Friday, September 2, 2016

‘A Most Lamented Princesse’

From the National Archives:
Henriette was the daughter of Charles I, born in Exeter in 1644. Smuggled out of England two years later, she was brought up at the French court. The restoration of her brother, Charles II, to the English throne in 1660 raised her standing in the European royal marriage market, resulting in her marriage to Philippe in 1661. The young couple’s high status at the French court was underlined by the simplicity of their titles – ‘Monsieur’ and ‘Madame’.

Madame had close and affectionate relationships with her brother, Charles II, and with her brother-in-law, Louis XIV, although there is no evidence that she had an affair with the latter as suggested in the TV series. In May 1670, because of the trust shown in her by both monarchs, she traveled to England to sign the secret Treaty of Dover on behalf of Louis; secret primarily because of Charles’s controversial commitment in it to return his country to Catholicism. Only a few weeks later, on 29 June 1670, Madame was dead, aged just 26. 1

The news arrived in England three days later. 2  This short letter from William Perwich, English agent in France, was written to Joseph Williamson in the Secretary of State’s office just two hours after the event.
‘…Madam fell sick of the Cholick yesterday about 4 in the afternoon & dyed a most Lamented Princesse this morning at 3. Grief will not let me ad[d]…’
The letter has been roughly torn around the seal, suggesting it was opened hurriedly by its recipient. (Read more.)
 More about Henriette Anne, HERE. Share

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