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Wedding of the Duc de Bourgogne and Marie-Adélaïde of Savoy



December 1697

Following the war of the League of Augsbourg (1689-1697), France and the Duchy of Savoy sealed their reconciliation with a new dynastic marriage between the Duc de Bourgogne and Marie-Adélaïde of Savoy. From their union came the future Louis XV.

On 11 and 14 December 1697, Louis XIV had a ball given in the Hall of Mirrors to celebrate the wedding of his grandson, the Duc de Bourgogne with Marie-Adélaïde, the eldest daughter of the Duc de Savoie, Victor-Amédée II. The young Duke was 14 and the Duchess 11! The king wanted the festivities to be superb, a return to the glorious days of the Court. Celebrated on 7 December in the chapel of the Château, this wedding marked the reconciliation between France and the Duchy of Savoy.

Located between France and Italy, the Duchy of Savoy was then one of the great powers in Europe. A traditional ally of France, it turned against it in the war opposing it to the European coalition known as the “League of Augsbourg”. The Savoy was the first to leave this alliance, and a secret pact was signed with France on 29 June 1696 which led to the Peace of Turin on 29 August. Following this treaty, Louis XIV and Victor-Amédée II were friends again for some time. But Victor-Amédée once more opposed Louis XIV in 1703 during the War of the Spanish Succession (1700-1713).

Despite this, the Duchesse de Bourgogne remained highly appreciated by the Sun King. Her prettiness and cheerful nature were an enchantment in this ageing court. The contrast with her hunchbacked and narrow-minded husband was striking. So the king indulged all her whims, delighted with her naturalness, so rare in the Court. She became the centre of its conversations. He had the Menagerie refurbished for her in 1698. He wanted to “see children all over the place”! His wish was granted: she gave him three new heirs.

On the evening of the wedding, the going-to-bed ceremony took place according to the approved etiquette. But the Duc de Bourgogne stayed only a quarter of an hour in the bed. The king had decided that the marriage was to be consummated only after two years! Struck down by the measles, both died in 1712 within 6 days of each other. Only their last son, the Duc d’Anjou, future Louis XV, escaped the epidemic. Letters discovered after the death of the Duchess revealed that she had delivered confidential information to her father. “So the little minx fooled us!” said Louis XIV to Mme de Maintenon.

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