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#OTD 1785: Louis XVII of France is born


On this day, March 27, in 1785, His Majesty King Louis XVII was borne in France. He was born prince of France and Duke of Normandy and was the son of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. When his older brother, Louis Joseph, died in June 1789, he became the heir to the French throne.

Some have suggested that the Swedish noble man Axel von Fersen, who was romantically linked with Marie Antoinette, was the father of her son. The fact that Louis was born exactly nine months after von Fersen returned to Sweden was noted.

The little prince grow up at the beautiful Palace of Versailles in a period of instability in France. The French Revolution was to characterize the boy’s short life. On 6 October 1789, the royal family was forced by a Parisian mob to move from Versailles to the Tuileries Palace in Paris, where they spent the next three years as prisoners.

KIng Louis XVI and the later king Louis XVII. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The family lived a secluded life, and Marie Antoinette dedicated most of her time to her two children under the daily surveillance of the national guards.

On 21 June 1791, the family tried to escape in what is known as the Flight to Varennes, but the attempt failed. After the family was recognized, they were brought back to Paris. When the Tuileries Palace was stormed by an armed mob on 10 August 1792, the royal family sought refuge at the Legislative Assembly.

His Majesty King Louis XVII. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

On 13 August, the royal family was imprisoned in the tower of the Temple. On 11 December, at the beginning of his trial, Louis XVI was separated from his family.

Immediately following his father’s execution in 1793 plots were hatched for the escape of the royal prisoners from the Temple. After an unsuccessful escape attempt, the boy was separated from the rest of his family and guarded strictly.

In March 1795, the young king became seriously ill. The 10 years old king died of a chronic lymph node swelling 8 June that year. According to royal tradition, the king’s heart was removed and placed in a separate urn. The boy was buried in an unmarked mass grave that was lost for a long time, but was later discovered.



About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.