Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stories of Marie-Amélie

Princess Henriette of Belgium enriches her account of the life of her great-grandmother, Marie-Amélie of Naples, Queen of the French, with a number of touching family anecdotes. Apparently, the memory of 'la bonne reine' was kept very alive among the Orléans. Here are a few vignettes, from her days as Duchesse d'Orléans, illustrating her character...

One anecdote was recounted by Marie-Amélie's daughter, Louise, Queen of the Belgians, and by her son, Louis, Duc de Nemours. One afternoon, while the Orléans were staying at their beautiful and beloved estate of Neuilly, Marie-Amélie was returning from a round of charitable visits. She was accompanied by her eldest girls, Louise and Marie, by the Duc de Nemours and by her youngest daughter, Clementine. As she was approaching the gates of Neuilly, two ruffians suddenly sprang up in her path. Seizing little Clementine in her arms, she told the three other children, anxiously clinging to their mother, to fear nothing. Blocking her way, the men called out raucously: "Who goes there? Who are you?" Fixing them with her calm, blue gaze, Marie-Amélie replied: "A mother, let me pass." The men yielded to this proud, courageous creature: "Pass, then, with the little ones."

According to another story, some humble women were warmly admiring the little Duc de Nemours (all the Orléans children were quite enchanting, blond and beautiful). "This is my son, Louis," Marie-Amélie explained. "May God make him another St. Louis, King of France!" cried the women, transported with enthusiasm. "Saint- yes, King- no," was his mother's wise reply.

In 1815, after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, came the news of the execution of one of his generals, Marshal Murat, who had usurped the Neapolitan throne from Marie-Amélie's father, King Ferdinand IV. During an ill-fated attempt to reconquer Naples, Murat had been captured and shot by Ferdinand's forces. Upon hearing of the tragic end of her family's deadliest foe, Marie-Amélie silently retired to her oratory, where she spent a long time in prayer. That night, as she took her children on her knees, prior to evening prayers, she told them repeatedly: "God teaches us, above all, to forgive our enemies." Her eldest son, the spirited, fierce little Duc de Chartres, responded:  "Yes, but we cannot love them!" "Yes," replied his mother,"we must try to love them in God, and not to wish them ill. If they have done wrong, vengeance is God's alone." Marie-Amélie's words, and the solemnity of her tone, made a deep, unforgettable impression on little Louise. Only later would she realize that it was for Murat her mother had sought prayers...

6 comments:

MadMonarchist said...

Of all people, for her to pray for Murat. I'm reminded of the words of King Saul, 'thou art more righteous than I'. Considering all they and their country had gone through that is truly showing the Christian spirit, far more than most would be able to. That is awesome. Thanks for sharing that, I'd never heard it before. That is something.

Matterhorn said...

Her charity and forgiveness were really sublime. As Henriette says, "a deed worthy of the lives of the saints."

Jorge said...

I wonder how Marie-Amélie felt about her husband usurping the throne from his cousins. She was clearly a remarkable human being and it was probably a troubling situation for her, as she owed loyalty to her husband, but at the same time she knew that his actions were morally wrong.

Matterhorn said...

Yes, indeed, Jorge, it was very upsetting for her. I will be coming to that soon...

Jorge said...

I look forward to it. I also can only imagine how Marie-Amélie's mother felt about her daughter marrying the son of the Duke of Orléans, who brought so much tragedy to her sister Marie Antoinette and her family.

Matterhorn said...

Yes, that's an interesting story too...