It was on this day in 1754 that the future Louis XVI was born.
His parents were Louis, Dauphin of France (1729-1765), and Marie-Josèphe, Dauphine of France, née princess of Saxony-Poland (1731-1767). The infant prince was immediately named Duc de Berri by his grandfather, Louis XV, and was soon christened Louis-Auguste to distinguish him from his elder brother, Louis-Joseph.
Louis-Auguste was in fact the third child in the family.
There would eventually be 7 children altogether:
- Marie-Zéphyrine (1750-1755)
- Louis-Joseph, Duc de Bourgogne (1751-1761)
- Louis-Auguste, the future Louis XVI (1754-1793)
- Louis-Stanislas, the future Louis XVIII (1755-1824)
- Charles-Philippe, the future Charles X (1757-1836)
- Marie-Clothilde, the future consort of King Carlo Emmanuele of Sardinia (1759-1802)
- Élisabeth (1764-1793)
Louis-Auguste would have been too young to be affected by his elder sister’s early death, but his elder brother’s death when Louis-Auguste was 6 must have had as great an effect on his private feelings as it had on his public position. Louis-Joseph’s demise at not quite 10 years of age moved Louis-Auguste directly into the line of succession behind his father.
One hopes that Louis-Auguste had a happy childhood, but it seems unlikely. His parents favoured Louis-Joseph and were disconsolate when their cherished first-born son died. They themselves died within a few years, orphaning their 5 youngest children. Louis-Auguste was handed over to a governor, the Duc de la Vauguyon, at the age of 6, and remained in his care until 1770. The duke was apparently a strict guardian whose old-fashioned educational methods and conservative outlook did the future king no service.
According to Wikipedia, Louis-Auguste, “a strong and healthy boy, but very shy, excelled at his studies and had a strong taste for Latin, history, geography, and astronomy, and became fluent in Italian and English.”
Louis-Auguste was freed from the Duc de la Vauguyon’s tutelage in 1770, when he married the Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria, known to posterity as Marie-Antoinette, and was given his own household. On the death of Louis XV in May, 1774, Louis-Auguste succeeded him and became Louis XVI. The rest, as they say, is (tragic) history.