The Royal Chapel of Dreux

Dreux, France

The Royal Chapel of Dreux (Chapelle royale de Dreux) is the traditional burial place of members of the House of Orléans. In the 1770s, the Duke of Penthièvre was one of the greatest land owner in France prior to the French Revolution. In 1775, the lands of the county of Dreux had been given to the Penthièvre by his cousin King Louis XVI. In 1783, the Duke sold his domain of Rambouillet to Louis XVI. On November 25 of that year, in a long religious procession, Penthièvre transferred the nine caskets containing the remains of his parents, Louis Alexandre, Count of Toulouse and Marie Victoire de Noailles, his wife, Princess Maria Teresa Felicitas of Modena, and six of their seven children, from the small medieval village church next to the castle in Rambouillet, to the chapel of the Collégiale Saint-Étienne de Dreux.

Penthièvre died in March 1793 and his body was laid to rest in the crypt beside his parents. On November 21 of that same year, in the midst of the French Revolution, a mob desecrated the crypt and threw the ten bodies in a mass grave in the Chanoines cemetery of the Collégiale Saint Étienne. In 1816, the Duke of Penthièvre's daughter, the Duchess of Orléans, had a new chapel built on the site of the mass grave of the Chanoines cemetery, as the final resting place for her family. In 1830, Louis Philippe I, King of the French, son of the Duchess of Orléans, embellished and enlarged the chapel which was renamed the Royal Chapel of Dreux, now the necropolis of the Orléans royal family.

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