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Marie Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans: Wikis


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Louise Élisabeth
Duchess of Berry
Louise Élisabeth in mourning by Louis de Silvestre, Musée d'Histoire de France, Versailles
Spouse Charles de France, Duke of Berry
Charles d'Alençon
Marie Louise Élisabeth d'Alençon
Full name
Marie Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans
Father Philippe d'Orléans, Duke of Orléans
Mother Françoise-Marie de Bourbon
Born 20 August 1695(1695-08-20)
Palace of Versailles, France
Died 21 July 1719 (aged 23)
Château de La Muette, France
Burial 24 July, 1719
Royal Basilica of Saint Denis,

Marie Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans, Duchess of Berry (duchesse de Berry), (Palace of Versailles, 20 August 1695 – Paris, 21 July 1719) was a member of the House of Orléans and a princesse du sang. After her marriage to her cousin, the duc de Berry, she became a petite-fille de France and assumed the style of Royal Highness.



Marie Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans was born at the Palace of Versailles. She was the eldest of the surviving children of the Duke of Chartres, future Duke of Orléans and Regent of France, and of his wife Françoise-Marie de Bourbon, a legitimised daughter of Louis XIV of France and of his mistress, Madame de Montespan.

Mademoiselle de Valois, her older sister and the eldest daughter of her parents, had died a year before the birth of Louise Élisabeth, who was given the honorary title of Mademoiselle d'Orléans when she was born. After her marriage the title would be given to her younger sister Louise Adélaïde d'Orléans. Her siblings were:

She was baptised at Saint-Cloud on 29 July, 1696[1].

Louise Élisabeth grew up at the Palais-Royal, the Orléans residence in Paris, which, at the time of her parents' marriage, had been given by Louis XIV to the Duke and Duchess of Orléans, the parents of the Duke of Chartres, in order to make them give in to the marriage of their son to a royal bastard. She was surrounded by a small court of her own friends. After recovering from a near fatal illness at the age of six, she became close to her father, who had personally nursed her day and night in order to save her life[2], and she would remain his most beloved and favourite daughter until her early death. Her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, Madame, known since her childhood as Liselotte, wrote in her memoirs that from a very early age, Louise Élisabeth:

... had entirely her own way, so that it is not surprising she should be like a headstrong horse.

Again at the age of ten, Louise Élisabeth, again caught smallpox at Saint-Cloud and her grandmother wrote in her memoirs that Mademoiselle d'Orléans was presumed dead for over six hours[3]. Some time after, she was given the honour of dining with the King (her maternal grandfather), a privilege reserved for the Children and Grandchildren of France. This is said to have increased the level of animosity between the related Orléans and Condé families.

Louise Élisabeth was one of the highest ranking Princesses of the Blood in the country. At the time her marriage was being arranged, her aunt, Louise-Françoise de Bourbon, Duchess of Bourbon, had, according to some sources, set up a rumour that the young Mademoiselle d'Orléans had been having an incestuous relationship with her father.


Charles de France', her husband


Discussion of Louise Élisabeth's marriage arose when her cousin, the more beautiful Louise Élisabeth de Bourbon, daughter of the Duchess of Bourbon, was suggested as a possible wife for the Charles de France, Duke of Berry, the third and youngest son of Le Grand Dauphin, (the only legitimate son of Louis XIV), and of his wife, Duchess Maria Anna of Bavaria. The respective mothers of Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans and Louise Élisabeth de Bourbon were sisters, both daughters of Louis XIV and Mme de Montespan, and had been feuding for years.

It was decided, with the help of Marie Adélaïde, Duchess of Burgundy, her future sister-in-law, that Louise Élisabeth would marry the Duke of Berry.

Papal dispensation having arrived on the 5th, the marriage took place on 6 July 1710 at the Palace of Versailles. The presiding bishop was the Cardinal de Janson. In a twist of irony, it was Mademoiselle de Bourbon who was given the honour of carrying the train of Madame de Berry. This awkward issue of étiquette was helped by the king ordering his other Orléans granddaughters (Mademoiselle de Chartres and Mademoiselle de Valois) back from their convent at Chelles. The Orléans sister would later carry her train[4].

The banquet following the ceremony was hosted by the Duchess of Burgundy and was followed by festivities for the members of the Court. On becoming a Granddaughter of France, Louise Élisabeth was entitled to her own household, a luxury she was not allowed previously as a "mere" Princess of the Blood. The position of dame d'honneur was given to Marie Gabrielle de Durfort de Lorges, the wife of the Duke of Saint-Simon. Another member of her household was her first cousin, Marie Anne de Bourbon who would be her Lady-in-waiting. Marie Anne later resigned her post because of her cousin's wayward nature.

The marriage at first was happy, as the newlyweds were in love; but soon, the honeymoon was over and they began arguing in public, much to the annoyance of their grandfather Louis XIV. There was one occasion, some months after their wedding, that was recorded by Marie Louise's grandmother and the Duke of Saint-Simon:

I shall pass lightly over an event which, engrafted upon some others, made some noise, notwithstanding the care taken to hush it up. The Duchess of Burgundy supped at Saint-Cloud one evening with the Duchess of Berry and others, Madame de Saint-Simon absenting herself from the party. The Duchess of Berry and the Duke of Orléans, but she more than he, got so drunk that the Duchess of Burgundy, the Duchess of Orléans, and the rest of the company knew not what to do. The Duke of Berry was there, and him they talked over as well as they could, and the numerous company was amused by the Grand Duchess, to the best of her ability. The effect of the wine in more ways than one was such that people were troubled, and, since she could not be sobered, it became necessary to carry her back, drunk as she was, to Versailles. All the servants waiting with the carriages saw the condition she was in, and did not keep it to themselves ; nevertheless, they succeeded in concealing it from the King, from Monseigneur, and from Madame de Maintenon

The duchess enjoyed staying with her sister-in-law, the Duchess of Burgundy, or at her father-in-law's favourite residence, the Château de Meudon, where she would spend time with her witty aunt, Madame la Duchesse, as well as the Dowager Princess of Conti, courtiers and beaux esprits of the time, in what was called la cabale de Meudon.

In July 1711, the young duchess gave birth to her first child, a girl, at the Palace of Fontainebleau. The girl lived only two days and her death was blamed on the king who had made her mother travel with the Court to Fontainebleau despite the doctors advising her to stay at Versailles or at the Palais Royal because of her advanced pregnancy. The king did not give in and made Louise Élisabeth travel by barge instead of carriage. During this journey, the barge hit a pier of a bridge at Melun and nearly sank. Louise Élisabeth nearly lost her life[5]. According to the doctors, the death of the baby was due to the stress of the journey and the accident. The princess however made a quick recovery.

Two years later, on 26 March 1713, the Duchess of Berry gave birth to another child, a son, who was born at Versailles and was given the title of Duke of Alençon. He died the following 16 June, after several attacks of convulsions at Versailles. His heart was taken to the Val-de-Grâce convent in Paris by the Bishop of Sens, and his body to the Basilica of St Denis. The duchess ordered that her son's governesses continued having their annual salary. Louise Élisabeth again recovered quickly.

The arrogance, which the duchess had inherited from her mother, was well known. On the occasion of the double marriage, 9 July 1713, of the Duke of Bourbon to Marie Anne de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Conti and of the Prince of Conti to Louise Élisabeth de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Bourbon, she appeared covered with all the Crown jewels, which the King had lent her, and which Dangeau declared to have been worth at this period more than eighteen million livres.

In November 1713, it became public that the Duke of Berry had taken as a mistress one of her chamber maids. In turn, Louise Élisabeth took as a lover, a certain "Monsieur La Haye", who had been preceded by Monsieur de Salvert. When her affair with La Haye became known, her husband threatened to have her sent to a convent. Saint-Simon even records on one occasion when Berry kicked his wife in public because of her indiscretions. During her romance with La Haye, she conceived a plan for the two of them to flee to the Netherlands.


Dowager Duchess

On 5 May 1714, her husband died from internal injuries sustained in a hunting accident. His death led Louis XIV, not eager for the regency to be overly controlled by her father Philippe d'Orléans, to increase the power of his legitimised sons, Louis Auguste, Duke of Maine and Louis Alexandre, Count of Toulouse, by making them Princes of the Blood, thus putting them in line of succession to the throne.

Louise Élisabeth was then known as the Dowager Duchess of Berry, (Madame la Duchesse de Berry douairière), style she held until her death. On 16 June 1714, some seven weeks after the death of her husband, she gave birth, at Versailles, to a daughter who died the following day.

Upon the death of her grandfather in 1715, within one week, the Parlement de Paris confirmed her father Régent for the five-year old king, Louis XV. This meant that the House of Orléans now took center stage in France.

The Château de Madrid c 1720.

In September 1715, Louise Élisabeth was later given the Luxembourg Palace as her Parisian residence, where she gave magnificent banquets which would later affect her already brittle health. She and her mother would alternate this idea for some time with her mother who was at the Palais Royal. After closing the gardens of the Luxembourg to the public, she became a very unpopular figure in Paris. Her cousins and rivals, the Condé, would in turn open the gardens of the Hôtel de Condé to the public.

One of the most famous banquets, given in 1718 in honour of her visiting aunt, Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans (Duchess Consort of Lorraine), listed 132 hors-d'œuvre, 32 soups, 60 entrées, 130 hot entremets, 60 cold entremets, 72 plats ronds, 82 pigeons, 370 partridges and pheasants and 126 sweetbreads served to the overwhelmed guests. The desserts consisted of 100 baskets of fresh fruit, 94 baskets of dried fruit, 50 dishes of fruits glacés and 106 compotes. The event was considered one of the most lavish receptions of the season.

After her residence in Paris, she would later go to the Château de la Muette to the joy of the Parisians. She gained the château on the condition that she give the Château de Madrid back to the Crown.

On Friday 21 May 1717, the duchess received at the Luxembourg the Tsar Peter I of Russia, Peter the Great, who also met the Regent. In March 1718, she nursed her mother, who was ill, thus bringing about a closer relationship between mother and daughter. The following year, her cousin gave a series of feasts at the Château de Chantilly in her honour. According to Saint-Simon, she behaved with such arrogance. that she did not even address the Duchess of Bourbon.

During the Regency, Louise Élisabeth was given an annual income of 600,000 livres. In addition to the Orléans residences, she was also given the use of the Château de Meudon after giving back to the Crown the Château d'Amboise, which had been the official country residence of the Duke of Berry.

Ill since the still-birth, in March 1719, of a daughter she had after her secret marriage to Sicaire Antonin Armand Auguste Nicolas d'Aydie, the Chevalier de Rion, her health kept on deteriorating. She lived at Meudon for a while and gave a reception in honour of her father who was angry with her because of her morganatic marriage to Rion. She then retired to La Muette where she died on 21 July 1719 at the age of twenty-three. Her parents had returned to Paris an hour earlier.

On Saturday 22 July 1719, her heart was taken to the Val-de-Grâce church in Paris, and on 24 July, 1719, she was buried in the Basilica of Saint-Denis[6]. Her funeral arrangements were made by Saint-Simon himself[7].

Concerning her last visit to her granddaughter, Madame wrote:

28th March, 1719. I went to see her last Sunday, the 23rd May, and found her in a sad state, suffering from pains in her toes and the soles of her feet until the tears came into her eyes. I went away because I saw that she refrained from crying out on my account. I thought she was in a bad way. A consultation was held by her three physicians, the result of which was that they determined to bleed her in the feet. They had some difficulty in persuading her to submit to it, because the pain in her feet was so great that she uttered the most piercing screams if the bedclothes only rubbed against them. The bleeding, however, succeeded, and she was in some degree relieved. It was the gout in both feet

During her lifetime, Louise Élisabeth gained a reputation for scandal. In an irony of history, the next duchesse de Berry, Princess Caroline Ferdinande of Naples and Sicily, was also known for her scandalous behaviour.


The Duke and the Duchess of Berry had three children who never reached one month of age. As Grandchildren of France, they needed a surname. However, since their father was Duke of Berry only by name, their surname was not "de Berry" but "d'Alençon", taken from his first substantial duchy[8].

  • Na (not baptized) d'Alençon, Granddaughter of France (Palace of Fontainebleau, 21 July 1711 - same day, Palace of Fontainebleau)
  • Charles d'Alençon, Grandson of France, Duke of Alençon[9] (as a courtesy title) (Palace of Versailles, 26 March 1713 – 16 April 1713, Palace of Versailles)
  • Marie Louise Élisabeth d'Alençon, Granddaughter of France (Palace of Versailles, 16 June 1714 – 17 June 1714, Palace of Versailles)

Sicaire Antonin Armand Auguste Nicolas d'Aydie, Chevalier de Rion, became her lover and she married him in secret in 1718. The couple had one child:

  • X (daughter) d'Aydie de Rion (Luxembourg Palace, 28 March 1719) stillborn, but, according to Duclos, subsequently became a nun at the Abbey of Pontoise.[10]


Titles, styles, honours and arms

Royal styles of
Louise Élisabeth, Duchess of Berry

Blason France moderne.svg

Reference style Her Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Madame de Berry

Titles and styles


  1. ^ Boudet. Antoine, Dictionnaire de la noblesse, seconde edtion, [French], Paris, 1776, p.107
  2. ^ Dufresne, Claude, les d'Orléans, CRITERION, Paris, 1991, p. 94 (French)
  3. ^ The Orléans Daughter Accessed 20 May 2009
  4. ^ Th Orléans Daughter
  5. ^ Lady Antonia Fraser, Love and Louis XIV
  6. ^ The Memoirs of the Duke of Saint-Simon p. 219.
  7. ^ The Memoirs of the Duke of Saint-Simon.
  8. ^ Journal du Marquis de Dangeau (on 3 January 1712): J'appris que les enfants de monseigneur le duc de Berry ne porteront point le nom de Berry, mais celui d'Alençon; comme les enfants de Monsieur portoient le nom d'Orléans, ceux-là porteront celui d'Alençon. Je ne sais si j'ai su cela dans le temps que cela fut fait, mais je l'écris en cas que je l'aie oublié.
  9. ^ Journal du marquis de Dangeau (on 26 March 1711): Le roi, avant la messe, alla voir M. le duc d'Alençon ; c'est le nom du prince dont madame la duchesse de Berry est accouchée cette nuit à quatre heures.
  10. ^ On the last few months of the life of the Duchess of Berry, and her secret marriage to the Chevalier de Rion in April 1719: The Memoirs of the Duke of Saint-Simon on the reign of Louis XIV and the Regency, chapter XXIII, pp. 206-220.



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