the fate of Marie-Thérèse


Marie-Thérèse de Bourbon, the daughter of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, is one of the most tragic characters in modern history. Orphaned by the French revolution and released only after three years of harsh imprisonment, she remains an icon for French royalists to this day. After the Bourbon restoration in 1814, she became the leading female figure at court for almost 20 years, exercising considerable political power. Yet no adequate biography of her exists in French, let alone in English.

No reading of the story of Marie-Thérèse’s early sufferings can fail to shock. By the age of 17, she had witnessed brutal mob violence, her father, mother and aunt had gone to the guillotine, and her 10-year-old brother had died in prison of malnutrition and tuberculosis, in a cell littered with his own excrement. To add to her psychological torment, nobody bothered to inform her that her mother was dead for almost two years. Eventually released from captivity in December 1795, she was reunited with the remnants of her family in Russia, marrying her cousin, the duc d’Angouleme, in 1799.

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