Louis XV, King of France

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Reigned 1715 to 1774; b. Versailles, Feb. 15, 1710;d. Versailles, May 10, 1774. Louis XIV's will left him under the care of Marshall Villeroi and Bishop André fleury, but the Duke of Orleans assumed the regency. In 1721 Louis fell seriously ill amid rumors that the regent, and heir-apparent, had poisoned him. He recovered and was crowned in 1722 and declared of age in 1723. In 1722 the four-year-old Spanish infanta came to Versailles as the betrothed of the king, but after the death of the Duke of Orleans in 1723, the new regent, the Duke of Bourbon, sent her back to Spain, needlessly angering Philip V and his queen, Elizabeth Farnese. Louis then married Maria Leszczynska, daughter of the deposed king of Poland. France enjoyed peace and prosperity during the administration of Cardinal Fleury (172643), thanks to whom Jansenist opposition to the papal bull unigenitus was silenced in 1730. During the War of the Austrian Succession (174048) Louis went to the front but fell ill in Metz. On his recovery he was called le bienaimé, but his decline in popularity dates from the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748.

Mistresses had a fair influence in his reign after 1745. The Marquise de Pompadour favored the alliance with Austria before the Seven Years War. Difficulties between the king and Parlement and between Parlement and the Church were not resolved, nor did Louis take any action against the criticism of the philosophes. Du-Barry succeeded Pompadour in 1764 and intrigued against the prime minister, E. F. de Choiseul. The Jesuits were expelled in 1764 and suppressed in 1773. Finances were not repaired, and France lost prestige abroad. Louis died with the Sacraments, repentant of his faults, as his daughter, louise of france, had prayed.

Bibliography: p. gaxotte, Louis the Fifteenth and His Times (Philadelphia 1934). p. muret, La Prépondérance anglaise, 17151763 (3d ed. Paris 1949). g. p. gooch, Louis XV: The Monarchy in Decline (New York 1956).

[w. e. langley]