Catherine Henriette de Bourbon
|Catherine Henriette de Bourbon|
|Légitimée de France
Duchess of Elbeuf
|Catherine in 1659 as a widow, by P Vary|
|Spouse||Charles de Lorraine|
|Charles, Duke of Elbeuf
François Louis, Count of Harcourt
François Marie, Prince of Lillebonne
Marie Marguerite, Mademoiselle d'Elboeuf
|Catherine Henriette de Bourbon, Légitimée de France|
|House||House of Guise
House of Bourbon
|Father||Henry IV of France|
26 March 1596|
|Died||20 June 1663
Hôtel d'Elboeuf, Paris, France
Catherine Henriette de Bourbon, Légitimée de France (26 March 1596 – 20 June 1663) was an illegitimate daughter of King Henri IV and his long-term maîtresse en titre Gabrielle d'Estrées. She married into the Princely House of Guise.
Early years 
Born on 26 March 1596 in Rouen, France, she was baptised on 14 November 1596. At her birth, Queen Elizabeth I of England sent a special ambassador who also proposed a new treaty between the two nations. Then, surprising everyone, Spain attacked Amiens. One of the first things Catherine Henriette's mother Gabrielle did was to ask the people of France to contribute financially to the war effort while she herself pawned her jewellery; in doing so she raised a substantial fortune.
In her youth, she was known as Mademoiselle de Vendôme, derived from the Duchy of Vendôme which had been in possession of the House of Bourbon since 1393. Her older brother, César de Bourbon, was legitimised in 1595 and given the title of Duke of Vendôme. César would later scheme against the crown against Cardinal Richelieu in the Fronde with their younger half brother Gaston d'Orléans. Her youngest full sibling, Alexandre de Bourbon was born in 1598 and died in 1629; he was known as the chevalier de Vendôme.
At the age of just three, her 28 year-old mother died of an attack of Eclampsia after giving birth to a stillborn child. As a result of her mother's death, Catherine Henriette inherited her wealth in her own right. Her mother's duchy, (Beaufort) was given to her older brother, César.
In 1610, her father was assassinated outside the Louvre Palace on 19 May. This left her eight year old half-brother Louis the new king, with a regency under the power of his mother Marie de' Medici, who hated the royal bastards.
Her husband would be the Duke of Elbeuf, born Charles de Lorraine and a member of the House of Guise. The House of Guise was a cadet branch of the Dukes of Lorraine which were one of the most powerful families in France. The 25 year-old Mademoiselle de Vendôme married Charles in at the Palais du Louvre in Paris on 20 June 1619. The groom was seven months younger than the bride. Her younger half-sister Christine Marie of France had married there also in February the same year to Prince Victor Amadeus of Savoy, future Duke of Savoy.
The dowry given to the House of Guise was the large sum of 1.3 million livres and included pensions as well. Most of this money was spent and re-mortgaged for various reasons including a failed lawsuit against her brother César.
As Catherine Henriette was marrying into the House of Guise, she took on the style of Highness, the Guises being Foreign Princes at court. After her marriage, she was known as the Légitimée-duchesse. She used to sign documents as C H. L de France – Catherine Henriette. Légitimée de France.
Her marriage produced six children, three of whom would have issue. Her husband died in Paris at the Hôtel d'Elboeuf, the family town house. Catherine Henriette remained a widow for six years until her own death in 1663.
Her husband's first cousin was the Chevalier de Lorraine, lover of Monsieur, Louis XIV's brother. She was also ancestor of the future maréchal de Soubise, princesse de Condé Madame de Guéméné and the murdered duc d'Enghien.
- (1) Anne Elisabeth de Lannoy (1626–1654);
- (2) Élisabeth de La Tour d'Auvergne (11 May 1635 – 23 October 1680);
- (3) Françoise de Montault de Navailles (?–11 June 1717);
- (4) children by an unknown mistress
- Henri de Lorraine (1622–3 April 1648) never married; Abbe of Hombieres
- François Louis de Lorraine (1623–27 June 1694) Count of Harcourt, married Anne d'Ornano and had issue;
- François Marie de Lorraine (4 April 1624 – 19 January 1694) Prince of Lillebonne; married;
- (1) Christine d'Estrées (no issue)
- (2) Anne de Lorraine, had issue; were the parents of Béatrice Hiéronyme de Lorraine, Abbess of Remiremont and great grandparents of Charles de Rohan, prince de Soubise; they were also the ancestors of the murdered duc d'Enghien
- Catherine de Lorraine (1626–1645)
- Marie Marguerite de Lorraine (1629–7 August 1679) known as Mademoiselle d'Elboeuf. The princess died unmarried and childless.
Titles, styles, honours and arms 
Titles and styles 
- 14 November 1596 – 20 June 1619 Mademoiselle de Vendôme
- 20 June 1619 – 5 November 1657 Her Highness the Duchess of Elbeuf (Madame la duchesse d'Elbeuf)
- 5 November 1657 – 20 June 1663 Her Highness the Dowager Duchess of Elbeuf (Madame la duchesse d'Elbeuf Douairière)
References and notes 
- Henri later married Charlotte Marguerite de Montmorency, the great heiress
- Spangler. Jonathan, The Society of Princes; the Lorraine-Guise and the conservation of power and wealth in the Seventeenth Century, Ashgate, London, 2009, p.154
See also