Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Poor Health of Marie Anne Victoire

The Bavarian princess, Marie Anne Victoire, was not a great success when she arrived at court to marry the Grand Dauphin. Described as terribly unattractive she quickly gained a reputation for being boring - that was enough to keep her isolated at court. But what really angered her father-in-law, Louis XIV, and drove her husband mad was her constant complaints of illness.

Louis XIV was convinced that Marie was "faking" it and insisted that she performed her duties as the leading lady of Versailles (which she was after the death of the Queen).

It was said that the birth of the Duc de Berri had not gone smoothly; something had gone wrong which allegedly left the mother's figure slightly "deformed". It would seem that pregnancies did not generally go too well with Marie Anne Victoire; she had several miscarriages (three in 1685 alone and then two in 1687) which often rendered her terribly ill - however, she still managed to give birth to three living boys. The toll these pregnancies - and miscarriages - must have had on her already weakened body can only be imagined.

Billedresultat for la grande dauphine
Marie Anne Victoire

Madame de Caylus was convinced that the Grande Dauphine was slightly herself to blame. Always being "locked in" in her small cabinets without proper ventilation she was bound to suffer the consequences - or so Madame de Caylus argued. She went on and said that in her constant search for a cure for her ailments she subjected her body to all sorts of various "treatments" which eventually killed her. This opinion was shared by other members of the court but the autopsy would reveal that it was not quite so.

Marie Anne Victoire herself was well-aware that her family did not believe her complaints of illness. According to Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate (Monsieur's second wife) shortly before her death she said: "I shall convince them today that I was not mad in complaining of my sufferings". She was not always so stoic since her frustration of never being taking seriously led her to exclaim that she would have to die to justify herself. Eventually, she was right.

It is possible that Marie Anne Victoire's mental health attributed to her physical illnesses; she was depressed and as Madame de Caylus correctly reported preferred to lock herself away rather than endure the petty insults of the court.

Billedresultat for la grande dauphine

In 1689 the Grande Dauphine took to her bed again but was ignored by the court. As Madame La Fayette recalled: "No one believed in her illness". Voltaire was also of the opinion that she was "always dying" and undoubtedly many courtiers thought the same. Thanks to Madame La Fayette we also know that she had lost a great deal of weight and was swollen.

In the spring of 1690 she experienced another bout of intense illness - probably the same as the previous year - which left her doctors perplexed. They thoroughly examined her and found several abscesses in her abdomen that they could neither treat nor explain. She soon developed a fever, too. Consequently, poor Marie Anne Victoire was left to fend for herself in her apartment.

After her death an autopsy was carried out which revealed that she suffered from a "generalised infection spreading from her lungs to her intestines".

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