Louis de Bourbon, Comte de Vermandois
Louis de Bourbon was born at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye on 2 October 1667 as youngest of five illegitimate children of Louis XIV and Louise de La Vallière. His three older brothers already died before his birth, Charles de La Baume Le Blanc in 1665, and Louis and Philippe de La Baume Le Blanc in 1666. Louis, named after his royal father, was legitimised in 1669 along with his one year older sister Marie-Anne and given the surname de Bourbon, instead of de France, due to his illegitimacy, along with the title of Comte de Vermandois.
At the time of Louis’ birth, his belle maman, as he used to call her, was already declining in royal favour and in 1674 she withdrew fully from court, with permission of Louis XIV, to enter the Carmelite convent in the Faubourg Saint-Jacques in Paris under the name of Sœur Louise de la Miséricorde, Sister Louise of Mercy.
Louis only had little contact with his mother after this and was given into the care of his uncle, Philippe de France, Duc d’Orléans, and his second wife Élisabeth-Charlotte du Palatinat. Living together at the Palais-Royal, he became very close to his aunt despite her well-known dislike of Louis XIV’s bastards and they always remained affectionate with each other. Louis made contact with the Chevalier de Lorraine, his uncle’s long time favourite, and was supposedly seduced by him.
The Comte de Vermandois was introduced to a society of men, consisting of his uncle, the Chevalier and his younger brother Marsan, the Prince de Conti, François-Louis de Bourbon, and other famous male members of court. The secret society, or brotherhood, was founded to engage in various sorts of debaucheries. As word of these debaucheries and orgies reached his royal father, Louis was questioned and confessed everything, leading to the temporary disgrace and exile of most members, including himself.
In order to cover up the scandal, it was suggested that should be Louis be married off as soon as possible, a suggested bride was Anne Louise Bénédicte de Bourbon, but Louis was exiled before anything could materialise in June 1682. Trying to smooth things between father and son, his aunt Élisabeth-Charlotte suggested the Comte de Vermandois to be sent as a soldier to Flanders, which was then under French occupation, and the King agreed to the suggestion.
Louis was sent to the Siege of Courtray, where he fell ill shortly after. Despite his illness, Louis was desperate to regain his father’s love and continued to fight in battle regardless of the protests of the royal doctor and the Marquis de Montchevreuil. Both insisted the Comte de Vermandois should to return to Lille in order to recuperate.
Louis did not recover from this illness and died on 18 November 1683, as an disgraced drunkard, aged sixteen.
While his sister and aunt were greatly impacted by his death, it is said his royal father did not shed a single tear. His estranged mother Louise de La Vallière remarked upon being informed of her son’s dead “I ought to weep for his birth far more than his death.“.