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Marie Louise of Orléans (1662–1689)

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Marie Louise of Orléans (1662–1689)

Marie Louise of Orléans
Marie Louise by Mignard, 1679
Queen consort of Spain
Tenure 19 November 1679 – 12 February 1689
Spouse Charles II of Spain
Full name
French: Marie Louise d'Orléans
Spanish: Maria Luisa de Orleans
House House of Orléans
Father Philippe I, Duke of Orléans
Mother Henrietta Anne of England
Born (1662-03-26)26 March 1662
Palais-Royal, Paris, France
Died 12 February 1689(1689-02-12) (aged 26)
Royal Alcázar, Madrid, Spain
Burial El Escorial, Spain
Religion Roman Catholicism

Marie Louise of Orléans (26 March 1662 – 12 February 1689) was Queen consort of Spain from 1679 to 1689 as the first wife of King Charles II of Spain. She was a granddaughter of Louis XIII of France; this made her a petite-fille de France ("Granddaughter of France"). In her adopted country, she was known as María Luisa de Orleans.


Enamel miniature by Jean Petitot, circa 1678

Marie Louise d'Orléans, Mademoiselle d'Orléans at birth, was born at the Palais Royal in Paris. She was the eldest daughter of Philippe de France, Duke of Orléans, the younger brother of King Louis XIV of France, and of his first wife, Princess Henrietta Anne of England. As a petite-fille de France, she was allowed the style of Her Royal Highness.

Charming, pretty and graceful, Marie Louise, who was her father's favourite child, had a happy childhood, residing most of the time in the Palais-Royal, and at the Château de Saint-Cloud situated a few kilometers west of Paris. Marie Louise spent a lot of time with both her paternal and maternal grandmothers - Anne of Austria, who doted on her and left the bulk of her fortune to her when she died in 1666; and Henriette Marie de France, who lived in Colombes, where she met her young cousin Anne, the future Queen of Great Britain.

Marie Louise's mother died in 1670. The following year, her father married Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, Liselotte, who became a real mother to Marie Louise and her younger sister Anne Marie. All her life, Marie Louise would maintain an affectionate correspondence with her stepmother.

Marie Louise saw the construction of the Palace of Versailles in her youth and the reign of Madame de Montespan.


Marie Louise

It has been said that she wanted to marry her cousin, Louis, the Dauphin of France; however, the surviving letters of her stepmother suggest that Marie Louise and the Dauphin were never in love. In any case, Europe was in an era of constant change and war. Her father and uncle were the informants of her marriage to Charles II, which was seen as a way to induce better relations between France and Spain; the two nations had been on bad terms because of her uncle’s battles in the Spanish Netherlands.

The proxy marriage ceremony took place at the Palace of Fontainebleau on 30 August 1679; standing for the groom was her distant cousin Louis Armand I, Prince of Conti. Till mid-September there were a series of formal occasions in honor of the new Queen of Spain. Before leaving for Spain, Marie Louise went to the convent of Val-de-Grâce where the heart of her mother was kept. She would never return to France.

Marie Louise, Charles and his mother, Mariana of Austria, attend together an auto de fe from a balcony in Madrid's Plaza Mayor on 30 June 1680. Detail from Auto de fe (1683), painting by Francisco Rizi. Prado Museum, Madrid.

On 19 November 1679, Marie Louise married Charles in person in Quintanapalla, near Burgos, Spain. This was the start of a very lonely existence at the Spanish court. Her new husband had fallen in love with her and remained so until the end of his life. However, the confining etiquette of the Spanish Court (touching the Queen was forbidden), and her unsuccessful attempts to bear a child caused her distress. It should be noted Charles II of Habsburg lineage suffered many shortcomings likely arising from extensive inbreeding within his family tree and this quite likely contributed greatly to Marie not successfully bearing offspring.

Her French attendants were accused of plotting against the king and his family and, as a result, one of her personal maids was tortured based on such accusations.. Due to the nature of the times, and the Spanish court’s hatred of the young French princess, there were even riots outside the palace in Madrid where she resided. Far from the airy, fashionable courts at Versailles, Saint-Cloud and Paris, her new residences were the forbidding Real Alcázar de Madrid and the even more stark Palacio del Buen Retiro - a country palace where Marie Louise was allowed to keep her French horses. She also spent time in the Palacio Real de Aranjuez, south of Madrid.. Within the ten years of the couple's marriage, the couple had no children. Marie Louise confided in the French ambassador, that

she was really not a virgin any longer, but that as far as she could figure things, she believed she would never have children.
Marie Louise, Queen of Spain, lying in state in the Royal Alcazar of Madrid (1689), oil painting by Sebastián Muñoz.

After years of trying and of increasing homesickness of her happy years in France with her family, Marie Louise turned to food. During the last years of her life, she became overweight. After horseback riding on 11 February 1689, she felt a severe pain in the abdomen which forced her to lie down the rest of the evening. She died the following night.


Coat of arms of Queen Marie Louise

The death of Marie Louise left her husband heartbroken. At the time, there were rumours that she had been poisoned by the notorious intrigante Olympia Mancini, Countess of Soissons, at the behest of the dowager queen, Mariana of Austria, her mother-in-law, because Marie Louise had not given birth to any children. This is questionable since Mariana and Marie Louise were close and the dowager queen was also devastated at the young queen's death. It seems likely that the real cause of Marie Louise's death was appendicitis.


House of Orléans
See descendants
Marie Louise, Queen of Spain
Philippe Charles, Duke of Valois
Anne Marie, Queen of Sardinia
Alexandre Louis, Duke of Valois
Philippe, Duke of Orléans
Élisabeth Charlotte, Duchess of Lorraine


Marie Louise of Orléans (1662–1689)
Cadet branch of the House of Capet
Born: 26 April 1662 Died: 12 February 1689
Royal titles
Title last held by
Mariana of Austria
Queen consort of Spain
1679 – 1689
Title next held by
Maria Anna of Neuburg
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