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

May 16, 2009

Femme of the Week: Duchesse de Berri

Marie Louise Élisabeth de Bourbon-Orléans was the first daughter of Philippe Charles, Duke of Orléans who was the Regent to Louis XV. Her mother was Madame Lucifer, and grandmother was Liselotte. She was born at Versailles on August 20, 1695.

Growing up she always had her own way and was a complete daddy's girl. She disliked her mother, as her father did. When she was only 9 she went on a hunt with her father, and their party noted her spoiled behavior.

When she was 15, her mother wanted her to marry the Duc de Berri, (the king's youngest grandson) however, her mother's sister the Princess of Condé wanted her daughter to be his wife. Although the Princess of Condé's daughter was very lovely, she was 2 years older than Louise Élisabeth and certain parties of the court preferred Louise. She knew she was in the running to marry such a prize as the duc de Berri. In the end things went Louise Élisabeth's way!

When her betrothal was announced, those against the marriage were quick to spread the worst rumors and gossip throughout Versailles and even Paris. The rumor that the duc d'Orleans and Louise Élisabeth had incestuous relations were talked about the most, a complete scandal to the family.

The wedding still happened, and the ceremony was lovely. Yet scandal continued to follow. After the wedding, as the new husband and wife were escorted to their residence, guests gathered to watch the lovely scene. Most of the fell victim to pick-pockets who mixed in by dressing as priest and ordinary invited guests!

The marriage to the duc was good for a few months, but before long the two were fighting in public, much to the displeasure of the king. Married in June, a scene in August left her husband very unhappy... She was at St. Cloud and had a little too much to drink. (Think Lindsay Lohan) She was so drunk that she blacked out and had to be driven back home before she could cause any harm to herself or expensive objects near her!

Sadly her husband did love her, but her progressive actions made the love cool over time. A catty girl, she picked a fight with her sister-in-law the Duchess of Burgundy. The fight cooled the relationship between her husband and his brother. This was fine until the Dauphin died making the Duchess of Burgundy the Dauphine and her husband Dauphin! Louise Élisabeth was totally loathed at court!

Louis XIV scolded her in a way that said 'he did not want to have this discussion again,' being the ultimate mortification anyone could receive. As a result many at court avoided her all together. Eventually she began to ignore her husband, and any love he had for her died. She mocked him publicly and made fun of his beliefs. He was so unhappy he even considered asking his grandfather (Louis XIV) for a separation! And all this was before he knew of her affair!

She had been sleeping with his first Chamberlain, and was trying to convince the man to steal her away to Holland! He was too cowardly to go through with it (someone had a head on their shoulders) but the scandal spread through the court and we can only assume the duc de Berri heard it too. Shortly after the scandal broke when a scene was reported, that in front of a large group of people the duc "took his wife by the neck and kicked her bottom repeatedly, threatening to shut her up in a convent for the rest of her life."


  1. I can't get enough of it- I just love every juicy piece of info that comes from this Court. Thanks Heather!

  2. lol, "took her by the neck and kicked her bottom repeatedly". Oh history.

  3. Wow, what a juicy post today! Love it!