Dauphin of France

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For other uses, see Dauphin (disambiguation).
Coat of arms of the Dauphin of France.
Arms of the Dauphin of France, depicting the 'France Moderne' and the dolphin.

The Dauphin of France (French: Dauphin de France, IPA: [dofɛ̃])—strictly The Dauphin of Viennois (Dauphin de Viennois)—was the title given to the heir apparent to the throne of France from 1350 to 1791 and 1824 to 1830. The word is French for dolphin, as a reference to the depiction of the animal on their coat of arms.


Guy IV, Count of Vienne, had a dolphin on his coat of arms and was nicknamed le Dauphin. The title of Dauphin de Viennois descended in his family until 1349, when Humbert II sold his seigneurie, called the Dauphiné, to King Philippe VI on condition that the heir of France assume the title of le Dauphin. The wife of the Dauphin was known as la Dauphine.

The first French prince called le Dauphin was Charles the Wise, later to become Charles V of France. The title was roughly equivalent to the English (thence British) Prince of Wales, the Scottish Duke of Rothesay, the Portuguese Duke of Braganza, and the Spanish Prince of Asturias. The official style of a Dauphin of France, prior to 1461, was par la grâce de Dieu, dauphin de Viennois, comte de Valentinois et de Diois ("By the Grace of God, Dauphin of Viennois, Count of Valentinois and of Diois"). A Dauphin of France united the coat of arms of the Dauphiné, which featured Dolphins, with the French fleurs-de-lys, and might, where appropriate, further unite that with other arms (e.g. Francis, son of Francis I, was ruling Duke of Brittany, so united the arms of that province with the typical arms of a Dauphin; Francis II, while Dauphin, was also King of Scots by marriage to Mary I, and added the arms of the Kingdom of Scotland to those of the Dauphin).

Originally, the Dauphin was personally responsible for the rule of the Dauphiné, which was legally part of the Holy Roman Empire, and which the Emperors, in giving the rule of the province to the French heirs, had stipulated must never be united with France. Because of this, the Dauphiné suffered from anarchy in the 14th and 15th centuries, since the Dauphins were frequently minors or concerned with other matters.

During his period as Dauphin, Louis, son of Charles VII, defied his father by remaining in the province longer than the King permitted and by engaging in personal politics more beneficial to the Dauphiné than to France. For example, he married Charlotte of Savoy against his father's wishes. Savoy was a traditional ally of the Dauphiné, and Louis wished to reaffirm that alliance to stamp out rebels and robbers in the province. Louis was driven out of the Dauphiné by Charles VII's soldiers in 1456, leaving the region to fall back into disorder. After his succession as Louis XI of France in 1461, Louis united the Dauphiné with France, bringing it under royal control.

The title was automatically conferred upon the next heir apparent to the throne in the direct line upon birth, accession of the parent to the throne or death of the previous Dauphin, unlike the British title Prince of Wales, which has always been in the gift of the monarch.

The sons of the King of France hold the style and rank of Son of France, while male-line grandsons hold the style and rank of Grandson of France. The sons and grandsons of the Dauphin ranked higher than their cousins, being treated as the king's children and grandchildren respectively. The sons of the Dauphin, though grandsons of the king, are ranked as Sons of France, and the grandsons of the Dauphin ranked as Grandsons of France; other great-grandsons of the king ranked merely as Princes of the Blood.

The title was abolished by the Constitution of 1791, which made France a constitutional monarchy. Under the constitution the heir to the throne (Dauphin Louis-Charles at that time) was restyled Prince Royal (a Prince of the Blood retitled prince français), taking effect from the inception of the Legislative Assembly on 1 October 1791. The title was restored in potentia under the Bourbon Restoration of Louis XVIII, but there would not be another Dauphin until after his death. With the accession of his brother Charles X, Charles' son and heir Louis-Antoine, Duke of Angoulême automatically became Dauphin.

With the removal of the Bourbons the title fell into disuse, the heirs of Louis-Philippe being titled Prince Royal. After the death of Henri, comte de Chambord, Carlos, Duke of Madrid, the heir of the legitimist claimant, Juan, Count of Montizón, made use of the title in pretense, as have the Spanish legitimist claimants since.

Gallery of Arms[edit]

List of Dauphins[edit]

PictureNameHeir ofBirthBecame DauphinCeased to be DauphinDeathOther Titles before/while DauphinRegnal NameDauphine
Charles V France.jpgCharles, 1st Dauphin of FranceJohn II21 January 133822 August 13508 April 1364
became King
16 September 1380Duke of NormandyCharles VJoanna of Bourbon
John, 2nd Dauphin of FranceCharles V7 June 136621 December 1366
Young Charles VI of France.jpgCharles, 3rd Dauphin of FranceCharles V3 December 136816 September 1380
became King
21 October 1422Charles VI
Charles, 4th Dauphin of FranceCharles VI26 September 138628 December 1386
Charles, 6th Dauphin.jpgCharles, 5th Dauphin of FranceCharles VI6 February 139213 January 1401Duke of Guyenne
Louis de Guyenne, dauphin of France.jpgLouis, 6th Dauphin of FranceCharles VI22 January 139713 January 140118 December 1415Duke of GuyenneMargaret of Burgundy
Jean de Touraine, dauphin of France.jpgJohn, 7th Dauphin of FranceCharles VI31 August 139818 December 14155 April 1417Duke of TouraineJacqueline of Hainaut
Charles7.jpgCharles, 8th Dauphin of FranceCharles VI22 February 14035 April 141721 October 1422
became King
22 July 1461Count of PonthieuCharles VII
Louis-XI-dauphin.jpgLouis, 9th Dauphin of FranceCharles VII3 July 142322 July 1461
became King
30 August 1483Louis XIMargaret of Scotland;
Charlotte of Savoy
François, 10th Dauphin of FranceLouis XI4 December 1466
Charles VIII de france.jpgCharles, 11th Dauphin of FranceLouis XI30 June 147030 August 1483
became King
7 April 1498Charles VIII
Master of Moulins - The Dauphin Charles-Orlant - WGA14467.jpgCharles-Orland, 12th Dauphin of FranceCharles VIII11 October 149216 December 1495
Charles (1496).jpgCharles, 13th Dauphin of FranceCharles VIII8 September 14962 October 1496
François, 14th Dauphin of FranceCharles VIIIJuly 1497
Francis Dauphin Bretagne.jpgFrançois, 15th Dauphin of FranceFrancis I28 February 151810 August 1536Duke of Brittany
Henri II of France - Limoges.jpgHenry, 16th Dauphin of FranceFrancis I31 March 151910 August 153631 March 1547
became King
10 July 1559Duke of Orléans, Duke of BrittanyHenry IICatherine de' Medici
Francois II de france.jpgFrancis, 17th Dauphin of FranceHenry II19 January 154431 March 154710 July 1559
became King
5 December 1560King-consort of ScotlandFrancis IIMary, Queen of Scots
Louis XIII.jpgLouis, 18th Dauphin of FranceHenry IV27 September 160114 May 1610
became King
14 May 1643Louis XIII
LouisXIV-child.jpgLouis-Dieudonné, 19th Dauphin of FranceLouis XIII5 September 163814 May 1643
became King
1 September 1715Louis XIV
The Grand Dauphin by Rigaud.jpgLouis, le Grand Dauphin, 20th Dauphin of FranceLouis XIV1 November 166114 April 1711Duchess Maria Anna of Bavaria
Louis Duc de Bourgogne.jpgLouis, le Petit Dauphin, 21st Dauphin of FranceLouis XIV16 August 168214 April 171118 February 1712Duke of BurgundyPrincess Maria Adelaide of Savoy
Louis de bourbon (1707-1712).jpgLouis, 22nd Dauphin of FranceLouis XIV8 January 170718 February 17128 March 1712Duke of Brittany
Louis XV while Dauphin of France in Ceremonial Robes and Armour before a Parapet by a member of the circle of Jean Baptiste van Loo.jpgLouis, 23rd Dauphin of FranceLouis XIV15 February 17108 March 17121 September 1715
became King
10 May 1774Duke of AnjouLouis XV
Louis de France, dauphin (MV 6583).jpgLouis, 24th Dauphin of FranceLouis XV4 September 172920 December 1765Infanta Maria Teresa Rafaela of Spain;
Duchess Maria Josepha of Saxony
Louis Auguste Dauphin.jpgLouis-Auguste, 25th Dauphin of FranceLouis XV23 August 175420 December 176510 May 1774
became King
guillotined/executed 21 January 1793 French RevolutionDuke of BerryLouis XVIArcduchess Maria Antonia of Austria
Louis Joseph of France.jpgLouis-Joseph, 26th Dauphin of FranceLouis XVI22 October 17814 June 1789
Louis Charles of France6.jpgLouis-Charles, 27th Dauphin of FranceLouis XVI27 March 17854 June 17891 October 1791
retitled as Prince-royal
8 June 1795Duke of NormandyLouis XVII
Louis Antoine d'Artois.jpgLouis-Antoine, 28th Dauphin of FranceCharles X6 August 177516 September 18242 August 1830
became King/deposed Revolution of 1830
3 June 1844Duke of AngoulêmeLouis XIXMarie-Thérèse-Charlotte of France

In literature[edit]

A lineographic representation of the arms of the Dauphin. Designed by Jean de Beaugrand in 1604.

In Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck encounters two odd characters who turn out to be professional con men. One of them claims that he should be treated with deference, since he is "really" an impoverished English duke, and the other, not to be outdone, reveals that he is "really" the Dauphin ("Looy the Seventeen, son of Looy the Sixteen and Marie Antoinette").

In Baronness Emma Orczy's Eldorado, the Scarlet Pimpernel rescues the Dauphin from prison and helps spirit him from France.

Alphonse Daudet wrote a short story called "The Death of the Dauphin", about a young Dauphin who wants to stop Death from approaching him.

It is also mentioned in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian.

See also[edit]