Louis, Dauphin of France (1729–1765)

Louis, Dauphin of France (1729–1765)

Infobox French Royalty|prince
name = Prince Louis Ferdinand
title = Dauphin of Viennois

imgw = 250
caption = Louis, Dauphin of France
date of birth = birth date|1729|8|4|mf=y
place of birth = Palace of Versailles, Versailles, France
date of death = death date and age|1765|12|20|1729|8|4
date of death = Château de Fontainebleau, France
father = Louis XV
mother = Maria Leszczyńska
royal house = House of Bourbon
spouse = Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain
Duchess Marie-Josèphe of Saxony
issue = Louis XVI
Charles X
Clothilde, Queen of Sardinia
Madame Élisabeth

Louis Ferdinand [He is called simply "Louis" by the most reputed biographies (including the earliest ones by Proyart and Rozoir), the major genealogical works about the House of Bourbon (including Achaintre and Dussieux) and numerous engravings. Several modern works (e.g. Antonia Fraser "Marie Antoinette") and some websites call him "Louis Ferdinand" to distinguish him from his father and his two sons.] , Dauphin of France ) (4 September 1729 – 20 December 1765), was the eldest and only surviving son of King Louis XV of France and his wife, Queen Maria Leszczyńska. As the son of the king, he was a Fils de France. He was the father of three kings of France, Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X.

Early life and education

Louis was born at the Palace of Versailles. The birth of an heir to the throne had long been awaited since the tragic decimation of the French royal family in the early 1710s (see Louis XV of France). When the fourth pregnancy of Marie Leszczyńska resulted in a son in 1729, there was popular rejoicing. In all the major cities of France there were fireworks (many memorialized in engravings).

At Rome and other European courts there were also celebrations, since Louis' birth ensured the French succession. As the heir apparent to the throne of France, he was given the traditional title of Dauphin of France.

According to the custom of the French royal family, Louis was baptised privately and without a name by Cardinal Armand de Rohan. On April 27 1737 when he was seven years old the public ceremony of the other baptismal rites took place. It was at this point that he was given the name Louis. His godparents were Louis, Duke of Orléans and the Dowager Duchess of Bourbon (widow of Louis III, Prince of Condé).

Louis' governess was Madame de Ventadour who had previously served as his father's governess. When he was seven years old, the Duke of Châtillon was named his governor, the Count of Muy was named under-governor, and Jean-François Boyer, formerly bishop of Mirepoix, was named preceptor.

From an early age Louis took a great interest in the military arts. He was bitterly disappointed when his father would not permit him to join the 1744 campaign in the War of the Austrian Succession. When his father became deathly ill with fever at Metz, Louis disobeyed orders and went to his bedside. This rash action, which could have resulted in the deaths of both Louis and his father, resulted in a permanent change in the relations between father and son. Up to this point Louis XV had doted on his son, but henceforth the relationship was more distant. He was very close to his three oldest sisters.


Maria Teresa of Spain

In 1744 Louis XV negotiated a marriage between his fifteen year old son and the nineteen year old Infanta Maria Teresa Rafaela of Spain, daughter of King Philip V of Spain and his Italian wife, Elisabeth of Parma. The marriage contract was signed December 13 1744; the marriage was celebrated by proxy at Madrid December 18 1744 and in person at Versailles February 23 1745.

Louis and Maria Teresa were well matched and had a real affection for each other. They had one daughter:
*Marie-Thérèse de France (19 July 1746 – 27 April 1748).

Three days after the birth of their daughter Louis' wife Maria Teresa died on July 22, 1746. Louis was only sixteen years old. He grieved intensely at the loss of his wife, but his responsibility to provide for the succession to the French crown necessitated that he marry again quickly.

In 1746 Louis received the Order of the Golden Fleece from his father-in-law King Philip V of Spain. [Nicolas-Louis Achaintre, "Histoire généalogique et chronologique de la maison royale de Bourbon" (Paris: Mansut, 1825), II, 149. [http://www.antiquesatoz.com/sgfleece/knights4.htm T. F. Boettger] says he received it in 1739.]

Marie-Josèphe of Saxony

On January 10 1747 Louis was married by proxy at Dresden to Princess Marie-Josèphe of Saxony, the fifteen year old younger daughter of Frederick Augustus II, Prince-Elector of Saxony and King of Poland and his wife, Archduchess Maria Josepha of Austria. A second marriage ceremony took place in person at Versailles on February 9 1747.

List of Children

Marie-Josèphe married Louis de France, and they had eight children:

*Marie-Zéphyrine de France (26 August 1750–1 September 1755).
*Louis de France, "duc de Bourgogne" (13 September 1751–22 March 1761).
*Xavier de France, "duc de Guyenne" (8 September 1753–22 February 1754).
*Louis-Auguste de France, "duc de Berry", the future king Louis XVI (23 August 1754 – 21 January 1793) (guillotined).
*Louis-Stanislas de France "comte de Provence", the future king Louis XVIII (17 November 1755 – 16 September 1824).
*Charles-Philippe de France, "comte d'Artois", the future king Charles X (9 October 1757 – 6 November 1836).
*Marie Adélaïde Clotilde Xavière de France (23 September 1759 – 7 March 1802), married King Charles Emmanuel IV of Sardinia, Prince of Piedmont.
*Élisabeth Philippine Marie Hélène de France(3 May 1764 – 10 May1794), known as "Madame Élisabeth" (guillotined).



Louis was rather plump. He was well educated: a studious man, cultivated, and a lover of music, he preferred the pleasures of conversation to those of hunting, balls, or spectacles. With a keen sense of morality, he was very much committed to his wife, Marie-Josèphe, as she was to him.

Very devout, he was a fervent supporter of the Jesuits, like his mother and sisters, and was led by them to have a devotion to the Sacred Heart. He appeared in the eyes of his sisters as the ideal of the Christian prince, in sharp contrast with their father who was a notorious womanizer.

Later life and death

Kept away from government affairs by his father, Louis was at the center of the "Dévots", a group of religiously-minded men who hoped to gain power when he succeeded to the throne.

Louis died of consumption at Fontainebleau in 1765 at the age of 36, while his father was still alive, thus never becoming king of France. His mother, Queen Marie Leszczyńska, and maternal grandfather, Stanisław Leszczyński, the Duke of Lorraine, also survived him. His eldest surviving son, Louis-Auguste, Duc de Berry, became the new dauphin, and later ascended the throne as Louis XVI at the death of Louis XV.

Louis was buried in the Cathedral of St Étienne in Sens. His heart was buried at the Basilica of Saint Denis.


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1= 1. Louis, Dauphin of France
2= 2. Louis XV of France
3= 3. Maria Leszczyńska
4= 4. Louis, Dauphin of France and Duke of Burgundy
5= 5. Princess Marie-Adélaïde of Savoy
6= 6. Stanisław Leszczyński, King of Poland
7= 7. Countess Katarzyna Opalińska
8= 8. Louis, Dauphin of France
9= 9. Maria Anna of Bavaria
10= 10. Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia
11= 11. Anne Marie of Orléans
12= 12. Rafał Leszczyński, Duke of Lesno
13= 13. Anna Jabłonowska
14= 14. Count Jan Karol Opaliński
15= 15. Countess Zofia Czarnkowska
16= 16. Louis XIV of France
17= 17. Infanta Maria Theresa of Spain
18= 18. Ferdinand Maria, Elector of Bavaria
19= 19. Henriette Adelaide of Savoy
20= 20. Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy
21= 21. Princess Marie Jeanne of Savoy-Nemours
22= 22. Philippe I, Duke of Orléans
23= 23. Princess Henrietta Anne of England
24= 24. Bogusław Leszczyński
25= 25. Countess Anna von Denhoff
26= 26. Prince Stanisław Jan Jabłonowski
27= 27. Countess Marianna Kazanowska
28= 28. Count Krzystof Opaliński
29= 29. Countess Teresa Konstancya Czarnkowska
30= 30. Count Adam-Uryel Czarnkowski
31= 31. Countess Teresa Zaleska


Further reading

* Broglie, Emmanuel de. "Le fils de Louis XV, Louis, dauphin de France, 1729-1765". Paris: E. Plon, 1877.
* Dechêne, Abel. "Le dauphin, fils de Louis XV". Paris: Librairie du dauphin, 1931.
* Ducaud-Bourget, François. "Louis, dauphin de France: le fils du Bien-Aimé". Paris: Conquistador, 1961.
* Hours, Bernard. "La vertu et le secret: le dauphin, fils de Louis XV". Paris: Champion, 2006.
* Huertas, Monique de. "Marie-Josèphe de Saxe: mère de nos trois derniers rois de France et de Madame Elizabeth". Paris: Pygmalion, 1995.
* Proyart, Liévin-Bonaventure. [http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k73898w "Vie du dauphin, père de Louis XVI"] . Lyon: Bruyset-Ponthus, 1788.
* Rozoir, Charles du. "Le dauphin, fils de Louis XV et père de Louis XVI et de Louis XVIII". Paris: Eymery, 1815.

External links

* [http://www.axonais.com/saintquentin/musee_lecuyer/dauphin.html De la Tour's pastels at the Musée l'Écuyer, Saint-Quentin] , (in French) the pastel illustrated above described as a study for one of four portraits De la Tour made of the Dauphin (according to a letter of the Marquis de Marigny), of which the only known survivor, at the Louvre is dated 1748. The curators at the Musée l'Écuyer consider the study above to have served perhaps for the first of these portraits, that of 1745.

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