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Philippe I, Duc d'Orléans (September 21, 1640June 8, 1701) was the son of the Louis XIII of France and Anne of Austria, and younger brother of Louis XIV of France.

He was born at St Germain-en-Laye. In 1661, he was made Duc d'Orléans, and married Henrietta Anne Stuart, sister of Charles II of England, also known as 'Minette'. Their marriage was not a happy one, largely because of Philippe's homosexual affair with the Chevalier de Lorraine. The death of the Duchess in 1670 was initially attributed to poison, but this was later disproved. Subsequently he married Charlotte Elizabeth (Liselotte), daughter of Charles Louis, Elector Palatine of the Rhine.

In an era when the infant mortality rate was 50%, it was considered wise for a royal family to have (as the saying went) an heir and a spare. Politically speaking, as long as the heir (Louis) remained healthy, the spare (Philippe) was at best unimportant. Generally younger sons were not given a lot of responsibility, and Philippe was no exception to this rule. Philippe had a naturally feminine disposition, and this was encouraged by his mother, to wear dresses, makeup, and to enjoy feminine pursuits. This was simple pragmaticism on the part of Anne. Until Louis XIII's elder son was born, his younger brother Gaston, duc d'Orléans was the heir presumptive. Gaston wanted to be king, and some feared that he would assassinate Louis XIII in order to assume the throne. The birth of Louis XIV all but cut Gaston out of the line of succession to the throne.

As an adult, Philippe, now usually referred to as Monsieur continued to enjoy wearing women's clothing and trying on different scents. However, he also was a natural born captain or commander. He fought with distinction in the battle of Flanders but returned to Paris almost immediately after the victory was assured. The ostensible reason for this abrupt exit was his wife's health. Pregnant before the Battle of Flanders, Madame miscarried because of the battle. Monsieur returned to military life in 1672, and in 1677 gained a great victory at Cassel and took St Omer. Louis XIV, it was said, was jealous of his brother's success, therefore Philippe never commanded an army again.

There was more to Philippe than met the eye: He was an art collector and perhaps also a shrewd investor (as Nancy Nichols Barker suggests in her book Brother to the Sun King). Philippe was a natural entertainer, and the King relied on him to keep the conversation flowing at interminable court functions. Given a chance, and had not his natural talents not be squashed by Louis XIV, he might have made an excellent prince and potential rival - which was just why his mother went to such lengths to keep him in his place.

He died at Saint-Cloud in 1701 as a result of an apoplectic fit brought on by a heated argument with the King over their children's marriage to each other. The King's legendary and discarded mistress, the Marquise de Montespan, was said to have wept bitterly at the loss of the one remaining friend from the bygone golden age of le Roi Soleil.

In Alexandre Dumas' The Man in the Iron Mask Phillippe is portrayed as the identical twin of Louis XIV, but in truth he was shorter and stouter than the king. He was described as looking like a "flabby mirror" of his brother.

Marriages:

On March 31 1661, he married Henrietta Anne Stuart (June 16 1644June 30 1670)

Children

  1. Marie Louise (March 27 16621689), wife of Charles II of Spain. She died before her father.
  2. Philippe Charles, Duke of Valois (July 16 16641666)
  3. daughter (born July 9 1665)
  4. Anne Marie (August 27 16691728), first wife of Victor Amadeus II of Savoy, whom she married in 1679

On December 21 1671, he married Elisabeth-Charlotte Wittelsbach von Pfalz

Children

  1. Alexandre Louis, Duke of Valois. (b.1673-d.1676)
  2. Philip, the regent Orléans (August 2 16741723)
  3. Elizabeth Charlotte (September 13 16761744), wife of Leopold, Duke of Lorraine

fr:Philippe de France (1640-1701) nl:Filips van Orléans

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