Alexandre-Louis d’Orléans, Duc de Valois
Born on 2 June in 1673 at Saint-Cloud, Alexandre-Louis was the first-born son of Philippe de France and his second wife Élisabeth-Charlotte du Palatinat aka Liselotte von der Pfalz.
In autumn of 1672, as hints of pregnancy became visible, Liselotte was ordered to go a bit easier by the doctors. No more riding, no long strolls, not even carriage rides. She did not like it one bit and complained in a letter how silly it is and wondered how she will be able to endure it for nine months. Liselotte did not trust the doctors at all either. Child mortality was high and she blamed them partly for it. Thus she could hardly await for the whole thing to be over.
As it was finally time, the papa and his royal brother were far away. They were at war in Flanders and could not, as protocol demanded, attend the birth…. but Madame was not alone. All of the court that was not busy warring flocked to Saint-Cloud to witness. Liselotte later wrote: “Not just the shutters of my windows were open, as I was in labour, all of the windows were wide open. All of France came to me and they played hoca in my chamber.” The birth was long and painful. Liselotte’s labour lasted 16 hours, during which she was in strong pain for at least 5 hours, according to herself, due to the child being of quite the size and weight.
Two months after the birth, she joked in one of her many letters that the boy was so large and heavy, she thought he is more of a proper German than a Frenchman. Adding that everyone says, the boy looks just like her and that can only mean he is not pretty at all.
The boy received the name Alexandre-Louis along with the title Duc de Valois, the same title Monsieur’s first son, Philippe-Charles, carried. His birth was celebrated with much ado, a Te Deum, masses and fireworks. As Alexandre-Louis was four months old, Liselotte wrote he had grown so fat that he soon will be as broad as he is long and shows an enormous appetite. In March 1674, she wrote the boy is of a very merry nature, laughing and giggling much, when he is carried about, had not yet grown a single tooth, but is developing well. Liselotte gave birth to another son, Philippe, on 2 August in 1674 and recorded the progress of both sons on her letters from then on. In August 1675, she wrote of how both children made plenty noise and ado, adding the little Duc de Valois had grown five teeth by then, which made him act a little quieter than his little brother for the last fourteen days, but did not disturb his appetite: “He eats a large piece of bread off the hand like a peasant.”
A couple of weeks later, she found the little Duc at death’s door as she returned to Saint-Cloud from Fontainebleau. Plaqued by strong fever, diarrhea and unable to keep any food down. Alexandre-Louis recovered, but fell ill again by March. He did not recover this time, the doctors treatments of bleeding weakening him, and died on the night of 15 March to 16 March.