Marie Antoinette Online Forum

Bathilde d'Orléans
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Author:  Drake Rlugia [ Mon Feb 08, 2010 6:31 am ]
Post subject:  Bathilde d'Orléans

I'm surprised she doesn't have a topic of her own! Bathilde d'Orléans was the sister of Philippe Égalité and lead just as interesting life as her brother.

She was born in 1750, and seems to have a rather neglected childhood. After her mother died in 1759, her father's mistress pressured him to send her to a convent, which he did. She was a potential candidate marry the Duke of Parma, Louis XV's favorite grandson. She ultimately married in 1770, the Prince of Condé, Louis-Joseph. She was thus the mother of the Duke of Enghien who was executed by Napoleon.

Her marriage was not happy. Her husband was just 14 when they married, and after six months tired of her. They made up from time to time (which resulted in the birth of her only son), but by 1778 the scandal of her husband's adultery became public, and they separated in 1780. Being a separated spouse, she wasn't received at court and made her residence at Chantilly.

She may have had an illegitimate daughter with a marine, but I'm not sure if it's a rumor or not. She supposedly kept the child by passing it off as a daughter of her secretary.

Like her brother, she became entranced with the Revolution and styled herself as Citoyen Vérité (Citizeness Truth). This caused a falling out with both her son and husband, who were staunch royalists. Threatened by the Revolutionary Government she gave up her wealth to the government before it could be confiscated. She was also imprisoned in 1793, largely as a consequence of her nephew the Duke of Chartes (Louis-Philippe, who would become King of the French in 1830) going over to the Austrians, and a publication of a law that banished the remaining Bourbons from France. She remained imprisoned for over a year, although she escaped the reign of terror and was released after the fall of Robespierre. She returned her Parisian residence, the Élysée Palace. She was so broke that she had to rent out sections of the palace.

She was finally exiled from France in 1797, under the Directory. With her sister-in-law, the wife of Philippe Égalité they set off to Spain. Another rumor is that on the way to Spain, she began an affair with a Gendarme, and they corresponded during her exile, again, not sure on the validity or not, but it makes for a good story!

She lived in Barcelona until 1814. She apparently became a complete Republican during this time, and despite her means did a lot of charity in the city, and also opened a pharmacy. She returned to France during the Restoration, wildly popular because she was the mother of the deceased Duke of Enghien. She installed a community of Nuns in the Hôtel Matignon and charged them to pray for the souls of those lost in the Revolution. The new moral order that existed in the Restoration hoped to see her reunited with her husband after thirty-five years of seperation, but she refused. She died in 1822.

Author:  Christophe [ Mon Feb 08, 2010 11:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bathilde d'Orléans

I've read this wikipedia article as well, and found it to be erroneous on several points.

In the historical sources I've read, her name was always spelled Mathilde, not Bathilde. Perhaps the wikipedia author(s) mispelled it?

She married the Duc de Bourbon, not the Prince de Conde. Only much later did her husband become the Prince once his father died in 1818.

The way the article is written, it seems that she went to the convent as some sort of exile or punishment; it was almost universal practice for young aristocratic ladies to be educated at convents, just as young gentlemen were usually educated by priests or monks. Mathilde's brother, Duc de Chartres/Orleans sent all his children to the convent of Bellechasse for their education (their tutor was the infamous Mme. de Genlis).

Author:  Drake Rlugia [ Mon Feb 08, 2010 12:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bathilde d'Orléans

I don't know about her name. I've only read about her online which seems to use the name Bathilde. Might possibly be Mathilde.

Right, mistake on my part. Her husband was the Duke of Bourbon, the title held by the eldest son of the Prince of Condé. Enghien held his title as virtue of being a grandson.

While many young girls were educated at convents, it wasn't necessarily a universal practice, although indeed they often served as finishing schools for aristocratic girls. Her being sent away could be seen as a way of punishment, although I don't think this was the case. It was also a way of saving money -- Louis XV sent his youngest daughters away from Versailles to be raised in convents because it was less expensive: had they lived at court they would've required separate establishments.

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