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Expected, then passed over: second sons in the French monarchy of the 17th century

Spangler, JW (2017) Expected, then passed over: second sons in the French monarchy of the 17th century. In: Unexpected heirs in Early Modern Europe: potential Kings and Queens. Queenship and power . Springer, pp. 179-203. ISBN 3319552945

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Abstract

In contrast to the “unexpected heir”, the French monarchy in the seventeenth century provides two interesting examples of “expected heirs”, second sons who were heirs to their elder brothers, but then were ultimately pushed aside once a dauphin arrived on the scene. The careers of Gaston, duke of Orléans (1608-1660) and his nephew Philippe, duke of Orléans (1640-1701) are useful to study in the context of royal second sons both because of these expectations, but also as indicators of change within the French monarchy itself, which in this period was centralising, and junior princes were finding their roles increasingly under-defined. Whereas Gaston expressed frustration through rebellion against his older brother, Philippe transformed his role into one of loyal support, and focused his energies away from politics and instead towards patronage of the arts, a model for princes in succeeding centuries.

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