Tuesday, 9 July 2019

The New Dukedoms of Louis XIV

From his majority in 1651 until his death in 1715, Louis XIV created or revived no less than 34 ducal titles.  Thus, he elevated a new group of people to the highest rank of the ability. There could be several reasons for why a family might be granted a dukedom - it could be faithful service, personal affections or even as a favour to a mistress. However, all of the families concerned were already well-established in the nobility. It should be noted that the title of duc did not necessarily mean that the holder was a Peer of France - that was another elevation. But how - and why - did the Sun King choose to bestow this honour on them?

These are the titles that were not bestowed on members of the royal family.

The Revived Titles

A title can become extinct if the family holding it dies out. In a society such as the French in the 17th century, Salic law was followed which prohibited females from inheriting titles. Therefore, aristocratic titles were considered to be extinct if there were no more male heirs. These did not necessarily have to be the sons or grandsons of the current title holder - they could just as well be a nephew, an uncle, a brother etc.

Still, once a title became extinct, it became available for the king to bestow on a new family. Louis XIV chose to do just that in these cases:

Duc d'Albret
Last held by: Henri IV (it merged with the crown when Henri became king)

Revived: 1651

Recipient: Frédéric-Maurice de La Tour d'Auvergne

Reason for revival:
Frédéric-Maurice had originally been on the wrong side in the Fronde during the minority of Louis XIV, but was convinced to switch sides. The bait used by Cardinal Mazarin was the dukedoms of both Albret and Château-Thierry - these would be granted if Frédéric-Maurice surrounded the strategically located Sedan and Raucourt to the crown.

Status: extinct in 1802

Frederic-MauricedeLaTourdAuvergneNanteuil.jpg
Frédéric-Maurice


Duc de Bourbon
Last held by: Henri III of France
Revived: 1661
Recipient: Louis de Bourbon-Condé
Reason for revival:

Louis was better known as the Grand Condé and had stood on the opposing side during the second Fronde. Nevertheless, following his defeat, Louis was readmitted into the king's good graces and remained subordinated to the king. It is possible that Louis received this particular title partially due to his subordination and partially due to his lineage.

Status: was dormant from 1830 until 1950 but has been revived and is still in existence

Louis, Grand Condé.PNG
Louis

Duc de Château-Thierry
Last held by: Guillaume Robert de la Marck
Revived: 1651
Recipient: Frédéric-Maurice de La Tour d'Auvergne
Reason for revival: see Duc d'Albret
Status: extinct in 1802


Duc de Rethel
Last held by: Charles IV, Duke of Mantua (sold to Cardinal Mazarin)
Revived: 1663
Recipient: Charles de La Porte
Reason for revival: see Duc de La Meilleraye
Status: extinct 1738


Duc de Roannais
Last held by: Artus Gouffier
Revived: 1667
Recipient: François III d'Aubusson de La Feuillade
Reason for revival:

François could have gotten a title through military service, loyalty during the Fronde and the good luck of being born into a particularly well-connected family. However, he had actually bought the title in 1667 for the price of 400.000 livres as well as agreeing to marry the sister of the former Duc de Roannais (Artus Gouffier).

Status: extinct 1725

François III d'Aubusson.jpg
François

Claude

The New Dukedoms

Duc d'Aumont
Creation: 1665
Recipient: Antoine d'Aumont de Rochebaron
Reason for creation:

Antoine gained his dukedom through the battlefield; this included serving Anne of Austria during the Fronde. For this, he was also awarded with the title of Marèchal de France and later governor of Paris.

Status: still in existence 

Antoine d'Aumont de Rochebaron.jpg
Antoine

Duc de Boufflers
Creation:
Recipient:
Reason for creation:
Status:

Duc de Choiseul
Creation: 1665
Recipient: Caesar de Choiseul
Reason for creation:

Caesar was remarkably talented as a military commander. For that reason it was a blow when he joined the Grand Condé during the First Fronde. However, when conflict broke out again, he chose to remain loyal to the crown - and played an important role in turning the tide. It was he who defeated Turenne, for instance.

Status: this line is extinct but the title was revived in 1817 and changed to Duc de Marmier in 1839

Caesar

Duc de Coislin
Creation: 1663
Recipient: Armand de Camboust
Reason for creation:

Armand might well have been rewarded for his services on the battlefield; he had risen through the ranks and became a lieutenant-general. It is also possible that he was personally liked by the king and his mother since he played an active part in Louis XIV's coronation ceremony.

Status: extinct 1732

Portrait d'Armand de Cambout, duc de Coislin.
Armand

Duc de Duras
Creation:
Recipient:
Reason for creation:
Status:

Duc d'Estrées
Created: 1663
Recipient: François Annibal d'Estrées
Reason for creation

François had served as a diplomat in Rome and therefore the title could be a reward for the political skill he had shown.

Status: although the title lay dormant from 1771-1892, it was revived for the direct descendants of the last Duc d'Estrées under the Ancien Regime and is still in existence

François

Duc de Fitz-James
Creation: 1710
Recipient: James Fitz-James
Reason for creation:

Unlike the vast majority on this list, James was not a Frenchman. In fact - as his name states - he was the illegitimate son of James II of England. An Englishman at the French court could have had a hard time but he used his military skills to fight on behalf of Louis XIV.

Status: extinct 1967

James Fitz-James, primer duque de Berwick (Museo del Prado).jpg
James

Duc d'Harcourt
Creation: 1700
Recipient: Henri d'Harcourt
Reason for creation:

Henri had participated in every single one of the major wars of his period and would then turn to more diplomatic endeavours. He was made ambassador to Spain and served as such when the War of the Spanish Succession erupted. Although it is unknown exactly which role he played, Louis XIV awarded his efforts with a dukedom.

Status: still in existence 


Duc de La Meilleraye
Creation: 1663
Recipient: Charles de La Porte
Reason for creation:

Charles (a relation of Cardinal Mazarin) had served Louis XIII as a competent general for years and had then held the position of Superintendent of Finances. This in itself could be reason for a promotion but it was most likely prodded along by the fact that Charles remained loyal to Anne of Austria during the Fronde and thus aided Louis XIV in keeping his throne. Sadly for Charles, he died just a year after being made a duc.

Status: extinct 1738


Charles

Duc de Mortemart
Creation: 1663
Recipient: Gabriel de Rochechouart de Mortemart
Reason for creation:

Gabriel had been much favouritism of Louis XII and had served as First Gentleman of the Chamber. He, too, had been a friend of Anne of Austria as well as Cardinal Richelieu. He happened to be the father of Madame de Montespan although he did not owe his elevation to her liaison with the king since he was elevated before their affair began.

Status: still in existence 

Portrait of Gabriel de Rochechouart, Duke of Mortemart wearing the Order of the Holy Spirit (Versailles, unknown artist).jpg
Gabriel

Duc de Noailles
Creation: 1663
Recipient: Anne de Noailles
Reason for creation:

Anne had remained loyal to Anne of Austria and Louis XIV during the Fronde and had used his political acumen and military skill to their advantage. He had also become a close ally of Cardinal Mazarin.

Status: still in existence 

Noailles, Anne cropped.jpg
Anne

Duc de Poix
Creation: 1663
Recipient: Charles de Créquy
Reason for creation:

Charles had travelled Europe in the service of the French king; he had been ambassador to Spain, England, Bavaria and Rome. For instance, he had been sent to Spain to personally deliver Louis XIV's gifts and letters to his fiancée, Marie Thérèse, and served in the same capacity for the Grand Dauphin.

Status: extinct in 1687


Duc de Randan
Creation: 1663
Recipient: Henri-François de Foix de Candale
Reason for creation

This could very well have been a case of favourism at work. Henri-François' mother had been one of Anne of Austria's favourite companions so the elevation was not far off - besides, the family was already in the high-nobility.

Status: extinct in 1714


Duc de Saint-Aignan
Creation: 1663
Recipient: François de Beauvilliers
Reason for creation:
Status: extinct 1828

François was a rather odd figure to be made a duc. He had been disastrous as a military commander - so bad, in fact, that he was imprisoned following the Battle of Thionville. However, he appears to have been more politically astute and remained loyal to Anne of Austria during the Fronde. This earned him his dukedom.


François

Duc de Saint-Cloud
Creation: 1674
Recipient: François de Harlay de Champvalon
Reason for creation:

This particular title was created for the benefit of the Archbishop of Paris. Since the holder was a Catholic clergyman, it was not hereditary but came as a package deal with the office of Archbishop. 

Status: abolished in the revolution

François Harlay de Champvallon.jpg
François

Duc de Tresmes
Creation: 1663
Recipient: René Potier de Tresmes
Reason for creation:

René had served Louis XIII both militarily and politically; he continued especially in the former during the early years of Louis XIV. The title was later changed to Duc de Gesvres.

Status: extinct 1794 (last holder executed during the revolution)

René Potier de Tresmes.jpg
René

Duc de Verneuil 
Creation: 1663
Recipient: Gaston Henri de Bourbon
Reason for creation:

Interestingly enough, Gaston had been destined for the church and served as a cleric for the majority of his life before resigning. He was then knighted and later created Duc de Verneuil. It is possible that his ancestry had something to do with this drastic elevation. He was the illegitimate child of Henri IV which made him Louis XIV's half-uncle.


Status: extinct 1682

Gaston Henri
Duc de Villars
Created: 1705
Recipient: Claude Louis Hector de Villars
Reason for revival:

Claude excelled as a soldier which earned him the title of Marèchal de France and very likely contributed to his elevation to a dukedom. The title is not to be confused with the Duc de Villars-Brancas.

Status: extinct 1775

Hyacinthe Rigaud -Portrait of Claude Louis Hector de Villars (1704) - Palace of Versailles.jpg
Duc de Villeroy
Creation: 1651
Recipient: Nicolas V de Villeroy
Reason for creation:

Nicolas had close ties with Louis XIV since he had served as the young boy's governor which shows that he had enjoyed the favour of Anne of Austria. There is little doubt that Louis XIV also appreciated him; he was later admitted to the king's financial council.

Status: extinct 1794 (eradicated by the revolution)

Nicolas