|Princess Marie Sophie Hélène Béatrice de France by Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, 1786|
Today we return to Versailles and Bourbon court once more to hear the tragic story of a daughter of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Princess Sophie Hélène Béatrice of France did not even live to celebrate her first birthday and her death left her parents bereft.
When Sophie was born she took her name from her recently deceased paternal aunt, Sophie de France, who died just four days before the infant came into the world. Although she was certainly not a physically small child, Sophie's health was weak from birth and over the short months of her life, it became apparent that the infant Fille de France was suffering from what appeared to be tuberculosis.
The best efforts of Sophie's physicians and carers could do nothing to halt the progress of the infection and in June 1787, the cutting of her teeth began to have dire side effects. Suffering from the pain of teething, the little girl suffered violent convulsions over the course of the final week of her life.
She died on 19th June, her health just too damaged to recover. Her parents were inconsolable with Marie Antoinette telling those who counselled her, "She would have been my friend".The loss of a child was a pain they were destined to suffer again, just two years later.
Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.