Thursday 19 June 2014

"She would have been my friend": Princess Sophie Hélène Béatrice of France

Princess Sophie Hélène Béatrice of France (Marie Sophie Hélène Béatrice de France; Versailles, France, 9th July 1786 - Versailles, France, 19th June 1787) 

Princess Marie Sophie Hélène Béatrix de France by Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, 1786
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.

Pen and Sword
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)


Joanna B., native Texan, Steve Earle fan, resident of Minnesota said...

No matter your status in life, the death of a child has to be the worst thing a parent can endure. I know my husband and I lost four children through miscarriage and even though we never got to hold them or see them grow, we did not consider them less than our babies. And loved them still.

Catherine Curzon said...

Thank you for your comment, Joanna; I can't imagine the pain of such a loss and as you rightly and sensitively note, social status is immaterial in the face of such tragedy.I found your sentiments so moving, thank you again for reading and sharing your thoughts.

Just Jane 1813 said...

How terrible!! I always have a soft spot for MARIE Antoinette... My daughter's first birthday was a royal party inspired by her and all of the touches were inspired by her tastes. What a tragic story and a sadness that no parent should ever have to endure once, led alone another time!

Catherine Curzon said...

It is such a sad tale; the birthday party sounds wonderful, are there photos?