Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans

French princess (1676-1744)

Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans (13 September 1676 – 23 December 1744) was a niece of Louis XIV and wife of Leopold, Duke of Lorraine. She was later regent of Lorraine. As a widow she was created Princess of Commercy. Among her children was Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor, father of Marie Antoinette. She also had much input in the construction of the Château de Lunéville. She also introduced the future architect "Germain Boffrand" to the royal courts in 1711.

Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans
Élisabeth Charlotte as Venus about to bind the wings of Cupid by Pierre Gobert
Duchess of Lorraine
Tenure13 October 1698 – 27 March 1729
Princess of Commercy
Tenure1737 - 23 December 1744
Born13 September 1676
Château de Saint Cloud, France
Died23 December 1744(1744-12-23) (aged 68)
Château de Commercy, France
Église Saint-François-des-Cordeliers, Nancy, France
SpouseLeopold, Duke of Lorraine
IssueLéopold, Hereditary Prince of Lorraine
Louis, Hereditary Prince of Lorraine
Léopold Clément, Hereditary Prince of Lorraine
Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
Elisabeth Therese, Queen of Sardinia
Prince Charles Alexander
Anne Charlotte, Abbess of Essen
Full name
Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans
FatherPhilippe of France
MotherElizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate
SignatureÉlisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans's signature

Family change

Élisabeth Charlotte was born at the Château de Saint-Cloud the daughter of Philippe, Duke of Orléans and of his second wife, Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate. Her father was the only sibling of King Louis XIV of France.

She was entitled to have the style of Her Royal Highness. At birth, she was given the honorary style Mademoiselle de Chartres. After the marriage of her two older half-sisters, Marie Louise and Anne Marie born of the first marriage of their father to Henrietta of England, she was known as Madame Royale, according to her status as the highest-ranking unmarried princess in France.

Marriage change

There were plans for her to marry Joseph Clemens of Bavaria (Élisabeth Charlotte herself refused), William III of England, Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I, Joseph was suggested by Pope Innocent XII himself, as well as her widowed first cousin Louis, Grand Dauphin. Another was Louis Auguste de Bourbon, Duke of Maine, eldest son of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan.

Élisabeth Charlotte was finally married on 13 October 1698 at the Palace of Fontainebleau to Leopold, Duke of Lorraine, son of Charles V, Duke of Lorraine, and of the Archduchess Eleonora of Austria. The marriage was the result of the Treaty of Ryswick, one of its conditions being that the Duchy of Lorraine, which had been for many years in the possession of France, be restored to Leopold, a son of Charles V, Duke of Lorraine. Thus, Élisabeth Charlotte was but an instrument to cement the peace treaty. The House of Lorraine received a dowry of 900,000 Livres.

To everyone surprise, what had been expected to be an unhappy union turned out to be a marriage of love and happiness. With the birth of her children, Élisabeth Charlotte showed great maternal instinct and a naturally caring character. The marriage produced thirteen children, of which five survived into adulthood. Three of them died within a week in May 1711 due to a smallpox outbreak at the Château de Lunéville, the country seat of the Duke's of Lorraine.

Regent of Lorraine change

Her husband died in 1729, leaving his wife Regent of Lorraine for their son, Francis Stephen of Lorraine. After being educated in Vienna, Francis Stephen returned to Lorraine in 1737, ending his mother's tenure as regent.

Élisabeth Charlotte tried to engage her youngest child Anne Charlotte to King Louis XV; this project failed due to the intrigues of Duke of Bourbon; Élisabeth Charlotte then tried to arrange the marriage of Anne Charlotte to her first cousin Louis d'Orléans, Duke of Orléans, who had been recently widowed; Louis d'Orléans refused.

Later years change

Unable to prevent her son from giving up the duchy of Lorraine to Stanisław Leszczyński when he married the Habsburg heiress, Maria Theresa of Austria, Élisabeth Charlotte moved into the Château d’Haroué in nearby Commercy, which was turned into a sovereign principality for her to enjoy during her dowager years.

Élisabeth Charlotte died of a stroke, on 23 December 1744, one week after her daughter-in-law and grandchild, at the age of sixty-eight. She was the last of her siblings to die and had outlived ten of her thirteen children. Nine months after her death, her son Francis Stephen became Holy Roman Emperor.

She was buried in the funerary chapel of the Dukes of Lorraine in the Saint-François-des-Cordeliers church in Nancy.

Issue change

The family of Léopold I of Lorraine in circa 1710 attributed to Jacques Van Schuppen.
  1. Léopold, Hereditary Prince of Lorraine (26 August 1699 – 2 April 1700) died in infancy.
  2. Princess Élisabeth Charlotte of Lorraine (21 October 1700 – 4 May 1711) died of smallpox.
  3. Princess Louise Christine of Lorraine (13 November 1701 – 18 November 1701) died in infancy.
  4. Princess Marie Gabrièle Charlotte of Lorraine (30 December 1702 – 11 May 1711) died of smallpox.
  5. Louis, Hereditary Prince of Lorraine (28 January 1704 – 10 May 1711) died of smallpox.
  6. Princess Joséphine Gabrièle of Lorraine (16 February 1705 – 25 March 1708) died in infancy.
  7. Princess Gabrièle Louise of Lorraine (4 March 1706 – 13 June 1710) died in infancy.
  8. Léopold Clément, Hereditary Prince of Lorraine (25 April 1707 – 4 June 1723) died unmarried.
  9. Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor (8 December 1708 – 18 August 1765) married Maria Theresa of Austria and had issue.
  10. Eléonore of Lorraine (4 June 1710 – 28 July 1710) died in infancy.
  11. Princess Elisabeth Therese of Lorraine (15 October 1711 – 3 July 1741) married King Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia and had issue.
  12. Prince Charles Alexandre of Lorraine (12 December 1712 – 4 July 1780) married Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria and had issue.
  13. Princess Anne Charlotte of Lorraine (17 May 1714 - 7 November 1773) died unmarried.
  14. Stillborn daughter (28 November 1718).

Titles, styles, honours and arms change

Titles and styles change

  • 13 September 1676 – 10 April 1684 Her Royal Highness Mademoiselle de Chartres [ Granddaughter of France ]
  • 10 April 1684 – 13 October 1698 Her Royal Highness Mademoiselle
  • 13 October 1698 – 27 March 1729 Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Lorraine
  • 27 March 1729 – 14 March 1737 Her Royal Highness The Dowager Duchess of Lorraine
  • 14 March 1737 – 23 December 1744 Her Royal Highness The Dowager Duchess of Lorraine, Princess of Commercy

Namesakes change

  1. Élisabeth Charlotte de Beauvau (1705–1754) daughter of the Prince of Craon who was close to the ruling family of Lorraine.
  2. Élisabeth Charlotte of Lorraine (1700 –1711) her second child who died young.

Other websites change

  Media related to Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans at Wikimedia Commons