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Jean-Claude in the Library at Villandry

Jean-Claude Moreau Lowell-Valois (March 28th, 1711-June 19th, 1766) was the Duc d'Orleans and Chief Guardian of the Cornelian Line's assets as accumulated initially by his grandfather, Cornelius.

Early Life and Family

Jean-Claude Moreau-Lowell-Valois was born in the City Residence of the Madame du Avigne. His father Andreus Moreau was the disgraced second son of the Duc Cornelius Lowell-Valois (then styled as Valsoir-Beauford by Cornelius). On the other hand, his mother Louise Josephine Dubois was the Madame du Avigne, owning a very minor but profitable lot of land. Louise came from decent birth, though an impoverished and untitled branch of the Dubois family.

Throughout Jean's childhood,  his family was in a quiet successions crisis. Cornelius, who was already very old at the time, was in relatively poor health and he had yet to decide upon who would become his heir. As violence began to become prominent, Andreus was dis-inherited and thus Jean was also in turn removed from the chances of succession.This action had minimal immediate effect on Jean; Cornelius died when Jean was 14 and Andreus as well as Jean were reinstated by Cornelius's successor, Henri, shortly thereafter.

Jean was educated privately by tutors from Italy, as instructed by his mother. Jean was fluent in Latin, Mandarin, Italian, German, and Spanish by the time he was 18. He also studied architecture as well as politics and philosophy. His tutors, namely Lorenzo Albinoni and Giovanni D'Angelo, described him as Proficient in his studies. Much of Jean's time was more consumed by his times out in the country, namely in Vincennes. After Cornelius's death, the 14-year-old went to work with his cousins, Henri Alois and Jean-Claude, as they both worked in government. This began his private work as a secretary to various nobles.

Exile and subsequent Return

After a battle with another secretary in Dijon, Jean was disgraced in social circles in 1732. He was banished from public view by his father, Andreus, who refused to allow most visitors. Only a select few would be allowed to correspond with him; even the majority of his family ostracized him. His uncle Albertus was the first family member to visit him in more than a year in late 1733. 

His close friends from court were finally permitted to visit him in Vincennes by June of 1734. However, he remained out of court and instead continued working as a secretary privately. He worked quietly with his cousin Henri in the colony near the Joseon Kingdom, which allowed him to visit his distant relatives. Jean would spend months at a time in isolation working on projects for Daguang and later the Senkaku Islands.

Jean began working with his father and uncle over matters of the family's Finances and business in Dijon in 1738.

Rise to Prominence and Fall from Grace

Henri Alois, Jean's cousin, died in January of 1739. While Henri's position was passed to his brother, also named Jean-Claude, Jean-Claude Moreau was soon seen as a possibility in the line of successions. When this was confirmed upon the succeeding Duc's death in 1742. Jean was again, however, passed up by his uncle Albertus.

Albertus, in his short tenure, had great strife with matters of succession. The two legitimate branches of the Cornelian Line were both relatively weak; Albertus had no surviving legitimate children until days before his death when his daughter was born, and Andreus only had one son:Jean. Albertus decided almost on his deathbed that in order to prevent the two branches from collapsing in either conflict or abandonment, he must either marry the two branches in union, or divide his two titles among them.

Upon Albertus's death in 1744, the Main Cornelian Line went extinct as his infant daughter had died the same day. Albertus's legitimate line went extinct, leading to a minor succession crisis. Andreus, his wife Louise, and Albertus's wife mutually agreed that Jean was the only sufficient heir to the titles and vestitures that were made available upon the Duc's death. Within days Jean-Claude Moreau Lowell-Valois went from a minor noble of no importance to the Duc d'Orleans, while the County of Sancerre was returned to the main Lowell-Valois line.

In 1752, Jean was betrothed to the Marquise de Oversticht, but the marriage never took place for some unknown reason. It is widely accepted this was called off due to Jean's lack of sociability and his decrepit appearance at the time.

By the end of 1752, his brash behavior with court and his cruel remarks that he had said not only at court but in private came to an apex. He publicly insulted a Cardinal, and indirectly the Emperor in almost the same breath. He quickly understood the consequences of his actions.

On December 18th of 1752, he left court at Saint-Etienne and his own home as well at Vincennes for quite some time. He spent the majority of his hiatus in reclusivity in a city residence in Dijon. He gave away 100,000 livre to the Church as repentance for his sins as the madness of his life came crashing down and he thought that it was his end. It is believed that by this time the wildness and utter idiocy of his character began to take a physical tole in the form of gout and arthritis, a perminant effect that would haunt him continuously until his death.

His friends began to abandon him; all but his youngest friend, Charles Guillaume who would send him updates at court and explain happenings. Jean's own family refused to talk with him for years until shortly before his father's 1760 death. He soon realized the error of his ways and even contemplated leaving the country as penance.

Jean began to feel the pain he mocked the Emperor of having: his daughter was burned alive in front of him by bandits as he was trying to escape the country in October of 1757. They nominated to spare his wife as well as him, after taking all the remaining riches he had brought with him. He was forced to travel the 714 km back to his home at Vincennes as a disgraced man, scarred by the terrible life he led. His daughter's mother, Tatianna Ekaterina, committed suicide on the way, and she was buried somewhere along the roadside.

Jean's disgrace came to a peak when rumours spread that he had died on the road, having contracted syphilis from a Hessian prostitute. He sent word to the Emperor requesting an acceptance of apology and giving the Emperor a small gift of prose he had found near the township of Amne. The Emperor granted his return to court, but they never spoke in private and Jean never addressed the Emperor in conversation again. His return to court in May of 1758 was not welcomed, and he spent the rest of his life trying to return to his former glory, which he failed in doing.

Death and Aftermath

After years of hard living, Jean's well concealed gout and arthritis caught up to him by the end of 1764. His limp noticeably worsened as time progressed into April of 1765, to the point that he had to recieve permission to hire his illegitimate cousin as his guide to help him stand and walk. His embarassment brought a great disconnect between even himself and his own family and friends as well as court. Jean spent many days sitting in his chair alone in utter silence in contemplation. He would spend days not eating, thus making him lose weight rapidly. Jean's condition was slightly lightened when his gout somewhat subsided for an unknown reason. Although his hair fell out, he was able to return to court.

In January of 1766 Jean began to develop a particularly violent strain of dropsy; one which further inhibited his ability to walk, read, or speak due to the grotesque swelling throughout his body. In March, the weakened Jean suffered a severe stroke in his right eye, killing his retina and blinding his eye. He was not allowed to leave court as he had refused to ask, but he would stay in his rooms wherever the court would go and when he attended he would wear a mask whenever his face would swell. In May of 1766, Jean quietly was granted permission to leave court on the false pretence that he had business to attend to in his Estates, and he returned to Vincennes to be cared for by his only surviving illegitimate cousins. His words of farewell to the court were that of solemn reflection: "I have thought too much and done and said too little."

On June 18th, Jean was granted last rites as his dropsy led to infection that spread throughout his body. At 3:16PM on June 19th, Jean was eating a small piece of beef in a garden chair when he uttered his last words: "The flowers sing in such bright a day as this." Upon finishing his meal, he said not a word and fell asleep in the chair, where he died that day. He was 55 years old.

As Jean was the last legitimate heir to the Cornelian Line who hadn't been disinherited, he wrote in his will that his estates be given to his adoptive cousin, Genevieve Emelie the Duchess de Valois, who gave the chateaux and title of Duc d'Orleans to her brother, Gabriel Clement.