The fifth child and only son out of eight children, Orléans was still not married at the death of his father. In 1721, the ambassador of France to Russia suggested a marriage between Orléans and one of the two unmarried daughters of Peter I of Russia: the Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna (known for her fluency in French) or her younger sister, Grand Duchess Yelizaveta Petrovna.
But the idea of a marriage with a Russian Grand Duchess had to be abandoned as there soon arose difficulties relative to religion and order of precedence. Orléans was “only” a great-grandson of the King of France and as such was only entitled to the style of Serene Highness. A Russian grand duchess, however, as a daughter of the tsar, was entitled to the style of Imperial Highness. Anna Petrovna later married the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp.
Louis, Duke of Orléans
Another possible bride who was considered for him was his first cousin Élisabeth-Alexandrine de Bourbon. She was the youngest daughter of his mother’s older sister, Louise-Françoise de Bourbon. Élisabeth-Alexandrine was also, however, the younger sister of his main rival, the Duke of Bourbon.
In 1723, a German princess was suggested. She was Johanna of Baden-Baden (1704–1726), the daughter of Ludwig-Wilhelm, Margrave of Baden-Baden and his wife Sibylle-Auguste of Saxe-Lauenburg. The marriage was agreed upon by his mother, and the bride’s small dowry set at 80,000 livres. The marriage by proxy took place on June 18, 1724 at Rastatt, in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, then on July 13, in the town of Sarry (Marne), in France. It was at Sarry that the couple first met. They fell in love at first sight. At the French court, the new Duchess of Orléans was known as Jeanne de Bade.
Johanna of Baden-Baden
The ducal couple had two children, but only one survived infancy.
On September 5, 1725, the court celebrated the marriage of Louis XV to the Polish princess, Marie Leszczyńska at Fontainebleau. Earlier, Orléans had represented Louis XV at the proxy marriage ceremony, which had taken place the previous August 15, at Strasbourg. The young queen would later have a lot of sympathy for the quiet and pious Duke.
The following year, on August 8, 1726, the duke’s young wife died three days after the birth of her second child, Louise-Marie, at the Palais-Royal in Paris. After the early death of his wife, and until his own death in 1752, Louis lived by strict rules.
His son, Louis-Philippe would liked to have married Madame Henriette, the second daughter of Louis XV, but Louis XV refused. The king did not want the House of Orléans to be as powerful as it had been during the regency of Orléans’ father. In 1737 he, along with his aunt the Dowager Duchess of Bourbon, were asked to be godparents of the king’s son, Louis de France, Dauphin of France (1729–1765).
On December 17, 1743, Orléans’ son married Louise-Henriette de Bourbon, the daughter of Louis-Armand II, Prince of Conti and his wife, Louise-Élisabeth de Bourbon. The Condé and Orléans families had been at odds since the Orléans had assumed the rank of First Prince of the Blood in 1709, and it was hoped that the marriage would settle their mésentente. Although passionate at first, the marriage soon proved unhappy because of the young bride’s débaucherie.
Louise-Henriette de Bourbon
Louis-Philippe d’Orléans would see the birth of his grandchildren Louis-Philippe (1747–1793) and Bathilde (1750–1822) who, during the French Revolution of 1789, would be known respectively as Philippe-Égalité and Citoyenne Vérité. Because of the scandalous behaviour of their mother, he refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of his grandchildren.
In 1749, his mother died.
He died in 1752, at the age of forty-eight, at the Abbaye de Sainte Geneviève, having lost most of his sanity. On his deathbed, on suspicion of Jansenist views, he was refused communion by the Abbé Bouettin of the Saint-Étienne-du-Mont church, but was given the last rites by his own chaplain. Louis d’Orléans had outlived all his siblings apart from Charlotte-Aglaé, the Duchess of Modena and Reggio.
He was buried at the Val-de-Grâce in Paris.