Louis-Philippe of France (October 6, 1773–August 26, 1850), served as the "Orleanist" king of the French from 1830 to 1848.
Born in Paris, Louis-Philippe, as the son of Louis Philippe Joseph, duc d'Orléans (known as "Philippe Égalité"), descended directly from King Louis XIII.
During the French Revolution and the ensuing regime of Napoleon Bonaparte, Louis-Philippe remained mostly outside France, travelling extensively, including in the United States where he stayed for four years in Philadelphia. 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. They had the following children:
Prince Ferdinand-Philippe, Duke of Orleans (b. 3 September 1810)
- Princess Louise of Orléans (b. 3 April 1812)
- Princess Marie of Orléans (b. 12 April 1813)
Prince Louis, Duke of Nemours (b. 25 October 1814)
- Princess Francisca of Orléans (b. 28 March 1816)
Princess Clémentine of Orléans (b. 3 June 1817)
- Prince Francois, Duke of Joinville (b. 14 August 1818)
- Prince Charles, Duke of Penthièvre (b. 1 January 1820)
Prince Henri, Duke of Aumale (b. 16 June 1822)
- Prince Antoine, Duke of Montpensier (b.31 July 1824)
After the abdication of Napoleon, Louis-Philippe returned to live in France, claiming sympathy with the liberated citizens of the country. With the restoration of the monarchy under his cousin King Louis XVIII and then under the reign of Louis's brother, King Charles X, the popularity of Louis-Philippe grew.
King of the French
In 1830, the July Revolution overthrew the repressive regime of Charles X. Charles abdicated in favour of his grandson, whom monarchists regarded as the legitimate Bourbon king. (Supporters of the Bourbon pretender, called 'Henry V', came to be called Legitimists. His grandson 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 Belgium's first queen when she married King Leopold I.
For a few years, Louis-Philippe ruled in a unpretentious fashion, avoiding the arrogance, pomp and lavish spending of his predecessors. Despite this outward appearance of simplicity, Louis-Philippe's support came from the wealthy middle classes. At first, he was much loved and called the "Citizen King", 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 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. In a popular election, Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte was elected as President. In 1851 he declared himself president for life. Within a year, he named himself Emperor Napoleon III and resurrected the concept of a "Napoleonic Empire".
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 1782–24 March 1866) at the Chapelle Royale, the family necropolis he had built in 1816, in Dreux, 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, it was expected (and agreed by all but the most extreme Legitimists) that the throne would then pass to the Comte de Paris, Louis-Phillippe's grandson, so healing the ancient rift between France's two royal families. However Chambord, with infamous stubbornness, refused to accept unless France abandoned the flag of the revolution, the Tricolore, and replaced it with what he regarded as the flag of pre-revolutionary France. This the National Assembly was unwilling to do. A temporary Third Republic was established, to be disestablished and replaced by a constitutional monarchy when Chambord died and the more moderate Comte de Paris became the agreed pretender. However Chambord lived far 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. Thus France's monarchical tradition came to an end, though some, notably Dwight D. Eisenhower, did suggest a monarchical restoration under a later comte de Paris after the fall of the Vichy regime. Instead however, 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. 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 disagreed with the comte de Paris and threw out his claim.
See also Members of the French Royal Families
Last updated: 02-06-2005 06:02:31