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Louis XV,1710–74, king of France (1715–74), great-grandson and successor of King Louis XIV, son of LouisLouis,
1682–1712, titular duke of Burgundy; grandson of King Louis XIV of France. He became heir to the throne on the death (1711) of his father, Louis the Great Dauphin. François de Fénelon was his tutor and wrote Télémaque for his use.
..... Click the link for more information. , titular duke of Burgundy, and Marie Adelaide of Savoy.
Louis succeeded to the throne with Philippe II, duc d'Orléans (see OrléansOrléans
, family name of two branches of the French royal line.
The house of Valois-Orléans was founded by Louis, duc d'Orléans (see separate article), whose assassination (1407) caused the civil war between Armagnacs and Burgundians.
..... Click the link for more information. , family) as regent. After the regent died (1723), the king was guided by André Hercule de FleuryFleury, André Hercule de
, 1653–1743, French statesman, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. Tutor of the young Louis XV, he became, at the age of 73, chief adviser to the king and virtual ruler of France (1726–43).
..... Click the link for more information. , his main adviser from 1726. When Fleury died in 1743, the king decided not to appoint a chief minister. Louis, however, lacked both the will and interest to govern forcefully, and his reign was influenced by a succession of favorites. Of these, Mme de PompadourPompadour, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson Le Normant d'Étioles, marquise de
, 1721–64, mistress of King Louis XV of France. She was the king's mistress for about five years after 1745 and remained his confidante until her death.
..... Click the link for more information. and her adherents were the most important and were in favor from the 1730s until 1764. The comtesse Du Barry was installed in 1768 and retained her influence until the king's death.
While Louis was king, France was involved in a series of wars. As a result of the king's marriage (1725) to Marie Leszcynska, France took part in the War of the Polish Succession (see Polish Succession, War of thePolish Succession, War of the,
1733–35. On the death (1733) of Augustus II of Poland, Stanislaus I sought to reascend the Polish throne. He was supported by his son-in-law, Louis XV of France.
..... Click the link for more information. ), and eventually obtained (1766) the duchy of Lorraine for its efforts. Louis's diplomacy, which was often conducted secretly by the king's personal agents rather than through his official ministers, involved France in the War of the Austrian Succession against Austria (see Austrian Succession, War of theAustrian Succession, War of the,
1740–48, general European war. Causes of the War
The war broke out when, on the strength of the pragmatic sanction of 1713, the Austrian archduchess Maria Theresa succeeded her father, Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, as ruler
..... Click the link for more information. ) and, after a switch of alliances that realigned (1756) France with Austria, in the Seven Years WarSeven Years War,
1756–63, worldwide war fought in Europe, North America, and India between France, Austria, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and (after 1762) Spain on the one side and Prussia, Great Britain, and Hanover on the other.
..... Click the link for more information. . The Treaty of Paris (see Paris, Treaty ofParis, Treaty of,
any of several important treaties, signed at or near Paris, France. The Treaty of 1763
The Treaty of Paris of Feb. 10, 1763, was signed by Great Britain, France, and Spain.
..... Click the link for more information. , 1763), ending the Seven Years War, marked the loss of most of France's colonial empire and a low point in French prestige on the Continent.
The domestic abuses of Louis XIV's rule and the disastrous financial policy of the regency were partly liquidated by Fleury, but the extravagances of Louis XV's court, the expense of warfare, and the defeat of attempts at reform left the monarchy weak by the time of the king's death. Efforts to reform the inequitable tax system failed, as did the attempt by René Nicolas de MaupeouMaupeou, René Nicolas de
, 1714–92, chancellor of France (1768–74). He was president of the parlement of Paris before he succeeded his father as chancellor.
..... Click the link for more information. to suppress opposition to reform from the parlementparlement
, in French history, the chief judicial body under the ancien régime. The parlement consisted of a number of separate chambers: the central pleading chamber, called the Grand-Chambre; the Chambre des Requêtes
..... Click the link for more information. .
Throughout Louis's reign, the aristocracy asserted more influence, and the upper bourgeoisie gained more financial power. The country knew general prosperity, but the government was near bankruptcy. The apathy of Louis XV in the face of these problems found expression in the saying "Après moi le déluge" [after me, the flood], wrongly attributed to the king himself. The failure of the monarchy to solve its fiscal difficulties led directly to the French RevolutionFrench Revolution,
political upheaval of world importance in France that began in 1789. Origins of the Revolution
Historians disagree in evaluating the factors that brought about the Revolution.
..... Click the link for more information. during the reign of Louis's successor, Louis XVILouis XVI,
1754–93, king of France (1774–92), third son of the dauphin (Louis) and Marie Josèphe of Saxony, grandson and successor of King Louis XV. In 1770 he married the Austrian archduchess Marie Antoinette.
..... Click the link for more information. .
See P. Gaxotte, Louis the Fifteenth and His Times (1934); G. P. Gooch, Louis XV; the Monarchy in Decline (1956); A. Cobban, A History of Modern France, Vol. I (1957, repr. 1969).