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Louis XV was king of France from 1715 to 1774. He is best known for contributing to the decline of royal authority that led to the French Revolution in 1789.
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Born on January 15, 1710, Louis XV was king of France for more than 64 years, from February 1715 until his death in May 1774. Because Louis XV's parents and surviving brother had died, he became king at the age of 5 following the death of his great-grandfather, Louis XIV. As a result of France's lack of strength in the Seven Years' War,
Louis had lost to the British nearly all of France's colonial possessions in North America and India by 1763. While Louis had been loved in his youth, earning the nickname "Louis le Bien-Aime" ("Louis the Well-Beloved"), he later earned the contempt of his subjects for various reasons. He was abhored by many due to his stubborn personality and detrimental political actions, including damaging France's foreign relations and continuously overspending, which exasperated the country's financial problems. Louis XV died a hated man on May 10, 1774, in Versailles. Following his death, Louis XV was succeeded by his grandson, Louis XVI.
When Louis XV was born on February 15, 1710, no one expected that he would ever reach the throne. His mother, Marie Adelaide of Savoy, had two sons—both Louis as well—before Louis XV was born. His first brother, however, died as an infant in 1705. His grandfather, Louis of France (also known as "Le Grand Dauphin"), was the next in line to the throne as the son of King Louis XIV of France, also known as the "Sun King." His father, Louis Bourbon, Duke of Burgundy, was the king's oldest grandson and the second in line to the French crown. Louis XV was born at the Sun King's famed palace, known as Versailles.
A series of family tragedies changed the direction of Louis XV's life. He was an infant when his grandfather died, and he was barely a toddler when he lost both of his parents and his older brother to illness. Louis XV became the heir apparent as a result. After his great-grandfather's death in 1715, he became king at the age of 5. Louis XV was too young to actually rule, however, so the Duke of Orleans took control as his regent.
Young Louis XV lived a privileged but lonely life as a child. He was watched over by adults and had little interaction with other children. Tutored by future Cardinal André Hercule de Fleury, Louis XV developed a special interest in science—a near lifelong passion for the monarch. He turned to Fleury soon after the death of his uncle in 1723, and Fleury became Louis's first minister a few years later. Fleury served as France's de facto ruler until his own death in 1743.
King Louis XV was first betrothed to the daughter of his uncle, Spain's King Philip V, but he ended up marrying Marie Leszczynska. Marie was the daughter of dethroned king of Poland. Louis XV and Marie wed in 1725, when Louis XV was only 15 years old. The couple had 10 children together—only seven of which lived to adulthood.
Only intermittently interested in political affairs over the years, Louis XV earned the admiration of the French people during the War of Austrian Succession.
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