Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans: Wikis


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Élisabeth Charlotte
Duchess Consort of Lorraine, Bar and of Teschen
Sovereign Princess of Commercy
Élisabeth Charlotte wearing the Bourbon Fleur-de-lis
Spouse Léopold de Lorraine, Duke of Lorraine
Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
Élisabeth Thérèse, Queen of Sardinia
Charles, Governor of Austrian Netherlands
Anne Charlotte, Abbess of Essen
Full name
Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans
Father Philippe de France, Duke of Orléans
Mother Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate
Born 13 September 1676(1676-09-13)
Château de Saint-Cloud, France
Died 23 December 1744 (aged 68)
Château de Commercy, Commercy, Lorraine, France
Burial Église Saint-François-des-Cordeliers, Nancy, France

Elisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans, petite-fille de France, Duchess of Lorraine, Bar and Teschen (Saint-Cloud, 13 September, 1676 – Commercy, 23 December, 1744), was a French princess by birth; The youngest of her parents children, she was also a niece of Louis XIV of France; she married in 1698 to the Duke of Lorraine and Bar.

Her son, Prince Francis Stephen of Lorraine, later married Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and became Holy Roman Emperor; Francis and Maria Theresa were the parents of Queen Marie Antoinette of France. Élisabeth Charlotte is an ancestor of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine. She was Suo jure Princess of Commercy.



Born at the Château de Saint-Cloud outside Paris, she was named after her mother; Élisabeth Charlotte was the third daughter of Philippe de France, duc d'Orléans, known at the French court as Monsieur; her father was the only sibling of King Louis XIV of France. She would be close to her brother all her life.

She was his only daughter by his second wife, Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, who was known at court as Madame. Her mother was a daughter of Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine. As a granddaughter of Louis XIII of France, Élisabeth Charlotte was a Petite-fille de France which entitled her to have the style of Her Royal Highness as well as the right to an armchair in the presence of the King.[1]

As was customary for unmarried young ladies at the French court, she was given an honourary style, Mademoiselle de Chartres, taken from the name of one of her father's appanages. After the marriages of her older sisters, she was generally known as Madame Royale due to her status as the highest unmarried girl at the court. Her half siblings (including some stillborn children) by her father and his first wife, Princess Henrietta Anne of England were:

As a child, Élisabeth-Charlotte was described by her mother as 'so terribly wild' and 'rough as a boy'. [2]

Her eldest sister, Marie Louise, would marry Charles II of Spain in 1679; Anne Marie would marry the future King of Sardinia in 1684; her mother wanted her to have a union with the same level of prestige. When her cousin's wife, Dauphine Victoire said she should marry the Dauphine's younger brother Joseph Clemens of Bavaria, Élisabeth Charlotte said:

I am not made, madame, for a younger son[3]

Upon the marriage of her sister, Anne Marie, on 10 April 1684, Élisabeth Charlotte was restyled as Mademoiselle, as the highest ranking unmarried woman in France. She held that style till her marriage.

As her mother despised the king's illegitimate children, the chances of such an alliance were remote. Although spared from the 'horror' of such a mismatch in rank, her brother, the Duke of Chartres was not. He married Louis XIV's youngest illegitimate daughter, Françoise-Marie de Bourbon, in 1692.

Élisabeth's mother initially wanted her daughter to marry a cousin, William III of Orange, who was the widower of Mary II of England and King of England. The marriage did not materialise, however, due to religious differences. William was a Protestant.

Other candidates considered for her hand in marriage were Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I[4]; Joseph was highly regarded - had Élisabeth Charlotte married him - the union would have been a used to reconcile the Bourbons and their traditional rivals, the Habsburgs. Though the union never took place, the reconciliation would be organised in the form of Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria and Louis XVI of France in 1756. Even her widowed first cousin Monseigneur was considered. The Dauphin's son Louis de France or another cousin, the legitimised Louis-Auguste de Bourbon (Duke of Maine) - eldest son of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan. The latter, much to the relief of Madame did not occur as the Duke of Maine married Mademoiselle de Charolais in May 1692, fearing a scandal.

It was during this time that Élisabeth Charlotte's parents were going though a particularly bad time in their marriage; Élisabeth Charlotte would inherit her mother's frank opinions, which her father was not proud of.

In 1696, the French author Charles Perrault dedicated Les Contes de ma Mère l'Oie (Tales of Mother Goose) to Élisabeth Charlotte, then aged 19.

Élisabeth Charlotte as Mademoiselle de Chartres

Élisabeth Charlotte was finally married on 13 October 1698 at the Palace of Fontainebleau to Léopold de Lorraine[5] (1679–1729), son of Charles de Lorraine and his Austrian wife, born Archduchess Eleonora Maria Josefa. This marriage was the result of the Treaty of Ryswick which had been partly organised by Élisabeth Charlotte's uncle. One of the conditions of the treaty was that the Duchy of Lorraine, which had been for many years, in the possession of France, was restored to Leopold Joseph, a son of Charles de Lorraine.

As such, Élisabeth Charlotte would marry the heir to Lorraine to cement the peace treaty. Her mother later said that her daughter, "was a victim of war".

The marriage was seen as a brilliant match by the House of Lorraine but was regarded by some as a rank not deserved for a Grand daughter of France. Despite this, the House of Lorraine received a dowry of 900,000 Livres. So many honors excited the jealousy of the other members of the royal family: taking the pretext of the death of a child of the Duke of Maine[6], certain princesses claimed to attend the marriage ceremonies by proxy in dress of mourning.

After her marriage, her niece Louise Adélaïde d'Orléans, born on 13 August 1698, took on the style of Mademoiselle de Chartres.

The marriage produced 13 of which 5 survived into adulthood. Three of them died within a week in May 1711 due to a Smallpox outbreak at the Château de Lunéville, the country seat of the Duke's of Lorraine.

The marriage was a surprise to all; what had been expected to be an unhappy union turned out to be marriage of love and happiness. With the birth of her children, she showed a naturally caring character and had a great maternal instinct.

After ten years, however, her husband turned his attentions to another, Anne-Marguerite de Lignéville, princesse de Beauvau-Craon. Embarrassed, Élisabeth Charlotte on her mother's advice remained silent and continued to live in the Château de Lunéville with her husband and his mistress. After her husband's liaison ended, the couple had five more children, one of whom would become the father of Marie Antoinette.

In June 1701, her father died after having an argument with Louis XIV at Marly about the Duke of Chartres, Élisabeth Charlotte's brother. Her brother thus became the Duke of Orléans and head of the House of Orléans. Her mother was left at the mercy of Louis XIV who forbade her from visiting foreign soil. As a result, Élisabeth Charlotte was only able to see her mother when she went to Versailles. Despite this, Élisabeth Charlotte and her mother still saw each other and kept in contact through letters. Their correspondence was tragically destroyed in a fire at the Château de Lunéville in 1719.

On the death of her uncle Louis XIV in 1715, her elder brother, now the duc d'Orléans, became the Regent of France for the five year old King Louis XV. In 1718 during a brief visit to the French court in Paris, her niece, the Dowager Duchess of Berry, threw her a famous party at the Palais du Luxembourg which included 132 hors-d'oeuvrs, 32 soups, 60 entrées, 130 hot entremets, 60 cold entremets, 72 plats ronds, 82 pigeons, 370 partridges and pheasants and 126 sweetbreads. The dessert consisted of 100 baskets of fresh fruit, 94 baskets of dried fruit, 50 dishes of fruits glacées and 106 compotes. The event was considered one of the most lavish parties of the season[7]

Upon leaving France, her husband received the style of Royal Highness; this was because at the Court of France, the House of Lorraine was deemed as being a Foreign House.

Louis XV was crowned in October, 1722; That was the only time Élisabeth Charlotte's youngest child Anne Charlotte would see her grand mother who died two months later on 8 December; Élisabeth Charlotte's, now no longer Regent of France died in the death of her mother in December of the same year. Her brother died in December of the next year. Seven years later, in 1729 her husband died, leaving his wife Regent of Lorraine for her son, Francis Stephen of Lorraine. After being educated in Vienna, Francis Stephen returned to Lorraine in 1737, ending his mother's tenure as regent. Élisabeth Charlotte tried to engage her youngest child Anne Charlotte to the King Louis XV; this project failed due to the intrigues of the spiteful Duke of Bourbon; Élisabeth Charlotte then tried to get Anne Charlotte to marry her first cousin Louis d'Orléans, Duke of Orléans who had been recently widowed; Louis d'Orléans refused out rightly.

Unable to prevent her son from giving up the duchy of Lorraine to Stanisław Leszczyński when he married the Habsburg heiress, Maria Theresa of Austria, she moved into the Château d’Haroué in nearby Commercy, which was turned into a sovereign principality for her to enjoy during her dowager years. Initially, her son became the Grand Duke of Tuscany, a position that had been held by Élisabeth Charlotte's cousin Gian Gastone de' Medici until his death; Francis Stephen eventually became the Holy Roman Emperor due his marriage to Maria Theresa.

The Château de Saint-Cloud where she was born in 1676
The Château de Commercy where she died in 1744

In the year 1737 her daughter, Princess Elisabeth Thérèse made a very prominent marriage with Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia. He was the son of Élisabeth Charlotte's older half sister. Anne Marie d'Orléans, and was the King of Sardinia and the Duke of Savoy. Elisabeth Teresa, as she was known in Italy, died in childbirth in 1741 after giving birth to Élisabeth Charlotte's grandson, Benedetto Maria Maurizio of Savoy; the child was given the title of Duke of Chablais.

On 7 January 1744 her youngest son, Charles Alexander of Lorraine married Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria, the younger sisiter of Maria Theresa of Austria. The couple married for love.

On 16 December 1744, Maria Anna died in childbirth after having had a daughter, who also died soon afterwards.

A week after her daughter-in-law's death, Élisabeth Charlotte also died. At the age of sixty-eight, Élisabeth Charlotte died of a stroke on 23 December 1744. She was the last of her siblings to die and had outlived ten of her thirteen children. Nine months after her death, her son Francis Stephen became Holy Roman Emperor.

She was buried in the Ducal Crypt; Église Saint-François-des-Cordelier in Nancy.



As the mother of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I, she was an ancestor of the entire 18th and 19th century Habsburg family, as well as all those descended from Francis I and Maria Theresa.

Among her descendents are Queen Marie Antoinette and Marie Louise of Austria, the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. Élisabeth Charlotte also helped in the construction of a hospital in the town of Bruyères in Lorraine in honor of Saint Peter Fourier. Her home at Commercy can still be seen today.



Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

Styles of
Élisabeth Charlotte, Duchess of Lorraine as consort
Reference style Her Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Madame
  • 13 September, 1676 – 10 April, 1684 Mademoiselle de Chartres
  • 10 April, 1684 – 13 October, 1698 Her Royal Highness Mademoiselle
  • 13 October, 1698 – 27 March, 1729 Her Royal Highness the "Duchess of Lorraine", Bar and Teschen (Son Altesse Royale Madame la duchesse de Lorraine, Bar et Cieszyn)
  • 27 March, 1729 – 23 December, 1744 Her Royal Highness the "Dowager Duchess of Lorraine", Bar and Teschen (Son Altesse Royale Madame la duchesse de Lorraine, Bar et Cieszyn Douairière)
    • 1737 - 23 December, 1744 Her Royal Highness the Princess of Commercy (son Altesse Royale Madame la princesse de Commercy)


  1. ^ Nancy Nicholas Barker, Brother to the Sun king:Philippe, Duke of Orléans, p. 1.
  2. ^ Antonia Fraser: Love and Louis XIV, p.189
  3. ^ je ne suis pas faite, madame, pour un cadet
  4. ^ Joseph was suggested by Pope Innocent XII himself
  5. ^ Léopold Joseph Charles Dominique Agapet Hyacinthe de Lorraine was his full name
  6. ^ Louis Constantin de Bourbon, prince de Dombes (17 November 1695 – 28 September 1698)
  7. ^ http://www.xs4all.nl/~kvenjb/madmonarchs/marielouise/marielouise_bio.htm Marie Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans




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