The Scandalous Regent: Philippe Charles duc de Chartres

Philippe Charles, born duc de Chartres (1674), later duc d'Orleans, was born at St Cloud; his mother was Elizabeth Charlotte and father was Philippe de France.  Most importantly, the young duc de Chartres' uncle was Louis XIV.  With such family connections and such wealth at his fingertips, the little duc naturally acquired a taste for the finer things.  He was fascinated with art, architecture and even the sciences.  He could paint and draw, but he was most skilled at sculpture. 

Ladies, continue reading at your own will. Do not fall victim for the dashing* bloke described below:

As for women, he liked them easy, and would not waste time bothering with a 'conquest.'  He rarely kept a lady for long, moving quickly on to the next.  His way with women began at a tender age, when Philippe was just a child. A particular girl he found himself attracted to was the young Leonore.  She was the daughter of the Concierge of the storeroom of the Palais-Royale and their liaison had caused much gossip to spread.  The Sun King's little nephew had seduced her and the affair was no secret.  Leonore was just a child herself and Louis XIV was rightfully displeased with the incident.  He punished his nephew by refusing to see him until he was called upon by the king himself. Tsk!

He fell for women one after another; in one instance he chose a famous actress to pursue, La Grandval. Philippe's mother immediately felt the match was ill made, and complained that the actress was too old for her son's, "young heart."  He was swiftly moved to Italy at the request of the King, for some military experience.   He would not make it past Lyon without spotting a beautiful lady and subsequently seducing her.  He continued en route to Italy, and they wrote to each other until his return.  When he came back he found... * a child * ! (may the gossip begin again!)

As the story goes, upon finding the little child, he persuaded his lover, Madame de la Massonniere, to move to Paris where he was headed.  Agreeing, and bringing both the child and her mother, they left Lyon 8 days after Philippe.  What appeared to have taken place was plain as day: a kidnapping! The father, husband and grandfather, Monsieur de la Massionniere, were heartbroken. The grandfather was said to be so heartbroken at the theft and possibly so embarrassed at the loss of his family that he died in Lyon of a broken heart. 

Once the rest of the Massionniere's arrived in Paris (a mere 8 days later) they were left with dismay to find that our scandalous regent had already moved on to a tasty comedy actress, and a few days later he moved on again to a lovely dancer with the Opera.  That is just the beginning of it.

In 1701 his father died, leaving him with the title of duc d'Orléans.  Just a few years later his uncle, Louis XIV, passed away.  Louis XV was too young to reign and Philippe Charles became the regent to the throne.  His regency began in 1715 and would endure until 1723.  Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, his romantic sensibilities set the tone for the period of the regency.  Chivalry was not apparent, and women may have been far more apt to be loose....

*would you fall for the duc?


  1. His life was really interesting and after all he arrived to be one of the nost important general os that time fighting in Netherland and Italy, and also a key political man as regent of Louis XV.

    Best regards!

  2. Great bio Lauren. If I had lived in France in the 18th-century I might fall for him. What a temptation. Money, title and connections. ;-)

  3. He sounds like another rich, pompous ass with a hunk a hunk of burning love to spread around. However, I do think his life and the opportunity he got to reign for a while would make a good PBS historical drama.