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, French royal family

Orléans (ôrlāäNˈ), 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. This house ascended the French throne (1498) in the person of Louis XII, who died without male issue. Gaston, brother of Louis XIII, was made duke of Orléans (see separate article), but died without a male heir.

The modern house of Bourbon-Orléans was founded by Philippe I, duc d'Orléans, 1640–1701, a brother of King Louis XIV. A notorious libertine, Philippe was excluded from participation in state affairs, though he fought in the Dutch War and won the victory of Cassel (1677). He married (1661) Henrietta of England and, after her death, Elizabeth Charlotte of Bavaria (1671).

Philippe I's son, Philippe II, duc d'Orléans, 1674–1723, regent of France (1715–23) during the minority of Louis XV, distinguished himself in the War of the Grand Alliance and in the War of the Spanish Succession. He was known for his cynicism and immorality. The will of King Louis XIV, which made him president of the regency council, severely restricted his authority, but he had the will annulled. His rule was marked by a resurgence of the noble elements subdued by Louis XIV. Councils of state, comprising the higher nobility, were formed, but they failed, and government by ministers, or secretaries of state, was restored.

To deal with the financial crisis, Orléans called on John Law, who established a royal bank, but Law's financial schemes collapsed in 1720. Foreign affairs under the regency were conducted by Guillaume Dubois. Orléans concluded the Quadruple Alliance of 1718 and made war on Spain (1719–20). Social life during his regency reached an apex of licentiousness. The ambitions of the regent and his descendants ultimately brought the house of Orléans into open opposition to the ruling house.


See W. H. Lewis, The Scandalous Regent (1961); C. Pevitt, Philippe, Duc d'Orléans: Regent of France (1997).

The regent's great-grandson, Louis Philippe Joseph, duc d'Orléans, called Philippe Égalité (see separate article), supported the French Revolution. His adherents, the Orleanists, who sought a compromise between the monarchical and the revolutionary principles, came into power by the July Revolution of 1830 and put Philippe Égalité's son Louis Philippe on the French throne. Representatives of the capitalist upper bourgeoisie, the Orleanists limited their definition of revolutionary liberty to the middle class. After the fall of Louis Philippe (1848), they continued to support the claims of his descendants, the Orleanist pretenders, who returned from exile after the fall of Napoleon III (1871). Their prospects, though high under the presidency of Marshal MacMahon, dwindled steadily, especially after the Third Republic exiled all pretenders in 1886.

Louis Philippe's eldest son, Ferdinand Philippe Louis Charles Henri, duc d'Orléans, 1810–42, took part in the French expedition to Belgium (1831–32) and in the Algerian wars (1835–40). His unfinished Campagnes de l'armée d'Afrique, 1835–39, was published in 1870. He died in a carriage accident.

Ferdinand Philippe's eldest son, Louis Philippe Albert d'Orléans, comte de Paris, 1838–94, went to the United States after his candidacy for the throne had failed in 1848 and fought for the North in the Civil War under General McClellan. Back in France in 1871, he was Orleanist pretender but relinquished his rights to the legitimist pretender, Henri de Chambord (1873). After Chambord's death (1883), he became head of the French house of Bourbon. In 1886 he was exiled by the law against pretenders. He was the author of History of the Civil War in America (tr., 4 vol., 1875–88) and other works. He died in England.

Louis Philippe Albert's brother, Robert Philippe Louis Eugène Ferdinand d'Orléans, duc de Chartres, 1840–1910, also fought in the American Civil War. In the Franco-Prussian War he served in the French army under the name Robert le Fort. After 1871 he fought in the Algerian wars, but he also was exiled in 1886. Owing to his brother's renunciation of his claims, the duke of Chartres was regarded by many Orleanists as pretender from 1873 to 1883.

Louis Philippe Robert, duc d'Orléans, 1869–1926, succeeded his father, Louis Philippe Albert, comte de Paris, as pretender in 1894. Born and educated in England, he served (1888–89) in the Indian army. An explorer, he left accounts of his wide travels. He died childless, and his claim to the French throne passed to his cousin Jean d'Orléans, duc de Guise, son of the duke of Chartres, and his heirs.


, city, France
Orléans, city (1990 pop. 107,965), capital of Loiret dept., N central France, on the Loire River. A commercial and transportation center, it has food-processing, tobacco, machine-building, electrical, pharmaceutical, chemical, and textile industries. The old city is surrounded by sprawling modern suburbs. Orléans was first known as Genabum, a commercial city of the Carnutes, a Celtic tribe. The city revolted against Julius Caesar (52 B.C.), was burned, and was rebuilt and called Aurelianum. Unsuccessfully attacked by Attila the Hun (451), it was taken by Clovis I (498), after which it became (511) the capital of the Frankish kingdom of Orléans. The kingdom was united with Neustria in the 7th cent. Under the Capetians, the first kings of France, the city became (10th cent.), after Paris, the principal residence of the French kings. Orléans, with the surrounding province, the Orléanais, constituted part of the small nucleus of the royal domain, and it was several times given in appanage as a duchy to the eldest brother of the king of France and to his descendants (see Orléans, family). The siege of Orléans (1428–29) by the English threatened to bring all of France under England's rule, and its lifting by Joan of Arc (the “Maid of Orléans”) turned the tide of the Hundred Years War (1337–1453). In the Wars of Religion (16th cent.) the city was briefly the headquarters of the Huguenots and was besieged in 1563 by Catholic forces. Orléans remained in Catholic hands until the Edict of Nantes (1598). During the 17th and 18th cent. the city was a prosperous industrial and commercial center, and its university (founded 14th cent.) was famous throughout Europe. The advent of railroads in the 19th cent. somewhat reduced the city's importance as a trade center dependent on the Loire River port. Orléans was severely damaged during the German invasion of France in 1940, and many irreplaceable historic buildings were destroyed. Several fine structures remain, including the Cathedral of Sainte-Croix, rebuilt (17th–19th cent.) after its destruction by the Huguenots in 1568; and the Renaissance town hall, where Francis II died in 1560. The feast of Joan of Arc is celebrated in Orléans with particular splendor each May.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in France, on the Loire River. Administrative center of the department of Loiret. Population 101,000 (1968). Orléans is an important transportation junction and a major industrial center. Approximately 20,000 persons are employed in industry, with more than 50 percent engaged in machine building. Many branches of Paris plants are located in the city. Manufactures include automobile and tractor parts, electric motors, agricultural machinery, pharmaceuticals, and rubber goods. There are food-processing (flour milling, canning, vinegar production) and garment industries. Orléans has a university.

In antiquity, Orléans was known as Genabum, or Cenabum, and was the principal city of the Carnutes, a Celtic tribe. Destroyed by Julius Caesar in the first century B.C., the city was restored in the third century A.D. by the Roman emperor Aurelian. In the fifth century the city was renamed Aurelianum (hence Orléans) in honor of Aurelian. In the sixth and early seventh centuries, Orléans was the center of the Kingdom of Orléans. Church councils met in the city in 511, 532, 541, and 549. In the tenth century, Orléans became an important fortress. In the 12th century the city received a degree of self-government and was converted into an important trading center. The University of Orléans was founded in 1309.

During the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453), Orléans, which had been under English siege for seven months, was liberated in May 1429 by French forces led by Joan of Arc. During the religious wars of the 16th century, the city was a Huguenot center. The Estates General was summoned to Orléans in 1560. In 1870 the city was occupied twice by Prussian forces. It was seized by fascist German troops in June 1940 and was liberated by the Allied forces in August 1944.

Architectural landmarks of Orléans include the Gothic cathedral of Sainte Croix (begun in the 13th century; 18th-century facade, architects J.-A. Gabriel and L. F. Trouard), the Gothic church of Saint-Euverte (begun in 1170, reconstruction in 15th and 17th centuries), the Renaissance church of Notre Dame de Recouvrance (1513–19), and the Gothic-Renaissance city hall (1513–19; now the Museum of Fine Arts, which contains mainly French art). There also are numerous examples of late Gothic, Renaissance, baroque, and classical dwellings. Despite the destruction brought by World War II, Orléans retains its 18th-century look (for example, the main street—the arcaded Rue Royale 1752–60, architect J. Hupeau). There is a historical museum, which houses classical and medieval sculpture.


Guillaume, P. Orléans et sa région. Paris, 1963.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Joan of Arc’s inspired triumph over English (1429). [Fr. Hist.: Bishop, 392]
See: Battle
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.