Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Historical Flavour of the Week: Maria-Adelaide of Savoy




Born in the Royal Palace of Torino in 1685, her father was a Prince of Piedmont and her mother a Princess of France by royal blood (and-she’s Henrietta’s granddaughter). .

This angelic child came to the Court of Louis XIV, at the tender age of ten and was soon betrothed to Louis’ grandson (who was next in line of succession after his father; Louis'son).

Louis was totally enchanted by this lovely Italian princess who delighted everyone at court. She especially knew how to make the King smile and filled his heart with warmth and kindness. She literally brought out the best in people especially because she was gentle, thoughtful and cheery to all those who knew her. Not only was she totally charming, Maria-Adelaide was an absolutely beautiful child; she was actually nicknamed the ‘walking doll.'

The King really loved her and she loved him too. Apparently she has been quoted for having said to Madame Maintenon, while sitting on her lap, ‘Teach me well I beg you, what I have to do to please the King’. By this type of interchange we can see how close she was to Madame Maintenon as well. She also used to address her as ‘aunt’ something that was never done at Court.

So loved was she by the King and the Court that even before becoming Dauphine, and right after the death of her mother-in-law, Adelaide was considered First Lady of Louis’ Kingdom. To further this point, when Queen Maria Teresa, Louis XIV’s wife died, Adelaide was given her apartments at Versailles (sharing the same floor as the King and Madame de Maintenon).

The King clearly gave preferential treatment to this lovely princess much to the demise of his own legitimized daughters by the Marquise de Montespan and the Duchesse de Lavallière. This close relationship of theirs really aggravated the two ladies…

In December 1697 Adelaide married the duc de Bourgogne (Louis’ grandson), as planned. The wonderful exception in this case was that the two were genuinely in love- such a rare thing at the time, especially in the Court of Versailles. Unfortunately the couple had several heartbreaks when it came to forming their family. She suffered four stillborn births to then give birth to two Louis' who died in infancy. Her last living child though, would become King Louis XV, (making her by far an important figure of the times).

The chain of horrible deaths that would ensue from 1711 to 1712 would devastate Louis XIV. First, the death of Louis’s son (Adelaide’s father-in-law)- then less than a year later, Adelaide would die from the pox, followed by her husband and her five year-old son.

Here is a quote from Cronin’s Louis XIV that can sum up her personality and why she was loved so:

‘Madame de Maintenon wrote: “She has a natural courtesy which permits her to say nothing but what is pleasant. Yesterday I tried to prevent her from caressing me, saying I was too old. ‘Ah, not so old as that!’ and did me the honour of embracing me.”

The little princess came like a breath of spring to the ageing Court. She was lively and loving and played games with the courtiers, sang at the tables and even danced on her chair. She used the informal ‘tu’ to Louis, rumpled his clothes and mussed his wig. When the post arrived, she would open his letters and sometimes sit on his knee while he read them. “Everybody here has become a child again”’
.

Louis suffered great losses but it is said that he never got over the death of Adelaide. He was crushed and heart-broken. The Kingdom was in full mourning- Gone were the glowing rays in the Sun King’s Court.

Marie-Adelaide truly left her mark not only as the angelic Dauphine in the times of Louis XIV- but also as the sweet mother of France’s subsequent King Louis XV.

-

134 comments:

Ingrid Mida said...

Lucy,
You have a gift for making history into an enchanting tale. Adelaide sounds like a lovely lady.

Ms. Lucy said...

Thanks so much Ingrid- I so appreciate you telling me this:) I just love history and view it as one giant fairytale (where not everything ends with happily ever-after, though...) Adelaide was a doll in every sense of the word. Thanks:)

Dar said...

Lucy, I love these posts you do. It's like a private history lesson and I love it. I love this painting as well. It's just beautiful.

Ms. Lucy said...

That's such a nice thing to say- Thanks so much Dar:)

Viola said...

She sounds very sweet and looks pretty in the painting. Thank you very much for this fascinating post!

Ms. Lucy said...

You're welcome Viola! Thanks:)

Arleigh said...

How heartbreaking that her children didn't live. I agree, you have a gift for writing these little bios! What an interesting lady!

sallymandy said...

I was just about to say what Ingrid and Arleigh said. When I come over to read one of your posts, I just get lost in it. I could read and read. You have a way of making the people come alive.

Marie Burton said...

Thanks for the story .. another notch under your belt for informing me of things I had not idea about. And definitely intrigued me!

Ms. Lucy said...

Arleigh, Sallymandy and Marie...what can I say about you ladies?! You just make my day:) I love the history and that time period-that's all! those ladies lived through some pretty bad times and most times their voices were muffled- I kind of like bringing them back to life, even if it's just for a brief moment that might interest others. Thanks so much!

Shako said...

EEEK! here I am again. Every time I visit this blog I am welcomed by a wonderful picture of Josephine, and ever time I notice something new...things weren't what they used to be. I am favouriting this, it's the least I can do as I'm not a blog member...I knew you from Carmi's. I love the Josephine and Napoleon...they are my most influental pair.
Yes, Dar! These posts make school history lessons look so lame and boring and hardly worth going to, yet we still do, wow! I gt called "Napoleon-kid" because I drew Napoleon and Josephine in a Mediaeval Heaven and Hell lesson once. You have so much talent I even felt for Louis. Yikes, the sun set. Sorry, mate.

Ms. K @ Write On Thyme said...

I agree with Ingrid: You make history fun! Love that nickname: the Walking Doll. Thanks for sharing this. And Happy Holiday!
Kirsten

Ms. Lucy said...

Hello Shako:) I'm so glad you're enjoying this. Josephine and Bonaparte were certainly something..Thanks so much for visiting:)

Hey Kirsten:)Thanks for the good wishes:)And, what can I say..I love history and find all of it so interesting. Thanks:)

Jack Bennett said...

Wonderful post. It's always been one of the great-ifs of history to me what would have happened if the smallpox didn't hit the French Court at that time and the Duke of Burgundy/Dauphin and the Dauphine Marie-Adelaide (two very interesting people)and their OLDEST son had lived. French history would have been a lot different, considering that Louis XV probably would not have been king (as it was the only reason he survived was because his nurse protected him and removed him from infected brother).

Penelope said...

I just stumbled on your blog and I have to say - you have a wonderful knack for making history come alive! Too many people focus on the drab dates and battles, but you show that these colorful characters are relevant and glorious.

I agree with Jack Bennet - what if?? I feel a novel coming on :)

luxury cincinnati hotels said...

Wow interesting post. I came over in order to let you know that today, I have realized some new stuff, Keep up the good work, i will definitely read your more posts.

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