Alexandre Constantin de Bretagne (24th January 1714 - 15th March 1770) was a Grandelumierian Nobleman and served as Lord Chancellor of Court under the reign of Louis XI and Louis XII until the Revolution of 1768. He was also the Grandfather of the current Dowager Empress, Marie Victoire.
Reign of Louis XI
Alexandre Constantin was born on the 24th of January, 1714, at the Chateau de Manehouarn to Auguste Philippe de Bretagne and his wife, Sophie Antoinette de Grandelumiere, the Prince and Princess of Brittany respectively. He was the first born of the fraternal twins his mother would deliver upon the occasion.
At the age of four, he was baptised at the palace chapel of the Chateau de Saint-Etienne. He was given the name "Alexandre Constantin" and were chosen as his godparents the Princesse Douairière de Bretagne and the Comte de Niort. He was be tutored by the Cardinal Leon de Montfort who educated him in reading, writing, theology, history, French, Latin and etiquette. He also learned music theory throughout his own studies. Alexandre excelled in several, especially in theology and history.
In late March 1728, Alexandre would inform his father of his wish to follow the same path he had walked through when he was thirteen and join the Dijon Military Academy. His father was delighted to hear of such and immediately sent the young Marquis to the Academy. Constantin quickly stepped out of the crowd and became one of the few honour students of the Academy. In early August 1730, he was given a commission in the Imperial Army as a Lieutenant, after the several recommendations of the officers of the Academy to the Marshal.
He was sent, shortly after his commission, to the Marquisate of Liege at the Fort Louis where he would quickly fulfil his tasks as a Lieutenant of the Imperial army. He would take part in several defences of the forts surrounding the area and quickly rose through the ranks. By 1735, he had already fought in several battles against the Holy Roman Empire (during the war of the Palatine), leading small battalions on the battlefield and had reached the rank of Colonel, the very last rank before one could be considered to become a part of the general staff of his Most Catholic Majesty's Armies.
In late August 1737, shortly after the war of the Palatine had ended, a noble-led rebellion broke out, rebellion which he helped to put off and it is that very year that he would be promoted to the rank of Brigadier. He would return to the court in time to witness the death of his grandmother, Marie de Bretagne, who had fallen gravely ill.
Regency of Sophie
On the 3rd of January, 1740, his parents were made regents following Louis XI's depart from court for the Grande Chartreuse Abbey due to his illness. It would be by then that Alexandre would slowly grow more important within the court and gain power. His talents with the harpsichord and the tales relating of his bravery on the battlefield highly contributed to such. His uncle, Louis XI, wrote of his pride for his nephew in letters to Sophie as he grew more important within the court and also continued his ascension through the ranks of the Imperial army.
The Marquis, however, fell ill himself and officially departed from court in 1744. He returned to court as soon as he was informed of the murder of his brother, Louis Xavier, Monsieur le Duc. As a result to the death of his older brother, he inherited the title of Monsieur le Duc and became heir to the princely house Lowell-Brittany.
Return of Louis XI
Wars would later break out throughout the empire. The Ducal House of Normandy soon ran out of heirs, following the death of the Duc Gaston Hyacinthe of Normandy, who died unmarried and childless. This would lead to the Battle of Normandy on the 29th of October, 1744. The Prince of Brittany supported the Englishman, William Godwinson, despite the opinion of his heir and his wife, over Amelie, the daughter of Louis XI, who had a claim on the position based on the marriage that had once occurred between the two houses. Alexandre would be present on the battlefield, representing Lowell-Brittany as his father could not manage to be there. Lowell-Burgundy's men were highly outnumbered by the men of the opposing side, however, it would be Lowell-Burgundy which would emerge victorious from the battle. Auguste Philippe would blame this failure on his son and their relationship would become a distant one.
In November 1744, war was declared by the Emperor to the Estates against Prussia following the long-standing tensions between the two nations. Alexandre would be present at the first battle, the Battle of Raeren, organising the battalions and giving out orders to the men under the command of the Marechal, the Chancellor and the Emperor himself which all were also present on the battlefield. The battle would turn out to be a success for the Empire after fighting for over eight hours. Alexandre would be promoted upon the occasion to the rank of Major General, making him appart of the general staff of his Majesty's Armies and would also be awarded the order of Saint Michael the Archangel at the estates meeting following the battle.
One week after the Battle of Raeren, his father fell gravely ill and left the court for the Chateau de Manehouarn. He would die shortly after he left the court, during a meeting with his son and as Alexandre had become the first in line of succession after the death of his older siblings, he would then become Prince of Brittany.
Later the same year, an opportunity would show up for Alexandre as Lord Chancellor of Court died leaving the position vacant. Alexandre would apply and as the courtier with the most experience in the domain (which could assume the position), he was chosen as the new Lord Chancellor of Court.
Reign of Louis XII
Soon after the death of Louis XI, Alexandre would introduce his new charter project to the newly crowned Emperor for his approval. The charter would begin to be enforced as soon as he received the approval of his Majesty, replacing the old one written by the previous Lord Chancellor of Court. The Emperor would be pleasantly surprised by the new charter and the order that it slowly brought to the court as the courtier realised that they had no choice but to follow its guidelines.
Later the same year, shortly before the revolution, the Prince fell extremely ill and became weak, thus pushing him to resign from the Army and refraining him from enforcing the new charter. As a result, the courtiers slowly started to ignore the charter and show an extremely inappropriate behaviour until the revolution broke out.
Reign of Louis XIII
On the first year of the revolution, shortly after the death of Louis XI, Alexandre would be trialled for treason against the new government, found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.
His Serene Highness would die in the second year of the revolution during the short reign of Louis XIII. His illness continued to weaken him to a point at which he could not walk anymore. He would pass on a bed of his cell a few weeks after the execution of his son, Charles Guillaume, surrounded by what was left of the court. In a last burst of energy he would speak his last words;
"Have I played the part well? Well then, applaud as I exit!"'
To his marriage with Marie Henriette he had six children, five of which were carried to full term, with their styles at the time of their birth;
- Elisabeth Sophie, Princesse de Bretagne (24th December 1734- Present)
- Charles Guillaume, Duc de Valois (17th April 1735 - Present)
- Louise Antoinette, Mademoiselle de Bretagne (8th September 1735 - Present)
- Stillborn Son (16th April 1736)
- Jeanne Victoire, Mademoiselle de Bretagne (4th July 1737 - 15th January 1749)
- Valentin Leonard, Marquis d'Alençon (4th July 1737 - Present)
- Miscarried Daughter (8th February 1739)
- Sophie Gabrielle, Dame de Bretagne, later Duchesse de Guise (17th May 1740- Present)
Titles, Style and Honours
Titles and Styles
- 24th January 1714 - 3rd October 1744 His Highness, Marquis d'Alençon
- 3rd October 1744 - 26th November 1752 His Highness, Monsieur le Duc
- 26th November 1752 - 15th March 1770 His Serene Highness, Prince de Bretagne
- Knight of the Order of Saint Benignus
- Knight of the Order of Saint Michael the Archangel