Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte Madame Royale 1842
- Born: 20 Dec 1778, Versailles, Île-de-France, France 1842
- Marriage: Louis XIX King of France & Navarre in 1799 1846
- Died: 19 Oct 1851, Vienna, Wien, Austria at age 72 1842
Cause of her death was Pneumonia.1846
Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte, (December 19, 1778 - October 19, 1851), also known as La Princesse Royale or Madame Royale, was the eldest child of King Louis XVI and his Austrian wife, Queen Marie Antoinette. She was born at the Palace of Versailles. She died in Vienna in the winter of 1851. She is considered by some to have been Queen of France for a very short time.
Madame Royale: The Princess's Childhood
Marie-Thérèse was the first child born to King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. Monarchists throughout France had prayed for the birth of a male to the royal couple, who had been married since 1770. However, the Queen greeted her daughter's birth with delight nonetheless. "Poor little thing," she said as they placed the baby in her arms, "you are not what they wanted, but we will love none the less. A son would have belonged to the State; you shall be mine, and have all my care; you shall share in my happiness and soften my sorrows." The baby princess was named after the queen's mother, the dowager Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa. She was styled the "Princess Royal".
The Princess Royal's household was set-up almost immediately, following court etiquette. The first governess was the Princess de Guémenée, who was later replaced by the queen's closest friend - Gabrielle de Polastron, comtesse de Polignac. King Louis XVI was an affectionate father, who delighted in spoiling his daughter and giving her anything she wanted. Marie-Antoinette was stricter and was determined that her daughter should not grow up to be as haughty as some of the other Bourbon princesses. She often invited children from working-class districts to come and dine with Marie-Thérèse and encouraged the child to give her toys to the poor.
In contrast to the image of Marie-Antoinette as an extravagant materialist who ignored the plight of the poor, Marie-Antoinette had some of the most beautiful toys brought to Marie-Thérèse's nursery at New Year in 1784. "I should have liked to have given you all these as New Year's gifts," the queen said, "but the winter is very hard, there is a crowd of unhappy people who have no bread to eat, no clothes to wear, no wood to make a fire. I have given them all my money; I have none left to buy you presents, so there will be none this year." It was a hard lesson for the young princess in the social realities of 18th-century France.
Marie-Thérèse was joined in the nursery by a brother, Louis-Joseph-Xavier-François in 1781, Louis-Charles in 1785 and Sophie-Béatrix in 1786. The entire family were very close, and they had a deep and loving relationship.
However, the Revolution was building outside the palace. Social discontent mixed with a crippling budget deficit to provoke an outburst of anti-absolutist sentiment. By 1789, France was hurtling towards revolt. The queen's popularity was at an all-time low, due to her Austrian birth and a hate-campaign generated against her by the Parisian gutter press. Tragedy struck closer to home when baby Princess Sophie-Béatrix died, to be followed not long after by the eldest boy's death. Prince Louise-Joséph died of consumption at the height of the political crisis in early 1789.
On July 14, the Bastille Fortress was captured by the mob. The situation was now critical and several members of the royal household had to be sent abroad for their own safety. The Prime Minister, baron de Breteuil, had to escape to Germany. Marie-Thérèse's youngest uncle, Charles d'Artois was sent abroad on her father's orders and even her governess had to escape to Switzerland in case she was targeted by an assassin. The new royal governess was the devoutly Catholic, Louise-Elisabeth, Marquise de Tourzel, whose daughter Pauline became the princess's life-long friend.
In October, Versailles was besieged and the royal family was forced to move to Paris. They were placed in the Tuileries Palace, under virtual house arrest. From that point on, Marie-Thérèse's childhood was effectively over. Marie-Thérèse wanted to show her love to her mother but found it difficult. Unlike Marie-Antoinette, Marie-Thérèse was very emotionally reserved and could not express her emotions easily.
The Orphan in the Temple: Imprisonment and Revolution
As the political situation deteriorated, the King and Queen came to the decision that their lives were in danger. The Queen was also convinced that France's future best interests lay in the Royal Family escaping Paris. They hoped to make it to the eastern city of Montmédy, which was a royalist stronghold. Their attempted midnight flight was intercepted and they were dragged back to Paris.
In autumn 1792, the entire family were imprisoned in the Temple Fortress after the monarchy was abolished. In January 1793, Marie-Thérèse's beloved father, Louis XVI, was sent to the guillotine. Father and daughter had always been very close, and his death devastated the surviving royals.
In July, guards entered the royal family's rooms and took away Marie-Thérèse's little brother, Louis XVII. The child was placed in solitary confinement, where he later died. The three women left in the fortress were Marie-Antoinette, Marie-Thérèse and Louis XVI's youngest sister, Elisabeth.
In October 1793, Marie-Antoinette was taken to the Conciergerie prison. She was placed on trial and executed on October 16. In May 1794, Marie-Thérèse's Aunt Elisabeth was taken from her in the middle of the night. The next day, Elisabeth was also executed.
When she was in the tower of the temple, she was never told what happened to her family. All she knew was that her father was dead and she felt alone in the world. In her private diary she wrote "Live my good mother whom I love so much, but bear no tiding; o my good father, watch over me from heaven, life was so cruel to her".
Maximilien Robespierre visited Marie-Thérèse once in prison, but he did nothing to alleviate her suffering. It was only once the Terror of the French Revolution subsided, that Marie-Thérèse was allowed to leave France. She was taken to Vienna, where her cousin ruled as Emperor Francis II.
Émigrée: Life in Exile
Marie-Thérèse later left Vienna and moved to Lithuania, where her father's eldest surviving brother lived as a guest of Tsar Paul I of Russia. This uncle, who had proclaimed himself King of France as Louis XVIII, was childless; he wished his niece to marry Louis-Antoine, his nephew and her cousin, who was eventual dynastic heir to the throne of France. Marie-Thérèse agreed unquestioningly, happy only to be part of a family again.
Louis-Antoine, Duke of Angoulême, the eldest son of Marie-Thérèse's paternal uncle Charles, was a shy, stammering, diffident young man who was also probably impotent. He was certainly nothing like his handsome and sexually virile father, who viewed him as a crass embarrassment and tried to talk Louis XVIII out of marrying Marie-Therese to him. The wedding however went ahead in 1799. Marie-Thérèse was fond of her husband - but it was never a proper love match.
The Royal Family later moved to England, where they settled in Buckinghamshire. Marie-Thérèse's uncle and father-in-law, Charles, spent most of his time in Edinburgh, where he had been given apartments at Holyrood House. The long years of exile ended upon the abdication of Napoleon I in 1814, when the royal family was restored to the French monarchy.
The Duchesse d'Angoulême: The Restoration of the Monarchy
Louis XVIII attempted to steer a middle-course between liberals and the ultra-monarchists, led by his younger brother Charles. He also attempted to repress the many gentlemen who claimed to be Marie-Thérèse's long-lost younger brother, Louis XVII. Needless to say, these claimants caused the princess a good deal of emotional distress.
Marie-Thérèse found her return emotionally draining and she was deeply distrustful of the many Frenchmen who had supported either the republic or Napoleon Bonaparte's rule. She visited the site where her brother had died, and the field where her parents and Aunt Elisabeth were buried. The royal remains were later re-buried in the family crypt in Saint-Denis.
Tragedy struck when Charles' youngest (and favourite) son, Charles Ferdinand, duc de Berry was assassinated by republican terrorists on February 13, 1820. Charles never recovered from the loss.
Louis XVIII died on September 16, 1824 and was succeeded by his younger brother as Charles X. Marie-Thérèse's husband, Louis-Antoine, was now heir to the throne and she was addressed as Madame la Dauphine. However, anti-monarchist feeling was on the rise again. Charles's ultra-monarchist sympathies alienated many members of the working and middle-class. There was an uprising in 1830 in which the Royal Family were betrayed by their cousin, Louis-Philippe who insinuated that Charles had abdicated absolutely (he had actually nominated his grandson Henri, comte de Chambord as king.) The abdication of Charles X was followed twenty minutes later by the abdication of Louis-Antoine. This deception worked and Louis-Philippe became king.
Marie-Thérèse chose to go into exile with her uncle and husband, rather than stay in Louis-Philippe's new kingdom. They sailed to Britain in 1830.
The Later Years: Exiled Again
The Royal Family lived in Edinburgh until 1833 when King Charles chose to move to Prague as a guest of the Austrian Emperor. They moved into the opulent luxury of Schloss-Hradschin. Marie-Thérèse devotedly nursed her uncle Charles through his last illness in 1836, when he died of cholera. By that time they had left Prague and moved to the estate of Count Coronini near Gorica, Slovenia . Like her deceased uncle, Marie-Thérèse remained a devout and sincere Roman Catholic. She is buried in the franciscan monastery of Kostanjevica, Slovenia, together with King Charles X, Louis XIX. and Henry V. who was the last member of the French Bourbons, as well as his sister Marie Therese Betrice Gaetana and a court minister of King Charles X, Louis Jean Casimir.
Marie-Thérèse's husband died in 1844 and he was buried next to his father. Marie-Thérèse then moved to a mansion called Frohsdorf, just outside Vienna. She spent her days walking, reading, praying and sewing. The children of Marie-Thérèse's murdered cousin, Ferdinand, came to live with her - including the Bourbon claimant to the throne, the Comte de Chambord. In 1848 France became a republic, after Louis-Philippe's reign ended in another revolution.
She died in October 1851, not long after the fifty-eighth anniversary of her mother's execution. The cause of death was pneumonia. In her will, Marie-Thérèse wrote:
"Thank all Frenchmen who have remained attached to my family and to me, for the proofs of devotion that they have given us and for the sufferings they have endured for our sakes. I pray God to shower his blessings upon France that I have always loved, even in the time of my bitterest afflictions."
On her gravestone, her title stated Queen Dowager of France. This owing to the fact that her husband was King Louis XIX for about twenty minutes.
Some have speculated that the real Marie-Thérèse went into hiding in around 1795, after having been raped and becoming pregnant in prison, or possibly having suffered a mental breakdown. These speculations offer her half-sister Ernestine Lambriquet as the imposter who died in 1851. The real Marie-Thérèse, according to the speculations, died in 1837 in Eishausen near Hildburghausen in Germany. These theories are treated with great scepticism by most historians. In the first instance, Ernestine Lambriquet was probably not the princess's biological half-sister as neither Louis XVI or Marie-Antoinette ever produced an illegitimate child. Louis's only sexual partner was his queen, and all of Marie-Antoinette's pregnancies were a result of her marriage. Furthermore, the rumours surrounding Louis XVII were almost certainly false and there is no definite historical proof to suggest that the princess was hidden away after the Revolution. 1850
Palace of Versailles
Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte married Louis XIX King of France & Navarre, son of Charles X King of France and Marie-Thérèse de Savoie, in 1799.1846 (Louis XIX King of France & Navarre was born on 6 Aug 1775 1846 and died on 3 Jun 1844 1846.)