dressed as a girl, wearing high heels, surrounded by young people like Daniel de Cosnac bishop of Valence, Philippe Mancini, the Duke of Joyeuse, Armant de Gramont Comte de Guiche who "crumple and jostle him"! To occupy it with dignity, and "control" it, the king gave it the protection of Molière and his troop, in the new room of the Petit Bourbon as well as the domain of Saint Cloud with which Philippe immediately fell in love in 1658.

When his uncle Gaston died in February 1660, Philippe imagined himself bearing the title of Duke of Orleans and inheriting all the prerogatives: the Duchy of Orleans and Chartres comprising nineteen hundred and seventy-two parishes, twenty eight abbeys, two a hundred priories; the county of Blois over fifty leagues from east to west and forty from north to south; Chambord. But the Duke of Anjou took the name of Monsieur when he married Henriette of England in 1661, became Duke of Orleans and Chartres, took over the Duchy of Valois, the Lordship of Montargis, then Sèvres, Nemours, Dourdan, Romorantin and the castle of Villers-Cotterêts.

Philippe, Duke of Orleans

Henriette of England, called "the bones of the Holy Innocents" by Louis XIV, the "most amiable princess in the world" enamored of culture, adapting very easily to the Court, become gracious, smiling and sure of herself, wife So Philippe by a contract signed on March 30, 1661. The engagement takes place the same evening and the religious marriage the following day, in the chapel of the Royal Palace which will be their residence.

The young couple charms the court, receives at the Tuileries, frequents the comedy and meets up with the royal family in Fontainebleau. But the king no longer leaves Henriette, Henriette no longer leaves her royal brother-in-law. Monsieur suspects something and ends up being ridiculed by the courtiers. He takes revenge and Madame becomes pregnant ... Courted by one of Monsieur's favorites, the scenes follow one another until the case breaks out on the day of the Bal des Saisons in July in Fontainebleau. To forget, the couple moved away from the Court but the king remonstrated with them "the sons of France must never have other pensions than the Court, nor any other places of security than the heart of their king". Back in Paris for the birth of their first daughter in March 1662, despite intrigues and plots (the Vardès affair), they put on a "good figure" in January 1663 during the first performance of Molière's "School of Women". . The man remains extremely jealous and worried, the atmosphere is tense, but each makes an effort to tolerate the whims of the other. To keep his wife, he does his duty and Madame finds herself pregnant every year. A little reassured on this side, and more in control of his emotions than his brother, he spends his days with his sick mother, who takes the opportunity to reconcile the two brothers. He assists her until his last breath, while Louis faints ... It is January 20, 1666.

Life must continue, despite the war with England, despite the appearance of the Chevalier de Lorraine (who will remain in the entourage of the Duke of Orleans for more than thirty years and who will lead Monsieur "le stick high"), despite rumors and conspiracies between the favorites (Lorraine, Guiche). His loyal friend Cosnac instilled in him his philosophy "to please the king, never disappoint him, anticipate his wishes, prudence and wisdom, ignore court gossip, protect himself from ministers, ensure them a solid friendship". Always present, he also helps him during quarrels with the knight, for a story of compromising letters involving Madame, until the day he is removed from his duties ... the Duke of Orleans finds himself alone, sad, extremely jealous as was his father Louis XIII. Without counting the death of the little Duke of Valois in December 1666, he was just two years old.

Monsieur is leading the way

Monsieur takes care of recovering the annual pension paid by the king to his nephew because their House is very large: a thousand hundred people, eight hundred thousand pounds of wages a year, three hundred thousand pounds for the expenses of mouth… the collection of Dutch paintings, precious stones, tapestries, the enlargement and the embellishment of his domain of Saint Cloud, without forgetting the gratuities to his favorites… In lack of money, he has only one solution: to obtain the glory to the war ! The War of Devolution falls at the peak, he accompanies the king, shows himself brave, devoted in helping his soldiers, valiant, intrepid even; the king grateful, integrated him into the Council of War and that of the Despatches, even admitting the return of the Chevalier de Lorraine, seconded to Marshal d'Aumont. And Philippe, quite happy, fights less, neglects his responsibilities, locks himself in his tent with the knight, promising himself loyalty and exclusivity!

The year 1669 is spent in parties and disguises at the Royal Palace. Everyone lends themselves everyone, until the arrival of the Marquis d'Effiat, the nephew of Cinq Mars, adulated by Louis XIII. The knight of Lorraine "owns Monsieur with empire" but annoys everyone with his schemes. The height is reached when the Duke of Orleans offers an abbey to his dear knight! This is too much ! Louis XIV had him embellished, then had him transferred to the Château d'If ... Monsieur sulked and left the court for Villers-Cotterêts, until Colbert arrived in February 1670, his arms laden with gifts and supplications. The D'Orleans finally return to Paris, Lorraine leaves prison, but is invited to go abroad (he will have a good time with a Mancini in Rome). With distressing sadness, Monsieur pursues Madame so that she intercedes with the king; the scenes are regular and daily until the departure of Henriette in charge of a diplomatic mission in England with her brother Charles, in May 1670. She returns in June with a commitment of alliance between the two countries in the conflict of the Provinces United, but she is not doing well "Madame has death painted on her face", she died on June 30, 1670. We only spoke of poison, Monsieur was not blamed, but his favorites yes! The mourning ceremonies are barely finished when the king proposes a marriage with the Grande Mademoiselle… it is a good match (she is rich and has character) and that would prevent Philippe from using the State coffers… But Mlle de Montpensier does not want a debauchery, homosexual, submissive to his cuties… However, he must be remarried… for the good of France!

Marriage with Princess Palatine

The "good of France" is presented in the guise of a Bavarian: Elisabeth Charlotte of Bavaria, Liselotte by her little name. Their first meeting in 1671 remains in everyone's memory: Monsieur pronounces these words "how could I sleep with her?" "And the second lady to say" without looking dastardly, Monsieur was short and plump, with very dark hair and eyebrows, large dark eyes ". However, they are a couple united thanks to the behavior of Madame: she does not concern herself with beauty, nor fashion, nor intrigue. Thanks to this marriage, Monsieur receives additional goods: the Duchy of Nemours, the County of Romorantin and Dourdan, the Lordship of Coucy and that of Folombray, always to remain under the control of the King. At the Royal Palace, he takes care of the management of his prerogative, financial matters and religious affairs as well as court etiquette which is very important to him.

All is well in this strange couple, Madame even accepts the presence of the Chevalier de Lorraine, Monsieur resumes his activities (parties, dances, games) until the declaration of the Dutch War in April 1672. He joins the king and can prove his true value by making Orsoy, Rhimberg, Zutphen capitulate in four days ... but the glory goes to the king, although his brother is welcomed with all kinds of festivities (concerts, violins, supper, ball, comedy) when he returns in Saint Cloud.

Monsieur is particularly happy with the birth of Alexandre duc de Valois, but this little boy will live only three years. The second son Philippe duc de Chartres, was born in August 1674, but the joy is not there: the Palatinate, country of Madame, was devastated by the French armies in the spring. Unhappy for her family, anxious, a heavy burden on her heart, she fell seriously ill at the beginning of the year 1675, Monsieur was very worried and had masses said. This does not settle with the death of their first boy in March 1676, and despite the birth of Mlle de Chartres in September. The Duke of Orleans takes advantage of these events to separate his room, and resumes his freedom, his pleasures, his activities ... with his favorites. But when the war took place at Mont Cassel in 1677, he was ready, faced the enemy again, emerged victorious by taking six thousand prisoners, and praised by Marshal Luxembourg “Monsieur has won one of the most complete battles that have ever happened. data nowadays ”. The people are enthusiastic, shouting "long live the king and the gentleman who won the battle". The king is dissatisfied, jealous, glory must return to him ... he launches out in the capture of Ghent at the beginning of 1678, the success is total, his brother is not there, he did not have any commandments, it will be thus in the future. The king has decided!

From the shade to the Sun King

Forced into inactivity, Monsieur enlarges, modifies his estate, makes land acquisitions, digs canals, takes care of woods and forests, in order to give the estate the grandeur and pomp that resembles it. He called the artists working in Versailles and his castle was habitable in 1678, long before Versailles was. The Apollo Gallery resembles the Hall of Mirrors, Monsieur decorates the walls with some seven hundred and fifty paintings, three hundred tapestries and hundreds of mirrors; domain which he presented to the king in October 1678!

Unhappy, jealous of this magnificence and this grandeur, the king marries the eldest daughter of Monsieur with the King of Spain, she will go away in tears, unhappy and constrained. This small "fight" between the two brothers intensified after the disappearance of the queen and the rise of Madame de Maintenon. Succeeding in influencing the king in his sympathies with regard to his brother and his sister-in-law, she then attacks the favorites… These annoyances affect the health of Monsieur who is close to dying in 1684. Other concerns also arise : her eldest daughter died in February 1689, the younger was ill-married to the Duke of Savoy, the education of the little Duke of Chartres was not easy (five tutors succeeded each other in ten years!) until Guillaume Dubois appears. Learning quickly, little Philippe was received at the age of twelve as a Knight of the Order of the Holy Spirit with the rank of "Grandson of France". Louis XIV appreciates the two youngest children… in order to marry them to his children. Monsieur does not like this process, his children are born, while the others are just bastards!

To annoy his brother a little more, the king took the Duke of Chartes, the Duke of Maine and the Count of Toulouse to Mons in April 1691. Chartres was the most valiant, the most combative, the desire to fight, the desire to fully experience the war… but the king considers that "Maine must be enhanced to the detriment of Chartres which must be treated only as a simple volunteer". Finally, after the September battle, the king gave him an infantry regiment ... but demanded marriage with his daughter, whose blessing took place in February 1692.

Monsieur, idle, no longer having any government, spends his life in pleasures. In exchange, the king officially gives him the Royal Palace. Chartres, meanwhile, is showing itself on all fronts. In May, he received the order of Saint Louis and fought at the risk of his life, but we only hear about him: it bothers! He therefore did not obtain the government of Brittany in 1695, which returned to Toulouse, and was excluded from the political sphere and especially from the war in 1696.

The father and the son, evicted from the military campaigns, let themselves go, lead a dissolute life, spend their time making big meals and excesses of all kinds… until the first attack of Monsieur in September 1699. Having been afraid , he will follow the advice of the doctors but for a short time.

A new altercation between the two brothers will be at the origin of Monsieur's last discomfort: Chartres still has no commandments. During the conversation between the two brothers, the tone rises, the derogatory words burst forth. To "compensate" for his anger, Monsieur throws himself on food and drink. During a meal, when serving a liqueur to his neighbor, the Duchess of Bouillon, he collapsed on his son's shoulder. His brother will not travel until much later, too late.

On June 9, 1701, Monsieur left this world, in his castle he loved so much. He wishes to rest in Saint Denis, his heart in Val de Grace.


- The Duke of Orleans by Christian Bouyer. Pygmalion, 2003.

- Memoirs of Anne Marie de Montpensier.

- Memoirs of Saint Simon - volume 3. NRF, 1984.

Video: The Sun King: Louis XIV - Part 1 (November 2021).