Louis Joseph, Dauphin of France

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Louis Joseph
Dauphin of France
Louis Joseph of France1.jpg
Portrait by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun
Full name
Louis Joseph Xavier François de France
Father Louis XVI of France
Mother Marie Antoinette
Born (1781-10-22)22 October 1781
Palace of Versailles, France
Died 4 June 1789(1789-06-04) (aged 7)
Château de Meudon, France

Louis Joseph de France (Louis Joseph Xavier François; 22 October 1781 – 4 June 1789) was the second child and elder son of King Louis XVI of France and Marie Antoinette. As the heir apparent to the French throne, he was called the twenty-sixth Dauphin of France—the hereditary "crown prince" title of the Capetian and Bourbon Monarchies as well as of medieval and early-modern France.

As the eldest son of the king he was a "Fils de France", literally a "Son of France". Louis Joseph died at age seven of tuberculosis of the spine amidst the political turmoil and power machinations surrounding the Estates-General of 1789, for which period his parents' actions were so heavily criticized, giving rise to the deterioration of relations with the Estates.

Other historians have more recently suggested their grief at his illness and passing were causal—major contributing factors in the political events in which case, their grief, at least, in part exculpates the resultant events with a sympathy for their all too human grief, worry, and overall preoccupations during that crisis since they were accustomed to absolute rule.[citation needed]

Regardless of causality, the Dauphin's death bookends a chain of events leading up to the further sliding crash of the French economy, the disrepute and eventual dissolution of the French Monarchy, and beyond to the many excesses of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars—the beginning epoch of which is dated from about two weeks after the prince's death with the very first meeting of the National Assembly on June 17 independent of permissions from the King or other authorities, and three days later, the Tennis Court Oath.

Louis Joseph was succeeded as the French crown prince by his four year old brother Louis-Charles, Dauphin of France who eventually became the imprisoned and uncrowned king Louis XVII of France, who also died of illness during the period accounted that of the French Revolution — though he would die of a lingering illness suffered over years of captivity as the heir of their executed mother and father.

Biography[edit]

Louis Joseph Xavier François de France was born at the Palace of Versailles on 22 October 1781; he was the long awaited Dauphin of France. His elder sister Princess Marie Thérèse Charlotte, was not allowed to succeed to the throne due to the Salic Law. The birth of Louis Joseph at that point ruined his uncle's hopes of becoming the King of France[1]

His private household was created upon his birth and he was put into the care of Geneviève Poitrine, one of his wet nurses. It was Geneviève that was later accused of transmitting tuberculosis to the young Dauphin. His Sous gouverneur was Maréchal de camp Antoine Charles Augustin d'Allonville. Another member of his household was his mother's great friend, Yolande de Polastron, duchesse de Polignac.

He was very close to his sister and his parents, who closely monitored his education. Louis Joseph was always praised for being a very bright child for his young age, however, it was often noted that he had very fragile health.

Illness[edit]

Bust of the Dauphin Louis Joseph Xavier François IMG 2275.jpg

Around April 1784, when he was just three years old, Louis Joseph had a series of very bad fevers. Out of fear for his health he was transported to the Château de La Muette[2] where the air was reputed to have healing properties. The time at La Muette seemed to help Louis Joseph recover and, almost a year later in March 1785, Louis Joseph returned to La Muette where he received an inoculation. However, in spite of this, his health would remain fragile.

In 1786 the fevers returned but his household regarded them as being of no importance. These fevers however were the first signs of tuberculosis. In the same year, Louis Joseph was transmitted from female company to an education led by men, as was customary at the time. At the ceremony it was noted that Louis Joseph had trouble walking which was, in fact, caused by a curvature of the spine - something which was treated through the use of corsets en fer - iron corsets. From as early as January 1788 the fevers grew more frequent and the disease progressed quickly. The young Dauphin, Louis Joseph died at Meudon aged seven and he was buried at the Basilica of St Denis, where his tomb along with many Bourbon graves at St Denis were destroyed during the French Revolution.[citation needed]

On his death the title of Dauphin passed to his younger brother Louis Charles, Duke of Normandy (1785–1795), who would survive his father and die in prison at the age of ten.

Legacy[edit]

Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, is named for him[3] (Louis Joseph, Dauphin of France). The Pennsylvania legislature, meeting in Philadelphia in 1785, to thank France for helping America win her independence from Great Britain, named the newly formed county, "Dauphin", northwest of Lancaster and north of York, in which Harrisburg is located. The borough of Dauphin, so named when it was incorporated in 1845, is also located in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. It is also, at least indirectly, named for him.

Ancestry[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Later Louis XVIII of France; he married Princess Marie Josephine Louise of Savoy but had no issue
  2. ^ Personal property of his father, Louis XVI
  3. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 100. 

Bibliography[edit]

History of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Historical Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Louis Joseph, Dauphin of France
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 22 October 1781 Died: 4 June 1789
French royalty
Preceded by
Vacant
Louis Auguste
Dauphin of France
22 October 1781 – 4 June 1789
Succeeded by
Louis Charles