Duke of Orleans, King Louis XV of France and Navarre, Loui Henri, Louis XIV of France and Navarre, Madame de Pompadour, Marie Leszczyńska, Palace of Versailles, Philippe II, Prince of Conde, Regent or France
Louis XV (February 15, 1710 – May 10, 1774), known as Louis the Beloved was King of France and Navarre from September 1, 1715 until his death in 1774.
Louis XV was the great-grandson of Louis XIV and the third son of Prince Louis, Duke of Burgundy (1682–1712), and his wife and cousin, Marie Adélaïde of Savoy, who was the eldest daughter of Victor Amadeus II, Duke of Savoy, and Princess Anne Marie d’Orléans.
Princess Anne Marie d’Orléans was the daughter of Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, younger brother of Louis XIV, and Henrietta of England, the youngest daughter of Charles I of England and Henrietta Marie de Bourbon of France and the daughter of Louis XV ‘s great-great-great grandfather King Henri IV of France and Navarre.
The future King Louis XV was born in the Palace of Versailles on February 15, 1710 and was immediately styled the Duke of Anjou.
At the time of his birth the possibility that the infant Prince Louis, Duke of Anjou, of ever becoming the next king seemed rather remote as Louis XIV’s eldest son and heir, and the Duke of Anjou’s paternal grandfather Louis, Le Grand Dauphin, was expected to assume the throne upon the old king’s death.
Next in line to the throne behind the Grand Dauphin was his eldest son Prince Louis, known as Le Petit Dauphin, and the Duke of Anjou’s father.
Prince Louis, Duke of Anjou had an elder brother, named Louis, Duke of Brittany ahead of him in the line of succession. An even older brother, also named Louis, Duke of Brittany (25 June 1704 – 13 April 1705) died of convulsions.
Disease, however, steered the line of succession forward three generations and sideways: on April 14, 1711 the Grand Dauphin, died of smallpox , and less than a year later, on February 12, 1712 the future king’s mother, Marie Adélaïde of Savoy, who had been stricken with measles, died, followed six days later by Louis’s father, Le Petit Dauphin, her devoted husband who would not leave her side during her illness.
With the death of both the Grand and Petit dauphins, Louis’s elder brother immediately became Dauphin of France, but just over two weeks further still, on March 7, it was found that both the elder Louis and the younger Louis had also had the measles.
The two brothers were treated in the traditional way, with bloodletting. On the night of 8–9 March, the new Dauphin, age five, died from the combination of the disease and the treatment. The governess of Louis, Madame de Ventadour, forbade the doctors to bleed the two year old Duke of Anjou by hiding him in a palace closet where she cared for him alone; where he survived despite being very ill.
When Louis XIV himself finally died on September 1, 1715, Louis, at the age of five, trembling and crying and against all probability, inherited the throne as King Louis XV.
Until the King reached maturity (then defined as his 13th birthday) on February 15, 1723, the kingdom was ruled by his grand-uncle Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, as Regent of France. Cardinal Fleury was chief minister from 1726 until his death in 1743, at which time the king took sole control of the kingdom.
On October 25, 1722 King Louis XV was crowned King at the Cathedral of Reims. On February 15, 1723, the king’s majority was declared by the Parlement of Paris, officially ending the regency. Philippe continued to manage the government, and took the title of Prime Minister in August 1723, but while visiting his mistress, far from the court and medical care, he died in December of the same year.
Following the advice of his preceptor Fleury, Louis XV appointed his cousin Louis Henri, Duke of Bourbon, to replace the late Duke of Orléans as prime minister.
Louis Henri, Duke of Bourbon was the second child and eldest son of Louis III, Prince of Condé, and Louise Françoise de Bourbon, the eldest daughter of King Louis XIV and his mistress Madame de Montespan.
One of the first priorities of the Duke of Bourbon was to find a bride for the King, to assure the continuity of the monarchy, and especially to prevent the succession to the throne of the Orléans branch of the family, the rivals of his branch.
A list of 99 princesses was prepared, among them being Princess Anne of Great Britain, Infanta Barbara of Portugal, Princess Charlotte Amalie of Denmark, Elisabeth Therese of Lorraine, Enrichetta d’Este and Louis Henri, Duke of Bourbon’s own sisters Henriette Louise de Bourbon and Élisabeth Alexandrine de Bourbon were considered.
In the end, the 21-year-old Marie Leszczyńska, daughter of Stanislaus I, the deposed king of Poland, was chosen.
Marie Leszczyńska, was the second daughter of King Stanislaus I Leszczyński of Poland and his wife, Countess Catherine Opalińska.
The marriage was celebrated in September 1725 when the king was 15 and Marie was 22. Louis was said to have fallen in love with Marie instantly, and consummated his marriage to her seven times on their wedding night.
Though the King loved his wife he still had many Mistresses, most notably, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour (December 29, 1721 – April 15, 1764), commonly known as Madame de Pompadour. She was the official chief mistress of King Louis XV from 1745 to 1751, and remained influential as court favourite until her death.
Madame de Pompadour took charge of the king’s schedule and was a valued aide and advisor, despite her frail health and many political enemies. She secured titles of nobility for herself and her relatives, and built a network of clients and supporters. She was particularly careful not to alienate the Queen, Marie Leszczyńska.
On February 8, 1756, the Marquise de Pompadour was named as the thirteenth lady-in-waiting to the queen, a position considered the most prestigious at the court, which accorded her with honors.
The reign of King Louis XV was 59 years (from 1715 to 1774) and was the second longest in the history of France, exceeded only by his predecessor, Louis XIV, who had ruled for 72 years (from 1643 to 1715).
In 1748, Louis returned the Austrian Netherlands, won at the Battle of Fontenoy of 1745. He ceded New France in North America to Great Britain and Spain at the conclusion of the disastrous Seven Years’ War in 1763.
He incorporated the territories of the Duchy of Lorraine and the Corsican Republic into the Kingdom of France. Historians generally criticize his reign, citing how reports of his corruption embarrassed the monarchy, while his wars drained the treasury and produced little gain.
A minority of scholars dispute this view, arguing that it is the result of revolutionary propaganda. His grandson and successor Louis XVI would inherit a kingdom in need of financial and political reform which would ultimately lead to the French Revolution of 1789.
King Louis XV Louis died at 3:15 in the morning on May 10, 1774. His son and heir, Prince Louis, La Dauphin died in 1765 and he was succeeded by his eldest surviving grandson Louis Augusté who became King Louis XVI. The new King’s consort was Archduchess Marie Antoinette of Austria.