House of Orléans

House of Orléans
Country France
Parent house House of Bourbon descended from Capetian dynasty

duc d'Orléans,

Founded 2 February 1660
Founder Philippe de France, duc d'Orléans
Final ruler Louis-Philippe of France - King of the French from 1830 to 1848.
Current head Henri d'Orléans, Orléanist claimant to the French throne
Dissolution 24 February 1848
Cadet branches

House of Orléans-Braganza

House of Orléans-Galliera

Orléans is the name used by several branches of the Royal House of France, all descended in the legitimate male line from the dynasty's founder, Hugh Capet. It became a tradition during France's ancien régime for the duchy of Orléans to be granted as an appanage to a younger (usually the second surviving) son of the king. While each of the Orléans branches thus descended from a junior prince, they were always among the king's nearest relations in the male line, sometimes aspiring and sometimes succeeding to the throne itself.

The last cadet branch to hold the ducal title descended from the younger son of Louis XIII of France, and is sometimes known as the "House of Bourbon-Orléans" (Maison de Bourbon-Orléans). From 1709 until the French Revolution the Orléans dukes were next in the order of succession to the French throne after members of the senior branch of the House of Bourbon, descended from Louis XIV.

Louis XIII's younger brother and younger son were granted the dukedom successively in 1626 and 1660, and since they had contemporaneous living descendants, there were actually two Bourbon-Orléans branches at court during the reign of Louis XIV. The elder of these branches consisted of Gaston, duc d'Orléans, younger son of Henry IV, and the four daughters of his two marriages. The junior and final House of Orléans descended from Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, Louis XIV's younger brother (who, as such, was known at court simply as Monsieur). Although Louis XIV's direct descendants retained the throne, his brother Philippe's descendants flourished until the end of the French monarchy, held the crown from 1830 to 1848, and still exist as pretenders.

The dukes

Upon the death of Gaston of Orléans, the appanage of the Duchy of Orléans reverted to the crown. The appanage was given to Philippe, the brother of Louis XIV of France.

It was Philippe and his second wife, the famous court writer Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, who founded the modern House of Orléans – their surviving son being the regent of France for the young Louis XV.

As a fils de France, Philippe's surname was "de France". Upon his death, his son inherited the Orléans dukedom, but as only a petit-fils de France his surname (and that of his descendants) was taken from his father's main title, and was thus d'Orléans. The first two dukes, as son and patrilineal grandson, respectively, of a French king, were entitled to be addressed as Royal Highness. But Philippe I was primarily known as Monsieur, the style reserved for the king's eldest brother at the French court. Philippe II was succeeded as duke by his son Louis d'Orléans, who was entitled to the style of Serene Highness as a prince du sang. After 1709, the heads of the Orléans branch of the House of Bourbon ranked as the premier princes du sang – this meant that the dukes could be addressed as Monsieur le Prince (a style they did not, however, use) and that, should there be no heir to the crown of France in the king's immediate family, then the Orléans family would ascend the throne by right.

Name Portrait Lifespan Parents
Philippe I
21 September 1640 –
8 June 1701
Louis XIII of France
Anne of Austria
Philippe II
2 August 1674 –
2 December 1723
Philippe I, Duke of Orléans
Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate
4 August 1703 –
4 February 1752
Philippe II, Duke of Orléans
Françoise-Marie de Bourbon
Louis Philippe I
12 May 1725 –
18 November 1785
Louis, Duke of Orléans
Margravine Auguste Marie Johanna of Baden-Baden
Louis Philippe II
13 April 1747 –
6 November 1793
Louis Philippe I, Duke of Orléans
Louise Henriette de Bourbon
Louis Philippe III
6 October 1773 –
26 August 1850
Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans
Louise Marie Adélaïde of Bourbon
Ferdinand Philippe
3 September 1810 –
13 July 1842
Louis Philippe III, Duke of Orléans
Maria Amalia Teresa of the Two Sicilies
(did not use the title)
24 August 1838 –
8 September 1894
Ferdinand Philippe, Duke of Orléans
Helen of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
24 August 1869 –
28 March 1926
Philippe, Count of Paris
Marie Isabelle of Orléans

Other Dukes Members of the House of Orléans


House of Orléans
See descendants
Marie Louise, Queen of Spain
Philippe Charles, Duke of Valois
Anne Marie, Queen of Sardinia
Alexandre Louis, Duke of Valois
Philippe, Duke of Orléans
Élisabeth Charlotte, Duchess of Lorraine

Under Louis XIV

Gaston de France became the Duke of Orléans in 1626, and held that title until his death in 1660. His nephew, Louis XIV, then gave Gaston's appanages to his younger brother, who thus became Philippe I, Duke of Orléans. At court, Gaston was known as Le Grand Monsieur, and Philippe was called Le Petit Monsieur while both princes were alive.

Before then, Philippe had been known as the duc d'Anjou. Besides receiving the appanage of Orléans, he also received the duchies of Valois and Chartres: Duc de Chartres became the courtesy title by which the heirs apparent of the Dukes of Orléans were known during their fathers' lifetimes. Until the birth of the king's son, the Dauphin Louis, the Duke of Orléans was the heir presumptive to the crown. He was to maintain a high position at court till his death in 1701.

Prince du sang

In 1709, the 5th prince de Condé died. He was the premier prince du sang and head of the House of Bourbon-Condé. As a result of this death, the title of premier prince passed to the House of Orléans, as they were closer in blood to the throne of France.[2] But since the two senior males of that line held higher rank as, respectively, fils de France and petit-fils de France, they did not make use of the title and had no need of its attached prerogative; a household and retinue maintained at the expense of the Crown.

The Orléans household was already large, as it held the staff of Philippe II d'Orléans and of his wife, as well as the staff of his widowed mother, the dowager Duchess. This combined household, though not fully functional until 1723, contained almost 250 members including officers, courtiers, footmen, gardeners, and even barbers.

The Regency

On the death of Louis XIV in September 1715, the new king, Louis XV, was but five years old. The country was then governed by the new king's older relative Philippe II d'Orléans as the regent of France. This period in French history is known as the Regency (La Régence), and gave the House of Orléans the pre-eminent position and political role in France during the king's minority. The regent ruled France from his family residence in Paris, the Palais-Royal. He installed the young Louis XV in the Palais du Louvre which was opposite the Palais-Royal.

In January 1723 Louis XV gained his majority and began to govern the country on his own. The young king moved the court back to Versailles and in December, Philippe II died and his son, Louis d'Orléans succeeded him as 3rd duke and, more importantly, as France's heir presumptive. Nonetheless, since his rank by birth (as a great-grandson of a French king) was prince du sang, that of premier prince du sang constituted a higher style, of which he and his descendants henceforth made use.

Under Louis XV

Louis d'Orléans was in several ways his father's opposite, being retiring by nature and extremely devout. Although still in his twenties when widowed, he did not remarry after his wife's death, and is not known to have ever taken a mistress. He died in the Monastery of St. Geneviève in Paris.[3]

His son, Louis Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, was the fourth of his line to hold that title. After having a distinguished military career, he decided to live quietly with his mistress (later, his morganatic wife), the marquise de Montesson, at the Château de Sainte-Assise.

Louis XVI

Louis Philippe I d'Orléans and his wife Louise Henriette de Bourbon had two children: the fifth duke, Louis Philippe II d'Orléans, known to history as Philippe Egalité, and Bathilde d'Orléans. As the duc de Chartres, Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, married one of his cousins, Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon. She was the sole heiress of the House of Bourbon-Penthièvre, which had accumulated vast wealth bestowed, despite their bar sinister, on the princes légitimés by their father, Louis XIV. The duchesse de Chartres had a dowry of six million livres, the modern equivalent of almost £20 million, and an annual allowance of over 500,000 livres, the modern equivalent of almost £1.7 million per year. Upon the death of her father she inherited the remainder of the Bourbon-Penthièvre revenues and châteaux.

Louis Philippe II was given the surname Egalité ("Equality") when French titles of nobility were abolished in 1790. His wife outlived him by almost thirty years.

Louise Marie Thérèse Bathilde d'Orléans married Louis Henry II, Prince of Condé, the last of his house, and was the mother of the duc d'Enghien, who was executed by Napoleon. She died in 1822, the same year as her sister-in-law the duchesse d'Orléans. They were both buried in the Chapelle royale de Dreux.


At the time of the French Revolution, Philippe Egalité, was the only person of royal blood to actively support the revolution.

He went so far as to vote for the execution of his cousin, King Louis XVI, an act which earned him popularity among the revolutionaries, and the undying hostility of many French monarchists. He remained in prison until October, the beginning of the Reign of Terror. He was shortlisted for a trial on October 3, and effectively tried and guillotined in the space of one day, on the orders of Maximilien Robespierre.

Most of the Orléans family were forced to flee. The new duc d'Orléans had fled to Austria several months previously, triggering the arrest of his father. His brother, the duc de Montpensier, would die in England, and his sister fled to Switzerland after being imprisoned for a while. The youngest brother, Louis-Charles, Count of Beaujolais, was thrown into a prison in the south of France (Fort-Saint-Jean in Marseille) in 1793, but later escaped to the United States. He too died in exile. Of the Orléans, only the widow of Philippe Egalité was able to remain in France unhindered until, in 1797 she, too, was banished to Spain along with the few remaining Bourbons who still lived in France.

In 1814 during the Bourbon Restoration, the three remaining members of the family, the duc d'Orléans, his mother and sister, returned to Paris. The family's properties and titles were returned to them by Louis XVIII.

July Monarchy

In 1830, following the French July Revolution, the House of Orléans became the ruling house when the monarch of the elder restored Bourbon line, Charles X, was replaced by the 6th duke, Louis Philippe III d'Orléans, son of Philippe Egalité. Louis Philippe ruled as a constitutional monarch, and as such was called King of the French, rather than "of France". His reign lasted until the Revolution of 1848, when he abdicated and fled to England.

Even after his ouster, an Orléanist faction remained active, supporting a return of the House of Orléans to power. Legitimist monarchists however continued to uphold the rights of the elder line of Bourbons, who came close to regaining the throne after the fall of the [Second Empire]. In the early 1870s, a majority of deputies in the National Assembly were monarchists, as was the nation's president, MacMahon. Thus, it was widely expected that the old dynasty would be invited to re-mount the throne, in the person of either the Bourbon or the Orléans claimant.

Louis-Philippe Albert d'Orléans, Comte de Paris

To seize this opportunity the Orléanists offered a so-called fusion, whereby King Louis Philippe's grandson and heir, Philippe, comte de Paris, accepted the childless Legitimist pretender's right to the throne, thereby potentially uniting French royalists in support of a single candidate. But the refusal of the last male of Louis XIV's direct line, the comte de Chambord, to accept the tricolore as France's flag under a restored monarchy proved an insurmountable obstacle to his candidacy.

Although the Orléans had reigned under the tricolor without objection, this time the Orléans princes did not abandon the cause of the head of their dynasty by seeking to offer themselves as alternative candidates; by the time Chambord died and the Orléans felt free to re-assert their claim to the throne, the political moment had passed, and France had become resolutely republican.[4] France has had neither a Bourbon nor Orléans monarch since 1848.

Louis-Philippe and his family lived in England until his death in Claremont, Surrey. Like his mother, he and his wife, Amelia (1782–1866), were buried at the Chapelle royale de Dreux. In 1883, the comte de Chambord died without children. As a result, some Legitimists recognized the House of Orléans as the heirs to the throne of France.

However, a portion of the Legitimists, still resentful of the revolutionary credentials of the House of Orléans, transferred their loyalties to the Carlist heirs of the Spanish Bourbons, who represented the most senior branch of the Capetians even though they had renounced their claim to the French throne to obtain Spain in 1713.

Thus to their supporters, not only are the heads of the House of Orléans the rightful heirs to the constitutionalist title of "King of the French", but also to the Legitimist title of "King of France and Navarre".

Contemporary family

Henri d'Orléans, Count of Paris, was the orléanist claimant to the French throne from 1940 until his death in 1999.

The head of the house today is Henri, comte de Paris, duc de France (born 14 June 1933). He is a claimant to the French throne. If he were king, he would be Henry VII. For the Orléanists, he is the heir of King Louis Philippe of the French; for Legitimists, the heir of Henri, comte de Chambord, and so of Charles X of France.

Present family On 5 July 1957, he married Duchess Marie-Thérèse of Württemberg (born 1934), a descendant of King Louis Philippe. He received the title Comte de Clermont. Five children were born from this union, before the marriage ended in divorce.

  1. Princess Marie Isabelle Marguerite Anne Geneviève of Orléans (born 3 January 1959, Boulogne sur Seine) married civilly at Dreux on 22 July 1989 and religiously in Friedrichshafen on 22 July 1989 to Prince Gundakar of Liechtenstein (born 1 April 1949, Vienna), and has issue
  2. Prince François Henri Louis Marie of Orléans (born 7 February 1961, Boulogne sur Seine), Comte de Clermont, severely disabled (due to mother's toxoplasmosis during pregnancy).
  3. Princess Blanche Elisabeth Rose Marie of Orléans (born 10 September 1962, Ravensburg), severely disabled (due to the same cause as her elder brother).
  4. Prince Jean Charles Pierre Marie of Orléans (born 19 May 1965, Boulogne sur Seine), Duke of Vendôme and Dauphin de Viennois, married civilly in Paris on 19 March 2009 and religiously at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame at Senlis on 2 May 2009 to Philomena de Tornos Steinhart (born 19 June 1977, Vienna), with whom he has three children
    • Prince Gaston Louis Antoine Marie of Orléans (born 19 November 2009, Paris)
    • Princess Antoinette Léopoldine Jeanne Marie of Orléans (born 28 January 2012, Vienna)
    • Princess Louise-Marguerite Eléonore Marie of Orléans (born 30 July 2014, Poissy)
    • Prince Joseph Gabriel David Marie of Orléans (born 2 June 2016)
  5. Prince Eudes Thibaut Joseph Marie of Orléans (born 18 March 1968, Paris), Duke of Angoulême, married civilly at Dreux on 19 June 1999 and religiously in Antrain on 10 July 1999 to Marie-Liesse Claude Anne Rolande de Rohan-Chabot (born 29 June 1969, Paris), with whom he has two children
    • Princess Thérèse Isabelle Marie Eléonore (born 23 April 2001, Cannes)
    • Prince Pierre Jean Marie d'Orléans (born 6 August 2003, Cannes)


Throughout the years of the ancien régime, the Orléans household received vast riches in terms of wealth and property. Philippe de France obtained for the House of Bourbon-Orléans, during the rule of his brother Louis XIV, the following:

Under the regent, Philippe II, d'Orléans:

Under Louis d'Orléans:

Under Louis Philippe I d'Orléans:

Because the Dukes of Orléans were also the premier princes du sang, the kingdom's treasury paid for their personal household of 265 staff and officers. Along with towns and buildings, the family derived income from its forests on the ducal lands at Orléans, Beaugency, Montargis, Romorantin, Dourdan, Bruadan, Villers-Cotterêts (at which they had a château), Laigne, Coucy, La Fère, Marle, and Saint-Gobin.

A posthumous mural commissioned around 1670 by Philippe I, Duke of Orléans. It includes: Henrietta Maria of France (d 1669), exiled Queen of England; Philippe de France, founder of the House of Orléans; his first wife Henrietta Anne Stuart (d 1670); the couple's first daughter Marie Louise of Orléans (later Queen of Spain);Anne of Austria (d 1666); the Orléans daughters of Gaston de France; Louis XIV; the Dauphin with his mother Maria Theresa of Spain with her third daughter Marie-Thérèse de France, called Madame Royale (d. 1672) and her second son Philippe-Charles, Duke of Anjou (d. 1671). The first daughter of Gaston stands on the far right:Anne Marie Louise d'Orléans. The picture frame with the two children are the other 2 daughters of Louis and Maria Theresa who died in 1662 and 1664.

Finances and inheritances

Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon who brought much wealth to the family

Upon the death of the Duc d'Orléans's father-in-law in 1793 (the hugely wealthy duc de Penthièvre), the House of Orléans became the richest in France. They received vast rents on lands all over France and owned various châteaux. Along with their government and because the family were known as the Premier Princes du Sang, they often received fortunes and titles from inheritances:

Châteaux The family also later acquired many other châteaux around the country. Among these were the:

During the July Monarchy, the family acquired the:

At Versailles

Also, along with these various residences around France, Philippe de France and his wife had apartments at the Palace of Versailles as did all other members of the House of Bourbon.

Before the court was officially moved to Versailles, and before the birth of his nephew, the king's son, the Dauphin Louis de France, in 1661, the Duc d'Orléans' apartments were where the Dauphin's now are located. The apartments looked over the Parterres du Midi of the south and were directly under the Grand Appartement de la reine.

After the dauphin's birth, the Orléans had to move to the north wing and occupied large quarters there. These looked out onto the Parterres du Midi of the south. The family also had apartments where the modern day Galerie des batailles are. This area was used by the duc himself, his second wife, Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, his son, Philippe II and daughter-in-law, Françoise-Marie de Bourbon.

The apartments of the family were later moved to the bottom floor of the north wing, opposite the Chapelle Royal de Versailles this time looking over the Parterres du Midi of the north. The family had been moved in order to accommodate three of Louis XV's daughters, Madame Adélaïde, Madame Victoire and Madame Élisabeth. The family remained there till the French Revolution.

Arms of the House of Orléans-Braganza.

Cadet branches

House of Orléans-Braganza

On 15 October 1864 at Rio de Janeiro the eldest son of Louis Charles Philippe Raphael d'Orléans, Duke of Nemours, (son of King Louis Philippe of France) married Dona Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil, eldest daughter and heiress of Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil.

It was from that marriage the royal house of Orléans-Braganza was formed. Today they are the present claimants to the throne of the former Empire of Brazil, which became extinct with the Brazilian proclamation of the republic, on 15 November 1889 after a military coup d'état headed by Marshall Deodoro da Fonseca, the 1st President of Brazil.

House of Orléans-Galliera

In the Affair of the Spanish Marriages, Louis Philippe arranged for the marriage of his youngest son, Antoine, Duke of Montpensier, to Infanta Luisa Fernanda of Spain, younger sister of Isabella II of Spain. It was generally thought that she would succeed her sister as queen, since the Spanish queen's prospective husband was the effeminate Francis, Duke of Cádiz. The British wanted a prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha for the Spanish princess, and claimed that her future children with Montpensier would not be able to succeed to the French throne, due to the Treaty of Utrecht, wherein Montpensier's ancestor the Duke of Orleans renounced his rights to succeed to the Spanish throne for himself and his descendants. Louis Philippe opposed this interpretation, and claimed that the only purpose of Utrecht was to keep France and Spain separate. On 10 October 1846, Montpensier married Infanta Luisa, at the same day her sister Isabella II married Cádiz. But the marriage of Isabella II produced many children. Montpensier funded the rebels, which helped to overthrow the government of his sister-in-law. However, the Cortes elected Amadeo of Savoy instead of him. Montpensier was later reconciled to the restored Bourbons, and his daughter married Alfonso XII of Spain, son of Isabella II. Montpensier's son Infante Antonio, Duke of Galliera, successfully claimed the succession to the duchy of Galliera, from which this branch takes its name.

Ruling House of France

Royal house
House of Orléans
Cadet branch of the House of Bourbon
Founding year: 1660
Preceded by
House of Bourbon
Ruling House of France
9 August 1830 – 24 February 1848
Monarchy Abolished


  1. From the Bourbon-Montpensier inheritance
  2. -Premier Prince du Sang
  3. - French
  4. "Chambord, Henri Charles Ferdinand Marie, Comte de". Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition. 1911. Retrieved 2008-12-21.
  5. Pevitt, Christine, The Man Who Would be King: The Life of Philippe d'Orléans, Regent of France

Further reading

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