Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Marriage of Madame Royale

Louis XVIII is the one generally blamed for the unhappy marriage of Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte of France to her cousin Angouleme. It is known that while the orphaned princess was in Vienna, she was receiving "love letters" from her future husband that were not written by him at all but by their scheming old uncle. Louis XVIII needed Madame Royale, the daughter of the slain Louis XVI, at his side for political gain. He would have done anything to get her to marry the rather grotesque Angouleme, which would then make her a permanent member of his household.

However, it needs to be kept in mind that Madame Royale probably would have married Angouleme in the normal course of events, simply because from childhood her parents had planned on it. People like to say that Marie-Antoinette hated France and the French. It is not true. Marie-Antoinette saw being Queen of France, in spite of the many inconveniences and burdens attached to the role, as being the apex of earthly existence. She preferred for her daughter to remain in France as a princess of France, married to a French-born prince, rather than arrange a marriage for her with a king of another country. Also, Marie-Antoinette did not want to be separated from her daughter as she herself had been divided from her family at such a tender age. Madame Campan attests to these facts in her Memoirs, while relating some events that occurred in 1787.
I had an opportunity on this occasion, as indeed on many others, of judging to what extent the Queen valued and loved France and the dignity of our Court. She then told me that Madame, in marrying her cousin, the Duc d’Angouleme, would not lose her rank as daughter of the Queen; and that her situation would be far preferable to that of queen of any other country; and that there was nothing in Europe to be compared to the Court of France; and that it would be necessary, in order to avoid exposing a French Princess to feelings of deep regret, in case she should be married to a foreign prince, to take her from the palace of Versailles at seven years of age, and send her immediately to the Court in which she was to dwell; and that at twelve would be too late; for recollections and comparisons would ruin the happiness of all the rest of her life. The Queen looked upon the destiny of her sisters as far beneath her own..... (Madame Campan's Memoirs)

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