Louis XV

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Louis XV (Copy of a painting from the workshop of van Loo from 1763). Ludwig's signature:
Signature Louis XV..PNG

Louis XV , French Louis XV (born February 15, 1710 in Versailles ; † May 10, 1774 ibid), was King of France and Navarre from 1715 to 1774 . 1710–1715 he was Duke of Anjou .

The people called him “the much-loved” (French le Bien-Aimé ) and later “the unloved” (French le Mal-Aimé ). Under his government, the centuries-old antagonism between France and Austria was settled and the new alliance was established through the marriage of Marie-Antoinette , the daughter of Maria Theresa of Austria, with his grandson, later Louis XVI. , sealed. His relationship with his mistress Marquise de Pompadour is well known . The Louis-quinze style epoch is named after him.


First years

Ludwig as a little Dauphin

Ludwig was born on February 15, 1710 as the third son of Ludwig of Burgundy and his wife Maria Adelaide of Savoy . He was the grandson of the Dauphin Louis of France and the great-grandson of King Louis XIV , who lived until 1715. His grandfather Ludwig died in 1711, so that his father Ludwig became heir to the throne. In the following year, however, both parents and the only surviving older brother, Ludwig von der Bretagne, fell ill with measles and died in quick succession. Ludwig survived the disease. With the death of his father and brother, he became the heir to the throne of his great-grandfather.

Ludwig's most important caregiver in his childhood was his governess , the Duchess of Ventadour , who was appointed in 1710 and became his surrogate mother. Madame de Ventadour was a friend of the Marquise de Maintenon , the last mistress and secret morganatic wife of Louis XIV, on whose advice the young Louis was brought up relatively liberal. Ludwig learned to write at an early age and was particularly interested in geography. At the beginning of 1715, his great-grandfather let him take part in the court's first ceremonial events.

Time of reign

The only five-year-old Ludwig receives the homage after his proclamation as king.

Louis XIV died in Versailles on September 1, 1715. The political reign for the underage king fell to his nephew, Duke Philip II of Orléans (a cousin of Louis XV's grandfather) , according to the king's will . However, Louis XIV had only made Philip chair of a Regency Council and transferred personal guardianship to his illegitimate son Louis Auguste I de Bourbon, duc du Maine , the regent's brother-in-law, who was also to command the bodyguard and preside over the court of the Child King. However, the Duke of Orléans quickly secured unrestricted rule by having the Paris Parliament assure him on September 2 that the members of the Regency Council and sole command of the armed forces were to be selected. In return, he lifted the restrictions on Parliament's right of remonstration, which had been imposed by Louis XIV in 1667 and 1673.

From December 1715 the king resided in the Tuileries in Paris; it was not until June 1722 that the king's residence was moved back to Versailles. When he reached the age of seven in February 1717, Ludwig was traditionally placed in the care of a governor. According to the will of Louis XIV, the Duke of Villeroy was appointed governor. The preceptor of the king became the former bishop of Fréjus , Fleury . However, Ludwig kept in contact with the Duchess of Ventadour. The Duke of Villeroy, who was primarily concerned with introducing the king into the ceremonial affairs of the royal rule, never developed a closer relationship with him and was exiled in 1722 after a conflict with the regent. Fleury directed the king's further training. Ludwig learned Latin and Italian and received extensive religious instruction. The king developed a particular interest in the natural sciences, in particular anatomy, surgery, astronomy and geography. Fleury managed to build an intense personal relationship with the king on which his later political rise was based.

The period of the reign of the Duke of Orléans is also known as the Régence . In December 1715, the posts of ministers and state secretaries were replaced by council bodies made up of several people. In contrast to the rule of Louis XIV, court and high nobility and members of the clergy were appointed to higher government positions. This is seen as a "concession by the regent towards the claims of the high nobility that manifested themselves after the death of the" Sun King ". Policy was determined by the regent alone. This relied on his advisors, among whom the Cardinal Dubois gained importance. He was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in 1717 and Prime Minister in 1722.

Domestically, he met the opposing parliaments in 1718 with a renewed restriction of the right of remonstration . The crown's debts were reduced from 2 billion to 1.5 billion livres by the end of the reign . In addition to devaluing the currency by minting coins with a lower precious metal content, a special court was set up to examine the legality of the assets of debtors to the crown. The Banque générale , founded in 1716 , which issued loans on paper money basis, helped to relieve the budget . This measure, suggested by the banker John Law , was supplemented in the following year by the establishment of the Compagnie d'Occident , which should serve the economic development of Louisiana . The general bank, now converted into the Banque Royale ( Royal Bank ), went bankrupt in 1720.

In terms of foreign policy, the regent allied himself with Great Britain, the Netherlands and Austria to form the "Quadruple Alliance" and led the war of the Quadruple Alliance against Bourbon Spain from 1717–1720 . The “Spanish Party” at court intrigued against this alliance, especially the Duchess of Maine and her husband, the king's guardian. In order to disempower his critics, Philippe held a throne court on August 26, 1718, through which the Duke of Maine the personal guardianship of Louis XV. and the line of the royal household was revoked and his recognition as Prince of the Blood was invalidated. Thereupon the Spanish ambassador, Prince of Cellamare, with the support of the Duchess of Maine, instigated the so-called conspiracy of Cellamare against the regent in order to depose him. But the Minister Dubois learned of the conspiracy in good time in December 1718 and immediately crushed it; 1500 people were arrested.

King Louis XV (standing) and the regent Philip II of Orléans

The Duke of Orléans had the king gradually introduced into political affairs, with Dubois assisting him. Like all French kings, Louis was anointed in Reims on October 25, 1722 . Contrary to tradition, the people had no access to the cathedral. This showed the aloofness of the king, who, unlike his predecessor, valued privacy and did not like to fulfill the stiff court ceremonies. He looked rather insecure in front of large crowds, but could also be very bossy. When Ludwig reached the age of 13 in February 1723, he came of age. He confirmed Cardinal Dubois in his office as Prime Minister. In fact, the Duke of Orléans continued to rule instead of the king. After the cardinal's death in August of the same year, the Duke of Orléans became the new Prime Minister. After his death in the same year, Prince Ludwig Heinrich von Condé , known as the Duke of Bourbon , became Prime Minister. He was banned in July 1726. The king then took over the government at the age of 16 and made Fleury chief minister of his cabinet.

As early as 1721, the regent had betrothed the king, at the age of ten, to Maria Anna Viktoria of Spain , who was only three years old , for the purpose of reconciliation after the war against Spain had been won, and had brought the toddler to Paris for further education. After Ludwig had just barely survived a serious illness in 1725, this engagement was canceled and, to the great annoyance of the Spanish court, the bride was sent home again, because they wanted an heir to the throne as soon as possible. The prospect of seeing the dark son of the late regent, Louis I de Bourbon, duc d'Orléans , on the throne in the event of the untimely death of Louis apparently frightened everyone. The Duke of Bourbon now selected Maria Leszczynska , the Polish king's daughter, who was eight years his senior, from among numerous candidates who were already of conceptual age . The fifteen-year-old married her on September 5, 1725.


Louis XV, King of France and Navarre, painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud

In the first decades of his reign, colonial policy in North America was successful. Fortifications and fortifications were built to secure the colonies and trade routes. Montreal , for example, received a stone city wall , in eastern New France the fortress Louisbourg was built at great expense , and Québec was also fortified . But through his unsuccessful participation in the Seven Years' War he lost most of the French colonies in North America and also in India to the British. France lost all of Canada and historic Louisiana in the First Peace of Paris in 1763. It should be noted here that Louisiana , which was acquired under Louis XIV and named after him, comprised an area that was bordered by Canada in the north and New Spain in the south . The territories of the two Bourbon powers thus completely delimited the English territory in America and were, territorially, enormous. Of France's considerable influence in India, which Ludwig lost in the so-called Carnatic Wars , only the actual possessions ( Mahé , Karikal , Pondichéry , Yanaon , Chandernagor ) and the extensive trading privileges remained.

Because of this severe colonial political setback, Louis XV supported. the American settlers resisted England by supplying arms and pledging political support. The struggle of the settlers later led to American independence and in 1783 to the Second Peace of Paris , which was victorious for France and which weakened the English colonial empire in a manner similar to that of French colonial policy twenty years earlier. For France, Ludwig was able to gain the Duchy of Lorraine and Corsica : the former due to the marriage of Franz Stephen of Lorraine , later Grand Duke of Tuscany, with Maria Theresa; Lorraine initially went to Ludwig's father-in-law, the failed Polish titular king Stanislaus Leszczyński - after his death, however, finally to France.

Under the government of Louis XV. the centuries-old antagonism between France and Austria was settled and the new alliance sealed with the marriage of Marie-Antoinette, the daughter of Maria Theresa of Austria, with his grandson, who later became Louis XVI. The associated reversal of the alliances was an important part of the alliance coalition in the Seven Years' War . The leading minister was Étienne-François de Choiseul between 1758 and 1770 . In 1762 he and Madame de Pompadour carried out the ban on the Jesuit order in France.

Louis XV

Almost during his entire reign, Louis XV. to fight against the resistance of the parliaments (courts of law), which resisted any reform of the state. In 1770 the monarch banned parliaments. The chief judges and senior MPs were exiled or temporarily thrown in prison. This gave him peace from this opposition until his death. There was also an opposition to the nobility, led by the Duke of Orléans and supported by the Princes of Condé and Conti. Louis XV was able to keep this group in check during his lifetime. His successor, as with the parliaments, was to face major problems.

On January 5, 1757, the king survived an assassination attempt, slightly injured. The assassin Robert François Damiens was publicly quartered and burned in Paris on March 28, 1757 .

On April 29, 1774, the 64-year-old monarch fell ill with smallpox , which he succumbed to on May 10. The Abbé de Véri (1724–1799) judged: “Never was France (before) so prosperous and so rich in factories, so distinguished by a multitude of scholars, so well stocked with cultivated fields and so many inhabitants as under the government of Louis XV . “In fact, however, the state was over-indebted, which 15 years later led to the French Revolution .

He was buried in the tomb of the French kings, the cathedral of Saint-Denis . However, the traditional and ceremonial funeral ceremonies were largely dispensed with due to the high risk of infection by smallpox. When the royal tombs of Saint-Denis were sacked during the French Revolution , his tomb was opened and looted on October 16, 1793, and his remains were buried in a mass grave outside the church.

After his death in 1774, his grandson Louis XVI followed. to the throne, as his sons had died before him - Louis Ferdinand in 1765 and Philippe Louis in 1733.

Family and offspring

Some family members of the king rejected his way of life. Above all, his wife and son Ludwig were very religious and became the head of a conservative opposition that was particularly bothered by the king's mistress economy. They took particular offense at the mistress Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, because she was a commoner and yet the longest-serving mistress (from 23 years until her death). However, this religious group was a ridiculed minority at the Versailles court and never posed a serious threat to Ludwig's rule.

In the years between 1761 and 1768 Ludwig first lost his hopeful little grandson, the Duke of Burgundy, then his heir to the throne in 1765, followed by his daughter-in-law Maria Josepha Carolina of Saxony in 1767 and the Queen finally died in 1768. The death of Madame Pompadour (1764) also fell during this period.

In 1770 he married his grandson the Duke of Berry and future Louis XVI. with Archduchess Marie Antoinette , a daughter of Empress Maria Theresia .

Queen Maria Leszczyńska with her eldest son Louis , around 1730

Ludwig and his wife Maria Leszczyńska had the following offspring:

Mistresses and illegitimate children

Ludwig's first four lovers were sisters. Dominique Guillaume Lebel , his first valet, often picked out mistresses for him. Like his predecessor, he had numerous illegitimate children. The exact number is not known; it can be assumed that there will be at least eight. Having had bad experiences with his great-grandfather's descendants, he refused to recognize his own. He looked after her upbringing and her social position, but never met her at court. He only recognized Louis Aimé de Bourbon .

Madame de Pompadour was probably Louis XV's most famous mistress. Portrait around 1750 by François Boucher
Marie-Louise O'Murphy tried to displace the pompadour from its position, picture by François Boucher (1752)
Madame du Barry; Portrait of Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun
  1. Abel François Poisson de Vandières , marquis de Marigny
  2. François de La Cropte, marquis de Bourzac


Louis XIV King of France (1638–1715)
Louis of France, Dauphin of Viennois (1661–1711)
Maria Teresa of Spain (1638–1683)
Louis of France, Duke of Burgundy (1682–1712)
Ferdinand Maria Elector of Bavaria (1636–1679)
Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria (1660–1690)
Princess Adelaide Henriette of Savoy (1636–1676)
Louis XV King of France (1710–1774)
Charles Emanuel II Duke of Savoy (1634–1675)
Viktor Amadeus II. Duke of Savoy (1666–1732)
Maria Johanna of Savoy (1644-1724)
Maria Adelaide of Savoy (1685-1712)
Philippe of France, Duke of Orléans (1640–1701)
Anne Marie d'Orléans (1669–1728)
Henrietta Anne of England (1644-1670)


Louis XV is often held responsible for the grievances that occurred under Louis XVI. led to the French Revolution . Peter Claus Hartmann or Jacques Levron try, however, to Louis XV. to be portrayed as a misunderstood person. Hartmann describes him, together with Heinrich IV. , As "the most intelligent Bourbon ".


The plant genus Lodoicea Comm is named after him . ex DC. from the palm family (Arecaceae) with the only species of the Seychelles palm .


  • Michel Antoine: Louis XV , Paris 1989 (French standard work).
  • Olivier Bernier: Louis XV. A biography. Benzinger, Zurich / Cologne 1986.
  • Jens Ivo Engels : Pictures of Kings. Speaking, singing and writing about the French king in the first half of the eighteenth century (Pariser historical studies 52), Bonn 2000.
  • Peter Claus Hartmann : Ludwig XV. In: The same (ed.): French kings and emperors of the modern age. Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-54740-0 (short biographies of renowned historians, but without scientific apparatus).
  • Jacques Levron: Louis XV. The misunderstood king of France. Heyne, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-453-00115-X (historical non-fiction book without scientific annotation apparatus).
  • Klaus Malettke : The Bourbons. Volume II: From Louis XV. until Louis XVI. 1715-1789 / 92. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-17-020581-9 .
  • Josef Johannes Schmid : Sacrum monarchiae speculum. The Sacre Louis XV. 1722. Monarchical tradition, ceremonial, liturgy . Aschendorff, Münster 2007, ISBN 978-3-402-00415-9 .

Web links

Commons : Louis XV.  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Klaus Malettke : The Bourbons. Volume II: From Louis XV. until Louis XVI. 1715-1789 / 92 . Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-17-020581-9 , p. 25.
  2. ^ Klaus Malettke : The Bourbons. Volume II: From Louis XV. until Louis XVI. 1715-1789 / 92 . Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-17-020581-9 , pp. 26-27.
  3. ^ Peter Claus Hartmann: Ludwig XV. In: The same (ed.): French kings and emperors of the modern age: From Ludwig XII. until Napoleon III. 1498-1870. Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-54740-0 , p. 249.
  4. ^ Peter Claus Hartmann: Ludwig XV. In: The same (ed.): French kings and emperors of the modern age: From Ludwig XII. until Napoleon III. 1498-1870. Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-54740-0 , p. 242.
  5. Lotte Burkhardt: Directory of eponymous plant names - extended edition. Part I and II. Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin , Freie Universität Berlin , Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-946292-26-5 doi: 10.3372 / epolist2018 .
predecessor government office successor
Louis XIV France modern.svg
King of France and Navarre
Louis XVI
Louis XIV Coat of arms of Andorra, svg
French co-prince of Andorra
Louis XVI