Basilica of St Denis, 1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 93200 Saint-Denis, Francia
Philippe, Duke of Orléans (21 September 1640 – 9 June 1701) was the younger son of Louis XIII of France and his wife, Anne of Austria. His older brother was the famous "Sun King", Louis XIV. Styled Duke of Anjou from birth, Philippe became Duke of Orléans upon the death of his uncle Gaston in 1660. In 1661, Philippe also received the dukedoms of Valois and Chartres. Following Philippe's victory in battle in 1671, Louis XIV added the dukedom of Nemours, the marquisates of Coucy and Folembray, and the countships of Dourdan and Romorantin. During the reign of his brother he was known simply as Monsieur, the traditional style at the court of France for the younger brother of the king.
The wife of one of the king’s most notoriously queer relations, ‘Monsieur’ or the Duke of Orléans, had no doubt about the English attachment to same-sex unions. The duchess, Liselotte, wrote that the new English king (William III) had no fondness for women and ‘he is believed to have very different inclinations’; he was part of ‘that brotherhood’ and in the year before his death she wrote of those men ‘who share the inclinations of king William’. She was once asked whether the English court had become a ‘château de derrière’, or arse castle. She added that ‘nothing is more ordinary in England than this unnatural vice’. For England, she meant London.
Although he was openly homosexual and freely acted effeminately, he fulfilled his royal duty and married twice fathering several children. In fact, he was the founder of the House of Orléans, a cadet branch of the ruling House of Bourbon, and thus the direct ancestor of Louis Philippe I, who ruled France from 1830 until 1848 in the July Monarchy. Through the children of his two marriages, Philippe became an ancestor of most modern-day Roman Catholic royalty, giving him the nickname of "the grandfather of Europe". Philippe's other achievements include his decisive victory as military commander at the Battle of Cassel in 1677. Through careful personal administration, Philippe greatly augmented the fortunes of the House of Orléans.
During his childhood, Queen Anne was observed to address Philippe by such nicknames as "my little girl" and encouraged him to dress in feminine clothing even as a young man – a habit he would retain all his life. A contemporary would later call him the "silliest woman who ever lived", a reference to his effeminacy. As a young man, Philippe would dress up and attend balls and parties in female attire, for example, dressed as a shepherdess. Mindful that Gaston's treasonous habits had not only been evoked by the Fronde, but by his secret elopement with a foreign princess which had left the royal brothers estranged for years, his homosexuality was not unwelcome, because it was seen to reduce any potential threat he may have posed to his older brother. 1658 appears to have been the key year in which Philippe's sexuality became well defined. Court gossip said that Cardinal Mazarin's own nephew Philippe Jules Mancini, the Duke of Nevers, had been the "first to [have] corrupted" Philippe in what was referred to as the "Italian vice" – contemporary slang for male homosexuality. Phillippe certainly did make his first contacts that year with Philippe de Lorraine, known as the Chevalier de Lorraine, the male lover with whom he would establish the closest emotional attachment throughout his life.
Even once married, he reportedly carried on open romantic affairs with German nobles, with no regard to either of his two wives. Philippe's favourites, invariably younger, handsome men, dominated contemporary and historical commentaries about his role at court, as had the mignons of Henry III. Philippe was infatuated with the famously arrogant Armand de Gramont, comte de Guiche. There were also rumours at court that Philippe in fact had a mistress and had shown an interest in the Duchess of Mercœur, Mazarin's niece. Another lover of Philippe at this time was Antoine Coiffier, the Marquis d'Effiat. The latter had entered Philippe's life as captain of the chase and stayed in his household until Philippe's death.
Among the lovers, one man stands out, Philip of Lorraine-Armagnac, the never-married Chevalier de Lorraine, who was described as "insinuating, brutal and devoid of scruple". As a member of the House of Guise, ranking as a prince étranger, Philippe could keep him near while at court and promote him within his own household without initially evoking scandal or offending sensibilities. In January 1670, Philippe's wife prevailed upon the King to imprison the chevalier, first near Lyon, then in the Mediterranean island-fortress of Château d'If. Finally, he was banished to Rome. However, by February, the Duke of Orléans' protests and pleas persuaded the King to restore him to his brother's entourage.
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