Duke of Orleans

(Louis Philippe II)

1747–1793
Civilization: European — France
   Field of Renown:  minister — Villain
Era:  Revolution

Orleans
DUKE OF ORLEANS AT HIS EXECUTION.
Louis Philippe Joseph d'Orléans was the cousin of King Louis XVI of France, and a central player in the turbulent times of the French Revolution. Despite his position as a member of the royal family, he held anti-royalist sympathies for much of his life, and as a member of the National Convention, voted for the execution of King Louis XVI. Despite his political views, his Bourbon connections caused him to fall under suspicion, and he was ultimately executed by the same Convention he had helped place in power.

The Duke of Orleans’ early life and career were hardly sterling. Although he married (at the age of twenty), a rich heiress, he was a known womanizer, and his decidedly anti-royalist sympathies had him on bad terms with the court, especially the Queen, Marie Antoinette. Despite this, he and his wife Marie-Adelaide had five children, the eldest of whom would later become Louis-Philippe I, King of France.

From the start of the Revolution, d'Orleans' sympathies were quite clear. He was one of the first to abandon the Estates-General and join with the National Assembly, after the famed Tennis Court Oath. His money and position enabled him to monetarily and politically further many of the Revolution’s goals, although his connection to the crown caused some to wonder if he was simply attempting to depose his cousin and claim the throne for himself. After the King’s aborted flight to Varennes, the Duke changed his name to ‘Philippe Egalite’ (in English, ‘Philip Equality’) in order to further prove his support of the Revolution and its ideals.

Despite the name change, and his vote in support of the execution of Louis XVI, the defection of Philippe Egalite’s sons along with Charles Dumouriez caused him to be arrested, along with all the remaining members of the House of Bourbon left in France. He was tried and executed in November of 1793, a victim of the Revolution he had helped create.


Key events during the life of the Duke of Orleans:


Year
Event
1749
Born April 7th, at Chateau de St Cloud.
1752
Inherits title Duke of Orleans upon grandfather's death.
1769
June 6th, marries sixteen-year-old Louise Marie-Adélaïde de Bourbon, who would be the richest woman in France at the death of her father.
1771
Exiled to country estate Villers-Cotterêts for anti-royalist sympathies.
1771
Becomes Grand Master of the Grand Orient de France, the governing body of French Freemasonry.
1772-1773
Engages in affair with wife's lady-in-waiting. Has several different affairs over the course of several years.
1773-1779
Has total of five legitimate children with Marie-Adélaïde.
1774
Cousin Louis XVI becomes king, Philippe still suspected of anti-royalist sympathies.
1778
Removed from naval service for cowardice and incompetence, given honorary post of colonel-general of hussars as compensation.
1787
Vocally supported anti-royalist, Enlightenment sympathies at Assembly of Notables, again exiled to Villers-Cotterêts.
1789
Elected by three different regions for Estates-General, one of first to break from the Estates-General and join the National Assembly.
1789-1790
Sent on mission to England by Louis XVI, at the request of Lafayette. Returned to take his seat in National Constituent Assembly.
1792
Changed name to 'Philippe Egalite' or 'Philip Equality'.
1792
Present for a short time in the summer with the Army of the North, along with his sons the Duke of Chartres and the Duke of Montpensier.
1792
Elected as deputy to the National Convention, voted the death sentence for Louis XVI.
1793
Arrested in April, after the desertion of his sons with Charles François Dumouriez.
1793
Tried and executed on November 6th.
1793
Freemasons remove him from the post of Grand Master, one month after his death.


Image Links


The Duke of Orleans going to execution.
 in  Stories of the French Revolution


Contemporary
Short Biography
Robespierre Key figure of the French Revolution. Leader of the Reign of Terror.
Abbe Sieyes Apostate abbot with republican leanings. Leading thinker of early years of the revolution, who was exiled during the most radical phase
Charles Dumouriez French Revolutionary General and hero of the battle of Valmy. Deserted the cause after the execution of the king and joined the royalist allies
Mirabeau Moderate leader of the French Revolution who died before he could effect a compromise.
Lafayette French soldier who fought in American Revolution, and early leader of French Revolution.
Maria Antoinette Extravagant Queen of France. Beheaded during French Revolution.
Louis XVI King during the French revolution. Beheaded by republicans who sought to overthrow the monarchy.