The Regent. Philip of Orleans, Successor to the Sun King
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Montesquieu wrote of Philip of Orleans (1674-1723), who became regent of France upon the death of his uncle, Louis XIV, that he was “indefinable”. It seems, indeed, that he did his best to keep his secrets and confound his biographers.
This minor son of France, not in line for anything and destined for a life of contemplating his collections and wandering around the splendid grounds of Saint Cloud and the Palais Royal, nevertheless went on to govern France for eight years, from 1715 to 1723, following the death of Louis XIV. As the head of State, he undertook numerous reforms, some of the more innovative of which, such as the polysynody and the System of Law, had a lasting impact. In the interest of international peace, he was quick to ally himself with England, thus reversing the foreign policy followed by Louis XIV. However, his only ambition, really, was to ensure peace for the kingdom and maintain absolute power for the young King Louis XV. Far from being a liberal prince and herald of the Enlightenment, Philip of Orleans was, in truth, a worthy successor to the Sun King.
Here, Alexandre Dupilet draws on recent advances in research to offer a substantially updated portrait of this prince who left such a profound mark on his era that he has subsequently gone down in history as, simply, the Regent.
Author: Alexandre Dupilet
Publisher: Editions Tallandier