Who Loved Her Father… a Little Too Much – Part 1/2 (1695-1719)

By: The Scribe on Thursday, May 24, 2007

MarieMarie Louise Elizabeth of Orleans, better known as “La Duchesse du Berry”, was a young woman who spent the majority of her life indulging in court pleasures, hiding behind the façade of joie de vivre to conceal her true psychological and emotional trauma. Born to Philip II of Orleans and the Lady Francoise Marie, Marie Louise’s mother ignored her from birth, causing Marie to grow up much more quickly than any child should.

When she was six years old, Marie became so gravely ill that the royal doctors believed she was basically dead and refused to attend to her any longer. Instead, her father Philip II nursed Marie back to health with his own hands – and being grateful that she was still alive, he proceeded to spoil her in every way possible, even giving her a little court of ladies for her own when she was only 14 years old. Her mother, seeing a way to consolidate power, arranged a marriage for Marie to the 23-year-old Duke of Berry and forced her to spend a year losing weight to ensure she was ‘able to conceive when married’.

Even after the marriage, Marie Louise did not like her husband, Prince Charles, and often acted rudely toward guests at court. When she was 15, Marie had her first pregnancy, which caused her to become extremely irritable – and since her husband wasn’t able to be of any comfort, Marie’s father often spent several hours with her each day. This gave rise to rumors about a possible love affair between daughter and father, which would haunt the family for years to come.

In the later stages of her first pregnancy, Marie was involved in a boating accident that caused her to give birth early – the child died only hours later. In 1712, she experienced her second pregnancy, though she went into labor early for a second time: the baby died only two weeks later. Although her husband did everything he could to try and love her, Marie developed a violent temper and often spent hours alone with her father. On one occasion, her father put his painting talents to use by painting his daughter in the nude, which did nothing but increase the swirling rumors of incest.

During mealtimes – which were apparently quite frequent for Marie – one historian wrote that Marie Louise would often drink to excess and eat so much that she would promptly throw up in the middle of dinner. She engaged in numerous affairs, and made no effort to conceal them from her husband.

Eventually, Prince Charles gave up his attempts to care for his wife, and the two engaged in a battle of affairs to try and out-do each other. They began to fight in public, and on several occasions were reprimanded by the king; on one occasion, it was reported that Charles kicked his wife and threatened to send her off to a convent. In 1714, Charles unfortunately fell from his horse while hunting, leaving his wife to become a widow at the young age of 18 – and in addition, Marie had just announced her third pregnancy. Ordering her room to be decorated completely in black, she remained in bed for months before the baby was born.

Want to read more?

Unruly Daughters A Romance Of The House Of Orleans

Tomorrow: Would this child be the one to live, changing Marie for the better? Find out tomorrow…


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