Born in Versailles, Marie-Thérèse Charlotte de France, called “Madame Royale”, was the first child of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. After spending her childhood in the court, she was the only one of the royal children to survive the French Revolution. Condemned by the revolutionaries and then sent into exile, the heiress to the throne, who became Dauphine de France in 1824, remained attached to the monarchy until the end of her life.
Madame Royale, or “Mousseline” as her mother Marie-Antoinette called her, was baptised on the day of her birth in 1778 in the chapel of the Château de Versailles. Several years later, in 1793, her parents were guillotined by the Revolutionaries. Marie-Thérèse Charlotte was not executed but imprisoned. During her adolescence, she learned in her cell of the death of her aunt, Madame Elisabeth, the king’s sister, as well as that of her brother Louis. In 1795 the Austrian army secured her release. The orphan princess lived thereafter in Vienna at the court of the emperor Francis II.
In 1799 she travelled to Latvia to marry her cousin Louis Antoine d’Artois, son of the future Charles X, brother of Louis XVI, and thus became duchesse d’Angoulême. Her return to France was finally made possible in 1814 when the monarchy was restored. Louis XVIII, brother of Louis XVI, ascended the throne. In 1824, on his death, his younger brother succeeded him as Charles X. Louis Antoine d’Artois was then declared the Dauphin and Madame Royale became Dauphine de France, after her long years of exile.
But her respite was short-lived. The Revolution of 1830 inaugurated the July Monarchy and it was the Orléans branch that took the reins of power with Louis-Philippe as king. The duchesse d’Angoulême, a legitimist, once more went into exile beyond the kingdom’s frontiers. On the death of Charles X in 1836, she became “Queen of France and Navarre” for the clan of legitimists who contested the reign of Louis-Philippe.
In 1851, two months before the coup d’état of the President of the Second Republic Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, the future Napoléon III, the duchesse d’Angoulême died near Vienna, she who had ardently defended the monarchy against Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815.