kids encyclopedia robot

Louis, Grand Dauphin facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Dauphin of France
Hyacinthe Rigaud - Louis de France, Dauphin (1661-1711), dit le Grand Dauphin - Google Art Project.jpg
Portrait by Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1697
Born (1661-11-01)1 November 1661
Château de Fontainebleau, France
Died 14 April 1711(1711-04-14) (aged 49)
Château de Meudon, France
Burial 28 April 1711
Royal Basilica of Saint Denis, France
(m. 1680; died 1690)

(m. 1695)
House Bourbon
Father Louis XIV
Mother Maria Theresa of Spain
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature Louis's signature

Louis, Dauphin of France (1 November 1661 – 14 April 1711), commonly known as Grand Dauphin, was the eldest son and heir apparent of King Louis XIV and his spouse, Maria Theresa of Spain. He became known as the Grand Dauphin after the birth of his own son, Louis, Duke of Burgundy, the Petit Dauphin. He and his son died before his father and thus never became king. Instead, his grandson became King Louis XV at the death of Louis XIV, and his second son inherited the Spanish throne as Philip V through his grandmother.


Louis was born on 1 November 1661 at the Château de Fontainebleau, the eldest son of Louis XIV of France and Maria Theresa of Austria (who were double first-cousins to each other). As a Fils de France ("Son of France") he was entitled to the style of Royal Highness. He was baptised on 24 March 1662 at the chapel of the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye and given his father's name of Louis. At the ceremony, the Cardinal de Vendôme and the Princess of Conti acted as proxies for the godparents, Pope Clement IX and Queen Henrietta Maria of England. The latter was Louis's great-aunt. It was for this occasion that Jean-Baptiste Lully composed the motet Plaude Laetare Gallia.

He was initially under the care of royal governesses, among them being Julie d'Angennes and Louise de Prie de La Mothe-Houdancourt. When Louis reached the age of seven, he was removed from the care of women and placed in the society of men.

It was said that when Louis was an adult, he could pass a whole day simply tapping his cane against his foot in an armchair. Nonetheless, his generosity, affability, and liberality gave him great popularity in Paris and with the French people in general. Louis was one of six legitimate children of his parents. The others all died in early childhood; the second longest-lived, Marie Thérèse of France, died at the age of five when Louis was 11.

Louis XIV, too, had a low opinion of his son:

indolent, fatuous, and dull, only the saving grace of his bourgeois morals kept him from outraging the pious people about him. Like his father he enjoyed the hunt, but that was about the only way in which this disappointing son resembled his father.

Alive especially to political considerations, the King considered various European royal daughters as possible wives for his heir, such as Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici and Louis' own cousin Marie Louise d'Orléans, daughter of Philippe, Duke of Orléans and Princess Henrietta of England. According to various reports, Marie Louise and Louis were in love, having grown up with each other. However, Louis XIV decided to use Marie Louise to forge a link with Spain and forced her to marry the invalid Charles II of Spain, the Dauphin's own half-uncle.

Louis was engaged to his second cousin, Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria, when he was seven. She was a year older than Louis and, upon arriving at the French court, was described as being very unattractive. Nonetheless, she was a very cultured princess, and made initially a good impression upon her arrival as she was able to speak French fluently.

They were married by proxy in Munich on 28 January 1680; the couple met for the first time on 7 March 1680 in Châlons-sur-Marne.

Political and military role

Although he was permitted at first to attend and later to participate in the Conseil d'en haut, Louis did not play an important part in French politics. Nonetheless, as the heir to the throne, he was constantly surrounded by cabals battling for future prominence. Apart from the minor political role that he played during his father's reign, Louis engaged in more leisurely pursuits and was esteemed for his magnificent collection of art at Versailles and Meudon. Louis XIV purchased Meudon for him from the widow of Louvois. The Dauphin employed Jules Hardouin Mansart and the office of the Bâtiments du Roi but most particularly his long-term "house designer", Jean Bérain, head of the Menus Plaisirs, to provide new decors. He lived quietly at Meudon for the remainder of his life and was surrounded by his two half-sisters Marie Anne de Bourbon and the Princess of Condé, both of whom he loved dearly. The three made up the main part of the Cabal de Meudon , which opposed the Dauphin's son Louis and his Savoyard wife, the Duchess of Burgundy.

During the War of the Grand Alliance, he was sent in 1688 to the Rhineland front. There, Louis succeeded, under the tutelage of Marshal de Duras and Vauban, in taking one of the bridgeheads across the Rhine, Philippsburg, which was surrounded by marshes. Louis's courage was shown when he visited the soldiers in the inundated trenches under heavy fire to observe the progress of the siege.

François de Troy 005
The Grand Dauphin

Louis's capture of Philippsburg prevented the large gathering Imperial Army from crossing the Rhine and invading Alsace.

Louis's position in the Conseil d'en haut gave him an opportunity to have his voice heard in the years and in the crises leading up to the War of the Spanish Succession. From his mother, Louis had rights and claims to the Spanish throne. His uncle Charles II of Spain had produced no descendants and, as he lay dying, had no heir to whom he could pass the throne. The choice of a successor was essentially split between the French and Austrian claimants. To improve the chances of a Bourbon succession, Louis gave up his and his eldest son's rights in favour of his second son, Philip, Duke of Anjou (later Philip V of Spain), who, as the second son, was not expected to succeed to the French throne, which would thus keep France and Spain separate. Moreover, in the discussions in the Conseil d'en haut regarding the French response to Charles II's last will and testament, which indeed left all Spanish possessions to Anjou, Louis persuasively argued for acceptance. He opposed those who advocated a rejection of the will and the adherence to the Partition Treaty, which was signed with William III of England, even though the treaty had awarded Naples, Sicily and Tuscany to him.

Louis died of smallpox on 14 April 1711, at the age of 49, and so predeceased his father.

Literary tribute

  • The Delphin Classics was a large edition of the Latin classics, edited in the 1670s for Louis (Delphin is the adjective derived from dauphin) Thirty-eight scholars contributed to the series, which was edited by Pierre Huet, with assistance from several co-editors including Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet and Anne Dacier.


Louis married Duchess Maria Anna of Bavaria on 7 March 1680. She was known in France as Dauphine Marie Anne Victoire. Although the marriage was not a close one, the couple had three sons. The Dauphine died in 1690 and in 1695 Louis secretly married his lover Marie Émilie de Joly de Choin. His new wife did not acquire the status of Dauphine of France, and the marriage remained without surviving issue. Pregnant at the time of her marriage, de Choin gave birth to a son, who was secretly sent to the countryside; the child died aged two, in 1697, without having been publicly named.


Thus, through his two older sons Burgundy and Anjou, Louis ensured respectively the continuation of the senior Bourbon line on the throne of France and the establishment of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty.

Besides his unnamed child with Mme de Choin, Louis had two illegitimate daughters with Françoise Pitel:

  • Anne Louise de Bourbon (1695 – August 1716) – wife of Anne Errard d'Avaugour;
  • Charlotte de Fleury (6 February 1697 – 1750) – wife of Gérard Michel de La Jonchère.

With another mistress, Marie Anne Caumont de La Force, he had one daughter:

  • Louise Émilie de Vautedard (1694–1719) – wife of Nicolas Mesnager.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Luis de Francia (1661-1711) para niños

kids search engine
Louis, Grand Dauphin Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.