Louise Antoinette Lannes, Duchess of Montebello

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Prud'hon - Louise Antoinette Scholastique Guéheneuc (1782-1856)
Marguerite Gérard - Portrait of Maréchale Lannes, Duchesse de Montebello with Her Children - WGA8608

Louise Antoinette Lannes, Duchess of Montebello (February 26, 1782, Paris – July 3, 1856, Paris) was a French courtier, dame d'honneur (Mistress of the Robes) to Empress Marie Louise of France. She was the daughter of senator and financier François Scholastique, Count of Guéhéneuc. She was the sister of general Charles Louis Joseph Olivier, Count of Guéhéneuc.

Life[edit]

On September 16, 1800, age 18 at Dornes she married general Jean Lannes (1769-1809), being his second spouse. They had five children: four sons (named Napoléon, Alfred, Ernest and Gustave) and one daughter (named Joséphine). After the death of Jean Lannes, the eldest son Napoléon succeeded in his titles and three others who used the courtesy title of baron. [1]

The Duchess of Montebello enjoyed a great deal of respect in the contemporary Parisian high society as a role model of aristocratic femininity. She was appointed dame d'honneur (Mistress of the Robes) to Empress Marie Louise by Napoleon I, a position she kept from 1810 until the fall of Napoleon in 1814.

Montebello was described as a virtuous beauty with domestic values and Napoleon reportedly trusted and respected her and referred to her as a "true lady of honor".[2] She, however, did in fact not like toward him, reportedly because she blamed him for the death of her spouse.[3] Her relationship to Marie Louise was very good, and she became a favorite of the empress.[4]

Court service[edit]

After her arrival to France, Marie Louise was only allowed to keep one person of her Austrian entourage, her former governess countess Lazansky, who was her trusted confidante. Montebello, however, complained to Napoleon that she would not be able to act as a guide of the empress as long as she was allowed to keep her Austrian favorite, and Lazansky was therefore sent back to Vienna with Marie Louise's dog the same year.[5] This was reportedly a traumatic event for Marie Louise, who had attached herself to Lazansky ever since her first governess, countess Colloredo, who had been as a mother for her, had left her position during her childhood.[6]

Lazansky was replaced by Montebello as the personal friend, confidant and favorite of the empress. Empress Marie Louise had a large French household appointed to her by Napoleon, the ladies-in-waiting including, except for Montebello, of Jeanne Charlotte du Lucay was dame d'atours and up to thirty eight dame du palais, including the Duchesse de Bassano, Comtesses de Montmorency, Mortemart, de Bouille, Elisabeth Baude de Talhouët, Lauriston, Marie Antoinette Duchâtel, Montalivert, Peron, Lascaris, Noailles, Ventimiglia, Brignole, Gentili, and Canisy, and besides these, a group of dame d'annonce, who had the task of announcing her visitors.[7] However, in practice, the ladies-in-waiting normally only attended her in festive occasions and attended her as entourage when she left the palace, and only Montebello was present to accompany her during her everyday life. Montebello often spent the night in her apartment close to the empress, and Marie Louise, who lived very isolated and seldom left her rooms except for attending official occasions scheduled by Napoleon, used to visit her through a back passage, which allowed her to go directly to the room of Montebello without passing through the salon were her ladies-in-waiting spent their hours when they were in service, and the empress' way of favoring Montebello before all other courtiers caused offence and did not make her popular at court.[8]

During the tenure of Marie Louise as empress, the court was divided in three parties: the party of the recently new career aristocracy, who had been ennobled by Napoleon, was led by the duchess of Montebello and had the support of the emperor; the party of the old nobility of the l'ancien regime, who was led by the governess of Napoleon II, Louise Charlotte de Montesquiou, who had Napoleon's respect; and the military party, led by Géraud Duroc.[9]

Montebello was a great support for Marie Louise during her childbirth, when she slept in her bedroom to support her.[10] She stood by Marie Louise's side during her first regency in 1813, and accompanied her on her trip to Normandy with de Lucay.[11] During Marie Louise's second regency in 1814, she accompanied the empress when she fled Paris in March to Blois in the entourage of Dr. Corvisart and her ladies-in-waiting de Lugay, de Castiglione and Moritalivet.[12] When Marie Louise was encouraged to return to Paris before the Bourbons did to secure the throne for her son after the abdication of Napoleon, she was reportedly willing to do so after a conversation with her dame d'announce Mme Durand, but changed her mind and decided to stay on the advise of Montebello and Corvisart.[13] Montebello also convinced Marie Louise to accept the suggestion to go to Austria rather than to join Napoleon on his exile in Elba.[14]

Montebello joined Marie Louise on her trip to Austria after the fall of Napoleon. However, she was soon replaced as the head of Marie Louise's court by the Contessa de Brignole, despite the protest of Marie Louise; partially because Austria wished to have all her French courtiers replaced, and partially because she herself did not wish to continue her service in exile and wanted to be near her children.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Louise Antoinette Lannes, Duchesse de Montebello (1782 - 1856)
  2. ^ Cuthell, Edith E: An imperial victim : Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the French, Duchess of Parma, 1911
  3. ^ Cuthell, Edith E: An imperial victim : Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the French, Duchess of Parma, 1911
  4. ^ Cuthell, Edith E: An imperial victim : Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the French, Duchess of Parma, 1911
  5. ^ Cuthell, Edith E: An imperial victim : Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the French, Duchess of Parma, 1911
  6. ^ Cuthell, Edith E: An imperial victim : Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the French, Duchess of Parma, 1911
  7. ^ Cuthell, Edith E: An imperial victim : Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the French, Duchess of Parma, 1911
  8. ^ Cuthell, Edith E: An imperial victim : Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the French, Duchess of Parma, 1911
  9. ^ Cuthell, Edith E: An imperial victim : Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the French, Duchess of Parma, 1911
  10. ^ Cuthell, Edith E: An imperial victim : Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the French, Duchess of Parma, 1911
  11. ^ Cuthell, Edith E: An imperial victim : Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the French, Duchess of Parma, 1911
  12. ^ Cuthell, Edith E: An imperial victim : Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the French, Duchess of Parma, 1911
  13. ^ Cuthell, Edith E: An imperial victim : Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the French, Duchess of Parma, 1911
  14. ^ Cuthell, Edith E: An imperial victim : Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the French, Duchess of Parma, 1911
  15. ^ Cuthell, Edith E: An imperial victim : Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the French, Duchess of Parma, 1911