Femme of the Week: Princesse de Lamballe | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Femme of the Week: Princesse de Lamballe

August 01, 2008

Femme of the Week: Princesse de Lamballe

Marie Thérèse Louise Carignan, Princess of Savoy was born on the 8th of September 1749. She was just a little girl when her marriage was arranged to the Prince de Lamballe. His parents, the Duke and Duchesse de Penthièvre were more than excited to have secured this marriage.

The Duke asked the little girl if she would like to be the consort of the Prince Lamballe and she replied ‘Yes, I am very fond of music!’ ‘No, my dear, I mean would you have any objection to become his wife?’ Being a carefree child she cheerfully replied ‘No, nor any other person’s!’

Well her story is a well known one beginning with friendship with the Queen and ending in tragedy. And after gathering my 'Femme' resources I decided I cannot put her whole story here. So I am going to start with the early years!

When she was but 17 she was to marry the Prince de Lamballe. The wedding was set for January 17, 1767. The Prince was so excited to see his future wife, that he rode out to where she was staying before the ceremony, Montereau, and introduced himself as a page or something of that nature. He offered her a bouquet in the name of the Prince, and all the while could hardly contain his excitement. For she far exceeded the expectations he had of her, she had clear blue eyes and golden blond hair, a darling figure and she was funny and spontaneous. The two hit it off, and need not mention the puppy love surprise she held when she saw her page at the altar.

They celebrated for 10 days after the wedding and the two were indeed happy. Not long after however, the Prince fell into wild ways. In fact, his father knew of his 'wild' behavior before the marriage and hoped the Princess would straighten him out. Well, she did at first but he slipped! He was in need of money and sold his wife's diamonds (wedding diamonds!) and then he left! His father found him soon after, but he was not himself. He was dying.
“He [the Prince] soon became prey of every refinement upon dissipation and studied debauchery, til at length his sufferings made his life a burden, and he died in the most excruciating agonies both of mind and body, in the arms of a disconsolate wife.”
Now according to her memoir's, she became close friends with her sister-on-law Louise-Marie de Bourbon Penthièvre. Louise-Marie’s husband, the Duc De Chartres made it known to Princess Lamballe that he wanted her. The young princess rejected his advances, and in retaliation for being humiliated, the Duc de Chartres allegedly re-exposed or rather encouraged the Prince de Lamballe to a life of debauchery.

16 months after their wedding the Prince died of venereal disease. At the impressionable and emotional age of 18 years old the Princess was a widow, completely stressed out, heart-broken, and just crushed. Things were not going right and that is the opening to the pathetic story of the Princess de Lamballe


  1. Aww It had such romantic beginnings too! Le sigh...

  2. Yay, Princesse de Lamballe! I love her so much. All the candles in her candelabra may not have been fully lit, and it takes a special sort of person to weep over a potted violet, but she showed some pretty intense loyalty in her last days and I salute her for it.

  3. I look forward to learning more about her. thanks for all of the interesting info on this blog :)