PHILIP II, DUKE OF ORLEANS: ESTABLISHMENT OF A CHAMBER
ST URBAIN, Ferdinand de: France, 1717, Bronze, 44 mm
N.B. This medal has a different inscription on the obverse from that of medal # BW647
Philippe (Philip) II (1674-1723), Duke of Orleans (1701-1723), Regent of France (1715-1723), was the son of Philippe I, Duke of Orleans and his second wife Elizabeth Charlotte, Princess Palatine. He was also the nephew of King Louis XIV. In 1692, he married Françoise-Marie de Bourbon, Mlle de Blois, his first cousin and the legitimized daughter of Louis XIV and Mme de Montespan. This marriage won him the favor of the king.
Philippe fought at Sternkerk, Neewinden and Namur. He was successful in campaigns in Italy and Spain but his suspected desire to succeed Philip V, King of Spain, gained him Louis XIV’s disfavor. In 1715 he was appointed president of the council of regency of the young King Louis XV, and on Louis XIV’s death he invested himself with absolute power. On the majority of King Louis XV in1723, he relinquished his supreme power but became first minister to the king until his death later that year.
Philippe had several good qualities. He was a liberal and imaginative man and had great administrative abilities. As Regent, he changed the manners of the ruler and his nobles from the hypocrisy of Louis XIV to complete candor. On the religious front, though a professed atheist, he restored liberty to the persecuted Jansenists. He was against censorship and ordered the reprinting of books banned under the reign of his uncle. Reversing his uncle's policies again, Philippe formed an alliance with England, Austria, and the Netherlands, and fought a successful war against Spain that established the conditions of a European peace. Philippe promoted education, making the Sorbonne tuition free and opening the Royal Library to the public (1720). Unfortunately these actions were spoilt by an excessive taste for pleasure and a lack of moral restraint, marking his regency as one of the most corrupt periods in French history. He was succeeded by his only son Louis, later Duke of Orléans (1703–1752).
The medal commemorates the establishment of a chamber of justice and the restoration of the public treasury during his regency.
LINK to Biography of Philippe II, Duke of Orleans (from Wikipedia)