The family of La Trémoille descended from Poitou where they had been a firm part of the nobility since before the 11th century. Five centuries later, the family had reached the top of the French aristocracy where they married into families that were closely related to the royal family including the Bourbon-Conti.
Ducs and Duchesse de La Trémoille
1) Henri III de La Trémoille & Marie de La Tour d'Auvergne
Henri embodied several illustrious titles besides that of Duc de La Trémoille; he had 25 aristocratic titles in total, including those of Prince de Talmont and Comte de Laval.
He had been a Protestant until 1628 when he converted himself and his children to Catholicism. He served in the army until he was wounded in the knee during the Siege of Carignan. Then he turned to a career in politics where he obtained the post of grand maître to the king. He would withdraw from his official duties in 1668 when he became seriously ill; the charge went to his eldest son and heir.
Marie held considerable influence in her own name; in particular, she took control over the areas Laval and Vitré. Unlike her husband, she never converted to Catholicism and convinced Henri - once he had taken up the crucifix - to continue to support the Protestant population's right to exercise their religion. Prior to her marriage, she had served as a maid-of-honour to the Duchess of Wilhelmsburg.
The couple had 6 children:
- Henri Charles, Duc de La Trémoille
- An unknown child, who died in infancy
- Louis Maurice, Comte de Laval
- Élisabeth, died at the age of 12
- Marie-Charlotte, Duchesse de Saxe-Iéna
- Armand-Charles, died at the age of 8
2) Henri Charles de La Trémoille & Amelia of Hesse-Cassel
During Henri Charles' reign as Duc de La Trémoille, his family laid claim to the kingdom of Naples. Henri Charles' great-grandmother, Anne de Laval, happened to have been the only legitimate heir of Frederick of Aragon. The family of La Trémoille rushed to the king to present their claim but they were too late. To compensate his loyal followers, Louis XIII granted them the title of Prince de Tarente. Henri Charles could do nothing but bite his tongue but he had no intentions of letting his claim slip. When Louis XIV came to the throne, he petitioned the king again and was given permission to go to Munster to press his claim before the assembly gathered to sign the Treaty of Westphalia. Sadly for Henri Charles, he was denied.
Henri Charles had converted to his mother's religion and would struggle with religious questions throughout his life. During the Fronde, he made the mistake of going against Cardinal Mazarin and found himself on the losing side. As a result, he was arrested in 1656 in Amiens and banished to the Netherlands. While there, he occupied himself with numerous books and literary works arguing for and against Catholicism.
Meanwhile, his mother had been working on his behalf and managed to get a pardon for him. After three years in exile, he returned to Thouars to take over his father's duties. However, he himself found a religious change of heart and converted to Catholicism. He died two years before his father and the ducal title went to his son.
Amelia was deliberately chosen as a wife to Henri Charles, due to her Calvinist beliefs. Once he converted to Catholicism, she fled to the Netherlands. The rupture between them was complete and Henri Charles took their children from her. She would never return to France, dying in Frankfurt in 1693.
The couple had five children:
- Charlotte-Émilie, Countess of Oldenburg
- Charles-Belgique-Hollande, Duc de La Trémoille
- Frédéric-Guillaume, Prince de Talmont
- Henriette-Céleste, died young
- Marie-Sylvie, unknown
3) Charles-Belgique-Hollande & Madeleine de Créquy
By the time Charles came of age, he was particularly well-connected at court. Through his mother, he was related to the new Madame, Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate. When Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, Charles was amongst those who clearly voiced his protests - probably because the revocation meant that his mother would be in exile for life.
Despite his efforts on his mother's behalf, he would also convert to Catholicism in 1670.
Madeleine was Duchesse de Poix in her own right, as the only daughter of the Duc de Créquy.
The couple had two children:
- Charles Louis Bretagne, Duc de La Trémoille
- Marie Armande, Duchesse de Bouillon
4) Charles Louis Bretagne de La Trémoille & Marie-Madeleine Motier de La Fayette
Charles Louis began a career in the king's service. On the battlefield he achieved the rank of Marèchal de Camp while at court, he was made First Gentleman of the King's Bedchamber. Marie-Madeleine was the last member of the oldest branch of the La Fayette-family.
Sadly, neither of them were destined to live long. Charles Louis died when he was 36 years old and Marie-Madeleine at just 25.
The couple had a single child:
- Charles Armand René, Duc de La Trémoille
Charles Armand turned out to be a man of many talents. He distinguished himself on the battlefield - particularly at the battle of Guastalla - and was made a colonel at the tender age of 18. He would later inherit his father's post as First Gentleman of the King's Bedchamber and received the governorship of the Île-de-France.
Apparently, he possessed literary skills as well and was admitted to the Académie Française in 1738. He was later granted the Order of the Saint-Esprit. Much like his father, he would not live for long, dying at the age of 33.
Marie-Hortense was Charles' first-cousin, as the daughter of Marie Armande, Duchesse de Bouillon. She would die at the age of 37. Interestingly, both Charles Armand and Marie-Hortense died in 1741.
They had one child:
- Jean-Bretagne-Charles-Godefroy, Duc de La Trémoille
6) Jean-Bretagne-Charles-Godefroy de La Trémoille & (I) Marie-Geneviève de Durfort, (II) Marie-Maximilienne de Salm-Kirbourg
Jean served his time in the army and was promoted to the rank of brigadier; however, his military career was cut short when he was seriously wounded. When the revolution broke out, Jean remained loyal to Louis XVI and emigrated in 1789. While he was in exile, he learned that two of his four sons had been guillotined.
Marie-Geneviève was known as Mademoiselle de Randan prior to her marriage. Despite being married for 11 years, the couple had no children.
Marie-Maximilienne actually held the title of princesse, since her father was the sovereign of the state Salm Kyrbourg (a state within the Holy Roman Empire).
The couple had four children:
- Charles-Bretagne-Marie, Duc de La Trémoille (during the Restoration)
- Antoine Philippe, Prince de Talmont (guillotined)
- Charles-Godefroy, Canon (guillotined)
Interesting facts and anecdotes:
- Charlotte-Émilie, who became Countess of Oldenburg, would be closely connected to the Danish nobility. After her husband's death, the county of Oldenburg went to the King of Denmark
- The wife of Charles-Bretagne-Marie was Louise-Emmanuelle de Châtillon who happened to be a Dame du Palais to Marie Antoinette
- Jean-Bretagne-Charles-Godefroy was the first Duc de La Trémoille in three generations to reach his 40th birthday
- Antoine Philippe was guillotined in front of the gates of his château de Laval
|Antoine Philippe, Prince de Talmont|
(guillotined in 1794)
|Marie Armande, Duchesse de Bouillon|
by marriage - also known as the
Princesse de Turenne
|Presumed to be Marie Anne de La|
Trémoille, Princesse des Ursins