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The Régence is the period in French history between 1715 and 1723, when King Louis XV was a minor and the land was governed by a Regent, Philippe d'Orléans, the nephew of Louis XIV of France.

The era was the time when Philippe was able to prise power away from the Duke of Maine (illegitimate son of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan) who was the favourite son of the late king and had had much influence. During the Regency there was the Polysynody which was the system of government in use in France between 1715 and 1718 and in which each minister (secretary of state) was replaced by a council. The Regent also introduced the système de Law which transformed the finances of the bankrupted kingdom and its aristocracy. Cardinal Dubois and Cardinal Fleury were key people during the time.

Contemporary European rulers were Philip V of Spain; John V of Portugal; George I of Great Britain; Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor and Victor Amadeus II, Duke of Savoy; Savoy was the maternal grand father of Louis XV.



  • 29 July 1714 the Duke of Maine and his brother the Count of Toulouse are made Princes of the Blood much to the annoyance of many;

Will of Louis XIV

  • 1 September 1715 : Death of Louis XIV at Versailles; reading of Louis XIV's will.
  • By order of Louis XIV, till the time that the young Duke of Anjou reaches his majority (1723) the kingdom would be governed by the Duke of Maine, bâtard légitimé de France. The nephew of the late King, Philippe II, Duke of Orléans would hold the honourific title of "President of the Regency council" (« président du conseil de régence »)

Prising of Power

  • 2 September 1715 : Cancellation of Louis XIV's will; alliance of the Duke of Orléans and the Parlement de Paris. Before the death of Louis XIV Philippe d'Orléans had been a member of the Parlement de Paris due to being a Prince du Sang;
    • Philippe d'Orléans had the will of Louis XIV cancelled with the approval of the Parlement de Paris. Philippe was named Regent for the young king Louis XV as Régent du royaume (Regent of the Kingdom);
    • Droit de remontrance - this was the right of the Parlement de Paris to revoke a law made by a King who had died; this allowed the parlement and the Regent to withdraw the late kings will without question;
  • 1 October 1715 : Polysynody was held in Paris; it was composed of the highest nobility of the country;

La Régence

Under the style and title of His Royal Highness Monseigneur Le Régent Philippe d'Orléans was officially recognised Regent of France for Louis XV. Philippe was, after the king, the most important man in the country followed by his son Louis d'Orléans (1703–1752). Louis d'Orléans was allowed into the Council of the Regency on 30 January 1718.



  • 2 September : Cancellation of Louis XIV's will;
  • 9 September : Body of Louis XIV taken to Saint-Denis; Louis XV sets off for Vincennes with the Regent, Madame de Ventadour, Villeroi, Toulouse and Maine; Philip V of Spain hears of his grand fathers death;
  • 12 September : Philippe d'Orléans recognised Regent by order of the Parlement;
  • 15 September : Droit de remontrance issued by the Parlement supported the Regents claim;
  • 30 December : Removal of Louis XV from the Château de Vincennes to the Tuileries Palace;
  • Louis XV put under the care of François de Neufville, Duke of Villeroi; Guillaume Delisle and the Cardinal de Fleury are put in charge of Louis' education;


  • 14 March : Creation of the Chambre Ardente; an extraordinary court of justice in France, mainly held for the trials of heretics;
  • 2 May : Philippe d'Orléans allows John Law to found the Banque générale;
  • 27 June : Birth of Louise Diane d'Orléans at the Palais-Royal; she was the last child of the Regent;
  • 9/10 October : Alliance with Great Britain;
  • Future Charles III of Spain born in Madrid (d.1788);








The Polysynody

There were seven parts of the Polysynody all of which had their own ministers for the Regency:

  1. Council of Conscience (Conseil de Conscience)
    1. Members included the: Cardinal de Noailles, Armand Bazin de Bezons (Archbishop of Bordeaux), Henri François d'Aguesseau, René Pucelle, Cardinal Fleury.
  2. Council of Foreign Affairs (Conseil des Affaires étrangères, headed by Nicolas Chalon du Blé)
  3. Council of War (Conseil de la Guerre)
    1. Members included: Duke of Villars, Dominique-Claude Barberie de Saint-Contest, Prince of Conti, Duke of Maine, Louis Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, Duke of Gramont, Claude le Blanc.
  4. Council of the Marine (Conseil de la Marine, headed by the Count of Toulouse)
  5. Council of Finances (Conseil des Finances, headed by the Duke of Noailles)
  6. Council of the Affairs the Kingdom (Conseil des Affaires du Dedans du Royaume, headed by the Duke of Antin - half brother of the Duke of Maine and Count of Toulouse)
    1. Members included: marquis de Harlay, de Goissard, Marquis of Argenson,
  7. Council of Commerce (Conseil du Commerce)



The Men

The Women


  • Palace of Versailles : Birthplace of Louis XV and the home of the French court before and after the Regency; it was at Versailles that the Duke of Orléans died in 1723;
  • Palais-Royal : Paris home of the House of Orléans; it was from there that the Regent handled state affairs; his last daughter, Louise Diane, was also born at the palace;
  • Palais du Tuileries : the childhood home of Louis XV during the Regency; Louis XV was installed in the Grand Appartements of Louis XIV located on the second floor.


The Régence marks the temporary eclipse of Versailles as centre of policymaking, since the Regent's court was at the Palais Royal in Paris. It marks the rise of Parisian salons as cultural centers, as literary meeting places and nuclei of discreet liberal resistance to some official policies. In the Paris salons aristocrats mingled more easily with the higher Bourgeoisie in a new atmosphere of relaxed decorum, comfort and intimacy.

Art history

18th century French art

In the arts, the style of the Régence is marked by early Rococo, characterised by the paintings of Antoine Watteau (1684–1721).

Rococo developed first in the decorative arts and interior design. Louis XIV's succession brought a change in the court artists and general artistic fashion. By the end of the old king's reign, rich Baroque designs were giving way to lighter elements with more curves and natural patterns. These elements are obvious in the architectural designs of Nicolas Pineau. During the Régence, court life moved away from Versailles and this artistic change became well established, first in the royal palace and then throughout French high society. The delicacy and playfulness of Rococo designs is often seen as perfectly in tune with the excesses of Louis XV's regime.

The 1730s represented the height of Rococo development in France. The style had spread beyond architecture and furniture to painting and sculpture, exemplified by the works of Antoine Watteau and François Boucher. Rococo still maintained the Baroque taste for complex forms and intricate patterns, but by this point, it had begun to integrate a variety of diverse characteristics, including a taste for Oriental designs and asymmetric compositions.


The Régence is also the customary French word for the pre-independence regimes in the western North African countries, the so-called Barbary Coast. It was applied to:

  • First the Barbary Coast (Maghrebinian countries in North Africa) was de facto independent (dominated by military governors, soon de facto princes, styled dey, bey or beylerbey, and by the raïs, Muslim corsairs), but nominally an Ottoman province.
  • Later the beylik of Tunis (present Tunisia) and the Sherifian sultanate of Morocco (except for the Spanish-dominated part) came under a specific, protectorate-type of colonial regime that France established over each.

French colonial expansion was not limited to the New World, however. In Senegal in West Africa, the French began to establish trading posts along the coast in 1624. In 1664, the French East India Company was established to compete for trade in the east. Colonies were established in India in Chandernagore (1673) and Pondicherry in the Southeast (1674), and later at Yanam (1723), Mahe (1725), and Karikal (1739) (see French India). Colonies were also founded in the Indian Ocean, on the Île de Bourbon (Réunion, 1664), Île de France (Mauritius, 1718), and the Seychelles (1756).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Régence" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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