Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Anne Victoire of Hesse-Rotenburg, Princesse de Soubise

Anne Victoire was born on 25 February 1728 as the eldest child of the Hereditary Prince of Hesse-Rotenburg.

She was chosen to become the third wife of Charles de Rohan, Prince de Soubise. The couple were married on 23 December 1745 at the bridegroom's Château des Rohan. At the time of the marriage Anne Victoria was 17 years old while her new husband was 30. In dynastic terms the match was not a bad one. Charles de Rohan held the rank of Prince d'Etranger at court; he had accompanied Louis XV on his military campaign of 1744-48 - during this point he was married to Anne Victoire. Also, he had become a close friend of Louis XV which certainly helped his young wife's social standing at court.

There seem to have been little genuine love in the match. Both parties took lovers outside of their marriage and the couple never had children. Considering that his last two wives had died in childbirth this could be an indicator that the couple were not intimately connected or that they simply never conceived a child.

Anne Victoire became the centre of a court scandal in 1757 when she was arrested on the order of the king. She was accused of stealing jewels worth 900.000 livres; these she allegedly planned to use to pay for an elopement she had planned with her lover, Monsieur de Laval-Montmorency. The elopement had almost been succesful since she had made it to Tournai where she was eventually caught.

This was the final straw for the marriage. The couple was officially separated - in itself a scandal - and she was sent back to her parents in disgrace. Her parents were given a pension of 24.000 livres for her keep. From this point she lived in Ecternacht and little is therefor known about her life. It is known, though, that she never remarried. The fate of her previous marriage had made her an outcast on the marriage market. Not only was the scandal enough to scare away potential suitors but she was almost 30 years old when she was separated. At the time this was considered to be middle age for a woman since women "lost their bloom" at a remarkably early point.

However, she moved back to Paris at some point in her later years. Here she died on 1 July 1792 - five years exactly after her estranged husband. It would seem that she avoided the wrath of the revolutionaries which could be due to the fact that she had not been connected to the French aristocracy for a long time.

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