|Louise-Marie de France by Jean-Marc Nattier, 1748|
Whether you knew her as Madame Septième, Madame Dernière, or Madame Louise, the tenth child of King Louis XV and Queen Maria Leszczyńska was born into a world of great privilege and it would be one that she ultimately rejected, choosing instead to forge a path of her own making.
Born into the splendour of Versailles, Louise was sent as an infant to be raised at the Abbey of Fontevraud with three of her sisters. The impact of this early decision was to have a profound impact on Louise's life. From birth, a good marriage and respectable society life lay in store for the girl but she wanted to serve only her religion, with all efforts to arrange a marriage ending in failure.
At the age of thirteen Louise returned to Versailles in 1750 and remained there through twenty tumultuous years, witnessing births, scandals and deaths. After two decades at court and with Louis enjoying the company of Jeanne Bécu, Madame du Barry, Louise went to her father and begged leave to return to the convent as a Carmelite nun. Tormented by the king's apparently low morals, she intended to give her life to God by way of an apology for her father's scandalous behaviour. Shortly after the wedding of her nephew, Louis-Auguste, to Archduchess Marie Antoinette, Louise travelled to the convent at Saint-Denis as a novice.
|Louise-Marie de France, 1773|
Known now as Thérèse of Saint Augustine, Louise was at convent for just over a year before she took her final vows in October 1771. Here she flourished in the life she had chosen, eventually serving as prioress and proving herself to be a gifted negotiator when stating the case of persecuted Austrian Carmelites in France. Louise remained at Saint-Denis until her death and was interred there alongside other members of the royal dynasty.
Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.