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HistoryCourt characters

Louis XV

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King of France (1710-1774)

After becoming king in 1715, the young Louis XV, known as the “Beloved”, decided in 1722 to reinstall the government and court in the Château de Versailles, abandoned since the death of Louis XIV. In 1725, he married Marie Leszczinska and fathered an heir to the throne. Passionately interested in science and botany, he enriched the gardens of the Château and commissioned the building of the Petit Trianon palace for his mistress, Madame de Pompadour.

Son of the duc de Bourgogne and Marie-Adelaïde of Savoy, great-grandson of Louis XIV, Louis XV became the Dauphin on the death of his father in 1712, and then king at the age of 5, in 1715, on the death of Louis XIV. His education, directed by the Governor General, Maréchal de Villeroy, and by his tutor, Cardinal de Fleury, developed his interest in the exact sciences, botany, medicine, astronomy, geography and history. His tutor, the duc d’Orléans, Regent of the kingdom, gave him practical training in political affairs. From the age of 10 he attended the government council meetings.

Crowned at Reims in 1722, Louis XV then reinstalled the government and the court at Versailles, abandoned by the state since the death of Louis XIV. While he re-used the apartments of the king for the state functions, he had his own private quarters, designed by the architect Gabriel, where he took refuge from the crowds and the pomp and ceremony of court life.

The King and the royal family

Although Louis XV was betrothed in 1721 to the heiress of Spain, she was subsequently dropped from his matrimonial projects, regarded as too young to provide a royal heir. In 1725, the king married Marie Leszczinska, princess of Poland, who was seven years older than him. The king and queen had ten children, born between 1727 and 1737. Six daughters and one son, the Dauphin, survived into adult age. They spent their childhood in the Prince’s wing, the present Aile du Midi. Then the Dauphin, aged 6, moved into the central part of the Château where apartments were reserved for the successor to the throne on the ground floor. Louis XV picked a convent education for his youngest daughters, which was very fashionable at the time. When they were adults, the daughters of Louis XV lived with him in Versailles, except for the eldest who in 1739 married her cousin, the heir to the Spanish throne who became the duc de Parme.