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Louis of France (3 February 1549 – 24 October 1550), also known as Louis III, Duke of Orléans was the second son and fourth child of Henry II (31 March 1519 – 10 July 1559), King of France and his wife, Catherine de' Medici, daughter of Lorenzo II de' Medici, Duke of Urbino and his wife Madeleine de La Tour d'Auvergne. He died aged 1 year and 8 months.

A depiction of the young prince in Catherine de' Medici's Book of Hours
Duke of Orléans
Reign 3 February 1549 – 24 October 1550
Predecessor Charles II
Successor Charles III
Born (1549-02-03)3 February 1549
Fontainebleau, Paris
Died 24 October 1550 (age 1 year 8 months)
Burial Basilica of St Denis
House Valois-Angoulême
Father Henry II of France
Mother Catherine de' Medici



After Henry II and Catherine de' Medici were married, several years passed without the birth of any children. Though various remedies were tried, none proved to be effective. According to court sources, the royal couple then turned to the court physician Fernel for help in conceiving. In a matter of twelve years (from the birth of the Dauphin Francis in 1544 to the birth of Victoria and Joan in 1556), Catherine gave birth to ten children. Louis was born on 3 February 1549 at the Palace of Fontainebleau, the couple's second son and fourth child. From birth he was second in line to the throne and endowed with the duchy of Orléans. Just like his older brother, he was given into the care of Diane de Poitiers, his father's mistress, and reportedly shared the same nursery with his brother and sister Francis and Elisabeth, and later with his brother Charles. Louis was present when five-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots arrived at Henry II's court to be raised as the intended bride and queen of Francis, the future king of France and king consort of Scots. There are reports that Henry II and Catherine planned for Louis to one day become the Duke of Urbino, a title which belonged exclusively to the Medici family.


Freer's accountEdit

Martha Walker Freer gives the year of Louis's death as 1549.

According to Freer, the infant Duke of Orléans was given a christening of "extraordinary splendour" in St. Germain-en-Laye in 1549. However, a few days after the ceremony, Louis died from the effects of a chill caught while being handed from one state functionary to another.[1]

Other accountsEdit

Other accounts dismiss Freer's, stating that Louis died in 1550, one even giving a date for his baptism, 19 May 1549 and listing his godparents as John III of Portugal, Mary of Guise and Ercole II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara.[citation needed]

In fictionEdit

He is briefly mentioned in the novel Madame Serpent and The Captive Queen, both by Jean Plaidy.



  • Livre d’Heures de Catherine de Medicis 1556. Reproduced by kind permission of Bibliothèque Nationale Paris, Département de Manuscrits, B.N. n.a.l. 82) (nouvelles acquisitions latines).
  • Freer, Martha Walker (1858). Henry III, King of France and Poland. Hurst and Blackett. 


  1. ^ Freer, p. 4
Louis of Valois
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 3 February 1549 Died: 24 October 1550
French nobility
Preceded by
Charles II
Duke of Orléans
as 'Louis III'

3 February 1549 – 24 October 1550
Succeeded by
Charles III