Philippe II, Duke of Orleans, Philippe Charles (August 2, 1674 - December 2, 1723) called Duke of Chartres (1674-1701), and then Duke of Orleans (1701-1723) was Regent of France from 1715 to 1723. His regency being the last in the kingdom of France, he is still commonly referred to as le Régent and his regency as la Régence.
Philippe was a professed atheist who read the satirical works of Francois Rabelais inside a Bible binding during mass and a man who liked to hold orgies on religious high holidays. He acted in the plays of Moliere and Racine, composed the music for an opera, and was a gifted painter and engraver.
A liberal and imaginative man, he was however, often weak, inconsistent and vacillating. Nonetheless, as Regent, he changed the manners of the ruler and his nobles from the hypocrisy of Louis XIV to complete candor. 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 he opened the Royal Library to the public. He is most remembered for the debauchery he brought to Versailles and for the John Law banking scandal.
He died at the Palace of Versailles and was buried in the city of his birth, Saint-Cloud.
Philippe had only one son: Louis, duke of Orleans (1703-1752)
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