La Duchesse d’Orléans. Reign of Louis XIV, 1692

Duchesse d'Orléans, Baroque, costume, 17th century, fashion, Court Dress,
La Duchesse d’Orléans, Règne de Louis XIV, d’après Bonnart, 1692.

La Duchesse d’Orléans. Reign of Louis XIV, 1692

Anne Marie Louise d’Orléans, Duchess of Montpensier 1627-1693, was the daughter of Jean-Baptiste Gaston, Duke of Orleans, and Marie de Bourbon, duchesse de Montpensier, a niece of Louis XIII. and was nicknamed La Grande Mademoiselle.   

Six days after Anne Marie’s birth, her mother died, resulting in severe reproaches to the attending midwife Louyse Bourgeois. Anne Marie was thus the heiress to the wealthy duchy of Montpensier and, after her mother’s death, not only the wealthiest woman in France, but also the woman with the second highest rank in the entire French kingdom after the Queen.

In 1648, when she had just come of age, she took sides during the Fronde with Louis II de Bourbon, the Prince of Condé, and thus against the royal family. She did not only do this with good words. Famous to this day is the story that she got carried away and had cannons fired personally against the army of Mazarin and the young King Louis XIV. After the Cardinal finally put down the uprisings in 1653, Anne Marie was banished from court and sent into exile for five years in Saint-Fargeau.

After her return in 1657, her father died in 1660, and a renewed debate soon flared up at the French royal court regarding Anne Marie’s marriage. When she opposed the “wish” of her cousin Louis to marry the King of Portugal, he banished her to Saint-Fargeau for another year in 1663 as punishment.

During her time in Paris, she ran a salon whose regular guests included her younger half-sister Marguerite Louise d’Orléans

At the age of almost forty, Marie Anne finally met the man she married after some confusion: Antonin Nompar de Caumont, Marquis of Puyguilhem and Duke of Lauzun, an officer in the royal guard. But Louis XIV revoked his initial agreement to the marriage; more than that, Antoine was arrested and thrown into prison. Anne Marie had to transfer a not inconsiderable share of her possessions to her cousin’s children in order to bring about her lover’s release in 1681.

The two married secretly shortly after Antoine’s release, but the now 57-year-old quickly realised that her marriage was anything but the paradise she had dreamed of. After only three years, she left her husband in 1684.

Anne Marie Louise d’Orléans spent the last years of her life finishing the memoirs *) she had begun more than 30 years before, which were published in Amsterdam after her death in 1729.

*) Mémoires. Mercure de France, Paris 2005

Source: “Modes et Costumes Historiques“. Drawing by Xavier Willemin. Edited and steel engraving by Hippolyte Louis Emile and Polidor Jean Charles Pauquet. Published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin London, 1864.

Illustration Galan, middle ages, b/w,

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