Monday, 18 March 2013

Mesdames Tantes



Madame Victoire

Louis XVI had three aunts who all lived at Versailles and was called "Mesdames Tantes". These ladies were the daughters of Louis XV and was named: Madame Adélaïde, Madame Victoire and Madame Sophie (they had had five other sisters but three had died of smallpox, one was living in a convent and one was living at a foreign court). The three sisters still remained at Versailles because they believed it too high a cost to sacrifice their titles as Princesses of France in order to marry and hereby get another title.

Madame Victoire was also sent to a convent where she spent her childhood. She returned to court when she was fifteen and due to her strong religious beliefs, she shared her sister's contempt for their father's adultery - and especially his mistresses. She was considered the most beautiful of the three sisters and died at Corfu of breast cancer around 1799.
Madame Sophie

Madame Sophie was considered an uninteresting and rather unattractive. She did not spent her childhood at Versailles but at a convent due to the massive pressure on finances it was to have eight royal princesses living at court. It is said that she had a phobia for thunder. She had no influence at Versailles and generally followed her sister, Madame Adélaïde, and her convictions which meant that she did not think highly of her father's mistresses - especially Madame du Barry and Madame de Pompadour. She was made Duchess of Louvois alongside with Madame Adélaïde.

Marie Adélaïde
Madame Adélaïde remained at Versailles during her childhood but lived in the shadow of her brother Louis. When Madame de Pompadour became ill, she became her father's favourite and often went hunting and conversed with him. She was the only one of the three Mesdames Tantes that had any desire for political influence and she was the head of the trio. She tried to influence the young Marie Antoinette when she arrived to court but Marie Antoinette's mother opposed it and as a consequence, Madame Adélaïde harboured a certain malice against Marie Antoinette.

The three sister were allowed to keep their apartments at Versailles when Louis XVI became King of France. They were generally known to be three bitter old women who spent their time gossiping and knitting in their own apartments. During the reign of Louis XVI, they were basically forgotten by the court and used their time travelling France on lavish and expensive tours.
When Versailles was stormed on October 6th 1789, Adélaïde, Victoire and Sophie left the palace with the rest of the royal family. They tried to leave France but were stopped and detained at Arnay-le-Duc before they were allowed to move on. In 1799 they moved to Corfu where Madame Victoire died of breast cancer. Adélaïde died less than a year after.

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