Duke of Orleans

(Louis Philippe II)


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:

Born April 7th, at Chateau de St Cloud.
Inherits title Duke of Orleans upon grandfather's death.
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.
Exiled to country estate Villers-Cotterêts for anti-royalist sympathies.
Becomes Grand Master of the Grand Orient de France, the governing body of French Freemasonry.
Engages in affair with wife's lady-in-waiting. Has several different affairs over the course of several years.
Has total of five legitimate children with Marie-Adélaïde.
Cousin Louis XVI becomes king, Philippe still suspected of anti-royalist sympathies.
Removed from naval service for cowardice and incompetence, given honorary post of colonel-general of hussars as compensation.
Vocally supported anti-royalist, Enlightenment sympathies at Assembly of Notables, again exiled to Villers-Cotterêts.
Elected by three different regions for Estates-General, one of first to break from the Estates-General and join the National Assembly.
Sent on mission to England by Louis XVI, at the request of Lafayette. Returned to take his seat in National Constituent Assembly.
Changed name to 'Philippe Egalite' or 'Philip Equality'.
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.
Elected as deputy to the National Convention, voted the death sentence for Louis XVI.
Arrested in April, after the desertion of his sons with Charles François Dumouriez.
Tried and executed on November 6th.
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

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.