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Louis XVII

Louis XVII

Prince, King (1785–1795)
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Louis XVII was recognized by royalists as the King of France from 1793, when he was 8, until his death in 1795.


Louis XVII was born at the Palace of Versailles in France on March 27, 1785. His family fled Versailles during the French Revolution. After the execution of the dauphin's father, King Louis XVI, royalists recognized Louis XVII as the rightful heir to the throne. Louis died in Paris on June 8, 1795, while still in captivity.

Birth and Early Life

Louis-Charles de France was born at the Palace of Versailles in France on March 27, 1785. He was the second son and the third child born to King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette. He was named the Duke of Normandy at the time of his birth while his older brother, Louis Joseph, was the dauphin of France.

Upon Louis Joseph's death in June 1789, Louis-Charles became the heir apparent to the French throne. Agathe de Rambaud cared for Louis-Charles for the first seven years of his life and was among those closest to the young prince.

French Revolution

The royal family was forced to flee Versailles on October 6, 1789, as the French Revolution was gaining momentum. They relocated to the Tuileries Palace in Paris, where they lived for the next two years. Fearing for their lives, the family made an unsuccessful attempt to escape from Paris on June 21, 1791.

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Representative Deb Haaland, a Democrat from New Mexico, speaks during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, June 29, 2020. The hearing is titled "U.S. Park Police Attack on Peaceful Protesters at Lafayette Square Park." Photographer: Bonnie Cash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Deb Haaland

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 09: John Major attends the annual Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph on Whitehall on November 9, 2014 in London, United Kingdom. People across the UK gather to pay tribute to service personnel who have died in the two World Wars and subsequent conflicts, with this year taking on added significance as it is the centenary of the outbreak of World War One. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

John Major

On August 10, 1792, a mob stormed the Tuileries and captured Louis-Charles, his parents and siblings. They were imprisoned in the Temple, a medieval fortress within the city boundaries. The king was tried, convicted and executed on January 21, 1793. At this point, Royalists began referring to Louis-Charles as the king of France.

On July 3, Louis-Charles was removed from his mother's care and entrusted to a cobbler named Antoine Simon and his wife, Marie-Jeanne. Contemporary rumors of the prince's treatment during this period include sexual and physical abuse. These rumors have never been substantiated and conflict with anecdotal evidence supplied by visitors to the Simon home. Even as royalists accused the revolutionaries of abuse, Louis-Charles was encouraged to condemn his family for similar crimes. He provided sworn statements detailing sexual abuse at the hands of his mother, sister and aunt.

Death and Myth of the 'Lost Dauphin'

In January 1794, Louis was placed into solitary confinement and apparently neglected and underfed. Although a succession of guardians was appointed over the following year, Louis remained sickly and refused to speak for long periods of time. On June 8, 1795, the death of Louis Charles was made public. The stated cause of death was tuberculosis.

With no family identification of the body, rumors of Louis's escape ran rampant for decades. The story of the "Lost Dauphin" was particularly popular after the restoration of monarchy in 1814. The mystery was put to rest for most doubters in 2000. Historian and journalist Philippe Delorme arranged for DNA tests of a heart preserved from the body presented in 1795. The tests showed that the heart did belong to Louis-Charles. In 2004, Louis's was buried next to the bodies of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette at the Basilica.

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