The short, unhappy life of a young royal

Today marks the birthday of Louis-Charles, a French royal born into opulence and privilege but who had the misfortune to be the son of two wildly unpopular monarchs.

Life didn’t look so bad for the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette when he was born in 1785, who went by the name of Louis, but that changed a couple of years later with the French Revolution, which led to the execution of his parents and his own imprisonment from the age of 7 onward. 

After his father’s death,, Royalists designated him as Louis XVII, though he was never officially crowed, nor did he rule.

But after the execution of his father on in January 1793, 8-year-old Louis became a rallying point for Monarchists, a fact not lost on adherents of the Revolution. Schemes were devised to try to free the young monarch, but to no avail. 

The young royal was kept in essential isolation for much of 1794 and nearly half of 1795, in filthy conditions. 

Louis received almost no medical care during his imprisonment and on June 8, 1795, at the age of 10, he died of tuberculosis-related complications. 

It is believed he buried in an unmarked grave. 

However, after Louis’ death, his heart was apparently removed from his body. 

In 2000 it was arranged for DNA testing of the organ, with results proving that it was indeed that of Louis. 

Louis’ heart was buried on June 8, 2004, in the Royal Crypt in the Cathedral of St. Denis outside Paris, the burial place of French kings, next to the remains of Louis’s parents, according to Reuters.

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6 thoughts on “The short, unhappy life of a young royal

  1. “I always found his story a curious one, since there were so many people coming forward claiming to be Louis-Charles. Great post.”

    A fact that Mark Twain alluded to in the character of “The Dolphin of France” in Huckleberry Finn.

    Thanks for the context.

    I assume you may have already checked out the Wikipedia article, but the section about the Dauphin’s appearances in fiction is interesting, attesting to the appeal of his story, much like Anastasia’s story in more recent history.

      • “they made for such interesting reading.”

        And that’s the truth! I can’t tell you how many countless hours I spent some years ago, pouring over books about Anastasia and her pretenders. My interest kind of waned when I learned none of them were her, but still an interesting subject.

      • I remember reading about one pretender, the best-known one, Anna Anderson, and I couldn’t believe the extent she must have gone to pull off the charade. She was able to fool members of the Russian Royal family.

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