Louis Joseph, Dauphin of France

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Louis Joseph
Dauphin of France
Crownprince, Le Dauphin, Louis-Joseph-Xavier-François of France (1781-1789) - Nationalmuseum - 132462.jpg
Portrait by Adolf Ulrik Wertmüller, 1784
Born(1781-10-22)22 October 1781
Palace of Versailles, France
Died4 June 1789(1789-06-04) (aged 7)
Château de Meudon, France
Full name
Louis Joseph Xavier François de France
FatherLouis XVI of France
MotherMarie Antoinette
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Louis Joseph de France (Louis Joseph Xavier François; 22 October 1781 – 4 June 1789) was the second child and first son of King Louis XVI of France and Marie Antoinette. As son of a king of France, he was a fils de France ("Son of France"), and as the eldest son and heir apparent, he was Dauphin of France, (the twenty-sixth "crown prince" of the Valois and Bourbon monarchies).

Louis Joseph died at age seven of tuberculosis and was succeeded as Dauphin de France by his four-year-old brother Louis-Charles.


Louis Joseph Xavier François de France was born at the Palace of Versailles on 22 October 1781. He was named after his maternal uncle, Joseph II; the new-born was the long-awaited Dauphin, successor to his father to the throne of France, as the Salic Law, excluding women from acceding the throne, applied to his elder sister, Marie Thérèse Charlotte, Madame Royale. The birth of Louis Joseph ruined the hopes of his uncle, the comte de Provence, of succeeding his brother Louis XVI.

His private household was created upon his birth, he was under the care of Victoire de Rohan, the Governess of the Children of France, until she was replaced in 1782 by Yolande de Polastron, duchesse de Polignac, one of his mother's favorites. His sous-gouverneur was the Maréchal de camp Antoine Charles Augustin d'Allonville, his wet nurse was Geneviève Poitrine, who was later accused of transmitting tuberculosis to the young Dauphin.

Louis Joseph was very close to his sister and to his parents, who watched with attention over his education, he was always praised for being a very bright child for his young age; however, it soon became apparent that he was of fragile health.


Around April 1784, when he was just three years old, Louis Joseph had a series of high fevers. Out of fear for his health, he was transported to the Château de La Muette[1] where the air was reputed to have healing properties; the time spent at La Muette seemed to have helped Louis Joseph recover, and almost a year later in March 1785, Louis Joseph returned to La Muette, where he was inoculated against the smallpox. However, his health remained fragile.

In 1786, the fevers returned but his household regarded them as being of no importance; these fevers, however, were the first signs of tuberculosis. In the same year, Louis Joseph's education was turned over to men, as was customary for the sons of the kings of France. At the ceremony, it was noted that Louis Joseph had trouble walking, which was, in fact, caused by a curvature of the spine - something which was treated through the use of metal corsets. By January 1788 the fevers grew more frequent and the disease progressed quickly.

Louis Joseph died at the Château de Meudon on 4 June 1789, at the age of seven and a half, during the Estates General, he was buried on 13 June in a simple ceremony at the Basilica of St Denis. On 10 August 1793, on order of the National Convention, during the Reign of Terror, his tomb, together with those of the kings and queens of France, members of the royal family, high dignitaries, abbots were desecrated.[2]

At the death of Louis Joseph, the title of Dauphin passed to his younger brother Louis Charles, Duke of Normandy (1785–1795), who died during the French Revolution, at the Temple prison.


Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, is named after him[3] (Louis Joseph, Dauphin of France); the Pennsylvania legislature, meeting in Philadelphia in 1785, to thank France for helping America win her independence from Great Britain, named the newly formed county, "Dauphin", northwest of Lancaster and north of York, in which Harrisburg is located. The borough of Dauphin, so named when it was incorporated in 1845, is also located in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, it is also, indirectly, named for him.



  1. ^ Personal property of his father, Louis XVI
  2. ^ Suzanne Glover Lindsay, The Revolutionary Exhumations at St-Denis, 1793, Essay, in Conversations: An Online Journal of the Center for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion (2014), [1]
  3. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 100.


History of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Historical Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Louis Joseph, Dauphin of France
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 22 October 1781 Died: 4 June 1789
French royalty
Preceded by
Louis Auguste
Dauphin of France
22 October 1781 – 4 June 1789
Succeeded by
Louis Charles