Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Louise Marie Thérèse Bathilde d'Orléans & Louis Henri de Condé

Rather unconventionally, Louise Marie was the elder in the relationship. When the couple was wedded on 20 April 1770 she was twenty years old while Louis was just fourteen. Due to the bridegroom's young age he was not expected to consummate the marriage just yet. This meant that Louise Marie was sent back to the convent where she had been living for years. However, in a rather gallant move, the young Duc d'Enghien fetched his bride away from the cloister and took her back to his estate.

Such a romantic gesture might have foretold of a happy union but that was not to be. After just six months the young Louis was tired of his new wife. Nevertheless, the couple managed to conceive a child: a son, Louis Antoine Henri, who was to be their only child.

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Louise Marie

As Louis grew so did his interest for women - that is any other woman than his wife. He took mistresses from both court and Paris and did little to hide his escapades. One of Louis' primary mistresses was an opera singer by the name of Marguerite Michelot. He would have two daughters by her. Louise Marie was immediately blamed for her husband's unfaithfulness. As was custom for the time it was often thought that a husband's wandering eye was due to the wife's inattention or rejections. 

Louise Marie refrained from having any affairs of herself while married but she was not unaware of her husband's. She caused quite a scandal when she set up a play at court. This was not only a harmless pastime but a frequent one; smaller plays were often played in the private apartments of Versailles. What was unusual, however, was that Louise Marie's play strongly hinted and disapproved of her husband's adultery.
Apparently, this little jab at Louis was enough and he filed for a legal divorce in 1780. 

For Louise Marie this meant that her life would suddenly change. Separated women were not allowed at court; their male counterparts were still welcome. Thus, Louise Marie was forced to live away from court. To her relief it was not to be an existence of squalor. She retired to the Château de Chantilly where she spent her time quite contentedly. It was not until the couple had separated that Louise Marie decided to have an affair of her own with the Chevalier de Roquefeuil. There has been speculated that she had a daughter by him and passed her off as a daughter of a secretary. 

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The couple would never have a rapprochement. During the revolution Louis fled to England while Louise Marie remained in France. Once the monarchy had been restored in 1815 the families of the two long-separated spouses wished them to rebuilt their marriage. Louise Marie refused and Louis did not protest. By then they had not been living together as husband and wife for thirty-five years. 
Louis continued with a new mistress - an English prostitute named Sophia -  and Louise Marie took a new lover in the shape of a young gendarme.

Louise Marie died in 1822 and Louis followed her eight years later.

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