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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Madame Royale

*This is a guest post written by my sister, Cecilia RD Young about our mutual heroine, Madame Royale.*
Madame Royale with her brother and
their mother,
Queen Marie-Antoinette of France
 Marie-Therese Charlotte de France was born on September 18, 1778 in Versailles. The first child of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, she was given the title Madame Royale. Marie-Therese was baptized the same day of her birth and named after the Queen’s mother, Empress Marie-Therese of Austria.

The Queen was determined that Madame Royale should not grow up to be a spoiled princess, so she often invited children of lower rank to come and play with Marie-Therese and encouraged her daughter to give her toys to the poor.

Marie-Therese was joined by two brothers, and a sister. Louis Joseph Xavier Francois in 1781, Louis Charles de France in 1785, and Sophie Helene Beatrix in 1786. But in 1787, Sophie died, followed two years later by Louis-Joseph.

Marie-Therese’s troubles were only beginning. In 1789, after the storming of the Bastille, several of Marie-Therese’s favorite household members fled. Then on October 5th and 6th a mob marched on Versailles. The Royal family was forced to move to the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

As the political situation got worse and worse, the King and Queen realized that the lives of all their family and household were in danger, and went along with the plan of escape organized with the help of Count Axel von Fersen. But the attempted flight was a failure, and the royal family was escorted back to Paris.

On August 10, 1792, King Louis XVI was deposed. Three days later the royal family was imprisoned in the Temple Tower. On January 21, 1793, King Louis XVI was executed on the guillotine. About six months later, on the evening of July 3, guards came and forcefully took eight year old Louis-Charles away and put him in the care of Antoine Simon. A month later Marie Antoinette was taken away and Marie-Therese was left in the care of her aunt, Madame Elisabeth de France, a very saintly woman. But on May 10, 1794 Madame Elisabeth was executed and Marie-Therese was left alone in the Prison. She was only 15 years old.

Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte of France,
the Duchesse d'Angouleme, around 1815
Marie-Therese’s imprisonment was often one of loneliness, but Madame Elisabeth had taught her to keep busy. Her two books she had, The Imitation of Christ and Voyages, were read over and over again. Her request for more books was refused by government officials. On top of this she had to endure listening to her brother’s cries and screams whenever he was beaten. During her imprisonment, Marie-Therese was never told about what happened to her family. All she knew was that her father was dead. On the wall of her prison she wrote:

“Marie-Therese Charlotte is the most unhappy person in the world. She can obtain no news of her mother; nor be reunited to her, though she has asked it a thousand times. Live, my good mother! Whom I love well, but of whom I can hear no tidings. O my father! Watch over me from heaven above. O my God! Forgive those who have made my parents suffer."

` Finally, in August 1795, Marie-Therese was given a companion, Madame Renee de Chanterenne, and Madame Renee told her what had happened to her family. Later that same year, Marie-Therese was released, and sent to Austria, traded with French prisoners of war. In 1799 she married her cousin Louis Antoine, the Duc d’Angouleme. They had no children.

Marie-Therese’s family, the Bourbons was restored to the French throne in 1814, but in 1815 they were exiled again. Later that same year Napoléon was defeated at Waterloo, and the Bourbons were restored for a second time. On September 16, 1824 Louis XVIII, Marie-Therese’s uncle, died and was succeeded by his younger brother, the Comte d'Artois, as Charles X. Charles X son, Marie-Therese’s husband, was now heir to the throne. However, anti-monarchist feeling was on the rise again. On August 2, 1830, after Les Trois Glorieuses, the Revolution of July 1830 which lasted three days, Charles X, abdicated in favor of his son, who in turn abdicated in favor of his nephew, the young Duc de Bordeaux. So Marie- Therese was known as a queen for twenty minutes.

Charles X asked Louis-Philippe, Duc d’Orleans to be regent for the young king. A regent is someone who rules for someone else until they were of age. However, Louis- Philippe accepted the crown when the Chambre des Députés*named him King of the French. On August 4, Marie-Thérèse left France for her final exile with her uncle, her husband, her young nephew, his mother, the duchesse de Berry, and his sister Louise Marie Thérèse d'Artois. But in 1848, King Louis Philippe's reign ended in a revolution, France once again became a Republic.

Marie-Therese spent the rest of her life looking for her brother who she believed to be still alive. She died of pneumonia on October 19, 1851, three days after the fifty-eighth anniversary of the execution of her mother. She was 71 years old. Marie-Therese was buried next to her uncle Charles X and her husband Louis XIX, in the Franciscan Monastery of Castagnavizza in the Slovenian city of Nova Gorica. Like her dear uncle and parents, Marie-Thérèse had remained a devout Roman Catholic all of her life.

* During the Bourbon Restoration and the July Monarchy, Chambre des Députés (the Chamber of Deputies) was the Lower chamber of the French Parliament, elected by census suffrage.

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