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Princess Marie Adélaïde of France

Marie Adélaïde
Duchess of Louvois
Madame Adélaïde with a medal showing her parents and the then King, her nephew Louis XVI
Born (1732-03-23)23 March 1732
Palace of Versailles, France
Died 27 February 1800(1800-02-27) (aged 67)
Triest, Italy
Burial Basilica of Saint-Denis
Full name
Marie Adélaïde de France
House House of Bourbon
Father Louis XV of France
Mother Marie Leszczyńska
Religion Roman Catholicism

Marie Adélaïde de France,[1] Daughter of France (23 March 1732 in Versailles – 27 February 1800 in Trieste), was the fourth daughter and sixth child of King Louis XV of France and his consort, Marie Leszczyńska. As the daughter of the king, she was a Fille de France. She was referred to as Madame Adélaïde from 1737 to 1755 and from 1759 to her death, and simply as Madame from 1755 to 1759.

Originally known as Madame Quatrième ("Madame the Fourth"), until the death of her older sister Louise Marie in 1733, she became Madame Troisième, ("Madame the Third"). Adélaïde also possessed the Duchy of Louvois with her sister Madame Sophie from 1777, and which had been created for them by their nephew Louis XVI, in their own right.


  • Life 1
    • Childhood 1.1
    • Versailles 1.2
    • Later life 1.3
  • Gallery 2
  • Titles and styles 3
  • Ancestry 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Notes 7
  • Further reading 8



Madame Adélaïde was raised at the Palace of Versailles with her older sister, Madame Henriette, along with her brother Louis, Dauphin of France. Her younger sisters received their education at the Abbaye de Fontevraud, because the cost of raising them in Versailles with all the status they were entitled to was deemed too expensive by Cardinal Fleury, Louis XV's chief minister. Adélaïde was expected to join her younger sisters in Fontevraud, but she was allowed to stay with her brother and her two eldest sisters in Versailles after a personal plea to her father.

She was put in the care of Marie Isabelle de Rohan, Duchesse de Tallard.


Madame Adélaïde (1750), by Jean-Marc Nattier

Adélaïde was never married. By the time she had reached the age when princesses were normally married, in the late 1740s, there were no potential consorts regarded to be of suitable status available, and she preferred to remain unmarried rather to marry someone below the status of monarch or heir to a throne. [2] Marriage suggested to her were liaisons with the Prince of Conti and Prince Francis Xavier of Saxony, neither whom had the status of being a monarch or an heir to a throne.

She became the head of the group of the three unmarried, younger sisters who survived into adulthood; the others were Madame Victoire and Madame Sophie. They all found solace in music.

Madame Adélaïde, as well as her siblings, attempted without success to prevent their father's liaison with Madame de Pompadour, which began in 1745.

In the early 1750s, when the health of Madame de Pompadour was deteriorating, Adélaïde, who was a good rider, became the favorite and close companion of her father for a time, during which she often accompanied him during his riding and amused him with conversation. Their new close relationship caused rumors that they had an incestuous relationship.[3] A rumor also claimed that Adélaïde was the true mother of Louis de Narbonne (born 1755) by her father.[4] There is nothing to indicate that these rumors were true, and Adélaïde's close relationship to her father was, in any case, a temporary one.

Adélaïde was described as intelligent. She was the only one of the unmarried sisters with political ambition, and she attempted unsuccessfully to gain political influence through her father the king, her brother the Dauphin, and eventually through her nephew, the next Dauphin.[5]

She was deeply affected by the death of her sister Madame Henriette at the age of twenty-four in 1752, and by the death of her brother, the Dauphin, in 1765.

By 1770, Adélaïde and her sisters were described as bitter old hags, who spent their days gossiping and knitting in their rooms.[6] Reportedly, they seldom dressed properly, merely putting on panniers covered by a coat when leaving their rooms.[7] They did, however, alternate with the Countess of Provence in accompanying Marie Antoinette on official assignments.[8]

Madame Adélaïde despised her father's last maîtresse-en-titre, Madame du Barry. When the fourteen-year-old Marie-Antoinette became Dauphine in 1770, Madame Adélaïde tried to win her support against Mme du Barry, but the empress Maria Theresa opposed it. This was a factor which would cause Adélaide to bear subsequent malice toward Marie Antoinette.

After the dauphin's death in 1765, followed in 1767 by that of his second spouse, Marie-Josèphe, Madame Adélaïde took custody of the late dauphine's papers, with instructions concerning their son, Louis Auguste, should he become king. The papers were opened on 12 May 1774, after the death of Louis XV, who was succeeded by his grandson Louis Auguste as Louis XVI. Three distinguished names were suggested for the position of Prime Minister (Premier Ministre), that of Jean-Frédéric Phélypeaux, comte de Maurepas, Emmanuel-Armand de Richelieu, duc d'Aiguillon, and Jean-Baptiste de Machault d'Arnouville.

Later life

Madame Adélaïde and her sister left Versailles with the rest of the Royal Family on 6 October 1789, the day following the Parisian women's march to Versailles, and the sisters took up residence at the Château de Bellevue at Meudon, about 9 miles west of Paris.

Revolutionary laws against the Catholic Church caused them to leave France for Italy on 20 February 1791. On their way, they were arrested and detained for several days at Arnay-le-Duc before they were allowed to continue their journey. They visited their niece Clotilde, sister of Louis XVI, in Turin, and arrived in Rome on 16 April 1791. As a result of the increasing influence of Revolutionary France, they traveled farther afield, moving to Naples in 1796, where Marie Antoinette's sister, Marie Caroline, was queen.

They moved to Corfu in 1799, and finally settled in Trieste, where Victoire died of breast cancer. Adélaïde died one year later. Their bodies were returned to France by Louis XVIII at the time of the Bourbon Restoration, and buried at the Basilica of Saint-Denis.

Among her nephews were the kings of France Louis XVI, Louis XVIII, and Charles X, and Ferdinand, Duke of Parma. She had as nieces Madame Élisabeth, Clotilde, Queen Consort of Sardinia, and Queen Maria Luisa of Spain.


Titles and styles

  • 23 March 1732 – 27 February 1800: Her Royal Highness Princess Marie Adélaïde of France


See also


  1. ^ Achaintre, Nicolas Louis, Histoire généalogique et chronologique de la maison royale de Bourbon, Vol. 2, (Rue de L'École de Médecine, 1824), 154.
  2. ^ Joan Haslip (1991). Marie Antoinette. ISBN. 
  3. ^ Joan Haslip (1991). Marie Antoinette (in Swedish). p. 38. ISBN. 
  4. ^ Joan Haslip (1991). Marie Antoinette (in Swedish). p. 39. ISBN. 
  5. ^ Joan Haslip (1991). Marie Antoinette (in Swedish). ISBN. 
  6. ^ Joan Haslip (1991). Marie Antoinette (in Swedish). ISBN. 
  7. ^ Joan Haslip (1991). Marie Antoinette (in Swedish). ISBN. 
  8. ^ Joan Haslip (1991). Marie Antoinette (in Swedish). ISBN. 


  • This article is based on a translation of the equivalent article of the French WorldHeritage on 1 November 2006

Further reading

  • Antoine, Michel, Louis XV, Librairie Arthème Fayard, Paris, 1989, (French).
  • Castelot, André Charles X, Librairie Académique Perrin, Paris, 1988, (French).
  • Lever, Évelyne, Louis XVI, Librairie Arthème Fayard, Paris, 1985, (French).
  • Lever, Évelyne, Marie Antoinette, Librairie Arthème Fayard, Paris, 1991,(French).
  • Lever, Évelyne, Louis XVIII, Librairie Arthème Fayard, Paris, 1988, (French).
  • Zieliński, Ryszard, Polka na francuskim tronie, Czytelnik, 1978, (Polish).
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