Louis, Duke of Orléans (August 4, 1703 – February 4, 1752) was a member of the royal family of France, the House of Bourbon, and as such was a Prince du Sang. At his father's death, he became the First Prince of the Blood (Premier Prince du Sang). Known as Louis le Pieux and also as Louis le Génovéfain, Louis was a pious, charitable and cultured prince, who took very little part in the politics of the time.
Louis was born at the Palace of Versailles in 1703 to Philippe II, Duke of Orléans and his wife, Françoise-Marie de Bourbon, the second Mademoiselle de Blois and youngest illegitimate daughter of Louis XIV. At his birth, he was titled Duke of Chartres.
He was brought up by his mother and his grandmother, Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, and tutored by Nicolas-Hubert Mongault, the illegitimate son of Jean-Baptiste Colbert de Saint-Pouange, a cousin of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV's minister. Louis was very close to his younger sister Louise Elisabeth of Orléans, who was to become Queen of Spain for seven months in 1724.
As the "third personage of the kingdom" immediately after Louis XV and his own father, the Regent, he was formally admitted to the Conseil de Régence on January 30, 1718, although he was never to play an overly public or political role. The following year, he was made the Governor of Dauphiné although he was not required to live in that province. Later, he gave the title back to the Crown. In 1720, he became Grand master of the Order of Saint-Lazare and Jerusalem, and, in 1721, under his father's influence, he was named Colonel général de l'Infanterie and held that post till 1730.
At the death of his father on December 2, 1723, the twenty-year old Louis became Duke of Orléans and as such head of the House of Orléans. He was also next in line of succession to the throne until the birth of Louis XV's first-born son in 1730 because King Philip V of Spain, the second son of the Grand Dauphin, had renounced his rights to the throne of France for himself, and his descendants, upon his accession to the throne of Spain in 1700. Although his father, the Regent, had wanted him to play as high a role as he and his grandfather had played, upon the Regent's death, the post of Prime minister went to Louis' cousin, Louis Henri, Duke of Bourbon, who was eleven years his senior.
In 1723, Louis was conspicuous for his hostility to the former prime minister, Cardinal Dubois.
The fifth child and only son out of eight children, Louis was still not married at the death of his father. In 1721, the ambassador of France to Russia had suggested a marriage between Louis and one of the two unmarried daughters of Peter I of Russia: the Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna (known for her fluency in French) or her younger sister, Grand Duchess Natalia Petrovna. But the idea of a marriage with a Russian Grand Duchess had to be abandoned as there soon arose difficulties relative to religion and order of precedence: Louis was "only" a genuine Great-Grandson of France as Louis XIII's great-grandson and, as a result, he was addressed as Your Serene Highness while a Russian Grand Duchess daughter of the Tsar was addressed as Your Imperial Highness.
Another possible bride was his first cousin Élisabeth-Alexandrine de Bourbon-Condé. She the youngest daughter of his aunt the duchesse de Bourbon. It was his mother who would agree to the actual future wife of her son.
Later on in 1723, a German princess was suggested. She was Margravine Auguste Marie Johanna of Baden-Baden (1704–1726), the daughter of Louis William, Margrave of Baden-Baden and his wife Sibylle Auguste of Saxe-Lauenburg. The marriage was agreed upon and the bride's small dowry set at 80,000 livres. The marriage by proxy took place on June 18, 1724 at Rastatt, in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, then on July 13 in the town of Sarry (Marne), in France. It was at Sarry that the couple first met. They fell in love at first sight. At the French court, the new Duchess of Orléans was known as Jeanne de Bade.
The ducal couple had two children but only one survived infancy:
On September 5, 1725, the court celebrated the marriage of Louis XV to Maria Leszczyńska at Fontainebleau; the marriage by proxy, at which Orléans had represented Louis XV, had taken place the previous August 15 at Strasbourg.
After the early death of his wife, and until his own death in 1752, Louis lived by strict rules. In 1730, Cardinal Fleury secured the duke's dismissal from the position of colonel-general of the infantry, a post he had held for nine years. It was around 1740, that he ordered the employment of a High Priest at the Palais Royal to stay with him while he was in ill health. He later decided to retire at the Abbaye Sainte-Geneviève de Paris, and from this time on, he became known as Louis le Génovéfain. As he retired into private life, Louis spent his time translating the Psalms and the Pauline epistles, protecting men of science and managing his wealth. Like his cousin, the duc de Penthièvre, he was praised for his charitable works.
His son, Louis Philippe would have liked to marry Henriette, the second daughter of Louis XV, but Louis XV refused as he did not want to give the House of Orléans the power it had had during the Regency of.
On December 17, 1743, Chartres then married Louise Henriette de Bourbon-Conti, the daughter of Louis Armand II, Prince of Conti and his wife, Louise-Élisabeth de Bourbon-Condé. The two families had been at odds for generations and it was hoped that the marriage would settle their mésentente. Although passionate at first, the marriage soon proved unhappy because of the young bride's débaucherie.
Louis Philippe of Orléans would see the birth of his grandchildren Louis Philippe (1747-1793) and Bathilde (1750-1822) who, during the French Revolution of 1789, would be known respectively as Philippe Égalité and Citoyenne Vérité. Because of the scandalous behaviour of their mother, he refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of his grandchildren.
In 1749, his mother died.
He died 1752, at the age of forty-eight, at the Abbaye de Sainte Geneviève, having lost most of his sanity. On his deathbed, on suspicion of Jansenist views, he was refused communion by the Abbé Bouettin of the Saint-Étienne-du-Mont church, but was given the last rites by his own chaplain. Louis d'Orléans had outlived all his siblings apart from Charlotte Aglaé, the Duchess of Modena and Reggio.