Facts and Events
Louis Joseph de France (Louis Joseph Xavier François; 22 October 1781 – 4 June 1789) was the second child and elder son of King Louis XVI of France and Marie Antoinette. As the heir apparent to the French throne, he was called the twenty-sixth Dauphin of France—the hereditary "crown prince" title of the Capetian and Bourbon Monarchies as well as of medieval and early-modern France.
As the eldest son of the king he was a "Fils de France", literally a "Son of France". Louis Joseph died at age seven of tuberculosis of the spine amidst the political turmoil and power machinations surrounding the Estates-General of 1789, for which period his parents' actions were so heavily criticized, giving rise to the deterioration of relations with the Estates.
Other historians have more recently suggested their grief at his illness and passing were causal—major contributing factors in the political events in which case, their grief, at least, in part exculpates the resultant events with a sympathy for their all too human grief, worry, and overall preoccupations during that crisis since they were accustomed to absolute rule.
Regardless of causality, the Dauphin's death bookends a chain of events leading up to the further sliding crash of the French economy, the disrepute and eventual dissolution of the French Monarchy, and beyond to the many excesses of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars—the beginning epoch of which is dated from about two weeks after the prince's death with the very first meeting of the National Assembly on June 17 independent of permissions from the King or other authorities, and three days later, the Tennis Court Oath.
Louis Joseph was succeeded as the French crown prince by his four year old brother Louis-Charles, Dauphin of France who eventually became the imprisoned and uncrowned king Louis XVII of France, who also died of illness during the period accounted that of the French Revolution — though he would die of a lingering illness suffered over years of captivity as the heir of their executed mother and father.