Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans
|Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans|
Portrait by Jean Ranc, 1724
|Queen consort of Spain|
|Tenure||15 January 1724 – 31 August 1724|
11 December 1709|
Palace of Versailles, France
16 June 1742 (aged 32)|
Luxembourg Palace, Paris, France
|Burial||Église Saint-Sulpice, Paris, France|
|Spouse||Louis I of Spain|
|House||House of Bourbon|
|Father||Philippe II, Duke of Orléans|
|Mother||Françoise Marie de Bourbon|
Mademoiselle de Montpensier
Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans was one of the seven daughters of Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, and his wife, Françoise Marie de Bourbon. Her mother was a legitimised daughter of Louis XIV of France and his mistress, Madame de Montespan. She was known as Élisabeth. As a member of the reigning House of Bourbon, Élisabeth was a princesse du sang.
She was born at the Palace of Versailles, and was her parents' fourth surviving daughter (the first, Mademoiselle de Valois died a year after birth). Prior to her marriage, she was known as Mademoiselle de Montpensier. She grew up among one brother and five sisters. Because no one was much interested in her as a child, Louise Élisabeth received a poor education and seemed destined for marriage to some obscure German or Italian prince. Like her younger sister, Louise, she had a convent education. She was very close to her brother, Louis, Duke of Chartres at birth, who, upon the death of their father in 1723, would inherit the title of Duke of Orléans.
Since 1715, her father was de facto ruler of France as the Regent for the child, King Louis XV. In 1718, the War of the Quadruple Alliance broke out between France and Spain. In 1720, King Philip V of Spain wanted to make peace and proposed a double marriage: his three-year-old daughter, Infanta Mariana Victoria, would marry the eleven-year-old Louis XV, and his son and heir, Louis, would marry one of the Regent's daughters.
Princess of Asturias
By that time, Élisabeth and her sister Philippine Élisabeth were still unmarried. It was later decided that they would marry two Infantes of Spain. Therefore, in 1721, at the age of eleven, Élisabeth was married by proxy in November, in Paris, Louise Élisabeth and her younger sister left for Madrid. Despite a cold reception from the Spanish royal family, especially by Elisabeth Farnese, the stepmother of her future husband, she married Louis of Spain on 20 January 1722 at Lerma. Her dowry was of 4 million Livres.
Her sister Philippine Élisabeth was later engaged to Infante Charles of Spain, another heir to the throne of Spain; but the marriage came to nothing and her sister was later sent back to France where she died at the age of nineteen in Paris.
As wife of the heir to the Spanish throne, Élisabeth assumed the title of Princess of Asturias.
Queen of Spain
On 15 January 1724, the emotionally unstable Philip V abdicated in favour of his eldest son, who became King Louis. Élisabeth became Queen of Spain, but after only seven months of reign, Louis died of smallpox. Because he died without an heir, his father ascended the throne once again. Élisabeth stayed in Madrid for some time after the death of her husband, but her behaviour prior to her husband's untimely death had made her extremely unpopular in the Spanish court.
Since her arrival at the Spanish Court, Louise Élisabeth became increasingly known for the numerous incidents she involved herself in. Some would be social faux pas, but her behaviour was usually erratic and extremely impulsive. She would walk around naked, belch and fart in public, run around the palace corridors, or jump off her horse to climb on trees. Modern diagnosis deem many of her behavioural traits compatible with an out-of-hand borderline personality disorder.
She would appear in public dirty and smelly, refusing to use underwear, and would try to provoke courtiers by showing her intimate parts in public. She would refuse to touch the food on her table, but would then hide away and compulsively gobble down anything that she could put her hands on, whether it was edible or not. Her behaviour seemingly got worse over time. At some point, she developed the custom of cleaning the windows and tiles of the palace using her own clothes: she would leave her courtiers astonished by suddenly undressing in public to clean the windows in the room with her dress. Her husband, king Luis, eventually wrote to his father that:
"I see no other solution but to lock her down as soon as possible, for her troubles keep increasing."
He did make good on his promise and had her confined to a convent. Louise cried and sent her husband letters asking for forgiveness. He later felt sorry for her and her released after weeks. When her husband got sick with his final illness, however, she went out of her way to care for him, putting herself at risk of contagion. Still, her unpopularity and odd behaviour meant that, upon Luis' death, her father-in-law king Felipe V sought to have her marriage to Luis annulled. As a result, she lost a valuable pension as a former Queen of Spain, and was forced to move back to France, where her cousin Louis XV refused to allow her to reside in Versailles.
After the death of her husband, she returned to France at the request of her mother, the Dowager Duchess of Orléans. She was obliged to live peacefully in Paris, away from the Court of her young cousin Louis XV. As the widow of the King of Spain, she was to receive an annual pension of 600,000 Livres from the state; however, Spain would not pay because her marriage had been annulled. When she moved back to France, Louise Élisabeth was formally known as queen dowager of Spain. This led to a dispute with her (older) sister, the Duchess of Modena and Reggio. The Duchess's coach had to let that of the younger Louise Élisabeth pass first, a queen having a higher rank than a duchess.
She discreetly travelled to Paris and resided in the Château de Vincennes and the Luxembourg Palace, which had been given to her sister by her father, and where she died on 16 June 1742, sadly forgotten by everyone. She was buried at the church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris, close to the Luxembourg Palace, where her half-brother Louis Charles de Saint-Albin was a bishop.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans.|
- Nouvelle biographie générale
- Réimpression de l'ancien Moniteur seule histoire authentique et inaltérée
- Vallejo-Nágera, Alejandra (23 April 2006). "Luisa Isabel, la reina exhibicionista". Crónica N°547. Suplemento de El Mundo.
- Williams, H. Noel. Unruly Daughters: A Romance of the House of Orleans
- Pimodan (comte de), Louise-Élisabeth d'Orléans, reine d'Espagne 1709-1742, 393 p., Plon, Paris, 1928.
Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans
Cadet branch of the House of BourbonBorn: 11 December 1709 Died: 16 June 1742
| Queen consort of Spain
14 January 1724 – 6 September 1724