Prince Ferdinand Philippe, Duke of Orléans: Wikis


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Ferdinand Philippe
The Duke by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Duke of Orléans
Predecessor Louis Philippe d'Orléans
Successor Philippe d'Orléans
Spouse Duchess Helen of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Prince Philippe, Count of Paris
Prince Robert, Duke of Chartres
Full name
Ferdinand Philippe Louis Charles Henri Joseph d'Orléans
House House of Orléans
Father Louis-Philippe of France
Mother Princess Maria Amalia of the Two Sicilies
Born 3 September 1810(1810-09-03)
Royal Palace of Palermo, Two Sicilies
Died 13 July 1842 (aged 31)
Sablonville, Hauts-de-Seine, France
Burial 16 July 1842(1842-07-16)
Chapelle Royale de Dreux, Eure-et-Loire, France

Prince Ferdinand-Philippe of Orléans (3 September 1810—13 July 1842) was Prince Royal of France. Born Ferdinand Philippe Louis Charles Henri Joseph d'Orléans in Palermo, Italy, he was the eldest son of the future king Louis-Philippe of France and Princess Marie Amalie of Bourbon-Sicilies.




Early life

Born at Palermo during his parents' exile, he was given the forename Ferdinand (previously unused by the house of Orléans) after his grandfather Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. At his birth Ferdinand-Philippe he was given the title of Duke of Chartres and within the family circle he was always known as Chartres. Aged 3 on the fall of Napoleon I of France, the young prince came to France for the first time in 1814 during the First Restoration and settled back there for good in 1817. His father put him in the care of a tutor, M. de Boismilon, then in the collège Henri-IV in 1819, wishing him to receive a liberal education on the foundation of his complete equality with his fellow students. He was highly successful in his studies and took the courses at the École polytechnique. After a trip to England and Scotland in 1819, he went to Lunéville to join the 1er régiment de hussards, of which he was made colonel by Charles X (1824).

July Revolution

In 1830, he was on garrison duty at Joigny during the Trois Glorieuses. He made his regiment wear the tricolor cockade and quickly led them to aid the uprising in Paris. Temporarily stopped at Montrouge and soon allowed back on his way, he entered Paris on 3 August at the head of his regiment. When his father was offered the French throne by the Chamber of Deputies, Ferdinand-Philippe received the title of Duke of Orléans and became Prince royal. His father made him enter the Conseil and there his fiery temper led him to sharply criticise the time lost by ministers' prevarications (these ministers were colloquially known as babasses within the royal family) and to have frequent skirmishes with the doctrinaires, whom he disliked and to whom he wished to interpret the sentiments of revolutionary youth. This was why Casimir Perier, on being made president of the Conseil in March 1831, made the Duke of Orléans's exclusion from the Conseil a condition of his taking the post.

In November 1831, the prince royal and maréchal Soult were sent to repress the Canut revolts. He acquitted himself in this difficult task without violence and managed to rapidly appease opponents of the July Monarchy. He gained a certain popularity, which reinforced his attitude on the cholera outbreak in 1831 - he did not hesitate to take real risks in visiting the sickest cases in the Hôtel-Dieu, accompanied by Casimir Perier (who then caught the disease and died). In the eyes of the people and the press he passed for a generous prince, sincerely preoccupied with the plight of the poor, and he became a sort of icon for the dynastic opposition of Odilon Barrot, who saw in him the only prince capable of reconciling modern France's democratic aspirations with the heritage of its monarchical past. On 2 March 1832 he was granted an annual income of 1 million francs under his father's new civil list.

Military career

In 1831, the Duke of Orléans and his young brother duc de Nemours set out on their first campaign under maréchal Gérard, though this proved to be little more than a military promenade - entering Belgium in 1831, the princes eagerly visited the plain of Jemmapes, where their father had fought in 1792. The following year the Duke of Orléans returned to Belgium in command of the vanguard brigade of the armée du Nord. On 20 November 1832 he was before the citadel of Antwerp, commanding the trenches during the night of 29/30 November. In the murderous attack on the Saint-Laurent lunette, he launched himself onto the parapet amidst a hail of projectiles of all kinds to lead the action and aroused his soldiers' courage.

In 1835, when maréchal Clauzel was sent back to Algeria as governor general, the Duke of Orléans asked his father to grant him the favour of accompanying him to fight the emir Abd El-Kader. He participated with Clauzel's army in the battle of Habrah, where he was wounded, in the capture of Mascara in December 1835, then the taking of Tlemcen in January 1836. He returned to Paris with an aura of military glory, before setting out back for Algeria in autumn 1839 to take possession of the country's interior (from Constantine to Algiers) for France alongside maréchal Valée. Leaving Constantine on 16 October, three days after the second anniversary of the town's capture, he reached Algiers on 2 November by going via Sétif and the Iron Gates pass. Abd-el-Kader saw this as a violation of the treaty of Tafna and unleashed jihad upon the French, leading to an escalation in tension and finally Algeria's wholesale occupation by France. The Duke of Orléans set out for Algeria a third time in March 1840, taking with him his young brother the duc d’Aumale, tutoring him in his first military experience. Present at the battles of Affroun, Oued'Ger and bois des Oliviers, he was put in charge of directing the attackers in the capture of Teniah de Mouzaïa. After this campaign he was recalled to France for good.

This brilliant military past only increased his popularity and prestige, and he also devoted himself to the military expansion and the improvement of the troops' living conditions and morale. At Saint-Omer he organised the chasseurs de Vincennes, who became the chasseurs d’Orléans in 1836, and re-formed the chasseurs de Vincennes à pied. He laid the foundations for a Histoire des Régiments, commissioned by order of the Minister for War, and began work writing the regimental histories of the two regiments he had commanded himself.

Marriage negotiations

The Duke of Orléans's marriage had long been one of the July Monarchy's major political affairs. Had it not been for the 1830 Revolution he would have married the sister of the duc de Bordeaux, Mademoiselle (1819-1864). That project was checked due to the fall of the elder branch and the 'usurpation' (in their eyes) of the cadet branch. From 1835, after the Fieschi assassination attempt, the Duke's father was literally obsessed with the marital prospects of his son, by then 25. Only the perspicacious duchesse de Maillé presented, in her Souvenirs, the error of Louis-Philippe's dynastic strategy. In effect, she observed, if the Duke of Orléans died young having fathered a male heir, the young July Monarchy would have to get over the difficulty and political uncertainty of a regency - for her the wisest course consisted of first marrying off the king's third son, then the fourth, then the fifth, and thus guarantee him descendents, all the while leaving several men around the throne who could take over from him if he died suddenly.

This was also the moment at which the July Monarchy was searching for new allies in Europe who would allowed them not to have to depend solely on the United Kingdom. Talleyrand, fresh from renouncing his embassy to London and close to the UK's foreign secretary Palmerston, pointed in this direction. The king at first envisaged a rapprochement with Russia via Württemberg. In effect king William I of Württemberg, widower of the grand-duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia, had two daughters of marriageable age, princesses Marie (born 1816) and Sophie (born 1818). However, William I's sister had already made an inauspicious French marriage alliance to Jérôme Bonaparte and so William declined the proposition as humiliating, only later to have to accept Marie's even more humiliating marriage to marry count Alfred Neipperg in 1840. Queen Louise wrote to her parents on Marie's marriage that "We see singular things. It was not at all probable that this daughter, who the king of Württemberg did not wish to give to Chartres for fear of his ending his days [in exile] in America, should end up marrying a miserable little Austrian officers without illustriousness and of very ordinary birth[1]".

Louis-Philippe next envisaged an alliance with Austria that he could offer archduchess Maria Theresa (born 1816), daughter of Archduke Charles. Queen Marie-Amélie was highly favourable to such a match as she was herself a daughter of an Austrian archduchess (queen Maria Carolina of Austria), and archduke Charles was not opposed to it. However, Charles faced determined opponents to it on two sides - Metternich, who did not want to repeat his error in marrying Marie Louise to Napoleon I, and archduchess Sophie, a Bavarian princess and sister-in-law of the new emperor Ferdinand I, who dominated the Vienna court with strong personality, awaiting her son Franz-Josef's ascent to the imperial throne. France's ambassador to Vienna, the comte de Sainte-Aulaire, who had been put in special charge of preparing the ground for an Austrian match, made no pretence as to the difficulties the negotiations would face without adjudging it completely impossible. The new president of the Conseil, Thiers, dreamed of concluding such a match and becoming a new Choiseul as the maker of a spectacular reversal in the alliances of Europe.

The Duke of Orléans and his younger brother the duc de Nemours set out on a trip round Europe on 2 May 1836. Louis-Philippe and Marie-Amélie got off to a bad start when Louis-Philippe refused to shave off the proud beard that had set a fashion among French youth. He wrote back to queen Louise complaining that "there was a lack of tact there and of sentiments of convenience that afflicted me. [...] I believe that Leopold can say to him that a goatee beard on the face of a prince royal is contrary to all German manners. Here, [such a beard] is neither handsome nor fortunate, there it can be fatal."[2]. Even so the two French princes were a great success in Berlin then Vienna, staying at the latter from 29 May to 11 June. However, the marquis de Sémonville commented that "everyone has shaken their hand, but no one was close to them"[3] Even if the prince royal decidedly liked archduke Charles and his daughter, Metternich and the archduchess Sophie put up a major barrage of problems and news of Thiers (impatient to conclude the match) being on his way was enough to convince Louis-Philippe to make the proposal (against the advice of Sainte-Aulaire, who wished to limit the prince's visit to a simple family one). He was refused, though to play to French susceptibilities the official version was that the refusal was down to the decision being left to the "feelings" of archduchess Marie-Thérèse. Queen Louise wrote to her mother on 14 June 1836 "I am upset to see that you have thrown your all behind the cause of Austria [...] I have always thought that Chartres was of too high birth to marry she who seems to him the most minor princess in Germany; and I avow that I would better like to see him marry a princess from Lippe or Waldeck who was good and pretty and of robust health, rather than an archduchess of Austria who would bring us all sorts of evils in her dowry. [...] Napoleon, in this situation, was able to make sacrifices to ally himself with Austria; and we all saw what profit he got from it. But we are not upstarts, and have no need of ennobling ourselves by uniting with the house of Lorraine"[4].

The duchess of Orléans holding her son, Philippe, comte de Paris. Portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1839. Château de Versailles.

All the two young princes could do now was to return to France via Italy - at Trent they were received by the former empress Marie Louise, who could not refrain from tears at their similarity between the prince royal and the duc de Reichstadt ; at Milan they stayed with archduke Rainier, viceroy of Lombardy-Venetia, where they heard the news of Alibaud's assassination attempt on Louis-Philippe on 25 June. After the Austrians' refusal of the match, only two potential Catholic princesses remained (Louis-Philippe confided to one of his familiars "I would prefer her to be a Catholic. You believe it is nothing, the carlists believe it is everything; and I myself believe that it is neither here nor there"[5]), and these were both very young for marriage (born in 1821) : Princess Januaria of Brazil, daughter of emperor Peter I of Brazil, and the Infanta Isabella of Spain, daughter of the infant Francisco de Paula, younger brother of Ferdinand VII. The former was excluded by her remoteness, and the latter due to her family's unfortunate history (her mother Princess Luisa Carlotta of the Two Sicilies, niece of queen Marie-Amélie, was monstrously obese) and her physical appearance (she was red and thin - queen Louise wrote to queen Marie-Amélie on 21 November 1836 that "I send you her portrait, that Leopold found hideous. Her hair especially is frightening in terms of the children she will have. If all her family are ginger, this will afflict them [too]"[6]


Some possibilities were also seen among the Protestant German princesses. Via his great-niece the duchess of Dino, Talleyrand suggested Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel (born 1817 to a cousin of the elector of Hesse and his wife a Danish princess), whilst queen Louise suggested Princess Marie of Saxe-Altenburg (born 1818 to the duke of Saxe-Altenburg and princess Amelia of Wurtemmberg, and who finally ended up marrying George V of Hanover in 1843) and Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Kohary (daughter of an elder brother of Leopold I of Belgium, she finally married the duc de Nemours in 1840). However, the negotiators' choice finally came to rest on Duchess Helena Luisa Elizabeth of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (known as Hélène, 24 January 1814—18 May 1858), daughter of the late hereditary prince Frederick Louis and his wife princess Caroline of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (†1816). For the Duke of Orléans, it was a convenient alliance but one without much attraction - Metternich quipped she was "Petite but of a good house"[7] - even if she was the niece of Frederick William III of Prussia, whose mother was born Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (this Louise did not hesitate to make difficulties for the marriage in Berlin, which the French ambassador there (the comte Bresson) succeeded in resolving. Nicholas I of Russia, for his part, affected disdain as to the marriage, proclaiming that such a minor marriage was not worth the trouble to prevent.

The duc de Broglie was sent to Germany as ambassador extraordinary with the aim of presenting the official marriage request and bringing the princess back to France. An anonymous but virulent libel against the house of Orléans was published by a prince of the house of Mecklenburg. That house avoided the marriage, so that Hélène was only accompanied to France by her father's third widow Augusta of Hesse-Homburg. The marriage was celebrated on 30 May 1837 at the château de Fontainebleau, since the archbishop of Paris, Hyacinthe-Louis de Quélen had used the pretext of religious differences to forbid it taking place in Notre Dame de Paris. The civil ceremony occurred in the galerie Henri II on 30 May 1837, presided over by baron Pasquier, who the king rewarded on 27 May by making him chancellor of France. The Catholic ceremony was presided over by Romain-Frédéric Gallard, bishop of Meaux in the chapel of Henri IV, whilst the Lutheran one was celebrated by pastor Cuvier in the salon Louis-Philippe. As his witnesses the Duke of Orléans had the four vice-presidents of the Chamber of Peers - baron Séguier, the comte Portalis, the duc de Broglie, and the comte de Bastard –, the president and four vice presidents of the Chamber of Deputies – Dupin, Calmon, Delessert, Jacqueminot, Cunin-Gridaine –, three marshals – Soult, Mouton, Gérard –, the prince de Talleyrand, the duc de Choiseul and the comte Bresson, France's minister to Berlin.

There was high attendance at the ceremonies, but a notable lack of foreign ambassadors, except the baron de Werther (Prussia), the comte Lehon (Belgium) and the chargé d'affaires of Mecklembourg. Despite all this, the reception was brilliant - the duchesse de Maillé observed:

Princess Hélène was not a king's daughter, and so the model for [the ceremonies] was the reception for Madame the duchess of Burgundy[8], and all that happened in the house of Sa Majesté citoyenne was as if Louis XIV was present amidst the most major lords of France. Some believed that Louis-Philippe made a political mistake. I think not. To the contrary, he greatly pleased his supporters. The pomp did not displease those whose names figured in it, in place of the great lords who so envied them. Louis-Philippe was the man of the middle class, elected by them, and they know that full well, but they were flattered by the shine in which he surrounded himself. If he did not seek to regild this kingdom that [the middle class] has given him, its self-respect would be wounded. His supporters thought themselves great lords when they saw a great king [9].

The marriage was very happy and produced two children:

Patron of the arts

The Duke of Orléans loved literature, music and the fine arts, showing a pronounced taste for collecting, "making his choice slowly, like a true lover [of the arts]"[10] and giving proof of rare erudition. Each year he spent 100,000 to 150,000 francs from his civil list allowance on art purchases or cultural patronage. In his vast apartments in the palais des Tuileries he gathered medieval and Renaissance objects, ceramics by Bernard Palissy, Hispano-Moorish majolica and ceramics, Chinese and Japanese porcelain, and furniture by Caffieri, Oeben, Riesener and Jacob.

"The fatherland in danger"
Lithograph by Ferdinand-Philippe d'Orléans (1830).

He was also passionate about modern painters, buying several canvasses from Ary Scheffer and Newton Fielding, both of whom had taught the Duke landscape painting from 1822 to 1830. He possessed works by Eugène Delacroix (The Prisoner of Chillon, The Assassination of the bishop of Liège, Hamlet and Horatio in the Graveyard), Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps (The Defeat of the Cimbri), Eugène Lami, Ernest Meissonnier and Paul Delaroche. He also loved landscapes by painters of the Barbizon school, notably Camille Corot, Paul Huet and Théodore Rousseau. He commissioned Dominique Ingres to paint Antiochus and Stratonice (1833), bought his Œdipus and the sphinx in 1839 and commissioned his portrait from him in 1840.

Talented as a draughtsman himself, the Duke made amateur engravings - twelve etchings and lithographs by him are known[11], including a satire showing the sleeping Gulliver with Lilliputians all round him on foot and on horseback and a sign referring to the alarmist proclamation of 11 July 1792 by the Legislative Assembly that declared the fatherland to be in danger.

Premature death

Bust of the Duke of Orléans by James Pradier, after his death mask, 1842, musée du Louvre

Returning from Plombières, where he was going to his wife, the Duke was about to leave for Saint-Omer to review part of the army on operations on the Marne, of which he had been made the commander, when he went to Neuilly-sur-Seine on 13 July 1842 to say goodbye to his family. The horses of his carriage ran off out of control at Sablonville in the Hauts-de-Seine département, he jumped from the carriage and broke his head on the pavement - a few hours later he died, aged only 32. Alfred de Musset evoked the accident in his poem Le Treize Juillet (in the collection Poésies nouvelles). His funeral service was held in Notre Dame and, when there was not enough black textile to cover the church, the architect Visconti had the idea of using black paper. He was interred in an elaborate tomb in the Chapelle Royale, in Dreux, Eure-et-Loir.

Deprived of the popular support his eldest son had had, his father Louis-Philippe and his regime then fell six years later, forcing him, his family and the Duke's widow Helene into exile in the United Kingdom. There she died nearly 16 years after her husband, on 18 May 1858 in Richmond, Surrey. Because Hélène was a Protestant, she could not be buried in the Catholic Chapelle Royale at Dreux. Instead a room with a separate entrance was built attached to the chapel and a window was opened between her tomb and her husband's. The sculpture of the Protestant princess rests atop her tomb, depicting her reaching through the opening to the tomb of her beloved Catholic prince.


Three statues



Abandonment and renaissance

Other memorials


In fiction

  • Ferdinand-Philippe was used by Hanns Heinz Ewers as a character in his novella "Die Herzen der Könige" (The Hearts of the Kings).


  1. ^ cited by Guy Antonetti, Op. cit., p. 756)
  2. ^ Cited by Guy Antonetti, Op. cit., p. 757
  3. ^ Cited by Guy Antonetti, Op. cit., p. 757
  4. ^ Cited by Guy Antonetti, Op. cit., p. 757
  5. ^ Cited by Guy Antonetti, Op. cit., p. 782
  6. ^ cited by Guy Antonetti, Op. cit., p. 781).
  7. ^ Cited by Guy Antonetti, Op. cit., p. 782
  8. ^ Comparing the event to Princess Marie-Adélaïde of Savoy's marriage to Louis of France, Duke of Burgundy and later Dauphin of France
  9. ^ Cited by Guy Antonetti, Op. cit., p. 783
  10. ^ Anonyme, L'Artiste, 1836, vol. II, p. 164
  11. ^ Henri Béraldi, Les Graveurs du XIXe siècle, vol X, 1890, p. 234-236.


  • (French) Guy Antonetti, Louis-Philippe, Paris, Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2002 ISBN 2-213-59222-5
  • (French)
  • "Ferdinand Philippe, Duke of Orléans" in Charles Mullié, Biographie des célébrités militaires des armées de terre et de mer de 1789 à 1850, 1852
  • (French) Ferdinand-Philippe d'Orléans, duc d'Orléans, Souvenirs 1810-1830, texte établi, annoté et présenté par Hervé Robert, Genève, Librairie Droz S.A., 1993
  • (French) Ferdinand-Philippe d'Orléans, duc d'Orléans, Lettres 1825-1842, publiées par ses fils le comte de Paris et le duc de Chartres, Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 1889
Prince Ferdinand Philippe, Duke of Orléans
Cadet branch of the House of Bourbon
Born: 3 September 1810 Died: 13 July 1842
French royalty
Preceded by
Louis-Philippe III, Duke of Orléans
later became King Louis-Philippe I
Heir to the Throne
as Heir apparent
9 August 1830 – 13 July 1842
Succeeded by
Prince Philippe, Count of Paris
French nobility
Preceded by
Louis-Philippe III
Duke of Orléans
9 August 1830 – 13 July 1842
Title next held by
Philippe I


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