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Louis XV.

Louis XV., born in 1710, was the second son of the Duke of Burgundy, and the great-grandson of Louis XIV. His reign, like that of the two preceding, began with a regency, Philip, Duke of Orleans, being the regent. From 1723-26 Bourbon, the grandson of Conde, was chief minister. By him the young king was married to Marie Leczinska, daughter of the ex-King of Poland. Bourbon's selfish and oppressive government caused his removal in 1726, and for the next seventeen years (1726-43) the policy of France was directed by Fleury (q.v.). After the death of .the old cardinal, Louis declared he would be his own minister; but in promising French support against England to Spain he allowed his own judgment to be overborne by that of Maurepas (q.v.). In 1744 he reached the height of his popularity when he took the command of his army in Alsace against the Austrians. On his recovery from a dangerous illness at Metz he was saluted with the title of "le Bien-aime." At the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, however, in 1748, France had to give up Madras to England, to evacuate the Netherlands, and to acknowledge Maria Theresa's husband as emperor. England again became the chief enemy of France, and almost continuous war was waged between them in India and North America. In 1756 open war again broke out in Europe, but France was now allied with Austria against England and Prussia, Madame de Pompadour and Stainville, Duc de Choiseul (q.v.), now directed French policy. Choiseul was succeeded by an incapable triumvirate consisting of Maupeou, the Abbe Terrai, and the Duc d'Aiguillon. The first, who was Chancellor, abolished the Parlements, and set up a council of his own nomination to take their place - a proceeding which was approved by Voltaire, but suspected by the people as a step towards tyranny. For some time past Louis XV. bad been sunk in debauchery, and he died execrated and deserted in 1774.