Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans
|Louis Philippe Joseph|
|Duke of Orléans|
13 April 1747|
Château de Saint Cloud, Saint-Cloud, France
|Died||6 November 1793
|Burial||Madeleine Cemetery, Paris|
|Spouse||Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon|
|Issue||Louis Philippe I
Antoine Philippe, Duke of Montpensier
Adélaïde, Princess of Orléans
Louis Charles, Count of Beaujolais
|House||House of Orléans|
|Father||Louis Philippe d'Orléans|
|Mother||Louise Henriette de Bourbon|
Louis Philippe Joseph d'Orléans (13 April 1747 – 6 November 1793) commonly known as Philippe, was a member of a cadet branch of the House of Bourbon, the ruling dynasty of France. He actively supported the French Revolution and adopted the name Philippe Égalité, but was nonetheless guillotined during the Reign of Terror. His son Louis-Philippe became King of the French after the July Revolution of 1830. Following his career, the term Orléanist came to be attached to the movement in France that favoured constitutional monarchy.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Military service
- 3 Role in the French Revolution
- 4 Popular culture
- 5 Children
- 6 Ancestors
- 7 Titles and succession
- 8 References
Through his father, Philippe was a member of the House of Orléans, a cadet branch of the French royal family. His mother came from a more distant cadet branch, the House of Bourbon-Conti. He was born at the Château de Saint Cloud, one of the residences of the Duke of Orléans a few miles west of Paris. His eldest sister, born in 1745, had died when six months old. His parents had another daughter, Louise Marie Thérèse Bathilde d'Orléans.
After his grandfather's death in 1752, Philippe d'Orléans inherited the title of Duke of Chartres. In 1769 he married Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon, daughter of his cousin, the Duke of Penthiêvre, an Admiral of France and the richest man in the country. Since it was certain that his wife would become the richest woman in France upon the death of her father, Louis Philippe was able to play a political role in court equal to that of his great-grandfather Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, who had been the Regent of France during the minority of King Louis XV.
As Duke of Chartres, he opposed the plans of René de Maupeou in 1771 when Maupeou successfully upheld royal interests in a confrontation with the Parlement de Paris, and was promptly exiled to his country estate of Villers-Cotterêts in Picardy (now in Aisne) in northern France. When Louis XVI became king in 1774, Philippe was still suspected of anti-royalist sentiment in the eyes of the court. Marie Antoinette hated him for what she viewed as treachery, hypocrisy and selfishness, and he, in turn, scorned her for her frivolous and spendthrift lifestyle.
Duke of Orléans
In November 1785, upon his father's death, Philippe, the new Duke of Orléans, became the head of the House of Orléans, one of the wealthiest families of France, and Premier Prince du Sang, the most important personage of the kingdom after the king's immediate family, and, as such, next in line to the throne should the main Bourbon line die out. From his father, he also inherited the titles of Duke of Nemours and Prince of Joinville.
On 6 June 1769, Louis Philippe married Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon at the Chapel of the Palace of Versailles. Louise Marie Adélaïde brought to the already wealthy House of Orléans a considerable dowry of six million livres, an annual income of 240,000 livres (later increased to 400,000 livres), as well as lands, titles, residences and furniture.
Excepting their first child, a stillborn daughter, they had five children:
- Louis-Philippe d'Orléans (6 October 1773 – 26 August 1850),
- became King of the French (1830–1848);
- Louis Antoine Philippe d'Orléans (3 July 1775 – 18 May 1807), who died in exile in Salthill, England;
- Louise Marie Adélaïde Eugénie d'Orléans; (23 August 1777 – 31 December 1847)
- Françoise d'Orléans Mademoiselle d'Orléans (twin sister of Adélaïde) (1777–1782);
- Louis Charles d'Orléans (17 October 1779 – 30 May 1808), who died in exile in Malta.
During the first few months of their marriage, the couple appeared devoted to each other, but the duke went back to the life of "libertinage" he had led before his marriage. It is during the summer of 1772, a few months after his wife had given birth to a stillborn daughter, that began Philippe's secret liaison with one of her ladies-in-waiting, Stéphanie Félicité Ducrest de St-Albin, comtesse de Genlis, the niece of Madame de Montesson, the Morganatic wife of Philippe's father. Passionate at first, the liaison cooled within a few months and, by the spring of 1773, was reported to be "dead". After the romantic affair was over, Félicité remained in the service of Marie-Adélaïde at the Palais-Royal, a trusted friend to both Marie-Adélaïde and Philippe. They both appreciated her intelligence and, in July 1779, she became the governess of the couple's twin daughters born in 1777.
It was the custom in the French royal and noble families to "turn the boys over to the men" when they were seven years old. In 1782, the young Louis-Philippe was already nine and in dire need of discipline. The Duke of Chartres could not think of a man better qualified to "turn his sons over to" than… Mme de Genlis. This is how, nine years after their passionate liaison had ended and turned into deep friendship, Félicité became the "gouverneur" of the Duke and Duchess of Chartres’ children. Teacher and pupils left the Palais-Royal and went to live in a house built specially for them on the grounds of the Bellechasse convent (couvent des Dames de Bellechasse) in Paris.
It was alleged that Lady Edward FitzGerald, born Stephanie Caroline Anne Syms, also known as Pamela, was a natural daughter of the Duke of Orléans and the Countess of Genlis. He recognised a son he had with Marguerite Françoise Bouvier de la Mothe de Cépoy, comtesse de Buffon, Victor Leclerc de Buffon (6 September 1792 – 20 April 1812), known as the chevalier de Saint-Paul and chevalier d'Orléans.
It was a cultural norm for princes of the royal bloodline to receive a position of high command in the military. Philippe d'Orléans was the first to choose the navy. He had three years of naval training before France was at war with the British. In 1778, Philippe served in the squadron of the Count of Orvilliers and was present in the Battle of Ushant, a naval battle against the British during the American War of Independence on 27 July 1778. While originally seen as French victory, due to the fleeing British fleet, it was later leaked from his fellow naval officers that he had failed to stop the British from escaping by hesitating to follow orders in the heat of battle. He was removed from the navy due in part to Queen Marie Antoinette's hatred of him and also the perception of incompetence this action created, compounded by allegations of cowardice. While he was denied an equivalent position in the army, as compensation, he was given the honorary post of colonel-general of hussars. 
Role in the French Revolution
Louis Philippe, a member of the Jacobin club, used his wealth and family connections to help spread the revolutionary ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Montesquieu. Cousin to King Louis XVI and thus a member of the Bourbon family line, Philippe opened the Palais-Royal to the Jacobins as a refuge from royalist censors. This palace, which was exempt from government censorship, allowed Jacobins to meet in Paris not only to discuss and debate revolutionary principles but also to print and distribute pamphlets to other Parisians. Although the philosophies of Rousseau and Montesquieu could not provide a concrete system for creating a moral government, the free exchange of ideas along with rising literacy rates fueled the changing social and political ideologies of Parisians. Because of his social, economic, and political power, Philippe was able to create a center for revolutionary ideology that played a large part in the undermining of the crown.
Philippe, like most Jacobins during the French Revolution, strongly adhered to the principles of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and was interested in creating a more moral and democratic form of government in France. As he grew more and more interested in Rousseau's ideas, he began to promote Enlightenment ideology. Despite the seeming contradiction that a noble would support suspending his own privileges, his interest in Rousseau grew as he rebelled against the personal constraints placed upon him as a member of royalty, particularly the freedom of travel denied to him by the crown, and the frequency with which he was rusticated, that is, sent into rural exile. A contemporary of his stated of his principles, “he doesn’t give a damn what the Estates General accomplishes, but he wants to be able to vote for something that would prevent things from being in his way when he wishes to go somewhere”. He often visited Great Britain, and became an intimate of the Prince of Wales. In France, he made anglomanie fashionable, with an admiration for anything British, from liberalism to jockeys. He was also the Grand Master of the Masonic Grand Orient de France from 1771 to 1793, though he did not attend a meeting of the Grand Orient until 1777. He later distanced himself from Freemasonry in a letter dated January 1793, and the Grand Orient vacated his position on 13 December 1793. He also made himself very popular in Paris by his large gifts to the poor during times of famine. To appear egalitarian, he opened up the gardens of the Palais Royal to the public and allowed shops in the palace's arcades.
Philippe's inheritance of the Palais-Royal gave him the means to create a massive headquarters for the Jacobin faction. Only blocks away from the Tuileries Palace, where the King had been placed after being ousted from Versailles, the Palais-Royal became a meeting place for wealthy nobles who had joined the Jacobin club. There, nobles began to debate and spread the ideas of the Enlightenment, and the King lost access to some of the most influential aristocrats. Without the ability to keep the nobles in "constant attendance", it became impossible for the King to monitor and reverse the growing anti-royalist sentiment.
Phillipe hired people such as the Marquis Duquesne, whose family took control of Philippe's political advisory service. As Philippe spread power and positions to the people around him, his movement lost some of his original ideology. While it initially started to spread anti-Bourbon liberalism, many people became interested in seeking power under a new form of government, which was something of little interest to their rich, quiet patron. The movement, though somewhat altered by differing motives, still retained some of Louis Philippe's original beliefs. This became apparent when the Instructions and Deliberations were released by his administration. Though not written by Louis Philippe himself, the writings held values that were very close to his heart; the dearest being that of the freedom to travel when and where he pleased.
Leadership in the Estates-General
At the Assembly of Notables in 1787, Philippe was very vocal in the anti-royalist, Enlightenment ideas, leading to suspicions that he was plotting to displace Louis XVI. In November, he again showed his liberalism during the lit de justice, which Étienne de Loménie de Brienne had made the king hold. For this transgression, he was again exiled to Villers-Cotterêts.
The approaching convocation of the Estates-General made his friends very active on his behalf. He circulated pamphlets, which the Abbé Sieyès had drawn up at his request, in every bailliage. He was elected in three districts, by the nobility of Paris, Villers-Cotterêts and Crépy-en-Valois. During the opening procession of the Estates-General, Philippe "seemed anxious to march as close to the Third Estate as possible", as a display of his desire for a more democratic and representative government. After the Third Estate broke from the Estates-General in the Tennis Court Oath and created the National Assembly, Philippe was one of the first to break from the Estates-General and join the National Assembly. In the Second Estate he headed the liberal minority under the guidance of Adrien Duport, and led the minority of forty-seven noblemen who seceded from their own Estate (June 1789) and joined the Third Estate.
The part Philippe d'Orléans played during the summer of 1789 is one of the most debated points in the history of the French Revolution. The royal court accused him of being at the bottom of every popular movement, and saw the "gold of Orléans" as the cause of the Réveillon riot and the storming of the Bastille (mirroring the subsequent belief held by the Jacobins that everything opposing them relied on the "gold of Pitt the Younger"). His hatred of Marie Antoinette, his previous disgrace at court, and his liberalism (alongside his friendship with Duport and Choderlos de Laclos), all seem to point towards his involvement. The Duke is also alleged to have deliberately withheld grain from the people of Paris, being a direct cause of the October march on Versailles. The Duke is also thought to have lied about his whereabouts when the Palace at Versailles was stormed in the early hours of the morning on the 6th of October, having stated he was at the General Assembly in Paris, yet several witnesses (including the Marquise de la Tour du Pin) saw him lead the bloodthirsty mob to a staircase leading to the Queen's bedroom, protected by Swiss Guards. The mob cried "Long live our King d'Orléans" during the raid.
Grace Elliott, who was one of Philippe's mistresses at the time, attested to the fact that during the riot of 14 July, the duke was on a fishing excursion, and that he was rudely treated by the king the next day when the duke went to offer his cousin his services. Supposedly, the duke was so disgusted by the accusation that he was seeking the crown, that he wanted to go to the United States. His favourite lover, the Countess of Buffon, however, would not go with him, so he decided to remain in Paris.
The Marquis de La Fayette, apparently jealous of Philippe's popularity, persuaded the king to send the duke to Britain on a mission, and he accordingly remained in England from October 1789 to July 1790. On 7 July 1790, he took his seat in the National Constituent Assembly. On 2 October, both he and Honoré Mirabeau were declared by the Assembly entirely free of any complicity in the events of 5–6 October 1789.
Philippe d'Orléans subsequently tried to keep himself distant from the political world, but he was still suspect to the King and subject to pressures from his partisans to replace Louis XVI. His lack of political aspirations could be proven by noting that he did not attempt to obtain any leading position after the King's flight to Varennes in June 1791. In fact, Louis Philippe attempted to reconcile with the King in January 1792, but was rejected, and refused to aid the King any further. In an attempt to show his support of democratic and Enlightenment philosophies, he changed his surname to Égalité (equality) and was thereafter referred to as Citoyen (citizen) Philippe Égalité.
In the summer of 1792, he was present for a short time with the Army of the North, together with his two sons, the Duke of Chartres, future King of the French, and the Duke of Montpensier, but had returned to Paris before the insurrection of 10 August.
During the Grand Terror
After the fall of the monarchy, Philippe risked his own life by saving persons under suspicion by the revolutionary regime — in particular, and at the request of Grace Elliott, he saved the life of Louis René Quentin de Richebourg de Champcenetz, the governor of the Tuileries Palace, who was his personal enemy. Philippe accepted the appellation of Citoyen Égalité (Citizen Equality) conferred on him by the Commune. He was elected twentieth and last deputy for Paris to the National Convention, where he made no notable contribution other than voting in the king's trial — he voted in favour of the death sentence for Louis XVI. In his statement before he cast his vote, Égalité said “motivated solely by my duty, and convinced that those who threatened or will threaten the sovereignty of the people deserve the ultimate punishment, I vote for death.” Some of his Montagnard colleagues, however, believed his vote was an attempt to reduce suspicion of him due to his noble background and distance himself from his connection to the crown, as well as a way to demonstrate his renunciation of aristocracy. However the more popular, thought factually unproven theory, was that Philippe saw this vote as a possibility to position himself ultimately to gain political power. His detractors insinuated that not only was the Palais-Royal a center for philosophical and revolutionary speeches and debate, but that it was it was also being used as a ground for recruiting followers and financing riots and rebellious activity that would ultimately benefit his quest for power.
Philippe's adherence to republican principles and values did not save him from coming under suspicion, which was especially aroused by the friendship of his eldest son, the Duke of Chartres, with Charles François Dumouriez. When the news of the desertion of Chartres and Dumouriez reached Paris, all the Bourbons left in France, including Philippe-Égalité, were arrested on 5 April 1793. First imprisoned in Paris, he was later transferred to the Fort Saint-Jean in Marseille, then brought back to Paris in October, during the Reign of Terror, the second phase of which had begun the preceding June with the arrest of the Girondists (Girondins).
As a member of the House of Bourbon, Louis Philippe was shortlisted for a trial, and effectively tried and guillotined in the space of one day on 6 November 1793. Accounts of his incarceration and execution mention his calmness. He was granted a final wish to have a gracious dinner before his execution but, having been stripped of all assets upon his arrest, was unable to take advantage of this concession.
Philippe d'Orléans was buried in the Madeleine Cemetery (closed in 1794), in Paris, where Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and hundreds executed on the Place de la Révolution during the Terror had been buried. His remains were never found.
While Philippe d'Orléans renounced his title of nobility by adopting the surname Égalité, many of his Jacobin colleagues were still suspicious of his connection to the crown following the common wisdom that 'blood is thicker than water'. Along with the Orléanist conspirators, he was also a hated figure among exiled aristocrats. Despite having few revolutionaries to naturally align himself with, Philippe has been dubbed the 'Godfather of the Revolution' due to his commitment to provide and develop an open space for debate at the Palais-Royal, both prior to the revolution and after it commenced. In this way, he was instrumental in creating many of the initial sparks that led to the French Revolution and to its development and radicalization in the years that followed.
Titles and succession
- 13 April 1747 – 4 February 1752 His Serene Highness the Duke of Montpensier (Monseigneur le duc de Montpensier)
- 4 February 1752 – 18 November 1785 His Serene Highness the Duke of Chartres (Monseigneur le duc de Chartres)
- 18 November 1785 – 6 November 1793 His Serene Highness the Duke of Orléans (Monseigneur le duc d'Orléans)
- Succeeded to this style on the death of his father. Was entitled to this style and rank due to him being the First Prince of The Blood.
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