Louis XII (24th July 1729 - 18th February 1769) was the first child and first son of Monsieur le Dauphin and Madame la Dauphiné. He was the first sovereign to die at the hands of his own people in revolution after 400 years of rule.
Reign of Louis XI
Louis Raphael was born on the 24th of July, 1729, in the Imperial Palace of Château de Saint-Etienne, in the Principality of Bourgogne. His birth was much for celebration, as his parents are the heirs to the Throne. Many courtiers crowded the Dauphiné's room, anxiously awaiting to see the new Petit-Dauphin or Dauphiné. The Emperor and Princesse de Bretagne were seen betting on the gender of the child. To the Emperor's enjoyment, it was a male, but he lost the bet to his sister. His Majesty would announce his title to be the "Duc de Provence."
From a young age, the Duc de Provence would be noticeably disfigured. He had been born with a back defect and had issues walking for long periods of time as a result. This was most likely a result of his family, his parents being first cousins, his paternal grandparents being 1st cousins once removed, his great-grandparents being 1st cousins, and his great-great-great-grandparents being 1st cousins. His maternal grandparents themselves were 3rd cousins.
The Duc de Provence would be given the name "Louis Raphael" upon his baptism at the age of seven. While growing up under his Grand-Father's reign, he was given anything his heart could imagine. He would favour his younger brother, Charles Xavier, much more than his other siblings. Raphael and Xavier would be seen together at Court, forming a bond between themselves, to their Mother's contentment.
Louis Emmanuel would often take Raphael on hunting trips to the South with him. This would develop a strong love of the sport, though he himself rarely rode as a result of his deformity. He would often join the Emperor and His Court on their trips as well. Raphael would favour his Grandfather greatly and was quite devoted to his words, taking after his parents.
Regency of Sophie
In the early summer of 1738, the smallpox outbreak began. This would terrify the young child, especially that his Mother would be heavily pregnant at the time. The young Duc would beg to stay with his parents and the Sovereign, though Monsieur le Dauphin would refuse to allow this, and sent him off to the safety of Fontevraud Abbey along with his other siblings. He would stay in the Abbey with his siblings until the end of his Grandmother's regency in 1744. Once the Emperor returned to his duties, the Duc would receive a letter from his Mother permitting his return along with his two siblings, Charles Xavier and Marie Sophie. The three of them would arrive to the Court and greet the Sovereign in a most courteous fashion, much to their Mother's approval. Though soon after their arrival, Marie Sophie returned to the Abbey to assist their sister, Anne Thèrése, with her requested return to Court from Emperor Louis XI.
Louis Raphael preferred to stay with his brother, Charles Xavier, at the Château de Saint-Etienne. He would remain here away from court particularly as he aged and gained weight. This was a result of his inability to exercise and often left him hidden away in court.
Return of Louis XI
When Louis XI returned, he was immediately engaged to his first cousin, Marie Josephe. They would be married the following year in 1745. The couple would have difficulty producing an heir, so much so that some ministers wished the Emperor to have the pair divorced, but the Emperor remained patient, hoping to see a birth produced. from the pair. He would be regularly visited by doctors of the Emperor to ensure he was fit enough to produce heirs.
His own father would die on the 17th December 1752 as a result of the smallpox outbreak. This made him the Monseigneur le Dauphin. Louis XI would die on the 30th of December 1767, leaving Louis Raphael as Emperor.
Louis at first took very little interest in reigning. He was lazy, arrogant, and enjoyed hunting. He would take more pleasure in visiting multiple women than in meetings. The massive debt from Louis XI as a result was not tackled. The lavish and extravagant funeral of Louis XI was held not long after his death. The Notre Dame was heavily draped in black, large ostrich plumes headed the baldachin. Allegories and figures of angels were a beautiful sight to the onlooker. The coffin was draped with blue and ermine cloth, the crown was perched upon the top, seated on a cushion.
"I can feel the Emperor's ghost asking me what I am doing in his bed", 'Thus spoke Louis XII on his first night in the Emperor's apartments. He spent most of his time in the pleasing company of his siblings. Louis XII took on a mistress, Louise Therese, Duchesse de Nassau. She was the daughter of the Duc de Lorraine. Louise was funny, witty, charming, giddy, quite understandable for any man to fall for her. "Her appointments were dazzling" , was the common phrase. It wasn't long before Louise was made Maîtresse-en-titre, replacing Isabelle de Clermont.
Louis XII's coronation went smoothly and as planned. The celebrations that followed were most lavish, since the last coronation was in 1705, you'd have to be over 75 to remember it.
Very early on into his reign Louis XII was subject to an armed rebellion at Saint-Etienne. With a crowd of 1,000 strong he could do nothing but submit to the masses. They wished for him to remain in the Dijon Palace to be under the watchful eye of his own people.
He, with the court, was originally held at Dijon in the Palais-des-Ducs-de-Bourgogne. However, as time went on, the mob got angrier. Eventually, a plan was devised to execute the mob en masse. This was soon carried out but days later the masses would storm the guards, and the Imperials would flee from the building to La Bastion in order to gain support from the military stationed there.
Louis XII would return with officers who would protect the palace. The court would resume its daily activity until the palace was stormed, the guards executed and the court forced to Le Tour de Temple. It was here he would sign off his powers to a constitutional monarchy. He was later tried in November 14th 1768, and was found guilty of all crimes. He would be transported to the Place de la Revolution to be executed on the 18th of February 1769.
His head was mounted on a pike while his body was removed and tossed into a mass grave. It was later moved to the Imperial Crypt.
With his wife, Marie Josephe, he had three children;
- Louis Francois, Duc d'Aquitaine (10th June 1745 - 20th April 1770)
- Diane Francoise, Madame Imperiale (6th December 1747 - 1st March 1771)
- Charles Dieudonne, Duc de Forez (18th July 1749 - 1st March 1771)
Styles, Titles and Honours
Styles and Titles:
- 24th July, 1729 - 17th December 1752 His Imperial Highness, Duc de Provence
- 17th December 1752 - 30th December 1767 His Imperial Highness, Monseigneur le Dauphin
- 30th December 1767 - 18th February 1769 His Most Catholic Majesty, the Emperor
Louis's official style was 'Louis XII, par la grâce de Dieu, Empereur de toutes les Grandelumiere', or 'Louis XII, by the grace of God, Emperor of all Grandelumiere'.
- Grandmaster of the Order of the Seraphs
- Grandmaster of the Order of Saint Benignus
- Grandmaster of the Order of Saint Michael the Archangel