Sunday, 26 August 2018

The Princesse de Condé's Mental State

Claire-Clémence de Maillé-Brézé's lot in life had not been a fortunate one. Although she was born privileged she was married at the tender age of 13 to Louis II de Bourbon-Condé who despised her. He would continually bully and abuse her over the course of their marriage; he even went so far as to accuse of her having had several affairs which - in that day and age - justified his locking her away.

Nevertheless, she remained loyal to her husband but never came to return her civility. As the years droned on it became clear that all was not right with the Princesse de Condé's mental health. 

By 1664 there is some evidence to suggest that her mental health was failing. A letter from her husband - who was away from the family estate - demanded that his secretary keep him informed of any new "transports"..
It was noted that she was never at court except for when her rank absolutely demanded it. Furthermore, both her husband and her son "seemed embarrassed" if asked about how she was.

One account states that Claire-Clémence suffered from violent hallucinations. One of these was that she was made of glass which caused her to shriek with fright when approached - apparently, she feared that she would break. 
These appeared to have worsened once she was all but imprisoned by her husband. It is not unlikely that the years of marital disappointments had taken its toll and once she was installed in her fortress her conditioned worsened. She would begin to hallucinate that her husband was a monster who sought to bury her alive or kill her. Theoretically speaking he had already buried her alive in a social sense since he barred her from not only court but general company or a free life. It was noted that she was so rarely from her fortress that society began to "forget her".


Billedresultat for claire clemence de maillé-brézé
Claire-Clémence

Her fear of her husband became so great at times that she was convinced he was trying to poison her. She would often refuse to eat if the dish had been sent back to the kitchens since she feared that something could have been done to it.

There is another aspect that should be considered. The dislike of her husband was evident and following a close relationship with a valet it is possible that he saw the opportunity to get rid of her. Her son did nothing to aid her which could explain why the both of them seemed "embarrassed" when asked about her. Then again, it is equally likely that she was insane. Insanity was often considered to be shameful to a family in those days so it is possible that the immensely proud Grand Condé was ashamed.

Interestingly enough, her mental issues seems to have been hereditary - this definitely supports the theory that she did indeed have mental issues. Several of her children and grandchildren - most notably her son, Henri Jules, were plagued by similar mental issues. If we take a look at her own parents her mother was for quite a while considered to be "eccentric" which eventually became madness. 

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