Friday, 14 June 2013

Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria, Dauphine of France

Maria Anne Victoria was born on November 28 1660 to the Elector of Bavaria (Ferdinand Maria) and his wife Princess Henriette Adélaïde de Savoy - her mother was a French princess which meant that Maria Anna already had roots in the French house of Bourbon. Maria Anna was betrothed to Louis, Grand Dauphin (the only surviving son of Louis XIV) when she was merely eight years old. Since her family already knew where Maria Anna would spend her life, the young girl was educated with all the graces that would be expected from a French Dauphine. In 1680 Maria Anna travelled to Châlons-sur-Marne where she would meet her future husband on March 7.

Maria Anna Victoria would be known as Marie Anne Victoire de Bavière - or simply Madame la Dauphine - at the French court. Opinions on Maria Anna were divided; on one hand she made a very good impression on her new people by her ability to speak French fluently already at the arrival but one the other hand she was considered to be very unattractive. But beautiful or not - she was still the second-most important woman at court and would become the most important one when Queen Marie Thérèse of Spain died in 1683.

However, the marriage between Maria Anna and Louis was not a happy one. Maria Anna suffered from a poor health which made it difficult for her to perform her duties as a first lady at court but her husband did not believe her. Louis would often openly accuse Maria Anna of hypochondria and would alienate himself further from his wife by taking several mistresses. Consequently, Maria Anna lived alone in her grand apartments and since she was not very popular with the courtiers (who probably thought her too boring) she spent most of her time with her German companions. Somehow the marriage still produced three children: Louis de France, Philippe de France and Charles de France.

Maria Anna was depressed about the constant focus on beauty at the French court which was only made worse by her own looks. Luckily for the Grand Dauphine she had a fellow German at court (Elisabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate) whom she developed a close relationship with.
But Maria Anna was not to live long. She died on April 20 1690 and the following autopsy revealed that she had suffered from serious "internal disorder" which had caused her to be almost constantly ill.

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