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La Régence
Philippe d'Orléans, Regent of France; Jean-Baptiste Santerre..gif
Philippe with Marie-Thérèse de Parabère; Jean-Baptiste Santerre, 1716
Philippe d'Orléans, Duke of Orléans
In office
1 September 1715 – 15 February 1723
Monarch Louis XV of France
Prime Minister Guillaume Dubois (in 1723)

The Régence (French pronunciation: ​[ʁeʒɑ̃s], Regency) 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 take 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 of Sardinia, the maternal grandfather of Louis XV.




  • 1 September 1715: Louis XIV dies, his will entrusts the government of France to a regency council, with Philippe II, Duke of Orléans as an honorary president and the Duke of Maine as the real power, until the young Duke of Anjou reaches his majority (1723)
  • 2 September 1715: the Duke of Orléans allies himself with the Parlement de Paris, who cancelled Louis XIV's will. As a Prince of the Blood, Philippe of Orléans had been a member of the Parlement.
  • 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 grandfather's death;
  • 12 September: Philippe of Orléans recognised Regent by order of the Parlement;
  • 15 September: Parlement claims the Droit de remontrance, the right to revoke a law made by a King who had died, further supporting the Regent's claim to power.
  • 1 October 1715: Polysynody was held in Paris; it was composed of the highest nobility of the country.
  • 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;[1]
  • 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;








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)
    Members included 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)
    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)
    Members included: marquis de Harlay, de Goissard, Marquis of Argenson,
  7. Council of Commerce (Conseil du Commerce)



The Men

  • Philippe d'Orléans (2 August 1674 – 2 December 1723) Born at his fathers Palace at Saint-Cloud, he was the Duke of Chartres from birth; his mother, whom he was very close to, was a German Princess of the Palatinate named Elizabeth Charlotte. In 1692 he married his first cousin, Françoise-Marie de Bourbon – the youngest illegitimate daughter of Philippe's uncle Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan. He died at Versailles in the arms of his mistress;
  • Louis Henri de Bourbon, Duke of Bourbon (18 August 1692 – 27 January 1740) son of Louis III, Prince of Condé and Louise-Françoise de Bourbon, he was thus the nephew of Philippe d'Orléans and was the Prime Minister of France 1723–26; he was a great rival of the Regent and the House of Orléans in general;
  • Louis Auguste de Bourbon, Duke of Maine (31 March 1670 – 14 May 1736) favourite but illegitimate son of Louis XIV and Madame de Maintenon, he was despised by the Princes of the Blood due to his constant honours and great wealth he accumulated from his father. He died at Sceaux aged 66;
  • John Law (pronounced Jean Lass) (21 April 1671 – 21 March 1729) was a Scottish Economist who believed that money was only a means of exchange that did not constitute wealth in itself and that national wealth depended on trade. He was responsible for the Mississippi Bubble and a chaotic economic collapse in France; he died in Venice.
The Duke of Orléans, Régent du royaume
Louis XV of France in 1723; Rigaud
John Law who reformed French Finances

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 des 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 centres, 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

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.

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 Pondichéry in the south east (1674), and later at Yanam (1723), Mahé (1725), and Karikal (1739) (see French India). Colonies were also founded in the Indian Ocean, on the Île de Bourbon (Réunion, 1664), Isle de France (now Mauritius, 1718), and the Seychelles (1756).

Sources and references

  1. Nevin, Seamus. "Richard cantillon – The Father of Economics". History Ireland. JSTOR. pp. 20–23. Retrieved 16 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>