tirsdag den 17. november 2015

The Grand Dauphin's Secret Marriage

The Grand Dauphin had already once married for politics - to Maria Anna of Bavaria - and when she died after ten years of marriage he decided that his next wife would be of his own choosing. However, when the most eligible bachelor in France suddenly becomes single it will not do to have him married of to a maid-of-honour.

The court had long been aware that the Grand Dauphin was very much in love with Mademoiselle Choin, maid-of-honour to the Princesse de Conti. It was rumoured - and is quite likely - that the two were lovers while Maria Anna was still alive. Actually, there is one big clue that can hardly be overlooked: Mademoiselle Choin was pregnant at the time of her wedding.

The Grand Dauphin

Their wedding took place in the first half of 1694 but it is uncertain exactly when. Mademoiselle Choin was never given the title or honours belonging to a Dauphine nor was she acknowledged as the Grand Dauphin's wife. Actually, she would keep the title of Mademoiselle Choin for the rest of her life. The Grand Dauphin, however, did refer to Mademoiselle Choin as his "legal spouse" in a letter to Madame de Maintenon dated 19 July 1694.
That child she expected was born in 1694 and was quickly dispatched into the countryside. Here the little baby boy died nearly two years later without having received a name.

Normally, Mademoiselle Choin lived at Meudon which was the Grand Dauphin's private residence. Whenever she did go to court she was sure to find a friend in Madame de Maintenon with whom she was particularly good friends.
Even though the actual status of the two's relationship was not fully acknowledged it was completely obvious to the prying eyes of Versailles that something had happened. For one, Mademoiselle Choin was allowed to sit in the presence of the royal family despite not being a Duchesse. Also, she addressed the royal family by their first names.



Mademoiselle Choin

One of the reasons why Louis XIV accepted the marriage was undoubtedly the discretion showed by both the Grand Dauphin and Mademoiselle Choin. The latter never tried to meddle in politics and proved herself to be a modest addition to the royal family since she had no interest in displaying any extravagance. The Grand Dauphin never pressured his father for these honours and never made any scandal of the matter. All in all it was as discreet as Louis XIV could wish.

The marriage seems to have been based on genuine affection. When the Grand Dauphin died in 1711 Mademoiselle Choin left court and went to reside in private. Although the Grand Dauphin had left her a large sum of money she refused them with the phrase: "when he was alive I needed only him and now after his death only a small income".
Louis XIV awarded her with a pension which she mostly spent on charity before dying 21 years later.

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