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Louis de Bourbon, Légitimé de France, Count of Vermandois (2 October 1667 – 18 November 1683) was the eldest surviving son of Louis XIV of France and his mistress Louise de La Vallière.
He was sometimes known as Louis de Vermandois, after his title. He died aged 16 unmarried and without issue.
Louis de Bourbon was born at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye on 2 October 1667. He was named after his father. Like his elder sister, Marie Anne de Bourbon, who was known at court as Mademoiselle de Blois, he was given the surname of de Bourbon not de France as a result of his illegitimacy.
As a child, he called his mother Belle Maman because of her beauty. Louis was legitimised in 1669, at the age of two, and was given the title of comte de Vermandois and was made an Admiral of France.
In 1674, his mother entered a Carmelite convent in Paris, and took the name Sœur Louise de la Miséricorde. Afterwards, they saw very little of each other. From his mother and his father, Louis had five full siblings, many of whom died before his birth.
After his mother left, Louis lived at the Palais Royal in Paris with his uncle, Philippe of France, duc d'Orléans, and his wife Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate. At the Palais-Royal, he became very close to his aunt despite her well-known dislike of Louis XIV's bastards. The affection the aunt and nephew had for each other never diminished.
While he was at the court of his libertine uncle, he met the Chevalier de Lorraine, his uncle's most famous lover. The young count got involved with the older chevalier and his set (including the Prince of Conti), joining a secret group of young aristocrats called, "La Sainte Congregation des Glorieux Pédérastes" (The Holy Fraternity of Glorious Pederasts) and practicing le vice italien (the contemporary appellation for sodomy).
When Louis XIV got wind of the group's existence and his son's the involvement in it, he decided to have Louis flogged under his eyes, and to exile him, the Chevalier de Lorraine, and several other noble members.
In order to cover up the scandal, it was suggested that the boy be married off as soon as possible; a bride suggested was Anne Louise Bénédicte de Bourbon. Louis was exiled before anything could materialise.
In June 1682, Louis was exiled to Normandy. In order to smooth things over between father and son, his aunt Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate suggested to the king that Louis be sent as a soldier to Flanders, which was then under French occupation. The king agreed with the suggestion and his son was sent to the Siege of Courtray. It was there that Louis fell ill.
Despite his illness, Louis was desperate to regain his father's love and continued to fight in battle regardless of advice given by the royal doctor and the marquis de Montchevreuil that he return to Lille in order to recuperate.
Louis died on 18 November 1683, in Flanders, at the age of sixteen. He was buried at the cathedral at Arras. His loving sister and aunt were greatly impacted by his death. His father, however, did not even shed a tear. His mother, still obsessed with the sin of her previous affair with the king, said upon hearing of her son's death:
I ought to weep for his birth far more than his death.
Louis was later suspected of being the Man in the Iron Mask but this could not be true as he died in 1683, while the man in the iron mask died in 1703.
His other half siblings included the future duc du Maine; Madame la Duchesse; Mademoiselle de Tours; Duchess of Orléans, Madame le Régent and the Count of Toulouse.
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