A traitor to his class…

One of a series of etchings by Stefan Eggeler for Die Herzen der Konige (1922) by Hanns Heinz Ewers, meditations on the various tyrannies practised by monarchs and noblemen. This one marks the unusual trajectory of Louis Philippe d’Orléans, a cousin of Louis XVI and one of the wealthiest men in France. In 1792, during the Revolution, he changed his name to “Philippe Égalité” and became a fully fledged revolutionary.

Above: Louis Philippe, in some ways plus royaliste que le roi. Below: the new Louis, scourge of the blue-blooded oppressor.

He actively supported the Revolution of 1789, and was a strong advocate for the elimination of absolute monarchy in favour of a constitutional monarchy. He voted for the death of King Louis XVI; however, he was himself guillotined in November 1793 during the Reign of Terror. At the time, Égalité’s son, Louis Philippe, who was a general in the French army, joined General Dumouriez in secret negotiations with Austria, an enemy of the new regime in France. Although there was no evidence that Égalité was himself guilty of treason, his son’s relationship with Dumouriez was sufficient to get him arrested and condemned. That son, Louis Philippe d’Orléans, became King of the French after the July Revolution of 1830. After him, the term Orléanist came to be attached to the movement in France that favoured a constitutional monarchy.

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