Henri François II de Montpensier d'Auvergne (1724 - 1801) was a Grandelumierian nobleman, who held the title of Duc d'Auvergne since the death of his father in 1753 until his own death in 1801. He was a great-grandson of Louis XI, the Sun-Emperor.
Reign of Louis XI
Early Life - Seigneur de Bourbon
Henri François de Montpensier d'Auvergne was born on the 12th of April, 1724, at the Chateau de Saint-Etienne during the reign of Emperor Louis XI. He was the son of the Duc and Duchesse de Bourbon, the heirs to House Montpensier. He was born alongside a younger twin sister, Celeste Athenais de Montpensier. Family members and friends in attendance noted that the evening was cold, quiet and serene. He was a strong infant, in contrast to his weaker sister. It was highly feared that Celeste was going to die shortly after birth, but she ended up surviving.
Henri François was brought up in grand circumstances, being given anything he could ever want by his father. He would always look back fondly upon his childhood, recalling that "it was a simpler time". He was quite distant from his mother, but always held a strong bond with his father. Philippe Charles intended to shape the boy in his image, believing his influence to be "influential to the child's upbringing", as he put it himself. He was also close to his twin sister, and was upset when she was sent away to Fontevraud Abbey, as was custom. He was baptised at age seven, being named Henri François Philippe de Montpensier.
After his baptism, he began his formal education process. A governor and tutor, Bishop Antoine Baptiste de Foix, was hired by the Duc de Bourbon to educate the young Henri. Louis-Baptiste said in many reports on his education that Henri was a bright child, excelling in the majority of his subjects. He especially did well in languages, particularly French, English, Italian and some Latin. He also did well in writing, reading, mathematics, history and geography. He also studied religion, becoming a very devout Catholic after his tutor had urged him to read deeply into scripture. He also regularly carried a bible, which was a small gift for his birth.
He was also taught military strategy in his childhood, which would go on to be a defining point in his military career. A separate tutor for military training was hired by the Duc de Bourbon, Louis-Etienne de Roussillon. He received excellent training in military affairs, which would go on to influence his choice to become part of the Imperial Army, and his rise through the ranks to eventually becoming a member of the High Command, as a General. This training was also a key point of his education, as was his written and theory learning. He was also taught some aspects of naval warfare, but he never took as much of a liking to this as he did to army warfare.
Adolescence - Duc de Bourbon
From a young age, Henri François had been betrothed to Anne Genevieve de Vendome. This union was seen as instrumental for both parties, with House Montpensier being able to solidify relations with the Pope, who was of House Vendome at the time. However, it was also mostly to produce an heir to the house. The Marriage took place on the 21st of October 1740 in the Palace Chapel at Saint-Etienne. The ceremony was mostly traditional and small, with a few courtiers and family members in attendance.Now, as a married man, Henri knew that it was his duty to produce an heir, and thus his wife became pregnant not long after the wedding. Around nine months later, a son was born. He would be followed by another son and four daughters, over a span of twelve years.
The Montpensier Scandal - 1746
Louis Henri de Montpensier d'Auvergne held the title of Duc d'Auvergne from a young age until 1746. He had been married to a daughter of Louis XI of Grandelumiere, Madame Deuxieme. After Madame Deuxieme's death in 1745, the Duc was left grief-stricken. Shortly after her death, he began to write a series of books containing revolutionary zeal, expressing his disdain for the monarchy and the upper classes. He believed that power over the country should have been put into the hands of the people, not the upper classes, despite he himself being a part of the upper class. Rumour began to float around court about the Duke's views, which severely diminished the reputation of House Montpensier. As the rumours persisted, Henri's father, the Duc de Bourbon, distanced himself further from the Duc d'Auvergne, whom he had always had an unpleasant relationship with. An investigation was opened by the Chancellery of Justice into the actions of the Duc d'Auvergne.
This investigation left no stones unturned, including searches of the Montpensier chateaux, such as Saint-Francois. The Duc de Bourbon and his family had not been living in any of the official Montpensier chateaux, where the Duc d'Auvergne was living a reclusive lifestyle. They had been living at court, seeking to be as far away from the Duc as possible. However, even they were brought into question, despite the Duc de Bourbon not having contact with the Duc d'Auvergne for around four months. By order of the investigation, all Montpensier titles were temporarily revoked, and all family members were sent to Imperial Prisons while the investigation continued. Philippe Charles completely severed any kind of relation he had left with Louis Henri, eventually coming to resent his own father and wish him dead. Philippe Charles' branch of the family was judged to have no part in the plot, and were released and allowed to return to court. Louis Henri de Montpensier was stripped of the title Duc d'Auvergne, now making his father the Duc d'Auvergne.
Return to Court
Henri François came back to court as the Duc de Bourbon in early 1747. His father was now the Duc d'Auvergne, the head of House Montpensier, making Henri the heir. The new Duc d'Auvergne became ultimately preoccupied with rebuilding the reputation and favour of House Montpensier. Philippe Charles had denounced Louis Henri as his first action as Duke, who was now imprisoned in the Temple. Henri, the now Duc de Bourbon, began to continue a lavish life, enjoying court ceremony and events each day. His father urged him to devote more time to work, as he would have to do upon taking the house. At the time, he showed no interest in official work and chose rather to spend his days aimlessly wasting time away. He became rather popular at court, making acquaintances and friendships in his younger years.
He spent his time at court quite carefree, but it was not to last. The Duc d'Auvergne withdrew from court in late 1752, having contracted tuberculosis. Philippe Charles' health had always been weakened from illness as a child, and thus his health deteriorated quickly. Henri remained at court during this time, but on the 24th of October 1753, a messenger arrived from Saint-Francois. The court was informed that the Duc d'Auvergne had passed in his sleep, after having received his last rites the night before. Thus, Henri François was now the Duc d'Auvergne.
Upon his ascension as Duc d'Auvergne, Henri François was left with a huge responsibility. He was, however, quite prepared to take up the control of the house. Prior to his return to court, he travelled to his provinces in the south to settle affairs there and manage his new businesses. He immediately settled new titles of those in his house, including bestowing the title of Duc de Bourbon onto his heir, Louis Charles, and the title of Comte de Toulouse to his second son, Philippe Alexandre.
He departed the small Chateau de Montpensier where he had been staying for a few weeks to head to Saint-Etienne in November of 1753. He rejoined the court of Emperor Louis XI, which was renowned for its glamour and prestige at this time. He settled back in quite quickly and easily, becoming acquainted with many in the court. He also began a military career now, quickly rising through the ranks.
Revolution (1768 - 1771)
On the 30th of December 1767, Emperor Louis XI passed away from internal injuries at Saint-Etienne before the court. Almost three generations of Grandelumierians had only seen the reign of the much beloved Emperor, and thus it was a hard loss for the nation to bear. The Emperor's grandson now became Emperor, as Louis XII. Henri François soon became part of the Petit Conseil under the new Emperor, gathering a fair bit of favour with the new Emperor. The Emperor was his uncle by marriage, despite he himself being older than the Emperor.
Peasants marched on Saint-Etienne early in 1768, where the court were forced to move to Dijon. At Dijon, the court complained constantly about the imprisonment and the noise of the peasants outside the palace, who were claimed to constantly stand there like hawks watching to see if any noble slipped up in attempting to leave the palace. The court was imprisoned like a pack of dogs in a cage by this point. Their situation would only get worse. The Emperor and certain courtiers escaped to the Bastion, where they made a plan to reclaim Dijon. This plan would go disastrously, as the plan would fail and the revolution would take the court prisoner. Henri would be imprisoned with the Imperial Family and other Lord Chancellors in the Temple. Over time, remaining nobility staying nearby would be shovelled into the temple as well. He would soon be joined by his wife and children in prison, which was somewhat a comfort to him.
The Court was cut down dramatically, with numerous executions, including the Emperor Louis XII and other notable nobles. A counter-revolution with the British support began to form, which soon gained much support. The imprisoned began to plan to overthrow the First Consul, Benedicte Lefeuvre. This came to shape when the British attacked in the Battle of Dijon, injuring the consul. The court took him prisoner to the Bastion, forcing him to give up his powers for good. From here, the revolution had ended and the monarchy fully restored. Charles VIII became Emperor for a short time, before he suspiciously died. He was succeeded by Cardinal-Emperor Louis XIV.
Reign of Louis XIV
For Henri Francois, the reign of Louis XIV was mostly uneventful. He was a completely different person after the revolution than he was before. He was now more aged, more serious and less carefree. He cared only for work in this time, stating that he had little time for fun in these important times. He began to prioritise his family as a collection of names on pieces of documentation of his finances rather than actual people. He became quiet and cold to be around, which prompted people to avoid him. He was stricken just five days before Christmas of 1774, with the loss of his wife, Anne Genevieve. He had cared much for her, and was hit hard with her death. He returned to Auvergne to organize her burial in the Montpensier Crypt, in a specially constructed tomb which was noted as costing around 100,000 livres. He later returned to court, but was more distant from court games and pleasures. He found himself working more often than not, which he found to be a distraction from the things that were going through his mind. His son and heir , Louis Charles, had been showing signs of early onset dementia, that would become worst in 1791. The family decided that for the best, he would be sent to Saint-Francois to live with care.
Final Years and Death
In 1792, at age 68, Henri suffered a minor heart attack in his study at Saint-Etienne. He later recovered, but chose that it was time for him to leave court. He left court quietly, leaving behind all the ceremony, his relevance and to a lesser extent, his favour. He decided that at his advanced age and poor health, none of this mattered to him anymore. He left for Saint-Francois, where he went to reside with his son, who was suffering from Alzheimers already. He began to fear that Alzheimers ran in his family descending from his mother, as she had suffered from Alzheimers prior to her death. He soon became somewhat forgetful, on one occasion forgetting that his wife was dead, almost 20 years after she passed. He soon lost his mental capacity, becoming severely afflicted with Alzheimers by 1796. He became helpless and required assistance to do the simplest of everyday tasks. His nephew, Francois, a Catholic Priest came to Saint-Francois to assist the withering Duke in his living.
On the morning of the 3rd of January 1801, Henri Francois woke up with Francois, babbling constantly about how he hated the conditions here, calling this "temple" a hellhole, and begging Francois to release him, calling him a "merciful revolutionary". Francois attempted to guide the forgotten, withering Duke through the day, but the Duke suddenly collapsed and lost consciousness in the early afternoon. Francois and some old, loyal servants that remained at Saint-Francois for the Duke, brought him to his bed. They knew it was the end for the old man. His last words were to Francois and the servants, crying out, "Please, gentle Monsieurs! Put me out of my misery, allow me out of his place!". He was also noted as sobbing for much of the day, asking for his wife multiple times, completely forgetting that she had died. He still received the last rites and messages were sent out to his remaining children. His eldest son, who legally succeeded him, was already stricken with Alzheimers. Therefore, his second son was appointed as a regent of the house. The death of Henri Francois was considered the end of an era for the house, as he had carried the house alone for almost 48 years. The Duke was remembered for his caring, loving, carefree nature in his youth, his stern, serious attitude in his later life and becoming a burden in his final years.
With his wife, Anne Genevieve de Vendome, he had 7 children, 6 of which were carried to full term, with their styles at the time of their birth;
- Louis Charles, Monsieur d'Auvergne later Duc de Bourbon, then Duc d'Auvergne (12th August 1741 - 2nd December 1803 )
- Philippe Alexandre, Monsieur d'Auvergne later Comte de Toulouse, then Duc d'Auvergne (14th September 1743 - ?)
- Marie Therese, Mademoiselle d'Auvergne later Marquise de Vendome (9th February 1747 - 29th April 1774)
- Stillborn son (6th July 1749)
- Marie Sophie, Mademoiselle d'Auvergne later Duchesse de Reims (27th January 1750 - 27th December 1812)
- Sophie Gabrielle, Mademoiselle d'Auvergne later a nun (18th February 1752 - 21st August 1807)
- Henriette Françoise, Mademoiselle d'Auvergne later Duchesse d'Orleans (8th September 1753 - 30th June 1773)
By one lover, Marie Celeste de Roussillon, he had one child, who was attributed to her husband;
- Adelaide Marie, Dame de Roussillon (5th March 1765 - 2nd November 1770)
Titles, Styles and Honours
Titles and Styles
- 12th April 1724 - 29th November 1753: Sa Seigneurie, Monsieur d'Auvergne
- 29th November 1745 - 29th December 1745: Henri François de Montpensier
- 29th December 1745 - 14th June 1753: Sa Grace, Duc de Bourbon
- 14th June 1753 - 3rd January 1801: Sa Grace, le Duc d'Auvergne
- Knight of the Order of St. Beningus