Monday 14 February 2011

41st Grand Master - Prince Louis de Bourbon, Duc d'Orléans

41st Grand Master of the Order, Prince Louis de Bourbon, Duc d'Orléans,
Chartres, Valois, Nemours et Montpensier (1720-1752)

In 1720, the duc d'Orléans became Grand Master of the Order of Saint Lazarus, a title he held until his death in 1752. From 1720 to 1745 under his leadership 175 knights were appointed to the Order. As of 1741, the order had 591 members, of whom 440 were knights.

In 1742, the pious duke decided to retire to the Abbaye Sainte-Geneviève de Paris. From then on, he became known as Louis le Génovéfain and seems to have lost all interest in the management of the order, and no further appointments were made. The orders' maritime activities (around 10 ships) ceased after 1748. As he retired into private life, Louis spent his time translating the Psalms. Like his cousin, the Duke of Penthièvre, he was praised for his charitable works. After the birth of his son, Louis was often preoccupied with the education of his son.

He died in 1752, at the age of forty-eight, at the Abbaye de Sainte Geneviève, having lost most of his sanity. On his deathbed, on suspicion of Jansenist views, he was refused communion by the Abbé Bouettin of the Saint-Étienne-du-Mont church, but was given the last rites by his own chaplain. Louis d'Orléans had outlived all his siblings apart from Charlotte Aglaé, the Duchess of Modena and Reggio, and was buried at the Val-de-Grâce in Paris.

Louis was praised for his piety and his charity; in Versailles the now destroyed College d'Orléans was named after him due to his generous patronage of the college's construction. He also remodelled the gardens at the Palais-Royal as well as the Orléans country residence, the Château de Saint-Cloud (c.1735). Louis also gave generous financial aid to victims of floods in the Loire in 1731 and again 1740. In all of this he showed the true spirit of the Order of St Lazarus and proved himself a worthy Grand Master.
After the duke's death in 1752, the order was without a Grand Master for several years.

Jetton with the arms of Louis d'Orléans, Grand Master of the Royal Military and Hospitaller Orders of St. Lazarus and Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Source: Compagnie Générale de Bourse, Paris, France

Arms of Louis d'Orléans, Duke of Chartres, later Duke d'Orléans (1720 - 1752)
He bore: Azure, three Fleur de lys Or, a Label Argent.