Louis XI (29th August 1691-30th December 1767), known as the Sun Emperor (le Empereur-Soleil), was the ruling monarch of House Lowell-Burgundy and ruled as Emperor of Grandelumiere, starting from 1695 following the death of his father, Louis X.
His personal rule begun from 1705 when he came of age. He is known for progressive reforms, taking power from the nobility and building a centralised government, with an absolute monarch, with the help of the powerful Cardinal Vosges. He was known for being conservative compared to his mothered Regency but sometimes regarded as morally debauched despite his strict belief in God and the church.
Reign of Charles VI
Prince de Bourgogne
Louis XI was born on the 29th of August, 1691 at Le Chateau de Saint-Etienne, in the Principality of Bourgogne, the first child of Louis, Monsieur le Dauphin. He was delivered in the late evening, a particularly stormy and night in which thunder filled the evening, in a crowded bedroom as the courtiers had gathered to watch his birth. Louis le Dauphin and the elderly Charles VII, his father and grandfather respectively, were present for the birth. He was named as the Prince de Bourgogne immediately and was often referred to as the 'Petit Monsieur', as the son of Monsieur le Dauphin.
His birth was marked with festivals in all major cities in the Empire, with fireworks and banquets laid on, as many of the relatives of Emperor Charles had died prior to this, giving renewed hope to the Houses continuation. Many of these celebrations continued for days on end and the court itself put on several small plays for the hope of a continued and strong family. These plays focused on the illustriousness of Charles, who was represented as Mars.
Louis would be placed in the care of his Governess, the Marquise de Vendome, with whom he had a good relationship, and retained her as his own Imperial Governess for his children until her death. He saw very little of his father or mother for much of his early years, as they attended to state events.
Reign of Louis X
Monseigneur le Dauphin
Louis was christened days later, on the 3rd of September in the Palace Chapel. At the time of his birth, his grandfather, Charles, was still the ruling Emperor of Grandelumiere, however, he would die within the year, and Louis' father would become Louis X, Emperor. Louis Philippe would then become Monseigneur le Dauphin, aged 1.
By 1694, he had two younger sisters, Princesses Viola Marie and Noelle Marie, who were titled Madame Premiere and Madame Deuxieme respectively. In 1695, while the Empress was carrying her 4th child, Louis X was fighting for his life. He had only reigned 3 years but now, Louis X, who had always been rather frail from childhood, was unable to move after a fall from a horse. At his death bed the weak Louis X gazed upon his son and exclaimed, "I reigned young, I died young and alas you are too young". He passed away the next day, in the early hours of the morning, on the 24th of August, which also happened to be the 334th annual Empire Day.
Proclamation as Emperor
Now, at the death of his father, the young Dauphin was heralded as Emperor of all Grandelumiere, his courtiers running to the child's quarters to proclaim him such. With all the thundering of the courtiers, running to his room, the 4-year-old Louis was said to begin crying at the sound which had startled him. He had been playing with his puppy, Racan, with the Marquise who were both unaware of the death of Louis X until now. The Governess immediately took the Prince from the room to his bedchamber, ordering the guard to prevent the nobility coming in and frightening her Lord any further.
Regency of Anastasie
In the will of Louis X, the powerful Cardinal Vosges was appointed regent for Louis, however, the now Dowager Empress Anastasie had other ideas. She had often written of her dislike for the Cardinal but recognised his importance and the danger of removing such a powerful figure by force. In order to prevent the Cardinal taking power, without force, she had the will of Louis X annulled with the support of her uncle-in-law, the Duc d'Anjou. She installed herself as the Regent for her son and, in a move to keep peace with the powerful figures of Court, kept Vosges as Imperial Chancellor.
While his mother Anastasie reigned as his Regent, the young Emperor was kept in the care of the Governess of the Imperial Children, Marquise de Vendome. She cared for him with his siblings within the court, and seen to their education, appointing tutors in time. Anastasie kept the court at Saint-Etienne, where many of the powerful figures had remained for decades. However, she sent the young Emperor with his sisters to stay in the little countryside residence of Chateau Flavigny, closer to central Grandelumiere, where they deemed the climate more favourable for them. Though many say this was more of a move to prevent disagreements between mother and son from interfering with her Regency.
Flavigny was adored by Louis and his sisters, who would later be joined by the last child of Louis X and Anastasie, Sophie Antoinette, Madame Troisieme. They would spend much time playing in the gardens together, the Governess often remarking on how happy the four children were. However, when Louis was aged 6, his 3 younger sisters would be removed from the court and sent to study at the Fontevraud Abbey. The young Emperor was markedly upset when they were sent off, and was now surrounded by adults of the court, which rather intimidated the young boy. The only friend his age the Emperor kept was the Seigneur de Turenne, later Comte de Turenne. The two grew close, and when aged 15, it was said the Comte was the first of Louis' homosexual interests.
By age 7, the Emperor was moved back to Saint-Etienne so that he might study under his tutors who the Marquise was left to appoint. This tutor was Cardinal Vosges, who used his time to secure Louis' favour and trust in him. Louis, during his education, enjoyed his studies in music (particularly studying violin and harpsichord), musical composition, French, Latin, jurisprudence, classical history, geography and theology, often questioning his tutor over the nature of God from a relatively young age, and was always deemed intelligent for his age. He also developed a keen interest in horses and hunting. However, it was noted that he was quiet as a boy, and was rather shy when courtiers were around.
It was while in Saint-Etienne that Louis XI would be baptised and named. Until now he had only been referred to as the Prince of Bourgogne or the Emperor. Now, he was christened as Louis Philippe de Grandelumiere. His Godfather was Prince Jean-Philippe de Bretagne and his Godmother was Princesse Marie de Bretagne.
In 1702 he was arranged to marry Elisabeth Justine de Valois, who also happened to be his 1st cousin once removed, 2nd cousin twice removed and third cousin twice removed, daughter of the powerful Duc de Valois, who moved to reside as the Palais-des-Ducs-de-Bourgogne, given a suite of rooms and her own large household. The two would never speak until their marriage. Louis came of age in 1705 aged 14 and would appoint Cardinal Vosges to be his Imperial Chancellor.
Louis would be crowned on September 14th, 1705, in Notre Dame Dijon. The ceremony would be overseen by his tutor, Imperial Chancellor and archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Vosges. The ceremony would be long, solemn affair, with Princes from Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and Papal Legates present, and many ambassadors from further nations such as England, Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Russia. The young boy was remarked as being the symbol of piety and purity during the event. The celebrations would last several days, with banquets being held, and festivals in several major cities. Louis himself acted out the part in several ballets as the image of the Sun.
He would maintain the majority of ministers that had been in place from his mothers' regency. Many of the decisions for the nation would be dealt with by Cardinal Vosges, whom Louis trusted in all matters more so than his own mother.
Wedding of Louis XI
On the 2nd of October 1705, Louis would be married in the Notre Dame de Dijon. The event was one of grandeur, much like his crowning ceremony. It would be presided over by the Cardinal Vosges, and several other Cardinals. Present would be his mother, his immediately family, and relatives, as well as several foreign representatives and princes. The celebrations were large and it was remarked to be the grandest wedding in the history of the Empire, surpassing even that of Marie Charlotte, his great-grandmother.
The streets thronged with people as his carriage, followed by a long train of Imperial and noble carriages, passed through. The bells of Notre Dame of hundreds of churches all over the nation rang at the time of marriage, as they had been informed days prior. However, in Dijon, these bells were drowned out by the sound of the cheering mass. They would retreat to the Palace of Dijon, where they would be served a 10-course banquet, and fireworks would be set off from the courtyard. The couple would then be guided to the Imperial Bed, where they would take part in the bedroom ceremony, which would be consummated on the night.
The young couple were often praised as idealistic monarchs, and Louis, being very aware of his position, took every measure to ensure that everything he did was grand and ceremonious. This was summed up by the Duc d'Orleans;
"He'd walk into the room like the sun itself, his eyes casting beams upon the good and favoured, then a shadow would be cast on those deemed unfavoured."
In December, Elisabeth would give birth to their first child, in a crowded and bustling room. Upon delivery of the child, Elisabeth fainted from exhaustion and the lack of air caused by all of the courtiers present in the room. They would eventually name the child Louis Emmanuel, who was immediately named Dauphin. He was followed by Louis's favourite child, Marie Amelie in 1707. In the same year, the future Cardinal Paris came to the court and became close friends with Louis XI. The Cardinal would become the second official Chevalier Servant to Louis with the Comte de Turenne.
His sisters would return to Court, much to his joy, in 1708. He would soon arrange for his sisters to be married, however, Madame Noelle, his second sister, would die before she could marry. Madame Sophie would be married off to a Naval officer, and fourth cousin, the Duc de Rennes. The Duc de Rennes would replace both the previous Chevaliers as court favourites, though nothing was ever mentioned publicly.The third birth, with Marie Therese, would disappoint Louis as he had wanted another son. His future Heir would be born in 1709 with Louis Auguste as the Prince de Bourgogne. When Louis Joseph and Marie Catherine were born, he would begin to arrange to send Mesdames Amelie, Therese and Catherine off to Fontevraud abbey, which they would do so when Madame Catherine was 2. Until this point, they had been cared for by the Marquise de Vendome and later, Comtesse du Bar. His sons were all kept at the palace to study under Cardinals and Bishops of the court. Louis would have 14 children with Elisabeth overall, however, he would father many more illegitimate children with a number of mistresses. Many of his children were, however, kept almost purposely away from the court.One of these legitimates was his daughter Madame Elisabeth who he never regarded as physically beautiful, once commenting, "Madame Elisabeth is, of course, beautiful inside, as is every soul to come out of my illustrious family. But God forbid a mythical nude." Like may things, Louis viewed his children as a political tool, the Cardinal Vosges would once state of Madame Therese in later life;
Madame Therese was a pawn in his game of high stakes diplomacy. She had no say in the matter."
Louis would have his affairs with women, producing his many illegitimate offspring, but besides this was his preferred affairs, those with his chevaliers. He would have 5 chevaliers with him by 22. Despite this, the Marquise de Vendome, Governess to the Imperial Children would write;
"Though women were not considered to be his forte, he could not help but be the apple to every eve."
Like many of the favourites of Louis, Duc Auguste de Rennes, now Prince de Bretagne, would gain titles and land. He would take on the role of Imperial Chancellor when Vosges died in 1717, which he would hold for 22 years. With Auguste's help, he would go on to continue the work of Vosges to empower the monarchy, and take power from the noble houses, creating a stronger sovereign. Cardinal Paris was granted his Cardinalate after millions were spent by Louis in bribes, while the Comte de Turenne would be made General.
In 1722, Louis would send off his 5 remaining daughters who had been born since Amelie and her two sisters had been sent off, to the same abbey. Madame Amelie, Madame Therese and Madame Catherine would return to court in 1725, his other daughters returning in 1732. He would grow close in particular with Marie Amelie and to an extent, Louis Joseph, often discussing politics, the nature of God and free will, and philosophy.
War of the Palatine
In 1733, the Empire went to war against the Holy Roman Empire over the north-eastern territories, which Charles VI of the H.R.E would claim as their territory. Louis would be present himself on the battlefield several times, most notably at the battle of Landau, when the Empire was invaded by Holy Roman Empire. The Empire would push back and claim small portions of territory which would be handed to the House Nassau, added to the Duchy. The most decisive battles were those fought in near Holland and Nassau, which would secure victory for the Empire as the forces of the H.R.E were depleted.During August 1737, a rebellion broke out, led by various noble Houses. Most notably were the fact that House d'Utrecht and House d'Eu took part in the rebellion. This led to the Fall of d'Utrecht and d'Eu. The rebellion started over the actions of the then Grand Prevot de la Maison, the courtier in charge of guards and security of the Emperor. The Marquis d'Oversticht took the position as head of a new Order, opposed to the Guard, and by extension, the Emperor. After an attack made against the guard, eventually, the Marquis was exiled as were his men. Order was soon regained and the commander was likewise banished from Court. House d'Utrecht would eventually return to the nation. House d'Eu would not be so lucky, as the Comte d'Eu was executed, with his family."And surely if at any pensive or aggressive look was even merely suggested at the Emperor a legion of loyal and devoted nobles would draw their sabres, as an army of Spartans would defend Apollo," - The Marquis de Vendome
Move to Dijon
He would move the court to Dijon, feeling ill at ease in Saint-Etienne following the rebellion. His court would live in the Palais des Ducs de Bourgogne. He would gift the Prince-archbishopric of Dijon to Cardinal Vendome while there.
He'd lose 2 children with the smallpox outbreak, in 1738-39, losing 5 children in all. He was heartbroken to lose his children, and to compound his situation, would be diagnosed with pneumonia.
Regency of SophieHe left to the south, getting increasingly ill in the smoggy, cold air of Dijon. He left to the Grande Chartreuse abbey in Dauphine region. His court favourite, the Prince de Bretagne and Louis' sister, Sophie, would be made Co-Regents. He would remain quiet while there, though he was deeply affected by the rebellion which the Empire suffered during his sisters' regency.
During his time away in the abbey he did meet up with the Empress Dowager, Marie Charlotte, who paid him a number of visits. Over time, however, he would recover, and by 1744, while revolts were breaking in the north, Louis recovered and returned by early October of that year.
Return of Louis XI
Louis would set about organising marriages for his family who were, until this point, unwed. He also began an inquiry into taxation, setting out new rules for the collection of tax and how much would be taken by the state.
Wars of 1744
He would later be beset by the issue of House Normandy, which had run out of heirs following the death of Duc Gaston Hyacinthe de Normandy, who died unmarried and childless. He had no uncles, siblings, or such to speak of other than distant relatives, many of which begun to claim the position of Duc de Normandy. This would lead to the Battle of Normandy on the 29th of October, 1744. Louis would support his daughter, Amelie, who claimed the position based on the marriages that had once occurred between the two houses. This was against the forces of the Englishman, William Godwinson, who had many supporters.Louis would be present on the battlefield when the Lowell-Burgundy emerged victorious by the conclusion of the battle. He would commission a painting from his new favourite artist, the Italian Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, who replaced Hyacinthe Rigaud following his death.In November 1744, war was declared by the Emperor to the Estates against Prussia after long-standing tensions between the two. Prussia, a theoretical nation from the Holy Roman Empire, had continued aggression toward the sovereignty of Grandelumiere, resulting in the war. The first battle, the Battle of Raeren, named after the town of Raeren where fort Louis is near, was a resounding success for the Empire, where the Emperor had been present.
Struggles with Melancholy
From 1744 until 1752, several of his close family and friends would pass away, including two of his children. However, it was the death of the Prince of Brittany which affected Louis the most. Being absent from court at the time of the death, he regretted not being able to give his farewell. Following this, it was noted that he was increasingly melancholic and obtained an obsession with death. This lack of motivation and melancholy ultimately showed itself as he rarely ventured from his apartments except for mass.
While the new smallpox outbreak occurred in late 1752 to 53, many of the Sun-Emperor's family would start to die. This would claim his wife, Elisabeth, his sons the Dauphin and Louis Auguste, his sister Sophie, his daughters Henriette and Catherine, his daughter in law the Dauphine, and several of his grandchildren. He became increasingly pious and resentful in his later years following this. Short spells of happiness would come, but for the most part his demeanour was melancholic. He'd renounce all mistresses and chevaliers, only legitimising one of his brood of offspring, Fontaine Honore, in 1753.
South Eastern Wars
Tensions between Savoy and Grandelumiere had grown, especially as Louis became more and more embittered by the death of his family. This would reach its climax in the 5 Years War. This battle began a the Empire invaded the small territory of Savoy, taking on their troops and several small towns. Savoy would be supported by the Duchy of Parma, which slowed the Imperials. The war was a stalemate for 4 years until 55, when the tide turned to the favour of the Empire and eventually over the following year, Savoy and Parma were taken.
Eventually, Genoa would meet a similar fate after letters between Savoyard ambassadors to other Italian states were discovered pleading help to restore Savoy and Parma. The land holding of Genoa was small, and easily taken, but Genovese Corsica proved more sturdy. The naval battles dragged on for some time, while attempts to put down land troops were made several times, unsuccessfully, until 1759 when the territory was finally overwhelmed in the Battle of Ajaccio.
The Final war in the southeastern borders was that of Switzerland in the Grando-Swiss war. This begun unknowingly to the Emperor as no order had been made for an invasion of the Swiss. It was believed that forces had entered Switzerland with the intention of causing trouble. This, if the case, was a success as war was announced which lasted 2 years from 1761 until 63. The annexing of Switzerland was the last full war in the reign of Louis XI.
The deep set melancholia in Louis XI was only soothed by the opera and music. He regularly attended the chapel to listen to the choir singing and attended the opera several times, including Christmas Day after attending Mass. His deep set affliction was ended only by music. In his journals, he would write;
"My reign was once glorious, surrounded by ceremony and circumstance. But I find myself now, tired. I have writhed in sin. This House I made, once as magnificent as the splendour of the celestial heavens. I find it now, the splendour, covers our sin. What I once found to be my Paradise, is my brothel and these angels, are the whores."
He continued with his ceremony, until his last night. He would hold his Couche, that is his evening ceremony to undress for bed, on the 29th of December. By 2 a.m. he called his valet, a Mr. Boulier, to fetch him a Cardinal with haste. The Cardinal Valentine Leonard would arrive, and he admitted he was dying. The Cardinal would fetch the court, and the Emperor lay dying before them. He spoke to his family before coughing violently, spewing up blood. His Great-Granddaughter, Diane Francoise, asked what he had done, his reply came, "Perfect, I was Perfect". He would then succumb to his illness.
Following his death, an autopsy revealed he suffered massive internal injuries, likely caused by a horse riding accident he'd suffered in 1766. His heart would be taken and moved to the Notre Dame Dijon.
To his marriage with Elisabeth Justine he had twenty-one children, fourteen of which were carried to full term, with their styles at the time of their birth;
- Louis Emmanuel, Monsieur le Dauphin (27th December 1706 - 17th December 1752)
- Marie Amelie, Madame Premiere (5th June 1707 - Present)
- Marie Therese, Madame Deuxieme (18th January 1708 - 10th February 1745)
- Louis Auguste, Prince de Bourgogne (6th May 1709 - 21st December 1752)
- Miscarried son (15th October 1709)
- Stillborn daughter (24th May 1710)
- Louis Joseph, Duc de Brabant (27th February 1711 - 28th September 1760)
- Marie Catherine, Madame Troisieme (18th May 1712 - 9th December 1752)
- Miscarried daughter (31st March 1713)
- Charles Philippe, Duc d'Aquitaine (19th June 1714 - 14th October 1752)
- Henri Francois, Duc d'Anvers (3rd January 1715 - 17th October 1742)
- Marie Louise, Madame Quatrieme (30th November 1715 - 13th March 1718)
- Marie Josephe, Madame Cinquieme (30th November 1715 - 27th July 1739)
- Miscarried daughter (6th August 1716)
- Marie Henriette, Madame Sixieme (18th July 1717 - 19th December 1752)
- Marie Elisabeth, Madame Septieme (30th March 1718 - 1st February 1774)
- Stillborn daughter (19th December 1718)
- Stillborn son (13th June 1719)
- Louis Antoine, Duc de Forez (29th April 1720 - 5th May 1720)
- Miscarried son (9th December 1720)
- Marie Sophie, Madame Huitieme (14th September 1721 - 19th February 1770)
With various other women, he had 17 children;
With the Duchesse Athenais de Normandy (wife of the Duke of Normandy):
- Auguste de Normandy (27th May 1714 - 6th June 1752)
- Agathe Louise de Normandy (2nd August 1715 - 13th November 1738)
With the Comtesse Emilie Caroline du Bar (cousin-in-law of the Duchesse de Valois):
- Marguerite Victoire du Bar (23rd July 1716 - 24th July 1716)
- Louis Abel du Bar (11th August 1717 - 1st January 1739)
With the Marquise Diane de Hollande (Head of House Hollande)
- Charles de Hollande (20th May 1720 - 18th December 1721)
- Philippe Charles de Hollande (12th May 1722 - 29th February 1739)
- Louise Anne de Hollande (1st June 1722 - 6th June 1722)
With Comtesse Elisabeth du Berry (sister-in-law to Cardinal Joseph-Baptiste (later Pope Jean XXIII)):
- Agnès Louise de Vendome (17th August 1723 - 22nd December 1741)
- Lucie Madeleine de Vendome (21st November 1724 - 12th July 1752
- Louis Francois de Vendome (27th February 1725 - 18th September 1731)
- Francoise Sophie de Vendome (14th March 1726 - 30th May 1752)
- Fontaine Honore de Vendome (3rd May 1727 - Present)
With Duchesse Anne Leonore de Luxembourg (sister-in-law of Cardinal Lorraine):
- Philippe Cesar de Luxembourg (11th July 1727 - Present)
- Louise Marie de Luxembourg (16th April 1728 - 7th December 1747)
- Louis Alexandre de Luxembourg (3rd June 1730 - 20th August 1738)
With Comtesse Claudine de Cahors (wife of the General Cahors, cousin to the Cardinal Montpensier):
- Louise Claudine de Cahors (6th August 1730 - 8th December 1743)
- Philippe Louis de Cahors (18th March 1731 - 24th July 1753)
Titles, Styles and Honours
Titles and Styles
- 29th August 1691 - 25th June 1692 His Imperial Highness, Prince of Bourgogne
- 25th June 1692 - 24th August 1695 His Imperial Highness, Monsieur le Dauphin
- 24th August 1695 - 30th December 1767 His Most Catholic Majesty, Emperor of all Grandelumiere
Louis's official style was 'Louis XI, par la grâce de Dieu, Empereur de toutes les Grandelumiere, Archiduc de Suisse et Savoie, Duc de Parme', or 'Louis XI, by the grace of God, Emperor of all Grandelumiere, Archduke of Switzerland and Savoy, Duke of Parma'.
- Grandmaster of the Order of the Seraphs
- Grandmaster of the Order of Saint Benignus
- Grandmaster of the Order of Saint Michael the Archangel