Friday, 31 July 2015

Louis Auguste de Bourbon, Duc du Maine

Louis Auguste was born at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye on 31 March 1670; he was the bastard child of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan. As such he was brought to the care of a certain Madame Scarron (later Madame de Maintenon) who took charge of all the couple's illegitimate children.

Louis Auguste as a child

Since he rarely saw his mother, Louis Auguste came to see Madame Scarron as a maternal figure. It quickly became clear that Louis Auguste was slightly different from his brothers and sisters having one leg that was slightly shorter than the other. In an attempt to cure this, Madame Scarron first travelled with him to Antwerp and later to Bareges - naturally neither worked.

When Louis Auguste was three years old his life suddenly took a turn for the better when his father legitimised him and his siblings through letters patent. Consequently, Louis Auguste received the title of Duc du Maine.
In 1674 the King decided that he wanted his (now) legitimate children near him at Versailles, so Louis Auguste was brought there and officially presented to the court. Despite being just four years old, he was also honoured with the position of Colonel-General of the Swiss Guard.

Louis Auguste was singled out as his father's favourite son and was showered with gifts and attentions. Louis XIV made sure that his son had all the best that money could buy from tutors to playthings. However, some speculated whether Louis Auguste was even the King's son at all. The main voice of this doubt was the Duchesse d'Orlèans who would become Louis Auguste's greatest enemy at court.

In 1695

Everyone had expected Louis Auguste to go into the army and make a dazzling career for himself there but despite having the Marèchal de Luxembourg (distinguished soldier himself) as mentor, Louis Auguste never amounted to anything more than a mediocre soldier. Instead, his father decided to increase his fortune and offered him several estates; these were taken from La Grande Mademoiselle in exchange for some lenience towards her lover, the Duc de Lauzun, who was imprisoned.
This blackmailing also led to Louis Auguste receiving the titles of Comte d'Eu, Duc d'Aumale and Prince de Dombes. At the age of 14 he was sent to Savoy where he was tasked with representing the King at the Duke of Savoy's wedding.

When it came to matrimony, it was expected that the King would take care to make an excellent match for his favourite son. First, his cousin (daughter of the Duc d'Orlèans) was suggested but since she happened to be also the daughter of his enemy, the Duchesse d'Orlèans, who loudly protested her daughter's marrying a bastard, it came to nothing.

Duc du Maine2.jpg
Louis Auguste - notice the walking stick
which was necessary for him to walk around
and not just a fashion accessory
On the other hand, the Grand Condé was willing to overlook such technicalities and offered Louis Auguste the pick of his three granddaughters. Louis Auguste chose Louise Bénédicte, Mademoiselle de Charolais. They were married at Versailles on 19 May 1692; on the occasion Louis Auguste received 2 million livres while his bride received 100.000 livres in cash as well as jewels and clothing worth another 200.000.

The match was not a happy one. Louise Bénédicte was ashamed of having married a legitimised son which lead to her having a lot of affairs. One would have thought that the couple would have come together if not due to anything else then because of their mutual drawback: they were both disabled. Louise Bénédicte had a bad right arm while Louis Auguste's left leg was lame.
Despite the unhappiness of the union it still produced 3 children.

In 1707 his mother died, but Louis Auguste did not seem to feel it much; unlike his siblings who had grown attached to her. He had always considered Mme. de Maintenon his real mother and had no bond of affection for his actual mother.
To the astonishment of the court, Louis XIV declared in 1714 that both Louis Auguste and his brother, the Comte de Toulouse, would be raised to the rank of Princes of the Blood. When Louis XIV died the following year, it was announced that the regency was to be shared between Louis Auguste and the Duc d'Orlèans.

However, the Duc d'Orlèans swiftly moved in and secured his place as sole Regent leaving Louis Auguste on the sideline. Consequently, Louis Auguste decided to join the Cellamare Conspiracy which aimed at transferring the regency to the King of Spain. But it was discovered and Louis Auguste was imprisoned and stripped of his rank as Prince of the Blood.

Both he and his wife - who had been exiled - were pardoned in 1720 and allowed back to court. It would seem that they preferred living a more private life at the Château de Sceaux where they tried to establish a proper marriage. Here, Louise Bénédicte created a salon for literary thinkers and here Louis Auguste died on 14 May 1736.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Louis Auguste II de Bourbon, Prince de Dombes

Louis-Auguste II de Bourbon, prince de Dombes.jpgBorn on 4 March 1700, Louis Auguste was named after his father and was the grandson of Louis XIV - legitimised that is.
It quickly became obvious that Louis Auguste had a knack for military exploits which his father had never had. Serving under Prince Eugene of Savoy, Louis Auguste distinguished himself in the Austro-Turkish Wars, the War of the Polish Succession and the War of the Austrian Succession.

Ever since his father died in 1736, Louis Auguste inherited the majority of wealth and titles of his father's. From then on he received several other titles including that of Comte d'Eu, Prince d'Anet, Comte de Dreux and Colonel General of the Swiss Guards.

Despite his apparent success Louis Auguste spent little time at court and preferred to live in his private Château d'Anet. Here he was free to indulge in his favourite pastimes of hunting and gardening - in order to be able to create the garden that he wanted, he invented a hydraulic system that could transport water around the flower beds.

Louis Auguste never married and never had any children which meant that his brother stood to inherit everything he left behind. That became just the case when Louis Auguste died on 1 October 1755 in a duel at the royal residence of Fontainebleau.

House of Beauvilliers

The founder of the House of Beauvilliers is assumed to be Herbert-Émussent de Beauvilliers and the first mention is about 1115. The eldest branch pretty much merged with the House of Chartres which was the neighbour of the Beauvilliers.

In 1496 the House of Beauvilliers added the Barony of Saint-Aignan through the marriage of Mery de Beauvilliers and Louise de Husson. In 1663 Saint-Aignan was raised to a duchy; from then on head of the family went by the title of the Duc de Saint-Aignan.

The family title died out in 1828.

Titles held by the House of Beauvilliers:
Duc de Beauvilliers
Duc de Saint-Aignan
Baron de La Ferté-Hubert
Comte de Montrésor

Armes de la famille.

Châteaux of the family:
Château du Lude
Château de Chaumont-de-Loire

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

House of Rohan

House and Cadet-Branches 
The House of Rohan is from Brittany and claims their descent from the earliest Kings of England. At court the Rohans were given the title of Prince étranger or Foreign Prince - an honour only a few families who permanently resided at court had.

This house is one of the largest noble families with plenty of cadet-branches which means that the story of the House of Rohan is more the story of separate houses. To give a better illustration of this I have attempted to make an illustration of the different cadet-branches springing from the original family of Rohan.

Of these the lines of Rohan-Chabot and Rohan-Rochefort are still existing while the others have gone extinct.

In an attempt to keep the history of this house as understandable as possible the following alliances, titles and family members are divided into the different branches.

Traced back to 1180 but ended in 1494.

Dating back to 1375 the branch of Rohan-Guéméné is the result of the union between Jean de Rohan and Jeanne d'Évreux (also known as Jeanne of Navarre). 

For alliances and titles see Rohan-Chabot

Branch beginning around 1270 and ended in 1530.

A cadet-branch of the Rohan-Gué-de-l'isle it was established in 1500 and died out three centuries later in 1800. The family never became prominent at court due to their participation in the Pontcallec conspiracy after which they went into exile in Spain. 

Created in 1693 when Charles de Rohan-Guéméné was given the added title of Prince de Rochefort and consequently titled himself as Charles de Rohan-Rochefort.

Since the surviving members of the Rohan-Rochefort family are the eldest survivors they maintain all the titles previously scattered between the different branches (Prince de Rochefort, Prince de Soubise, Duc de Rohan-Rohan, etc.)

Alliances through marriage (the first is the member of Rohan-Rochefort):
Charles de Rohan-Rochefort - Éleonore Eugénie de Béthisy de Mézières = 3 children (the current House of Savoy are directly descended from this couple through their daughter)

Charles Jules de Rohan-Rochefort - Marie Henriette Charlotte d'Orléans-Rothelin = 2 children

Charlotte Louise de Rohan-Rochefort - Louis Antoine Henri de Bourbon, Duc d'Enghien (executed by Napoleon)

Titles held by the Rohan-Rochefort:
Prince de Rochefort
Prince de Montauban 

Sprung from the branch of Rohan-Guéméné the line began in the marriage of Francois de Rohan and Anne de Rohan-Chabot. Anne bought the Lordship of Soubise which was made a principality in 1667 - court gossip would have it that Louis XIV did it to please her since she was then his mistress.

François de Rohan - Anne de Rohan-Chabot = 2 children
Hercule Mériadec de Rohan - Anne Genviève de Lévis = 5 children
Jules-Francois-Louis de Rohan - Anne-Julie de Melun = 5 children
Charles de Rohan - Anne Marie Louise de La Tour d'Auvergne = 0 children
                              - Anne-Thérèse de Savoie-Carignan = 1 child
Victoire Armande Josèphe de Rohan - Henri Marie Louis de Rohan = 5 children

Duc de Rohan-Rohan
Duc de Ventadour
Prince de Maubuisson
Prince de Soubise
Prince d'Epinoy
Marquis de Roubaix

Originally from 1541 this branch was caught up in the religious wars in France during this period. The family was Protestant and supported Henri IV who rewarded them with the Duchy of Rohan. The family is thought to have been swallowed up in the union of Marguerite de Rohan (herself a member of Rohan-Gié) and Henri Chabot.

Descended from the Protestant Rohan-Gié branch in 1645 Marguerite de Rohan married the Catholic Henri Chabot which ended the former line and created that of Rohan-Chabot. From then on the Rohan-Chabots were Catholic. It should be noted that this is the only Rohan branch to descend through the female line.

Marguerite de Rohan-Chabot - Henri de Chabot = 6 children
Henri-Louis-Marie de Rohan-Chabot - Marie Élisabeth de Bec-Crespin de Grimaldi = 11 children
Louis II de Rohan-Chabot - Françoise de Roquelaure = 6 children
Louis-Marie-Bretagne de Rohan-Chabot - Charlotte de Crussol d'Uzès = 3 children

Duc de Rohan
Prince de Leon
Marquis de Blain
Comte de Porhoët
Comte de Moret

House of Grammont

Motto: God help the guardian of Kings

The House of Grammont is mentioned as early as the 14th century as a family of power. The founder of the main house was Hughes II Granges and his descendants divided the House into several branches: Grammont-Fallon, Châtillon, Conflandey, Mélisey, Vellechevreux and Vezet.

The family belonged to the region of Franché-Comte. The original château they resided in was ordered demolished by Louis XIV after his taking of Besancon; consequently, the family built a new castle, the Château de Villersexel. In 1718 the Lordship of Villersexel was raised to a Marquisate for Michel-Dorothée de Grammont who served as Lieutenant-General in the royal army.

Théodule de Grammont married a daughter of the Noailles-family which was considered an advantageous match since the House of Noailles was one of the greatest in France.

The family continued to reside at Villersexel till the revolution in 1789.

Armes de la famille.

House of Montmorency

Motto: God aid the first Christian Baron

The House of Montmorency traces its' roots back to the 10th century and had a rather clever way of gaining power. Rather than the usual methods of marriage, bribery or fighting for the King, the Montmorency family moved from south of Paris to the north. From here, they controlled a strategically important area which held the principal roads leading into Paris - an area that French Kings had been fighting over for years.
Also possessing a stronghold on the island of Saint-Denis, the family made quite a bit of money from taxing sailors.

Anne de Montmorency, portrait par Léonard Limosin (1556), émail conservé au musée du Louvre, Paris.
Anne de Montmorency - first Duc de Montmorency

Such a position was bound to attract royal notice and the family fully intended to stay there. For the next centuries they would particularly distinguish themselves on the battlefield. In 1214 when the French battled the Holy Roman Empire, the then leading head of the House of Montmorency, Mathieu II, achieved the incredible feat of capturing 12 of the enemy's standards. Following this battle, the King allowed Matthieu to add 12 victorious birds to his coat-of-arms - since it already had four, there would now be a total of 16.
Anne de Montmorency also managed to make a successful military career during the Italian wars in the 16th century. 

The family attached themselves further to power when the 15-year old Charlotte-Marguerite de Montmorency married Henri II de Bourbon-Condé. Up until then, the family had been rising ever higher but that came to an abrupt halt in 1632.

Portrait du duc de Montmorency par un peintre anonyme, Musée du Louvre
Henri II - executed by order of Louis XIII

In that year the Duc de Montmorency, Henri II, was executed by Louis XIII for treason which meant that the line technically died out on the male side. The title of Duc was transferred to his sister, Charlotte-Marguerite (read above) and was from then on held by the House of Bourbon-Condé.

D'après un portrait de Rubens (vers 1610)
Charlotte-Marguerite who inherited the title

In 1688 the title of Duc de Montmorency actually ceased to exist. Jules Henri de Bourbon-Condé renamed it to Duc d'Enghien and that could easily have been the end of the Montmorency-title. But just the year after it was revived by Louis XIV for Louis-Joseph de Vendôme.

Blason Mathieu II de Montmorency.svg
By 1789, the House of Montmorency had spread into six branches, each holding a particular title:

Duc de Montmorency
Duc de Piney-Luxembourg
Duc de Beaumont
Prince de Robecq
Duc de Laval 
Comte de Montmorency-Laval

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

House of La Rochefoucauld

The family name of La Rochefoucauld is the combination of the original Lordship held by the family (La Roche) and the first-name of one of the earliest members of the family Foucauld I.

The House of La Rochefoucauld is counted as one of the oldest in France and has maintained a close contact with power through the ages. From being Lords to Comtes and finally in 1622, the family achieved the ultimate honour of being awarded the title of Duc which came with a peerage.

The House came dangerously close to extinction in 1721 when the last son of Alexandre de La Rochefoucauld died. Due to the law in France at the time females could neither inherit a dukedom nor bestow it on their own sons. In an attempt to avoid the extinction of his House, Alexandre decided to proceed with a case of serious intermarriage.
He suggested marrying his daughter Marie-Louise-Élisabeth to the last of his own brothers - her uncle, that is. "Sadly", she died before the wedding could take place.

In a desperate attempt to survive Alexandre appealed to the King who agreed that the title of Duc could continue with Alexandre's surviving daughter's offspring on one condition: she had to marry a member of her own House. Consequently, she married her first-cousin and the House survived.

Burelé d’argent et d’azur, à trois chevrons de gueules brochant sur le tout, le premier écimé.

Related titles:
Duc d'Estrées
Duc de Doudeauville
Duc d'Enville

Monday, 27 July 2015

House of Béthune

The House of Béthune was one of the oldest families and was founded by a younger brother of the Comte d'Artois in the 10th century.

The House divided into a good deal of branches; the most important ones being lead by the Duc de Sully (extinct in 1807), Duc de Charost (extinct in 1800), Duc d'Orval and Marquis de Chambris.
In 1757 the family received the coveted Honours of the Court which they kept until 1788.

While the family had little influence in France during the Ancien Regime, they did manage to get a good foothold in the Holy Roman Empire and produced several princes there. Other than that several Marshals of France and even a Cardinal came from this family.

In 1719 François Joseph de Béthune became a peer of France; an honour which was also extended to his son. Armand Louis François de Béthune was among those nobles who were murdered during the revolution and ended his life in 1794.


House of d'Albert de Luynes

Originally from Italy, the family were forced to remove to France during the 14th century due to unrest in their native Florence.

In 1415 the family was finally acknowledged as a part of the French nobility when Thomas Alberti - or d'Albert as they were known in France - purchased the Luynes. They further cemented their place in the aristocracy when Honoré d'Albert de Luynes fought on the side of Henry IV which meant that a lasting connection with loyalty to the Crown was established.

From there on, the family moved easily in the highest circles in the land. Charles Albert became a favourite of Louis XIII and has been rumoured to have been his lover. His brother married a noblewoman and was created Duc de Chaulnes - finally removing any shred of a doubt of the family's belonging to the nobility. Their last brother also became a Duc through his marriage to the Duchesse de Piney.

The branch of Piney-Luxembourg died out in 1697.

Armes de la famille.

Related titles:
Duc de Luynes - held by the head of the house
Duc de Chevreuse - held by the eldest son and heir
Duc de Chaulnes - courtesy title of the second son

House of La Tour d'Auvergne

There were two branches within this family but the eldest died out before Louis XIV was born so I will only deal with the second branch.

Coat-of-arms of the family

The second branch was founded by Bertrand de La Tour d'Auvergne who died in 1329. A descendant of his, Henry de La Tour d'Auvergne, was a Marèchal de France and a fervent supporter of Henry IV's Protestantism. It was through his wife (Charlotte de La Marck) that he inherited the principality of Sedan and the duchy of Bouillon. His second wife was a daughter of Willem of Orange which meant that their eldest son (Frederic Maurice) - and heir to the title - hoped to succeed to the throne of the Netherlands.
This prompted a marriage to a Dutch noblewoman which was against his family's wishes as well as his staying in Dutch service rather than French. He also converted to Catholicism.

Frederic Maurice was implicated in a conspiracy and as such was offered a pardon if he was willing to exchange the strategically important Sedan and Raucourt for the dukedoms of Albret and Château-Thierry.

Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne by Circle of Philippe de Champaigne.jpg
Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne
Frederic Maurice's younger brother was granted the title of Vicomte de Turenne and was one of the most illustrious Generals of the time.

Up until 1678 the dukedom of Albret had been occupied by Spain which meant that it was a rather hollow title. But in that very year it became French again which was a huge improvement in the prestige of the La Tour d'Auvergne family. At the French court they had the title of Foreign Prince which allowed them a great deal of privileges.

Another infamous member of the family is Marie Louise Henriette de La Tour d'Auvergne who was the instigator of the Diamond Necklace-Affair; she was executed in 1793. Her brother brought the House to the brink of ruin by spending an immense amount of money on his mistress (a million in one month!). His son died in an accident which ended the House of La Tour d'Auvergne.

Colson - Portrait du Duc de Bouillon.jpg
Godefroy de La Tour d'Auvergne who nearly ruined the family

Titles in the family:
Duc de Bouillon
Prince de Turenne - given to the heir of the Duc
Comte d'Évreux

Portraits: Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate

Name: Elizabeth Charlotte

Relation: Wife of Philippe d'Orlèans, sister-in-law of Louis XIV

Title: Duchesse d'Orlèans

Louise de Lorraine, Duchesse de Bouillon

Born Louise Henriette Gabrielle de Lorraine on 30 December 1718, Louise was a Princesse by birth as the daughter of the Prince de Mortagne.
Not a lot is known of her childhood except that she was the second child born to Charles Louis de Lorraine and Élisabeth de Roquelaure.

Louise de Lorraine, princesse de Turenne par Nattier.jpgAs all Princesses must Louise was expected to make a great match. Her husband came in the shape of the sole heir of Charles Godefroy de La Tour d'Auvergne: Godefroy de La Tour d'Auvergne (yes, named almost exactly after his father). This match was different from the majority of matches between nobles because the bride was older than the groom - 9 years to be exact. They were married on 27 November 1743.
Following her marriage Louise was known as the Princesse de Turenne, who would become the Duchesse de Bouillon when her father-in-law died.

The union produced a total of four children of which two survived - sadly the House of La Tour d'Auvergne went extinct with her eldest son, since he never had children. In 1771 Louise became the Duchesse de Bouillon which entitled her to some of the most coveted privileges at court, including a tabouret in presence of the monarchs.

Louise died on the night between 4-5 September 1788 in the Hôtel of her family in Paris.

The Royal Cadet-Branches

Since the House of Bourbon (itself a cadet-branch of the Capetian dynasty) was the reigning house in France it is only natural that there should be several cadet-branches that secured the members of these branches a claim to certain privileges without being considered directly a part of the royal family. Normally, a separate branch began with a younger son.

Of these there was a specific difference between the legitimate and the illegitimate branches - I have only included those branches that existed from the beginning of Louis XIV's reign.

Most of these houses were known at court by their branch-name, such as the House of Orlèans or the House of Montpensier, rather than Bourbon-Orlèans.

The Legitimate Branches

The title of Duc d'Orlèans was given to Philippe, Louis XIV's younger brother at the death of Gaston, Duc d'Orlèans in 1660. This meant that Philippe and his first wife, Elizabeth Charlotte, were the founders of the Orlèans-dynasty that survived till the revolution.

The descendants of Philippe and Elizabeth Charlotte was given the surname of "d'Orlèans" rather than the traditional "de France". The reason for this is that Philippe himself was the son of a King (Louis XIII) whereas his son, grandson etc. were so-called petit-fils de France or grand-children of France and as such could not be granted the same surname.

The Duc d'Orlèans had the right to be known as Monsieur le Prince but none of the Ducs chose to be addressed as such.

Related titles:
Duc de Chartres - the eldest son of the Duc d'Orlèans (courtesy title)
Duc de Valois 

Coat of Arms of the July Monarchy (1830-31).svg
Coat-of-arms of Bourbon-Orlèans

Until 1709 the Princes de Condé were the First Prince of the Blood but it was transferred to the Orlèans-family. After this time, the then-Prince de Condé (Louis III de Bourbon) chose to be known as "de Bourbon" since this was their hereditary peerage. This meant that they could still be addressed as Monsieur le Duc at court rather than Monsieur le Prince.
Unlike most other cadet-branches there was no area tied to the title, no duchy or county.

Related titles:
Duc de Bourbon - preferred title of the eldest male member of the House 
Prince de Condé - still an official title but not used as a part of the name

The title of the eldest male would be (if his name was Louis) Louis de Bourbon, Prince de Condé

The title went extinct in 1866.

Coat-of-arms of Bourbon-Condé

Was a cadet-branch of the House of Condé and as such also of the House of Bourbon which meant that they were Princes of the Blood. The title went extinct in 1614 but was revived for the second son of the Prince de Condé in 1629.

The title finally went extinct in 1814.

Originally the arms of the Bourbon-Soissons but was adopted by Bourbon-Conti after the extinction of the former

Actually, there were two Houses of Bourbon-Vendôme. The first was legitimate and descended from Louis, Comte de Vendôme. From this branch came the first Bourbon-King Henry IV and would continue to rule France.

The second was illegitimate and was given to the legitimised son (César de Bourbon) of Henry IV and his mistress, Gabrielle d'Estrées.

The second house went extinct in 1727 and after that it reverted to the Crown. Since then it was used as a courtesy title of the Comte de Provence, brother of Louis XVI.

Related titles:
Duc de Beaufort - given to the second son of César de Bourbon
Duc d'Étampes - inherited through the maternal side of César de Bourbon

Coat-of-arms of Bourbon-Vendôme

The House was created at the marriage of Marie de Valois, Comtesse de Montpensier and Jean de Bourbon. The House was immensely wealthy and once it went extinct the fortune was divided between the two families mentioned below.

The last member was la Grande Mademoiselle who died in 1693 at which point it went extinct. The land and properties went mainly to the House of Orlèans and the House of Penthièvre. After her death the title become a courtesy title of the Duc d'Orlèans.

Coat-of-arms of the branch of Bourbon-Montpensier

The youngest of the cadet-branches, the House of Soissons was founded by the youngest son of the then-Prince de Condé, Louis I de Bourbon.

The Comte de Soissons was known as Monsieur le Comte at court.

The Illegitimate Branches

Extinct in 1744

Coat-of-arms of Bourbon-Lavedan

Descending from a younger son of Charles I, Duc de Bourbon, this branch was the source of some controversy.

The founder, Louis de Bourbon (son of Charles I), went into clergy which meant that he could not marry. However, he married before he became a priest; to the possibly illegitimate Catharine d'Egmont. But the marriage was never given royal licence which meant that it was as good as illegal. Therefore, the branch was considered illegitimate and the members never played any real part at court.

Related titles:
Baron de Chalus
Baron de Puysagut

Coat-of-arms of the Bourbon-Bousset branch

Founded by Louis-Auguste who was the legitimised son of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan; as such the dynasty began when he was legitimised in 1672. The House went extinct in 1775.

The eldest male members held the title of Duc du Maine.

Related titles:
Duc d'Aumale
Prince de Dombes
Comte d'Eu

Founded by the only son of the Comte de Toulouse who himself was the son of the youngest illegitimate son of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan. The members of this house were not considered Princes of the Blood but were acknowledged to be the family of the King and as such held quite a high rank at court as well as apartments at Versailles.

The House went extinct in 1793 when the family was murdered during the revolution.

The family of Penthièvre - including Marie Antoinette's
close friend, the Princesse de Lamballe

Coveted Simplicity: the Simpler the Better

Being known simply as "Madame" or "Monsieur de ..." at court was a highly coveted privilege since it meant that the person in question held a position important enough to be addressed simply - in other words, everyone knew who you were.
Within the royal family itself there were also these kind of distinguishing titles.

Reserved for the only son of Louis XIV known as the Grand Dauphin

Reserved for the King's eldest brother

Reserved for the wife of Monsieur

Madame Royale
Reserved for the King's eldest daughter

Reserved for the eldest daughter of Monsieur

These titles were also in use for the nobility who would often be married in and out of the royal family.

Monsieur le Prince / Madame la Princesse
Reserved for the First Prince of the Blood which ever since 1709 was the Duc d'Orlèans and his wife. Prior to that the title had been for the Prince de Condé

Monsieur le Duc / Madame la Duchesse
Reserved for the eldest son of the Prince de Condé whose full title was Duc/Duchesse d'Enghien

Monsieur le Comte / Madame la Comtesse
Reserved for the Comte and Comtesse de Soissons - a cadet-branch of the Condé-line

Since titles followed the male line and women - even then - generally lived longer than men, it was necessary to find a way to distinguish the different dowagers of the Prince de Conti in an appropriately dignified way. Therefore, the title Dowager and their number was added after the title of Madame la Duchesse de Conti.
So, Marie Anne de Bourbon who was the first woman to hold this title she was known as Madame de First Dowager.

Sunday, 26 July 2015