Thursday, August 5, 2010

Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte, Queen of France

August 9 will mark the 180th anniversary of the rise to the French throne of Louis-Philippe d'Orléans and Marie-Amélie of Naples, the parents of Queen Louise-Marie of Belgium. (Interestingly, it will also be the 178th anniversary of Louise-Marie's marriage to Leopold I and her rise to the Belgian throne). Therefore, this fine article on Marie-Amélie's first cousin, Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte of France, the only surviving child of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, is most timely. The July Revolution of 1830, which made Marie-Amélie queen, drove Marie-Thérèse into exile, after a reign of twenty minutes as the consort of her cousin, the hapless Louis XIX.

In her historical work on the French monarchy, Henriette of Belgium, Duchesse de Vendôme, devotes a number of touching passages to the tragic but heroic Marie-Thérèse. Henriette describes this royal orphan as a beautiful soul, but emotionally scarred by the terrible traumas of her youth, and often misjudged due to her reserved, taciturn ways. Henriette also asserts that Marie-Amélie (the daughter of Marie-Antoinette's favorite sister, Queen Maria Carolina of Naples) was the person who best understood Marie-Thérèse's inner suffering and moral worth. She emphasizes that the two princesses shared a deep mutual respect, affection and trust. A bitter irony, as politics would tragically drive them apart, before dooming both to die as exiled French queens.

For further reading, Elena Maria Vidal's blog Tea at Trianon is a goldmine of information on Marie-Thérèse and her family. I also highly recommend her sensitive and beautifully written novel, Madame Royale, based on the life of this brave lady. Here is an informative talk by Dr. Susan Nagel, author of the acclaimed biography of the princess, Marie-Thérèse: Child of Terror. While I don't agree with everything she says, I still found the lecture very interesting. Finally, here is a beautiful video tribute to Marie-Thérèse.

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