Orleans, Duke Of
Louis Philippe Joseph, Duke of Orleans, better known in history by his revolutionary name of Egalite, meaning Equality, was the fifth Grand Master of the Masonic Order in France. As Duke of Chartres, the title which he held during the life of his father, he was elected Grand Master in the year 1771, upon the death of the Count de Clermont. Having appointed the Duke of Luxemburg his Substitute, he did not attend a meeting of the Grand Lodge until 1777, but had in the meantime paid much attention to the interests of Freemasonry, visiting many of the Lodges, and laying the foundation-stone of a Masonic Hall at Bordeaux.
His abandonment of his family and his adhesion to the Jacobins during the Revolution, when he repudiated his hereditary title of Duke of Orleans and assumed the republican one of Egalite, forms a part of the history of the times. On the 22d of February, 1793, he wrote a letter to Milsent, the editor, over the signature of Citoven Egalite, which was published ain the Journal de Paris, and which contains the following passages:
"This is my Masonic history. At one time, when certainly no one could have foreseen our Revolution, I was in favor of Freemasonry, which presented to me a sort of image of equality, as I was in favor of the Parliament, which presented a sort of image of liberty. I have since quitted the phantom for the reality. In the month of December last, the Secretary of the Grand Orient having addressed himself to the person who discharged the functions, near me, of Secretary of the Grand Master, to obtain my opinion on a question relating to the affairs of that Society, I replied to him on the 5th of January as follows: 'As I do not know how the Grand Orient is composed, and as, besides, I think that there should be no mystery nor secret assembly in a Republic, especially at the commencement of its establishment, I desire no longer to mingle in the affairs of the Grand Orient, nor in the meetings of the Freemasons."'
In consequence of the publication of this letter, the Grand Orient on May 13, 1793, declared the Grand Mastership vacant, thus virtually deposing their recreant chief. He soon reaped the reward of his treachery and political debasement. On the 6th of November in the same year he suffered death on the guillotine.
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