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Mesdames

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The daughters of Louis XV

The royal couple, Louis XV and his wife Marie Leszczinska, had ten children in ten years: the Dauphin, a second son, and eight daughters. Louise de France, the youngest, was born in 1737. Raised in the court or in an abbey, they formed a united front with the Dauphin against their father’s mistresses. Mesdames lived for many years in Versailles before fleeing from the French Revolution.

The eight daughters of Louis XV were given the title of “Madame”. Not all of them were raised in the court of Versailles. Their education there was regarded as too costly, so the four youngest, Victoire, Sophie, Thérèse and Louise, were placed in the Abbey of Fontevraud while the eldest, Louise-Elisabeth, Anne-Henriette, Marie-Louise and Marie-Adélaïde, stayed with the king. Separated thus, the influence of Mesdames was limited.

Later on they all lived in the Château and kept a close watch on their father’s mistresses and favourites. Madame de Pompadour understood that she had to keep her distance from these plotting princesses who gave her spiteful nicknames. Only the eldest, Madame Louis-Elisabeth, married: in 1739 she wedded one of the sons of the king of Spain, while the others stayed on in Versailles in their different apartments. After the death of Madame Henriette in 1752, Madame Adélaïde could no longer bear to live in the Aile du Midi where her sister had died. She moved to be closer to Louis XV in the central part of the palace, to the chagrin of Madame de Pompadour. Accompanied by their sister Madame Victoire, the two princesses stayed here until the Revolution, while the others died before it broke out.

In 1789, under the pressure of the Revolution, they left Versailles for the Château de Bellevue, the former residence of Madame de Pompadour, given to her by their father in 1774. In the 1790s, Marie-Adelaïde and Victoire de France, the last two surviving siblings, fled from the dangerous political situation to Italy. In 1800, Madame Adélaïde died in Trieste, shortly after her younger sister.

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