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Louis, Duke of Orléans (August 4, 1703 – February 4, 1752) was a member of the royal family of France, the House of Bourbon, and as such was a prince du sang. At his father’s death, he became the First Prince of the Blood (Premier Prince du Sang). Known as Louis le Pieux and also as Louis le Génovéfain, Louis was a pious, charitable and cultured prince, who took very little part in the politics of the time.

Louis, Duke of Orléans

Louis d’Orléans was born at the Palace of Versailles in 1703 to Philippe II, Duke of Orléans and his wife, Françoise-Marie de Bourbon, the youngest legitimised daughter of King Louis XIV of France and Navarre and of his mistress Madame de Montespan. He was the only son of eight children, and at his birth, he was given the courtesy title of Duke of Chartres as the heir to the Orléans fortune and titles. His maternal grandfather, the king, in addition gave him the allowance reserved for the First Prince of the Blood, a rank he was not yet eligible to hold.

Louis was very close to his younger sister Louise Élisabeth d’Orléans, who was to become Queen of Spain for seven months in 1724. He was not, however, close to his older sister, Charlotte-Aglaé d’Orléans, the wife of Francesco d’Este, Duke of Modena. They were in frequent conflict during her many return visits to the French court from Modena


Upon the death of his maternal grandfather Louis XIV in 1715, his father (the old king’s nephew) was selected to be the regent of the country for the five-year-old new king, Louis XV. The court was moved to Paris so his father could govern the country with the young king close by his side. Louis XV was installed in the Palais du Louvre opposite the Palais-Royal, the Paris home of the Orléans family.

Françoise-Marie de Bourbon

During the regency, Orléans was seen as the “third personage of the kingdom” immediately after Louis XV and his own father, the Regent. He was formally admitted to the Conseil de Régence on January 30, 1718. Despite his father’s wishes, though, Orléans was never to play an overly public or political role in France. The following year, he was made the governor of the Dauphiné. He was not forced, however, to move there in order to fulfill his new duties. Later, he resigned.

Upon the death of his father on December 2, 1723, the twenty-year-old Louis assumed the hereditary title of Duke of Orléans and became the head of the House of Orléans. He also became the next in line to the throne of France until the birth of Louis XV’s first-born son in 1729.

This was because King Felipe V of Spain, the second son of Louis, the Grand Dauphin and uncle of the young king, had renounced his rights to the French throne for himself, and his descendants, upon his accession to the throne of Spain in 1700.

Although the Regent had hoped that his son would assume as prominent a role in government as he had, the post of prime minister went to Louis’ older cousin, Louis-Henri, Duke of Bourbon, when the Regent died. Constantly trying to consolidate and maintain his power at court, the Duke of Bourbon was always suspicious of Louis’ motivations and was frequently opposed to him.

In 1723, Orléans was conspicuous for his hostility to the former prime minister, Cardinal Dubois. Orléans also worked with Claude le Blanc and Nicolas Prosper Bauyn d’Angervilliers in the post of Secretary of State for War; Louis himself worked in this position from 1723–1730