Henriette Françoise de Montpensier d'Auvergne (8th September, 1753 - 30th June, 1773) was a Grandelumierian noblewomen and was the eighth daughter of Henri François II de Montpensier and Anne Genevieve de Vendôme.
Reign of Louis XI -
Early Life - Mademoiselle d'Auvergne
Henriette Françoise was born on the 8th of September, 1753 at Le Château de Saint-Etienne as the eighth daughter to the then Duc and Duchesse de Bourbon, Henri François II de Montpensier and Anne Genevieve de Vendôme. She was baptized aged 4, and named Henriette Françoise de Montpensier, though in the family she was affectionately named Hattie.
Coddled and pampered, Henriette always remembered her childhood fondly. She was light hearted, enjoying music and dancing, very affectionate but not a very deep character. Her mother neglected her, thinking she wouldn't come to very much at all. Anne Genevieve thought the young Mademoiselle de Montpensier was "rather sweet but uninteresting."
Henriette was brought up at Fontevraud Abbey. Whilst residing at Fontevraud she learned to play the harpsichord, how to dance and how to comport herself at court, but not much more. She hated reading, had difficulty writing. She showed no interest in geography or history, her tutor wrote:
"She is more intelligent, like her father, than is generally supposed. Alas' she has not been trained to concentrate in anyway, thought I strongly believe it's well within her power to do so."
Reign of Louis XIV -
Young Adulthood - Mademoiselle d'Auvergne
After the storming of Le Château de Saint-Etienne by an army of hungry Dijon peasants in 1769, Mademoiselle Henriette took up residence in Le Château de Toulouse. After the restoration of the Monarchy and dissolution of the First Consulate in 1771, Henriette came out of seclusion and returned to Le Château de Saint-François.
Simple-minded though she was, she was well aware that her physical appearance was not ordinary. Ever since her marriage had been decided upon, the thought of what her future husband would think of her imperfections had been a constant obsession. The poor girl, in presence of the Le Duc d'Orleans, could find no other words than these, after he had paid her the usual compliments: "You will find me very unsightly!" It is said that Gabriel Clement answered without hesitation: "I find you adorable."
Henriette did not reside at Le Château de Saint-Etienne. Instead she occupied Le Pavillion de Dame d'Auvergne. It was located at Chatel-sur-Moselle, a village located in Vosges. In March of 1771, Henriette became Dame d'honneur to Élisabeth Sophie, Madame la Duchesse. Henriette's position and status grew a little when she was granted her own suite within Le Château de Saint-Etienne. Her room was small and jokingly referred to as "Le placard à balais" or "Le nid de rat". Henriette would occupy this chamber with a bichon named Coco.
"She's harmless", 'thus spoke Louis XIV on Henriette. Indeed she was an easy character to harmonize with. She was a quaint and pleasant enough creature, even though Henriette was considered very boring. All this caused her to be somewhat of a person to make jest at. Her clumsy nature in addition to her habit of galloping when in a hurry, was overlooked for the most part. Henriette's main saving grace was her cheery countenance and politeness. She was most delighted to have been given a cutting off Louis XIV's private orange tree. There she had it planet at Le Pavilion de Chatel-sur-Moselle. When Louis XIV stated that he adored the scent of orange blossom, Henriette purchased a great deal of it.
Henriette married Gabriel Clement, Duc d'Orleans, on the 11th March, 1771. All wore black, since it was the season of Lent, which led one observer to remark that the scene looked more like a funeral than a wedding.
L'Affaire des Sorcières - Duchesse d'Orleans
In late 1771, Henriette was said to have been "possessed" by Marguerite Angelique, Dame de Roussillon. During a debutante ball, Henriette made violent screams before muttering gibberish and passing out. When she awakened out of the trance she muttered the name "Dame" and "Roussillon". Naturally the hunt began for the possessor that was La Dame de Rossillon. La Dame was hunted down, arrested and after her trial she was executed for heresy at Le Tour de Temple.
Many of the events can be explained rationally. In early 1771, Henriette began complaining of an irregular, intense pain every so often. According to reports, Henriette began having digestive problems so severe that she could consume only milk. Over the course of a few weeks, Henriette had feverish outbreaks which caused her to mutter and speak gibberish. These events worsened and by the time of the ball in Dijon, her worst outburst took shape. Physicians, skeptical to the "possession" accusation, attributed these attacks to acute meningitis. This most likely explains her outburst. Her accusations and claims of the devil come from another rational source. Some time before her marriage whispers of a possible Witch at court, was popular. These rumored terrified Henriette, as is displayed in her various correspondence. The idea of La Dame de Roussillon being a witch had been passed around the court many times before. These past events and anxiety can feed back into one's mind when some kind of physical and mental trauma takes place.
All in all, Henriette was most embarrassed by the events and couldn't recall them with any vivid memory. Her belief of what took place was mixed, she accepted that she was bewitched at the time. Some time after her subsequent treatment for meningitis she accepted the fact that illness was the most likely cause.
Young Adulthood - Duchesse d'Orleans
Henriette appears to have blossomed into a young beauty after "L'Affaire de Sorcières". Her complexion became a great deal softer, her eyebrows reduced in their thickness. Her husband commissioned a portrait of her, painted by Henriette's favorite François Boucher. Henrjette is placed in a garden setting, dressed in a creamy silk gown, tight in the bodice with puffed sleeves and blue ribbons. Her face is blushed with youth and beauty depicted in delicate whites. The most important motif, and the charm of the composition, is the profusion of roses, always a favorite for Henriette, emerging from a bronze vase, decorating her sleeves and hair, and arranged across the bench and on the foreground plane.
In early 1772, another luckless event would fall upon Henriette. Upon attending a ball in Dijon, her giddy nature caused her to jolt into a candelabra. 'Thus setting her large headdress (Therese à la Poof) on fire. She was spared any injury, as a gentlemen was kind enough to strike the headdress off. When questioned of the event afterwards, Henriette acted with an aloof indifference to any such event.
Henriette was finding satisfactions in a private world of her own creation. She transformed a early 18th century summer pavilion into a small jewel of a château, called Le Château de Chatel-sur-Moselle. Henriette felt most at home there. Even though her husband saw that the architecture fitted her desires and requirements, the charming gardens were fashioned at Henriette's command.
Henriette soon became quite the hostess at her "paradise". Guests enjoyed games of "Marque" and "Cache-cache". These were thought as truly scandalous games, the act of frantic romps in shrubberies wasn't seen as a fit thing at all. But whom was to know? Only a select few invited to Chatel-sur-Moselle. Henriette began to host outdoors parties or "Pique-nique" which was a further delight upon guests. Balls and pleasant festivities gained Henriette much praise.
In 1773, Henriette became pregnant by her husband after he made "frequent", and sometimes unnecessary, visits to her bed. She had troubles with her pregnancy, taking ill to her bed for weeks on end. It's most likely due to her young age. Her condition worsened and for a woman of 17 she appeared like a woman of 30, the pregnancy's illness had aged her beyond her years. Her husband remained beside her as often as he could. Henriette would take pleasure in feeding her small dog, Coco, before that task became to much.
On May 10th, Henriette began having problems with her digestion that would result in her being able to drink nothing but milk or lavender water. On June 29 Henriette would drink a glass of lavender water but immediately after drinking it cried out in pain - new and intense pangs of pain occurred in her side. Consequently she was given an antidote (this consisted of the cure against colic). But it was not enough. Henriette had a long and unpleasant end, her small and fragile body couldn't take the pain. The pain languished on until June 30th, when Henriette gave birth to a son. Unfortunately she died, the infant son cradled in her arms.
Henriette Françoise de Montpensier d'Auvergne d'Orleans, Duchesse d'Orleans, Princesse du Sang, died at two o'clock in the morning, on June 30th, 1773. She was but nineteen years old.
Titles, Styles and Honours
Titles and Styles
- 8th September, 1766 - 11th March, 1771 Dame d'Auvergne
- 11th March, 1771 - 30th June, 1773 Duchesse d'Orleans