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Princess Marie Louise of Savoy: Wikis


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Marie Louise
Princess of Lamballe
Duchess of Rambouillet
Marie Louise by Joseph Duplessis
Spouse Louis Alexandre de Bourbon
Full name
English: Maria Theresa Louisa of Savoy
French: Marie Thérèse Louise de Savoie
Italian: Maria Teresa Luisa di Savoia
Father Louis Victor, Prince of Carignan
Mother Christine Henriette of Hesse-Rheinfels-Rotenburg
Born 8 September 1749(1749-09-08)
Palazzo Carignano, Turin, Italy
Died 3 September 1792 (aged 42)
Murdered in Paris, France

Maria Teresa Luisa of Savoy, Princess of Lamballe (Turin, 8 September, 1749 – Paris, 3 September, 1792) was a member of the House of Savoy. She was married at the age of nineteen to Louis Alexandre de Bourbon, the greatest heir in France. After her marriage, which lasted a year, she returned to court and became the confidante of Queen Marie Antoinette. Her death in the massacres of September 1792 during the French Revolution sparked a movement of anti-revolutionary propaganda, which ultimately led to the development and implementation of the Reign of Terror. At her husband's death, her father in law gave her the Duchy of Rambouillet.



The Princesse de Lamballe's father was Louis Victor of Savoy, Prince of Carignan, a maternal grandson of Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia and his famous mistress Jeanne d'Albert de Luynes.

Her mother, Christine Henriette of Hesse-Rheinfels-Rotenburg, was the daughter of Ernest Leopold, Landgrave of Hesse-Rotenburg. Her aunts included, Polyxena Christina of Hesse-Rotenburg, the wife of Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia (Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia was her first cousin) and Caroline of Hesse-Rotenburg was a Princess of Condé and wife of Louis Henri, Duke of Bourbon. Louis Joseph de Bourbon, prince de Condé was another first cousin who was at the French court.[1]

On 31 January, 1767, she married by proxy Louis Alexandre de Bourbon. Louis Alexandre was known as the prince de Lamballe and at her marriage she then took on the title. Monsieur de Lamballe was a grandson of Louis XIV's legitimised son, Louis Alexandre de Bourbon, comte de Toulouse. Lamballe's father was the fabulously wealthy Duke of Penthièvre.

It was Penthièvre who helped organise the wedding; his son was a débauché and had had various mistresses prior and during his marriage. For the first few months of the marriage, the prince was devoted to his wife and the couple spent their honeymoon at the Château de Nangis. The couple returned to Paris and soon after, the prince had started another affair with Mademoiselle de La Chassaigne, an opera dancer, five months into his marriage. At one point, Louis Alexandre even sold his wife's diamonds to raise money to pay his debts.

The young prince, only surviving son of the wealthiest man in France, died of a venereal disease at the Château de Louveciennes in the arms of his ever dutiful wife in 1768 , making Marie Louise a widow at the age of nineteen. As a widow, she inherited her husband's already considerable fortune making her a wealthy woman in her own right, much richer than she would have ever been at the impoverished Savoyard court of her youth.

After the death of her husband, she lived in Paris at the Hôtel de Toulouse and at Penthièvre's favourite residence, the Château de Rambouillet. On 4 January, 1769, there was the announcement of the marriage of Marie Louise's sister in law Mademoiselle de Penthièvre to the young Philippe d'Orléans, duc de Chartres and old friend of the late Monsieur de Lamballe. Mademoiselle de Penthièvre was now the greatest heiress in France.

At the marriage of Louis Auguste de France, Dauphin of France to the Austrian Archduchess Maria Antonia, daughter of Empress Maria Theresa. Madame de Lamballe was present at every ceremony, and the new Dauphine, to whom she was presented, was charmed with her and overwhelmed her with attentions which the spectators did not fail to notice. More than one saw even then the dawn of an intimacy which later was to give so much trouble to the two friends.

At that time Madame de Lamballe was almost constantly at court. During the year 1771 we see her assisting at every ceremonial. The " Gazette de France" mentions her presence in the chapel at high mass on Holy Thursday, at which the king was present accompanied by the royal family, the Dukes of Bourbon and Penthièvre. In May she went to Fontainebleau, was there presented by the king to the future Countess of Provence (first cousin), and attended the supper after.

She was present at the birth of the future Louis-Philippe of France in Paris in October 1773.

At the death of Louis XV in May 1774 ,Marie Antoinette became queen. In September of the next year, Marie Louise was appointed the Superintendent of the Queens Household, the highest rank possible for a lady-in-waiting at Versailles, which earned Lamballe the resentment of many other aristocrats.

Her pre-eminence in courtly high society was eventually eclipsed by Yolande de Polastron, duchesse de Polignac, who arrived at Versailles in 1775.

In popular anti-monarchist propaganda of the time, the princesse de Lamballe was regularly portrayed in pornographic pamphlets, showing her as the queen's lesbian lover.

Lamballe was by nature extremely prudish and, at Versailles, there was never any gossip about her private life. However, the real purpose of the pamphlets was not to report the truth, but rather to undermine the public image of the monarchy by eroding respect for its central figures.[2] Later, the duchesse de Polignac and Count of Artois also became staple figures in the pamphlets.


The Princesse de Lamballe accompanied the royal family to the Tuileries Palace after the Women's March on Versailles in October 1789. In Paris, her salon served as a meeting place for the queen and the members of the National Constituent Assembly, many of whom the queen wished to win over to the cause of the Bourbon Monarchy.[3]

During a visit to a house she rented in the Royal Crescent, Bath,[4] Great Britain in 1791 to appeal for help for the royal family, the princess wrote her will, since she feared death upon returning to Paris, which she nonetheless did out of loyalty to Marie-Antoinette. She returned to the Tuileries, and continued her services to the queen until the attack on the Palace on 10 August 1792, when the Royal Family took refuge in the Legislative Assembly, and after it was taken to the Temple.[5]


Aristocratic heads on pikes - a cartoon from the French Revolution

On 19 August, she and the Marquise de Tourzel, governess to the royal children, were separated from the royal family and transferred to the La Force prison.[6] On 3 September, she was brought before a hastily assembled tribunal, who demanded she "take an oath to love liberty and equality and to swear hatred to the King and the Queen and to the monarchy"[7]. The latter she refused to swear, upon which her trial summarily ended with the words: Élargissez madame ("Take madame away"). She was immediately brought to the street and thrown to a group of men who killed her within minutes.[8].[9]

Some reports allege that she was raped and that her breasts were cut off, in addition to other bodily mutilations[10][11], and that her head was cut off and stuck on a pike. Other reports say that it was brought to a nearby café where it was laid in front of the customers, who were asked to drink in celebration of her death.[10].

Other reports state that the head was taken to a barber in order to dress the hair to make it instantly recognizable,[11] though this has been contested.[9] Following this, the head was replaced upon the pike and was paraded beneath Marie Antoinette’s window at the Temple.[12]

Those who were carrying it wished the Queen to kiss the lips of her favourite, as it was a frequent rumor that the two had been lovers. The head was not allowed to be brought into the building, but the Queen's guards did force her to look out of the window at the sight, whereupon the Queen fainted almost immediately.[12] In her historical biography, Marie Antoinette : The Journey Antonia Fraser claims that the Queen did not actually see the head of her long-time friend, but was aware of what was occurring, stating; "...the municipal officers had had the decency to close the shutters and the commissioners kept them away from the of these officers told the King '..they are trying to show you the head of Madame de Lamballe'...Mercifully, the Queen then fainted away".[12]

Five citizens of the local section in Paris delivered her body (minus her head which was still being displayed on a pike) to the authorities shortly after her death. Royalist accounts of the incident claimed her body was displayed on the street for a full day. According to author Blanche Christabel Hardy [13], her heartbroken father-in-law finally succeeded in retrieving her corpse and had it interred in the Penthièvre family crypt at Dreux.

However, French historian Michel de Decker writes that her body was never found, (as was never found that of her brother-in-law Philippe Égalité), which is the reason why she is not inhumed in the Orléans family necropolis at Dreux.[14]. Marie Grosholtz, better known as Madame Tussaud, was ordered to make the death mask.[15]

In media

The princesse de Lamballe has been portrayed in several films and miniseries. Two of the more notable portrayals were by Anita Louise in W.S. Van Dyke's 1938 film Marie Antoinette and by Mary Nighy in the 2006 film Marie Antoinette directed by Sofia Coppola.[16][17]


Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles


  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain. In turn, it gives the following references:
    • Bertin, George, Madame de Lamballe (Paris, 1888).
    • de Decker, Michel, La Princesse de Lamballe, mourir pour la Reine, Bibliothèque Académique Perrin, (Collection historique dirigée par André Castelot), Paris, 1979, ISBN : 2-262-00156-1, (French).
    • Dobson, Austin, Four Frenchwomen (1890).
    • Flyde, Catherine, (Marchioness Govion-Broglio-Solari), The Secret Memoirs of the Royal Family of France ... now first published from the Journal, Letters and Conversations of the Princesse de Lamballe (London, 2 vols., 1826) have since appeared in various editions in English and in French. They are apocryphal, attributed to Catherine Flyde, Marchioness Govion-Broglio-Solari. A sample version from 1902.
    • Hardy, Blanche Christabel, Princesse de Lamballe (1908).
    • Lamballe, Marie-Thérèse Louise, (princesse de), Letters published by Ch. Schmidt in La Révolution française (vol. xxxix., 1900);
    • Lambeau, L., Essais sur la mort de madame la princesse de Lamballe (1902).
    • Lescure, (comte de), La Princesse de Lamballe d'après des documents inédits (1864).

Montefiore, Sir Francis, The Princesse de Lamballe (1896).


  1. ^ Bertin, Georges. "Full text of Madame de Lamballe". Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  2. ^ Chantal Thomas, The Wicked Queen: The Origins of the Myth of Marie-Antoinette
  3. ^ "Lamballe, Marie Thérèse Louise of Savoy-Carignamo". The Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1911. 
  4. ^ Lowndes, William (1981). The Royal Crescent in Bath. Redcliffe Press. ISBN 978-0905459349. 
  5. ^ Imbert de Saint-Amand, Arthur; Léon Imbert de Saint-Amand, Elizabeth Gilbert Martin. Marie Antoinette at the Tuileries, 1789-1791. New York Public Library: C. Scribner's sons. pp. 286. ISBN 1901.,M1. 
  6. ^ Lever, Evelyne; Catherine Temerson (2001). Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France. Macmillan. pp. 282–283. ISBN 0312283334.,M1. 
  7. ^ de Decker, Michel, La Princesse de Lamballe, mourir pour la Reine, chapter Élargissez madame, p. 246, Librairie Académique Perrin, Paris, 1979, (Collection historique dirigée par André Castelot), ISBN : 2-262-00156-1 (in French)
  8. ^ ib. de Decker, p. 246.
  9. ^ a b de Baecque, Antoine; Charlotte Mandell (2002). Glory and Terror. Routledge. pp. 79. ISBN 0415926173. 
  10. ^ a b Hibbert, Christopher (1980). The Days of the French Revolution. Morrow. pp. 175. ISBN 0688037046. 
  11. ^ a b Durschmied, Erik (2002). Blood of Revolution. Arcade Publishing. pp. 31. ISBN 1559706074. 
  12. ^ a b c Fraser, Antonia (2001). Marie Antoinette: The Journey. Anchor Books. pp. 389. ISBN 0385489498. 
  13. ^ Hardy, Blanche Christabel (1908). The Princesse de Lamballe. Harvard University: D Appleton & Co.. pp. 294. 
  14. ^ ib. de Decker, chapter Ils sont blanchis par le malheur, p. 265.
  15. ^ Tussaud, John Theodore (1920). The Romance of Madame Tussaud's. University of Michigan: George H. Doran company. pp. 44,88,91. 
  16. ^ "Marie Antoinette". Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  17. ^ "Mary Antoinette"., Inc.. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 

See also

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