Louis Bourbon, Duke of Burgundy Biography

Duke, Military Leader (1682–1712)
Louis Bourbon, Duke of Burgundy, was the grandson of Louis XIV. Incorrigible as a child, he grew up, married and fathered the next king of France.


Louis Bourbon, Duke of Burgundy, was the grandson of France's Louis XIV. Said to be difficult as a child, he grew up to be religious and faithful to his beloved wife. He was admitted to the king's council at a young age and briefly led an army during the War of Spanish Succession. Tragedy struck in 1712 when his wife, his elder son and Louis himself died of complications from measles.

Early Life

Born August 16, 1682, Louis was the eldest son of Louis, Dauphin of France, and Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria. Young Louis was made the Duke of Burgundy at birth, the second in the line of succession to his grandfather, King Louis XIV. But he was affectionately called the "Petit Dauphin" to compliment his father, known as the "Grand Dauphin."

Louis grew up with his younger brothers, Philippe de France, the Duke of Anjou, who would later become King Philip V of Spain; and Charles de France, Duke of Berry. Their mother died when Louis was 8, and afterward his father had little to do with any of the children.

Louis, Duke of Burgundy, was said to be a difficult child, malicious and arrogant, showing respect for no one. He was schooled by François Fénelon, Archbishop of Cambrai, and under his tutorage Louis grew up to be a very pious and religious man. Fénelon would prove to be a strong influence in his life.

Marriage and Family

At age 15, Louis, Duke of Burgundy, married his second cousin, Princess Marie Adelaide of Savoy, on December 7, 1697. The match had been decided by the Treaty of Turin, which ended the Franco-Savoyard conflicts during the Nine Years War. However, the two were already in love, a rarity in the Court of Versailles. The couple would go on to have two children: Louis, Duke of Brittany, and Louis, Duke of Anjou.

Young Adulthood

In 1702, at age 20, Louis, Duke of Burgundy, was admitted by Louis XIV to the Conseil d'en haut (High Council), which was in charge of all state matters regarding religion, diplomacy and war. This was considered quite an accomplishment, since his father was not admitted to the council until he was 30 years old.

In 1708, during the Spanish War of Succession, Louis, Duke of Burgundy, was given command of an army in Flanders, advised by Louis Joseph de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme. Confusion arose over who was in command of the army, which led to delays in giving orders. For a time, all military decisions had to be referred to King Louis XIV. This caused further confusion as messages had to travel between the battle front and Versailles. The Grand Alliance, which opposed France in the war, took advantage of the indecisiveness and advanced its forces. The culminating Battle of Oudenarde was a significant defeat for the French due to Louis' poor choices and reluctance to support Vendôme. In the aftermath, France lost the city of Lille and Grand Alliance forces made their way into France for a brief time.


In 1711, Louis, Duke of Burgundy, officially became Louis, Dauphin of France, upon the death of his father. In February 1712, his wife, Marie Adelaide, contracted measles and died on the twelfth of that month. Louis desperately loved his wife and stayed by her side all through her fatal illness. He too contracted the disease and died six days later on February 18, 1712, at his home, the Château de Marly, at age 29. Both of his sons became infected. His elder son, Louis, Duke of Brittany, died, but his younger son, Louis of Anjou, survived to become King Louis XV of France.

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