Australian Journal of French Studies

Louis XV’s Black Son

Australian Journal of French Studies (2016), 53, (3), 220–231.


On 14 May 1775 Siméon Prosper Hardy recorded a bizarre rumour that Louis XV had a black son who claimed the French throne, occupied for just a year by Louis XVI, with the support of troops, the late king’s daughters, and the prince de Condé. This article explores folkloric, sexual, and symbolic aspects of the rumour against the background of the transition between regimes, courtly factions and frictions, popular dissatisfaction with the old and new monarchs or at least their ministers, and royal policy about people with black skin. It suggests that the rumour, constructed out of facts and fictions, could have multiple meanings in the minds of Hardy’s contemporaries.

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Author details

Merrick, Jeffrey