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The Grand Dauphin



Son of Louis XIV (1661-1711)

Louis de France, known as “Le Grand Dauphin” or “Monseigneur”, never reigned. Although the heir to the throne, he died prematurely, before Louis XIV. Yet his father had prepared him for this responsibility. The Grand Dauphin occupied both political and military posts while keeping intact his interest in art and the pleasures of the Court.

Maria Theresa of Austria, the wife of Louis XIV, gave birth to Louis de France, known as the Grand Dauphin, in 1661, at the Château de Fontainebleau. As the son of the King, he also received the title of “Monseigneur”.

LThe Grand Dauphin, educated by Bossuet, had a good reputation with the Court and the people of Paris. And this was despite the sharp criticisms of Saint-Simon about his behaviour. A cultivated man with a passion for art and the opera, the son of the King, installed in a sumptuous apartment in Versailles, surrounded by his collections, went regularly to the Palais-Royal theatre in Paris for the latest show. Unlike his wife Marie-Anne-Christine-Victoire of Wittelsbach whom he married in 1680, he did not live shut up in the Château and enjoyed the pleasures and pomp of Versailles and Paris. Faithful to the tradition, the Grand Dauphin hunted regularly with his men.

Apart from these daily pleasures, he took on important political and military responsibilities. In the 1680s, the King invited him to focus more closely on the kingdom’s political affairs. After joining the Dispatches Council and the Finance Council in 1682, by 1688 he had obtained the right to speak. At the same time, he undertook his first military campaigns and his victories earned him the admiration of his troops.

Around 1694 he secretly married Mademoiselle de Chouin. The Grand Dauphin divided his time between the Château de Versailles and his Meudon residence whose sumptuous decor rivalled that of the palace of Louis XIV. This fervent collector displayed here Gobelins tapestries, paintings by Poussin and rare pieces of furniture.
Shortly before the death of his father, he died of smallpox in the Château de Meudon in April 1711. The last heir to the crown was Louis XV, then 1 year old, who succeeded his great-grandfather.

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