Dauphin of France

For other uses, see Dauphin (disambiguation).
Coat of arms of the Dauphin of France.
Arms of the Dauphin of France, depicting the fleur-de-lis and the dolphin.

The Dauphin of France (pronunciation: /ˈdɔːfn/, also UK /ˈdfæn/ and US /dˈfæn/; 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.[1] The word is French for dolphin, as a reference to the depiction of the animal on their coat of arms.


Guigues 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 seigneury, 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 Prince of Brazil, 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-lis, 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

List of Dauphins

Picture Name Heir of Birth Became Dauphin Ceased to be Dauphin Death Other Titles before/while Dauphin Regnal Name Dauphine
Charles, 1st Dauphin of France John II 21 January 1338 22 August 1350 8 April 1364
became King
16 September 1380 Duke of Normandy Charles V Joanna of Bourbon
Charles, 2nd Dauphin of France Charles V 3 December 1368 16 September 1380
became King
21 October 1422 Charles VI
Charles, 3rd Dauphin of FranceCharles VI 26 September 1386 28 December 1386
Charles, 4th Dauphin of France 6 February 1392 13 January 1401 Duke of Guyenne
Louis, 5th Dauphin of France 22 January 1397 13 January 1401 18 December 1415 Duke of Guyenne Margaret of Burgundy
John, 6th Dauphin of France 31 August 1398 18 December 1415 5 April 1417 Duke of Touraine Jacqueline of Hainaut
Charles, 7th Dauphin of France 22 February 1403 5 April 1417 21 October 1422
became King
22 July 1461 Count of Ponthieu Charles VII
Louis, 8th Dauphin of France Charles VII 3 July 1423 22 July 1461
became King
30 August 1483 Louis XI Margaret of Scotland;
Charlotte of Savoy
François, 9th Dauphin of France Louis XI 4 December 1466
Charles, 10th Dauphin of France 30 June 1470 30 August 1483
became King
7 April 1498 Charles VIII
Charles-Orland, 11th Dauphin of France Charles VIII 11 October 1492 16 December 1495
Charles, 12th Dauphin of France 8 September 1496 2 October 1496
François, 13th Dauphin of France July 1497
François, 14th Dauphin of France Francis I 28 February 1518 10 August 1536 Duke of Brittany
Henry, 15th Dauphin of France 31 March 1519 10 August 1536 31 March 1547
became King
10 July 1559 Duke of Orléans, Duke of Brittany Henry II Catherine de' Medici
Francis, 16th Dauphin of France Henry II 19 January 1544 31 March 1547 10 July 1559
became King
5 December 1560 King-consort of Scotland Francis II Mary, Queen of Scots
Louis, 17th Dauphin of France Henry IV 27 September 1601 14 May 1610
became King
14 May 1643 Louis XIII
Louis-Dieudonné, 18th Dauphin of France Louis XIII 5 September 1638 14 May 1643
became King
1 September 1715 Louis XIV
Louis, le Grand Dauphin, 19th Dauphin of France Louis XIV 1 November 1661 14 April 1711 Duchess Maria Anna of Bavaria
Louis, le Petit Dauphin, 20th Dauphin of France 16 August 1682 14 April 1711 18 February 1712 Duke of Burgundy Princess Maria Adelaide of Savoy
Louis, 21st Dauphin of France 8 January 1707 18 February 1712 8 March 1712 Duke of Brittany
Louis, 22nd Dauphin of France 15 February 1710 8 March 1712 1 September 1715
became King
10 May 1774 Duke of Anjou Louis XV
Louis, 23rd Dauphin of France[2] Louis XV 4 September 1729 20 December 1765 Infanta Maria Teresa Rafaela of Spain;
Duchess Maria Josepha of Saxony
Louis-Auguste, 24th Dauphin of France 23 August 1754 20 December 1765 10 May 1774
became King
guillotined/executed 21 January 1793 French Revolution Duke of Berry Louis XVI Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria
Louis-Joseph, 25th Dauphin of France Louis XVI 22 October 1781 4 June 1789
Louis-Charles, 26th Dauphin of France 27 March 1785 4 June 1789 1 October 1791
retitled as Prince-royal
8 June 1795 Duke of Normandy Louis XVII
Louis-Antoine, 27th Dauphin of France Charles X 6 August 1775 16 September 1824 2 August 1830
became King/deposed Revolution of 1830
3 June 1844 Duke of Angoulême Louis XIX Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte of France

In literature

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


  1. "dauphin | French political history". Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  2. "Louis, Dauphin of France Biography". The Biography.com website. A&E Television Networks. April 2, 2014. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
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