Marie Louise d’Orléans

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Marie Louise d’Orléans
María Luisa de Orleans, reina de España.jpg
Marie Louise as Queen of Spain
Queen consort of Spain
Tenure19 November 1679 – 12 February 1689
Born(1662-03-26)26 March 1662
Palais-Royal, Paris, Kingdom of France
Died12 February 1689(1689-02-12) (aged 26)
Alcázar of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Full name
French: Marie Louise d'Orléans
Spanish: María Luisa de Orleans y Inglaterra
FatherPhilippe I, Duke of Orléans
MotherHenrietta of England
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Marie Louise of Orléans (26 March 1662 – 12 February 1689) was Queen consort of Spain from 1679 to 1689 as the first wife of King Charles II of Spain. She was a granddaughter of Louis XIII of France. In her adopted country, she was known as María Luisa de Orleans.


Enamel miniature by Jean Petitot, circa 1678

Marie Louise d'Orléans was born at the Palais Royal in Paris. She was the eldest daughter of Philippe, Duke of Orléans, the younger brother of Louis XIV of France and of his first wife, Henrietta Anne of England. As a petite-fille de France she was entitled to the attribute of Royal Highness, although, as was customary at court at the palace of Versailles, her style, Mademoiselle d'Orléans, was more often used.

Charming, pretty and graceful, Marie Louise, who was her father's favourite child, had a happy childhood, residing most of the time in the Palais-Royal, and at the château de Saint-Cloud situated a few kilometres west of Paris. Marie Louise spent a lot of time with both her paternal and maternal grandmothers—Anne of Austria, who doted on her and left the bulk of her fortune to her when she died in 1666; and Henrietta Maria, who lived in Colombes.

Marie Louise's mother died in 1670. The following year, her father married Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate. All her life, Marie Louise would maintain an affectionate correspondence with her stepmother.


Portrait of Marie Louise wearing a fleur-de-lis dress to signify her relations to France and a Spanish crown to signify her new country.

It has been said[by whom?] that she wanted to marry her cousin Louis, Dauphin of France; however, the surviving letters of her stepmother suggest that Marie Louise and the Dauphin were never in love. Her marriage to Charles II was seen as a way to induce better relations between France and Spain; the two nations had been on bad terms because of her uncle's battles in the Spanish Netherlands.

The proxy marriage took place at the Palace of Fontainebleau on 30 August 1679; standing for the groom was Mademoiselle d'Orléans' distant cousin Louis Armand I, Prince of Conti. Until mid-September there were a series of formal events held in honor of the new Queen of Spain. Marie Louise went to the convent of Val-de-Grâce, before her departure, where the heart of her mother was kept. She would never return to France.

Marie Louise, Charles and his mother, Mariana of Austria, attend together an auto de fe from a balcony in Madrid's Plaza Mayor on 30 June 1680. Detail from Auto de fe (1683), painting by Francisco Rizi. Prado Museum, Madrid.

On 19 November 1679, Marie Louise married Charles in person in Quintanapalla, near Burgos, Spain. This was the start of a lonely existence at the Spanish court. Her new husband had fallen in love with her and remained so until the end of his life. However, the confining etiquette of the Spanish Court (e.g., touching the Queen was forbidden), the King's mental and physical infirmities and her unsuccessful attempts to bear a child caused her distress.[citation needed]

Her French attendants were accused of plotting against the King and his family and, as a result, one of her personal maids was tortured.[citation needed] Riots occurred outside the palace in Madrid.[citation needed] Unlike the fashionable palaces at Versailles, Saint-Cloud and Paris, her new residences were the forbidding Real Alcázar de Madrid and the even more stark Palacio del Buen Retiroa country palace where Marie Louise was allowed to stable her French horses. She also spent time in the Palacio Real de Aranjuez, south of Madrid.[citation needed]

After ten years of marriage the couple had no children. Marie Louise confided to the French ambassador, that

she was really not a virgin any longer, but that as far as she could figure things, she believed she would never have children.

Marie Louise, Queen of Spain, lying in state in the Royal Alcazar of Madrid (1689), oil painting by Sebastián Muñoz.

During the last years of her life she became overweight.[citation needed] After horseback riding on 11 February 1689, she felt a severe pain in the abdomen which forced her to lie down the rest of the evening. She died the following night.


Coat of arms of Queen Marie Louise

The death of Marie Louise left her husband heartbroken. There were rumours that she had been poisoned by the notorious intrigante Olympia Mancini, comtesse de Soissons, at the behest of her mother-in-law, the dowager queen Mariana of Austria, because of Marie Louise's childlessness.[citation needed] Mariana and Marie Louise had, however, not been known to be estranged and the elder queen appeared devastated at the young queen's death. It seems likely that the real cause of Marie Louise's death was appendicitis.[citation needed]



Marie Louise of Orléans
Cadet branch of the House of Bourbon
Born: 26 April 1662  Died: 12 February 1689
Royal titles
Title last held by
Mariana of Austria
Queen consort of Spain
Title next held by
Maria Anna of Neuburg