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Louis XV

(1710—1774)


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(1710–74)

King of France (1715–74), a great grandson of Louis XIV. During his minority Philippe, duc d'Orléans was regent, followed by Cardinal Fleury. After Fleury's death in 1743 Louis decided to rule without a chief minister, but he proved to be a weak king who reduced the prestige of the French monarchy both at home and abroad.

At the age of 15 Louis married Marie Leszczynska, daughter of the King of Poland, and France intervened in the War of Polish Succession, gaining the duchy of Lorraine in 1766. In foreign affairs France was involved in almost continuous warfare; in the War of the Austrian Succession, in alliance with Frederick II of Prussia until hostilities were concluded at Aix‐la‐Chapelle. The Seven Years War saw France and Austria fighting Prussia and Great Britain but with little success. The Treaty of Paris (1763) marked the loss of most of France's overseas territories.

In domestic policy Louis XV was influenced by a succession of favourites and mistresses, including Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry, on whom he lavished enormous amounts of money. The extravagance of the court and the high cost of war absorbed all of France's resources and efforts to rationalize the tax system failed. The Parlement of Paris secured the suppression of the Jesuits in 1764 but otherwise failed to achieve reforms. The members of the Parlement were banished and a compliant Parlement appointed in their place in 1771. The reign saw the aristocracy and the wealthy bourgeoisie prosper, though the country was close to bankruptcy. The king's failure to solve his financial affairs left an insolvent government for his successor, Louis XVI.

Subjects: World History.


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