Orléans, Philippe, Duc d'
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Orléans, Philippe II, Duc d'
Regent of France (1715-1723)
born 2 August 1674, Saint-Cloud, France
died 2 December 1723, Versailles, France
Philippe Charles was born on 2 August 1674. He was the son of Philippe I, Duc d’Orléans, and his second wife, Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate. At his birth, Philippe Charles was titled Duc de Chartres.
Philippe Charles had Guillaume Dubois as preceptor and Nicolas-François Parisot de Saint-Laurent as instructor.
From 1689, some of the best historians, genealogists, scientists and artists in the kingdom participated in his education.
In 1691, during the Nine Years' War (1688–97), Philippe Charles had his first experience of arms at the siege of Mons. The same year, he married his first cousin Françoise-Marie de Bourbon, the legitimized daughter of Louis XIV, thus winning the favour of the king. Still the same year, Philippe Charles also fought with distinction at the Battle of Steenkerque and at the siege of Namur. In 1693, he took part in the Battle of Landen.
After the war, being without employment, Philippe Charles studied natural science.
In 1701, Philippe Charles succeeded his father as Philippe II Duc d’Orléans.
In 1706, the Duc d’Orléans was given a command in Italy but, on 7 September, lost the Battle of Turin. His army was then forced to retire towards France.
In 1707, the Duc d’Orléans was sent to Spain. On 25 April, he took part in the Battle of Almansa. However, he cherished lofty ambitions and was suspected of wishing to take the place of King Philip V on the throne of Spain. Louis XIV was angry at these pretensions.
In 1708, Louis XIV recalled the Duc d’Orléans to France, and for a long time held him in disfavour.
In 1715, in his will, Louis XIV appointed the Duc d’Orléans president of the council of regency of the young King Louis XV. After the death of the king, on 1 September, the Duc d’Orléans went to the parliament, had the will annulled, and himself invested with absolute power. At first he made a good use of this, counselling economy, decreasing taxation, disbanding 25,000 soldiers and restoring liberty to the persecuted Jansenists. But the inquisitorial measures which he had begun against the financiers led to disturbances. He was, moreover, weak enough to countenance the risky operations of the banker John Law (1717), whose bankruptcy led to such a disastrous crisis in the public and private affairs of France.
There existed a party of malcontents who wished to transfer the regency from Orleans to Philip V, king of Spain. A conspiracy was formed, under the inspiration of Cardinal Alberoni, first minister of Spain, and directed by the Prince of Cellamare, Spanish ambassador in France, with the complicity of the Duc and Duchesse du Maine; but in 1718 it was discovered and defeated. Dubois, formerly tutor to the Duc d’Orléans, and now his all-powerful minister, caused the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718-20) to be declared against Spain, with the support of the emperor, and of Great Britain and the Dutch Republic. In 1720, after some successes of the French Maréchal Duke of Berwick, in Spain, and of the imperial troops in Sicily, Philip V made peace with the regent.
On the majority of the king, which was declared on 15 February 1723, the Duc d’Orléans resigned the supreme power; but he became first minister to the king, and remained in office till his death on 2 December 1723.
This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911 – Orleans, Philip II., Duke of
- English Edition Philippe II, Duke of Orléans
- French edition Philippe d'Orléans (1674-1723)