Louis-Philippe of France

King Louis-Philippe
King Louis-Philippe

Louis-Philippe of France (October 6, 1773August 26, 1850) reigned as the "Orléanist" king of the French from 1830 to 1848. He was France's last king, and its penultimate monarch. Born in Paris, Louis-Philippe was the son of Louis Philippe Joseph, duc d'Orléans (known as "Philippe Égalité"), and a descendant of King Louis XIII.

Before the Revolution

Louis-Philippe was born to Louis Philippe Joseph, duc de Chartres (later known as 'Philippe-Égalité') and his wife Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon-Penthièvre. He was the first of three sons and a daughter of the Orléans family, a family that was to have erratic fortunes for the next 60 years. The relationship between the Orléans and the Bourbon elder line was linked through Louis XIII, and ever since the elder line had a deep distrust of the intentions of the family which would succeed to the French throne should the Bourbons die out. Exiled from the Royal Court, the Orléans then confined themselves to studies, involving the literature and sciences emerging from the Enlightenment.

French Monarchy
House of Orleans

   Ferdinand-Philippe, Crown Prince of France
   Louise-Marie of France
   Marie of Orléans
   Louis, Duke of Nemours
   Francisca of Orléans
   Clementine of Orleans
   François, Prince of Joinville
   Charles, Duke of Penthièvre
   Henri, Duke of Aumale
   Antoine, Duke of Montpensier
   Philippe (VII), Count of Paris
   Robert, Duke of Chartres
   Gaston, Count of Eu
   Ferdinand Philippe Marie, Duke of Alençon
   Margaret of Orléans
   Blanche of Orléans
   Marie-Francoise de Bourbon-Orleans de Joinville
   Louis Philippe Marie Léopold, Prince de Condé
   François Louis d'Orléans, Duc de Guise
Great Grandchildren
   Amélie of Orléans
   Philip VIII, Duc d'Orléans
   Hélène of Orléans
   Charles of Orléans
   Isabelle of Orléans
   Jacques of Orléans
   Louise of Orléans
   Ferdinand of Orléans, Duke de Montpensier
   Marie of Orléans
   Robert of Orleans
   Henri of Orleans
   Marguerite of Orleans
   Jean d'Orléans, duc de Guise
   Louise of Orleans
   Philippe Emmanuel, duc de Vendome and Alencon
Great Great Grandchildren
   Isabelle of Orleans
   Francoise of Orleans
   Anne of Orleans
   Henri (VI), Count of Paris
Great Great Great Grandchildren
   Isabella of Orleans
   Henri (VII), Count of Paris
   Helene of Orleans
   Francois, duc de Orleans
   Anne of Orleans
   Diane of Orleans
   Michael, comte de Evreux
   Jaques, duc de Orleans
   Claude of Orleans
   Chantal of Orleans
   Thibaut, Comte de la Marche
   Marie Louise of Orleans
   Sophie Joséphine of Orleans
   Geneviève Marie of Orleans
   Charles Philippe, duc de Nemours
Great Great Great Great Grandchildren
   Marie of Orleans
   François, comte de Clermont
   Blanche of Orleans
   Jean, duc de Vendome
   Eudes Thibaut, duc de Angouleme
   Clothilde of Orleans
   Adélaïde of Orleans
   Charles Philippe of Orleans
   François of Orleans
   Diane Marie of Orleans
   Charles-Louis Henri, duc de Chartres
   Foulques Thibaut, duc de Aumale and comte de Eu

In his youth Louis-Philippe was to be tutored by the comtesse de Genlis, beginning in 1782. The comtesse de Genlis would install in him a fondness for liberal thought; it is probably during this period that Louis-Philippe picked up his slightly Voltairean brand of Catholicism. In 1785, Louis-Philippe followed his father and was created Duc de Chartres. In 1788, with France beginning to destabilize with the Revolution looming, the young Louis-Philippe showed his liberal sympathies when he participated in breaking down a door in a prison cell in Mont Saint-Michel on a visit there with the comtesse de Genlis. During the period of October 1788 to October 1789 the Palais-Royal, which was the home of the Orléans family, would be used as a centre for the Revolutionaries.

During the Revolution

During the early stages of the Revolution, Louis-Philippe strongly supported the reformation of French society as a whole; however, his father's actions during the vote on the execution of King Louis XVI changed the fortunes of the young duc de Chartres and his family. As Louis Philippe Joseph (now duc d'Orléans after the death of his father in 1793?) continued his support for the liberal factions of the revolution, the Royal family and members of the royal court became increasingly hostile towards the Orléans family. The duc d'Orléans rapidly became more of a sinecure of liberal reform to the general population of Paris and hundreds of medallions were minted with Orléans' figure framed by the title Père du Peuple (Father of the People) were seen in the streets. The duc d'Orléans' weakness became apparent as he was involved in several scandals in Paris. In October 1789, he went to England on the pretext of negotiating with the British government to set up an independent kingdom in the Southern Netherlands. He returned in July 1790. It becomes therefore easy to understand Mirabeau's assessment of Orléans' political capacity: "if we need some sort of a puppet it might as well be that bastard as anyone else."

The young Louis-Philippe grew up in a period that changed Europe as a whole, and he involved himself completely in those changes (a trait of his which would remain when he later became King). In his diary, he reports that he himself took the initiative to join the Jacobin Club, a move that his father supported. In June 1791, Louis-Philippe had gained his first opportunity to directly become involved in the affairs of France. In 1785, he was given the hereditary appointment of Colonel of the 14th Regiment of Dragoons (Chartres-Dragons), and when war appeared to be on the horizon in 1791, all proprietary colonels were ordered to join their Regiments. In the beginning, Louis-Philippe made himself out to be a model officer, and he demonstrated his personal bravery in two famous instances. First, three days after Louis XVI's flight to Varennes, an incident between two local priests and one of the new "constitutional" vicars became heated, and a crowd surrounded the inn where they were staying at the time, demanding blood. The young Colonel broke through the crowd and extricated the two priests, who then fled. At a river crossing on the same day, another crowd threatened to harm the priests, and the young Louis-Philippe put himself between a peasant armed with a carbine and the priests, saving their lives. The next day, Louis-Philippe dived into a river to save a drowning local engineer. For this action, he received a civic crown from the local municipality. His regiment was moved north to Flanders at the end of 1791 after the declaration of Pillnitz.

Louis-Philippe served under his father's crony, the Duc de Biron, along with several officers who later gained distinction in Napoleon's Empire and afterwards, including a Colonel Berthier and Lieutenant Colonel Alexandre de Beauharnais (future husband of the Empress Josephine). Louis-Philippe saw the first exchanges of fire of the Revolutionary Wars at Boussu and Quaragnon and a few days later fought at Quiévrain near Jemappes, where he was instrumental in rallying a unit of retreating soldiers. Biron wrote to the War Minister de Grave, complementing and praising the young Colonel, who was then promoted to Brigadier of a Brigade of Cavalry in Lückner's Army of the North. In the Army of the North, Louis-Philippe would serve with four Marshals of France in Macdonald, Mortier (who would later be killed in an assassination attempt on Louis-Philippe), Davout and Oudinot. Dumouriez was appointed to command the Army of the North in August 1792, whom Louis-Philippe would serve under in the Valmy campaign as a commander of a Division. At Valmy, Louis-Philippe had been ordered to establish a battery of Artillery on the crest of the hill of Valmy. The battle of Valmy was an inconclusive one, however the Austro-Prussian Army, suffering from a lack of supplies was forced back across the Rhine river. Once again, Louis-Philippe was praised in a letter by Dumouriez after the battle. Louis-Philippe was then recalled to Paris to give an account of the Battle at Valmy to the French Government where was to have a rather trying interview with Danton, Minister of Justice, which he later fondly re-told to his children. He was promoted while in Paris to the position of Lieutenant-General and left in October for the Army of the North once more where Dumouriez had begun a march into Belgium. Louis-Philippe commanded a Division once again when Dumouriez chose to attack an Austrian force located in a strong position on the heights of Cuesmes and Jemappes to the west of Mons. Louis-Philippe's Division sustained heavy casualties as it attacked through a wood, retreating in disorder. However, Louis-Philippe rallied a group of units, dubbing them "the battalion of Mons" and pushed forward along with other French units to finally overwhelm the outnumbered Austrians.

However, events in Paris undermined the budding public career of Louis-Philippe. The incompetence of the new Girondist appointed Jean-Nicolas Pache, virtually denuded Dumouriez' Army of the North of supplies and rapidly thousands of troops were deserting his Army. Louis-Philippe began to feel alienated by the more radical policies of the Republic, he only began to think of leaving France after the vote to execute Louis XVI and the 'yes' vote by his father. Dumouriez and Louis-Philippe met on March 22nd, 1793 where Dumouriez urged his subordinate to not become involved in his attempt to work with the Austrians to march his Army on Paris and restore the Constitution of 1791. Louis-Philippe was willing to stay in France to fulfill his duties in the Army, however he had been already implicated in Dumouriez's plot and he decided to leave France to save his life, with the French government slowly falling into the Terror. On April 4th Dumouriez and Louis-Philippe left for the Austrian camp, however they were intercepted by the prematurely bald and bespectacled Lieutenant-Colonel Davout, who had served at Jemappes with the duc de Chartres. As Dumouriez ordered the Colonel back to he camp, some of his soldiers cried out against the General, now declared a traitor by the National Convention, shots rang out as they fled towards the Austrian Camp. The next day, Dumouriez made another attempt to rally soldiers against the Convention; however, he found that the Artillery had declared for the Republic, leaving him and Louis-Philippe with no choice but to go into Exile. At the age of 19, Louis-Philippe left France; it was some 21 years before he again set foot on French soil.

During his Exile

The reaction in Paris to the involvement of Louis-Philippe in the treason of Dumouriez was inevitably going to result in misfortunes for the Orléans family. Philippe Duc d'Orléans, rose in the National Convention condemning his son for his actions, citing that he would not spare his son, much akin to Brutus of old and his son. However, letters from the young Louis-Philippe were discovered in transit to his father and were read out to the Convention, Hiatt was then put under continuous surveillance. Shortly there after, the Girondists moved to arrest Philippe and the two younger brothers of Louis-Philippe, the Dukes of Beaujolais and Montpensier, the latter had been serving in Biron's Army of the North. The three were interned in Fort Saint-Jean.

While this was occurring, Louis-Philippe was beginning a period of years in which he would be forced to live in the shadows, avoiding both pro-Republican revolutionaries and Legitimist French emigré centers in both the Austrian Army and in various centers throughout Europe. He first moved to Switzerland under an assumed name where he met up with the comptess de Genlis and his sister Adélaïde at Schaffhausen. From there they travelled to Zürich, where they were then told by Swiss authorities that in the interests of Swiss neutrality that the Duc de Chartres would have to leave the city. After being discovered by a group of emigrés in Zug, it became quite apparent that the women of the group, if they had any chance of living a sedentary lifestyle, they would have to separate from the duc de Chartres. Louis-Philippe then left with his faithful valet Baudoin for the heights of the Alpes. From there, travelled to Basel, where he sold all but one of his horses before leaving once again to travel throughout Switzerland. Moving from town to town, he found himself very much exposed to all the distresses of extended travelling, being refused entry to a monastery by a group of monks who believed them to be a group of young vagabonds. Another time, he woke up after spending a night in a barn to find himself at the far end of a musket, confronted by a man attempting to keep away thieves. Throughout the journey, he and Baudoin never stayed in one place for any longer than 48 hours. Finally in October 1793, Louis-Philippe was appointed a teacher of geography, history, mathematics and modern languages at a salary of 1,400 Francs at a boys' boarding school owned by a Monsieur Jost in Reichenau, a village situated at the source of the river Rhine. He taught at the school under the name "M. Chabos" and had been at the school for a month before he heard the dreadful news from Paris.

In Paris, on the 1st of November 1793, Philippe was brought to the Palais de Justice where he appeared in front of the Revolutionary Tribunal later on the 5th. The proceedings were a travesty, with the defence of the duke being completely ignored. The duke went to the guillotine a day later, proudly and calmly. In Reichenau, Louis-Philippe was devastated, feeling in part responsible for his father's death because his letters to his father were the main incriminating evidence against him. With the Revolution spiralling out of control, Louis-Philippe began to loathe his Jacobinical past, finding himself very much alone, with few friends to count on and great hostility in Europe toward the Orléans family. In early 1794, Louis-Philippe began to feel the need for companionship, courting the cook of M. Jost in Reichenau, Marianne Banzori. After deciding to end his academic career in late 1794, M. Jost discovered that his Marianne was pregnant. Upset with Louis-Philippe, Jost sent Marianne to Milan where the child was born in December 1794, afterwards abandoning the child to an orphanage after birth. After leaving Reichenau, he was able to remove the now sixteen-year old Adélaïde from the comtesse de Genlis, who had had a falling out with Louis-Philippe (now Duc d'Orléans after the death of his father). Adélaïde then went to live with her great-aunt the Princesse de Conti at Fribourg, moving then to Bavaria and finally to Hungary. She would afterwards move to join her mother who was living at the time in Spain.

Travelling extensively, he visited Scandinavia in 1795 where he stayed in Muonio (Torne Valley) for approximately one year. There he was living in a rectory as a guest under the name Müller and met another woman, (Beata Caisa Wahlbom) the sister of the priest's wife who was a housekeeper in the rectory. Not long after Louis-Philippe had left Scandinavia, Beata Caisa Wahlbom gave birth to a son, whom she named Erik.

Louis-Philippe also visited the United States for four years, staying in Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston, where he taught French for a time and lived in lodgings over what is now the Union Oyster House, Boston's oldest restaurant. His visit to Cape Cod in 1797 coincided with the separation of the town of Eastham into two towns, one of which took the name of Orleans, possibly in his honour. He is also thought to have known Isaac Snow of Orleans, Massachusetts, who escaped to France from a British prison hulk during the American Revolution. His only sister, Princess Louise Marie Adelaide Eugènie d'Orléans, married in the U.S.

In 1809 Louis-Philippe married Princess Marie Amalie of Bourbon-Sicilies (1782–1866), daughter of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies and Marie Caroline of Austria. They had the following ten children:

  1. Ferdinand-Philippe, Duke of Orléans (b. 3 September 1810–d.1842)
  2. Louise-Marie of Orléans (b. 3 April 1812–d.1850) married Leopold I of Belgium
  3. Marie of Orléans (b. 12 April 1813–d.1839) married Duke Alexander of Württemberg (b.1804–d.1881)
  4. Louis Charles, duc de Nemours (b. 25 October 1814–d.1896) married Viktoria of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (b.1822–d.1857).
  5. Francisca of Orléans (b. 28 March 1816–d.1818).
  6. Clémentine of Orléans (b. 3 June 1817–d.1907) married August of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (b.1818–d.1881).
  7. François d'Orléans, Prince de Joinville (b. 14 August 1818–d.1900) married Francisca of Brazil (b.1824–d.1898), daughter of Pedro I of Brazil.
  8. Charles, Duke of Penthièvre (b. 1 January 1820–d.1828)
  9. Henri d'Orleans Duke of Aumale (b. 16 June 1822–d.1897) married Maria Carolina of Bourbon-Two Sicilies (b.1822–d.1869)
  10. Prince Antoine, Duke of Montpensier (b.31 July 1824–d.1890), married Luisa Fernanda of Spain (b.1832–d.1897) daughter of Ferdinand VII of Spain and became a prince of Spain.

After the abdication of Napoleon, and the restoration of the monarchy under his cousin King Louis XVIII Louis-Philippe returned to live in France, claiming sympathy with the liberated citizens of the country. He openly sided with the liberal opposition; under Louis XVIII and then even more so under the reign of Louis's brother, King Charles X, the popularity of Louis-Philippe grew.

King of the French

Monarchical Styles of
King Louis-Philippe I of The French
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sir

In 1830, the July Revolution overthrew the repressive régime of Charles X. Charles abdicated in favour of Henri, the Count of Chambord, whom monarchists regarded as the legitimate Bourbon king and called "Henry V". (Supporters of this grandson, the Bourbon pretender, were called Legitimists. Chambord was offered the throne again in the 1870s but declined over a dispute over the French tricolour.) Due to Louis-Philippe's Republican policies and his popularity with the masses, the Chamber of Deputies ignored the wishes of the Legitimists that Charles's grandson be accepted as king and instead proclaimed Louis-Philippe as the new French king. The new monarch took the style of "King of the French", a constitutional innovation known as popular monarchy which linked the monarch's title to a people, not to a state, as the previous King of France's designation did. Louis-Philippe repudiated the legitimist theory of the divine right of kings.

In 1832, his daughter, Princess Louise-Marie Thérèse Charlotte Isabelle (1812–1850), became the first queen of Belgium, when she married King Leopold I. Interestingly, Leopold I was titled "King of the Belgians" and not King of Belgium, which followed the popular monarchy sentiment of the time. Thus, Louis-Philippe's daughter, Princess Louise-Marie Thérèse Charlotte Isabelle, held the very similar title of "Queen of the Belgians", just as her father was "King of the French."

Arms of Louis-Philippe
Arms of Louis-Philippe

Louis-Phillippe ruled in an unpretentious fashion, avoiding the arrogance, pomp and lavish spending of his predecessors. Despite this outward appearance of simplicity, his support came from the wealthy middle classes. At first, he was much loved and called the "Citizen King" and the "bourgeois monarch," but his popularity suffered as his government was perceived as increasingly conservative and monarchical. Under his management the conditions of the working classes deteriorated, and the income gap widened considerably. An economic crisis in 1847 led to the citizens of France revolting against their king once again.


On 24 February 1848, to general surprise, King Louis-Philippe abdicated in favour of his young grandson (his son and heir, Prince Ferdinand, having been killed in an accident some years earlier). Fearful of what had happened to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, he quickly disguised himself and fled Paris. Riding in an ordinary cab under the name of "Mr Smith", he escaped to England. The Times of 6 March 1848 reported that he was received at Newhaven, East Sussex by the rector (Rev. Theyre Smith), the curate (Rev. Frederick Spurrell) and the principal landowner (William Elphick), while his wife was attended by Lydia Elphick and Frances Gray (both daughters of John Gray of the Gray and Dacre Brewery, West Ham, Essex), before travelling by train to London.

The National Assembly initially planned to accept his grandson as king. However, pulled along by the tide of public opinion, they accepted the Second Republic proclaimed in controversial circumstances at Paris City Hall. Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte executed a coup d'état on December 2, 1851. In 1851 he declared himself president for life. Within a year, he named himself Emperor Napoleon III.

Louis-Philippe and his family lived in England until his death on 26 August 1850, in Claremont, Surrey. He is buried with his wife Amelia (26 April 178224 March 1866) at the Chapelle Royale, the family necropolis he had built in 1816, in Dreux, France.

By his ordinance, soon after his accession to the throne, of August 13, 1830, it was decided that the king's sister and his children would continue to bear the arms of Orléans, that Louis-Philippe's eldest son, as Prince Royal, would bear the title of duc d'Orléans, that the younger sons would continue to have their existing titles, and that the sister and daughters of the king would only be styled "princesses d'Orléans", not those "of France".

The Clash of the Pretenders

The clashes of 1830 and 1848 between the Legitimists and the Orleanists over who was the valid monarch had its epilogue in the 1870s when, after the fall of the Empire, the National Assembly with the support of public opinion offered a reconstituted throne to the Legitimist pretender, "Henry V", the Comte de Chambord. As he was childless, the heir to his claim was (except in the view of the most extreme Legitimists) Louis-Phillippe's grandson, now called the Comte de Paris. So Chambord's death would unite the House of Bourbon and House of Orleans.

However Chambord, with infamous stubbornness, refused to accept the throne unless France abandoned the flag of the revolution, the Tricolore, and replace it with the fleur de lis, the flag of pre-revolutionary France. This the National Assembly was unwilling to do. A temporary Third Republic was established; many intended it to be disestablished and replaced by a constitutional monarchy when Chambord died and the more moderate Comte de Paris became the agreed claimant. However, Chambord lived longer than expected. By the time of his death in 1883 support for the monarchy had declined, with most people accepting the Third Republic as the form of government that "divides us least", in Adolphe Thiers's words. Some suggested a monarchical restoration under a later comte de Paris after the fall of the Vichy regime, even though the royalists had supported Vichy, but in fact France's monarchical tradition was at an end. Instead , the Third Republic was briefly resurrected before being replaced by the Fourth Republic in 1946.

Most French monarchists regard the descendants of Louis Philippe's grandson, who hold the title comte de Paris, as the rightful pretender to the French throne. A small minority of Legitimists however insist on a nobleman of Spanish birth, Don Luis-Alfonso de Borbon, Duke of Anjou (to his supporters, "Louis XX") as being the true Legitimist pretender; he is representative in the male line of Philippe, Duke of Anjou, the second grandson of Louis XIV, who renounced his right to the throne of France on becoming King of Spain.

Both sides even challenged each other in the French Republic's law courts, in 1897 and again almost a century later, in the latter case, with Henri, comte de Paris (d. 1999) challenging the right of the Spanish-born "pretender" to use the French royal title duc d'Anjou. The French courts threw out his claim, since they believed that the courts had no jurisdiction over such a matter.


  • T.E.B. Howarth. Citizen-King: The Life of Louis-Philippe, King of the French. 2nd ed. Eyre & Spottiswoode Ltd, 1962.

House of Capet
Cadet Branch of the House of Orleans
Born: 6 October 1773; Died: 26 August 1850
Regnal Titles:Titles of Nobility
Preceded by:
Charles X
as King of France
King of the French
9 August 183024 February 1848
Second French Republic
Preceded by:
Charles X as King of France
French Head of State
9 August, 1830–24 February, 1848
Succeeded by:
Jacques-Charles Dupont de l'Eure
Titles of Nobility
Preceded by:
Louis Philippe II
Duke of Orleans
Absorbed into state
Titles in Pretence
Preceded by:
King of France
Orleanist claimants to the throne of France

Succeeded by:
Philip VII

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