Louis XIV is one of the best known French kings, famous for his battle-plan miniatures, his palace at Versailles, and his absolutist rule. Also known as the Sun King, Louis XIV had a penchant for excess and for getting his way, both on the battlefield and in daily life.
One of the best examples of the Sun King's selfishness was the treatment of his younger brother, Philippe I. Philippe I, the Duke of Orléans, was more or less raised as a girl to avoid any potential conflicts with or threats to his brother. The Sun King's brother dressed like a woman and demonstrated effeminate characteristics for his entire life. While he was married to women twice, it was also common for men to the serve as the Duke of Orléans's lovers.
Philippe I was more than just his sexuality though. He fought for Louis XIV at numerous battles and extending the financial and cultural strength of the House of Orléans. Despite the strange upbringing Philippe was forced into at the hands of his brother, he cemented his own place in military and nobility history.
Philippe Was Two Years Younger Than His Brother, King Louis XIV
Philippe was the second son of King Louis XIII and Anne of Austria. Their first son and future king Louis was born in 1638 and Philippe was born to years later. As the heir apparent, Louis was a relief to his parents given the four stillbirths they'd experienced in their 23 years of marriage by the time he was born.
When Philippe was born two years later, that left two sons in line for the throne when Louis XIII died in 1643. Louis became King Louis XIV at the age of five and his mother served as regent until he was 16. Philippe was on the fringes of his brother's reign, even crowning him when he was crowned in 1654.
When Louis XIV almost died from an unknown disease in 1658, Philippe was nearly made king... but his brother recovered.
Philippe's First Wife Had An Affair With His Brother, The Sun King
Philippe married Henrietta of England in 1661. As the youngest child of Charles I of England, Henrietta had been raised in exile in France. But the marriage between Philippe and Henrietta, who was beautiful and flirtatious, was strained in large part because her husband ignored her and flaunted his same-sex relationships.
Henrietta began seducing Philippe's brother, King Louis XIV, and the two began a brief affair.She also had an affair with one of Philippe's former lovers, Armand de Gramont, Comte de Guiche. Because of Philippe's male preferences and Henrietta's dalliances, the paternity of their children was the subject of gossip around the court.
Henrietta had four children while married to Philippe, although only two lived to adulthood.
After Philippe's First Wife Died, There Were Rumors Philippe Had Something To Do With It
Henrietta, known as Minette, became ill in 1667 with severe abdominal pains. Her health deteriorated for the next three years and she died at the age of 26 in 1670. Shortly before her death, she drank a glass of chicory water that sent her into such severe pain that she asked if she'd been poisoned — and the rumors began.
Because her death was somewhat sudden, there were suspicions that Philippe or one of his lovers had, indeed, poisoned Henrietta. Henrietta had also been involved in negotiations between France and England as they struck a deal to fight the Dutch together, so her untimely demise was of chief concern to the King.
Historians do not believe that Henrietta was poisoned but that she most likely died of a perforated intestinal ulcer or a burst appendix.
When Philippe Married For A Second Time, He Was Less Than Impressed By His Bride
After Henrietta's death, Louis XIV wasted no time finding his brother another wife. Louis actually had a hard time finding a woman to marry Philippe — his first choice and cousin Anne-Marie Louise d'Orleans turned him down — arranged for Philippe to marry Elizabeth Charlotte of Bavaria in 1671.
The German princess was tomboyish and unattractive, according to Philippe who supposedly said, "How shall I ever be able to sleep with her?" when he first saw her. She did give him a male heir, however.
The two had three children, although only one boy and one girl survived to adulthood.