Monday, May 29, 2017

Fawzia Faud of Egypt, Queen of Iran

Princess Fawzia Fuad was the eldest daughter of Fuad I, Sultan of Egypt and Sudan and his second wife, Nazli Sabri. Born on November 5, 1921 at Ras El Tin Palace in Alexandria, she was the second child of Faud I and had five siblings, one of whom was from her father’s first marriage.

Fawzia’s father, Faud I, was the seventh son of Isma'il Pasha - also known as Ismail the Magnificent - the Khedive (Viceroy) of Egypt and Sudan from 1863 to 1879. Ismail was well-known for his successful efforts at modernizing these two countries but his administration resulted in serious debt for the Khedivate, which ultimately resulted in the British pushing him in exile. Though he had numerous wives and children, his son Faud was born to one of his many concubines. Faud’s mother, Feriyal Kadinefendi, was a Frenchwoman of noble birth who was captured and sold into slavery in Egypt. When she entered Ismail’s harem in 1867, he was captivated by her beauty and grace, despite the fact that she was fifteen years his junior. He married her that same year and another year after that, she gave birth to Faud in Cairo.

When Egypt was created a sultanate in 1914 and named a protectorate of Britain in 1915, the British overthrew Abbas II in favor of his pro-British uncle, Hussein Kamel. Kamel reigned as Sultan of Egypt and Sudan for three years until his death, after which his only son refused the British-established throne. Thus, the crown passed to Kamel’s nephew, the forty-nine year old Faud I, who changed his title of “sultan” to “king” in 1922.

Faud had been unhappily married to his cousin, Princess Shivakiar Ibrahim for two years until they finally divorced in 1898. Their marriage was anything but serene, as during a fight with her brother, Faud was shot in the throat but survived. Their marriage did produce two children, however, a son who died in infancy and a daughter named Fawkia.

Fawzia’s parents - King Faud I of Egypt and Nazli Sabri
Faud met his second wife and Fawzia’s mother, the twenty-five year old Nazli Sabri, at an opera performance and married her on May 24, 1919, just twelve days after he proposed to her. Nazli, who was a whopping twenty-five years Faud’s junior, was the daughter of the governor of Cairo and the maternal granddaughter of a three-time Prime Minister of Egypt. Her maternal great-grandfather, Suleiman Pasha, was a French army officer in Napoleon I’s army who converted to Islam and served in the Egyptian army. Nazli had previously been married to an Egyptian aristocrat in 1918 but their marriage ended in divorce that same year.

Faud’s second marriage was just as tempestuous as his first. Nazli wasn’t allowed to moved into Kobbeh Palace, the royal residence, until she gave birth to a son in 1920. Although she was the queen consort, Faud didn’t allow her to venture outside the palace except to go to opera performances, flower shows, and other ladies-only societal occasions. As a highly educated and cultured woman, Nazli struggled to conform to this restrictive lifestyle. Unsurprisingly, the couple fought frequently, which often resulted in Faud hitting his wife in anger and locking her in her room for weeks. It is said that on one occasion, she tried to take her own life by overdosing on aspirin pills.

Fuad and Nazli had five children together. After the birth of their first child and only son, the future Farouk I in early 1920, they had four daughters. Fawzia was their second child and eldest daughter, followed by Faiza in 1923, Faika in 1926, and Fathia in 1930. All of his daughters’ names began with the letter “F” as a tribute to Fuad’s beloved mother, who died in 1902.

Fawzia as a young girl
Fawzia, who was of Circassian, Turkish, French, and Albanian descent (the Egyptian royal family was not ethnically Egyptian), would later be known as an “Asian Venus” for her famed beauty. With her thick, dark waves, heart-shaped face, striking features, and piercing light blue eyes, she had an almost unworldly allure. Like her mother, she received an impressive education for an Egyptian woman of her time by attending school in Switzerland. She also spoke three languages - her native Arabic, as well as English and French. However, she was incredibly sheltered and was described by one courtier as a “supremely naive, over-protected, cellophane-wrapped, gift-packaged little girl” who lived “in bucolic surroundings, mobbed by adoring servants, aunts and ladies-in-waiting.” She was so sheltered, in fact, that she was described as being “virtually a prisoner in her mother’s houseboat on the Nile. She rarely went out, and when she did she was surrounded by ladies-in-waiting and retainers. At a time when all other young girls were enjoying a relative freedom, Fawzia, by virtue of her position, was closely hemmed in.”

When Fawzia was seventeen years-old, an ambassador from Iran was sent to Cairo to propose the idea of a marriage between Fawzia and the Crown Prince of Iran - Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, desired a union between Egypt and Iran’s royal families, as Fawzia’s old royal blood would add luster to Iran’s recently established monarchy. The match was agreed to by Fawzia’s older brother, Farouk I, who had succeeded to the throne upon his father’s death in 1936. For Farouk, the marriage asserted a constitutional monarch’s power in a region lorded over by the British while for the Iranian Shah, once just a humble soldier, the century-old Egyptian royal family conferred aristocratic legitimacy on his own. The betrothal was also significant in that it united a Sunni royal - Fawzia - with a Shia royal - Mohammad Reza. However, the Crown Prince himself remained unaware of the martial negotiations and had not even seen a picture of his bride by the time the engagement was publicly announced in May of 1938.

Fawzia and her husband, Crown Prince Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, born on October 26, 1919 in Tehran, Iran, was the eldest son of Reza Khan and his second wife, Tadj ol-Molouk, and the third of eleven children. When Mohammad was born, he - along with his twin sister, Ashraf, his older sister, Shams, his younger brother, Ali Reza, and their older half-sister, Hamdamsaltaneh - were born as non-royals, for their father did not become Shah until 1925. Mohammad had a tough relationship with his father - he described him later in life as “one of the most frightening men” he had ever known and grew up in fear of his dominant personality and violent temper. As Shah, Mohammad would disparage his father in private, calling him a thuggish Cossack who achieved nothing as Shah, and almost airbrushed his father out of history during his reign to the point that the impression was given that the House of Pahlavi began its rule in 1941 rather than 1925. Mohammad’s mother, the superstitious but assertive Tadj ol-Molouk, provided the emotional support that her son so sorely needed. Under her influence, he grew up with an almost messianic belief in his own greatness and that God was working in his favor, which explained the often passive and fatalistic attitudes he displayed as an adult. But although he grew up surrounded by women, who were his main influences, he had a reputation as a womanizer and often spoke of women as sexual objects who existed only to please him.

The wedding rites were conducted twice - first in Cairo on March 15, 1939, according to Sunni custom, and later in Tehran according to Shi’ite custom. Fawzia was just seventeen at the time while Mohammad (who she had met only once before the wedding) was nineteen. At the wedding in Cairo, guests received bonbon boxes made of gold and precious stones, flower-filled floats paraded down the wide avenues, and fireworks were set off over the Nile. The day after the wedding in Cairo, the newlyweds flew to Tehran to conduct the Shi’ite ceremony, which included seven days of feasting, prisoners being released from jail, and food and money being handed out to the poor. Because Iranian law required that only an Iranian could become queen, a hasty bill was passed bestowing on Fawzia “the quality of Persianness.”

Crown Prince and Princess Fawzia and Mohammad Reza
with their only child, Princess Shahnaz
(early 1940’s)
Life in Tehran for Fawzia was very different - marriages between reigning dynasties in the Middle East were a novelty, so the uncultivated environment of Iran came as quite a shock to the new Crown Princess, who had spent all her life in the sophisticated city of Cairo. Though she was a married woman now, her life was no less restrictive than it had been before her wedding. At first, the marriage was relatively happy and the couple had one daughter, Princess Shahnaz Pahlavi, on October 27, 1940. In the eyes of the world, Fawzia was the epitome of glamor, her style a mixture of European fashion and oriental mystique. She was even pictured on the cover of Life magazine in 1942.

Unfortunately, by the time Mohammad Reza took the throne in late 1941 after an Anglo-Soviet invasion during World War II forced the abdication of his father, the marriage began to fall apart. Mohammad was openly unfaithful and was often seen driving around Tehran in one of his expensive cars with his girlfriends. Also, his dominating and extremely possessive mother saw Fawzia as a rival to her son’s love and took to humiliating her, while Mohammad sided with her all the while. Relations with her sisters-in-law were just as tense and she had no one to talk to, as her retinue of Egyptian servants was dismissed and she never succeeded at learning to speak Persian. To fend off boredom, she spent much of her time in bed and playing cards. A naturally shy and quiet woman, Fawzia described her marriage as miserable, feeling very much unwanted and unloved by her husband’s family, and longed to go back to Egypt. She refused to attend meetings of the charitable organizations and foundations of which she was nominal head as the Iranian queen and made it increasingly obvious her contempt for Iran and anything Iranian. She even began to show little interest in her own daughter and stopped sharing a room with her husband.

Fawzia Faud and her daughter, Princess Shahnaz
(early 1940’s)
By 1944, reports began to circulate that the Queen was in poor health. Since her arrival in Tehran, she had suffered regular bouts of malaria and other ailments. When a member of the Egyptian court visited Tehran, he discovered Fawzia to be neglected and gravely ill and described her as “a bony, cadaverous apparition... [her] shoulder blades jutted out like the fins of some undernourished fish.” She was persuaded to return to Egypt in 1945 for medical treatment and convalescence, upon which the Egyptian ambassador to Iran advised that divorce would be best for the couple. The divorce was not recognized for several years by Iran, but eventually an official separation was obtained on November 17, 1948, with Fawzia successfully reclaiming her previous distinction of “Princess of Egypt.” A major condition of the divorce was that her daughter be left behind to be raised in Iran, which she didn’t protest. In the official announcement of the divorce, it was stated that "the Persian climate had endangered the health of Empress Fawzia, and that thus it was agreed that the Egyptian King’s sister be divorced.”

Coincidentally, her brother had divorced his own wife, Farida, the same month Fawzia’s divorce was finalized and since their mother - the adventurous Queen Nazli - had fought with her son and went to live in America in 1946, Fawzia was now the senior lady in Egypt. She presided over the elaborate court receptions for ladies in Cairo and Alexandria and while she was not the most imaginative of hosts, she enjoyed the role.

Fawzia Faud of Egypt, Queen of Iran
On March 28, 1949, Fawzia remarried to Colonel Ismail Chirine, who was two years her senior, the eldest son of Hussein Chirine Bey and Princess Amina Bihruz Khanum Effendi. He was a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge and a one-time Egyptian minister of war and the navy. They lived in an estate owned by Fawzia in Maadi, Cairo and had two children, one daughter and one son: Nadia Chirine (born in 1950) and Hussein Chirine (born in 1955). In early 1951, Mohammad Reza had remarried to Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari, who was thirteen years his junior and the daughter of a Bakhitary nobleman and Iranian ambassador to West Germany and his German wife. Their marriage would ultimately fail, as Mohammad’s mother and sisters could not get along with her since they saw her as another rival for his love, but it would be Soraya’s apparent infertility that broke the marriage apart completely. They divorced in 1958 after seven years of childlessness.

By the time of Fawzia’s second marriage, the Egyptian population, the majority of which were poor and disenfranchised, had turned against the royal family. King Farouk was seen as a corrupt and ineffectual playboy who was beholden to an occupying foreign power - the British. In 1952, a military coup led by Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser was widely heralded by the Egyptians and much of the world as an act of emancipation. The overthrown Farouk was forced to flee the country and lived in Rome for the rest of his life. Unlike most of her family, Fawzia remained in Egypt with her husband and children in a villa in Alexandria, where she lived a quiet, almost anonymous life in reduced circumstances, melting into the background of a rapidly growing city. Egypt would remain unstable politically for decades - going from monarchy to military coup, from socialism to oligarchy, to dictatorship and revolution again.
Fawzia Faud and her second husband, Ismail Chirine, with their
daughter Nadia

Iran fell into political turmoil in the 1970’s, with revolution finally erupting in 1979 as a result of strong opposition to the Shah due to clashes with Islamists, increased communist activity, and American and British support for his regime. By the time the monarchy was overthrown the same year the revolution began, Mohammad was married to his third wife, Farah Diba, an Iranian nearly twenty years his junior from an upper-class family, who he had wed in late 1959 and had two sons and two daughters with. Mohammad Reza died in exile in Egypt in 1980 at the age of sixty, unable to ever return to Iran under the penalty of death. His wife and two of his children survive him, with the former Empress dividing her time between Washington D.C. and Paris.

Princess Shahnaz Pahlavi of Iran
Fawzia’s daughter from her marriage to Mohammad - Princess Shahnaz - married a one-time Iranian foreign minister and twice ambassador to the U.S., Ardeshir Zahedi, in 1957 when he was twenty-nine and she was only seventeen. They had one daughter, Princess Zahra Mahnaz Zahedi, in 1958 before they divorced in 1964. Shahnaz later married Khosrow Jahanbani, the son of an Iranian general and a Russian aristocrat, in 1971. Khosrow was just four months Shahnaz’s junior and the great-great grandson of Fath Ali Shah, the Shah of Iran from 1797-1834. He was reported to have had more than 1,000 wives and was survived by fifty-seven sons and forty-six daughters, along with 296 grandsons and 292 granddaughters. Shahnaz and Khosrow had two children: a son, Keykhosrow, in 1971 and a daughter, Fawzia, in 1973. Khosrow died in 2014 at the age of seventy-three after combatting cancer for several years while Shahnaz still survives him today at the age of seventy-six in Switzerland, where she has lived with her family since the Iranian revolution.

Fawzia’s daughter from her second marriage, Nadia Chirine, married twice and had two daughters, one with her first husband and one with her second - Sinai and Fawzia respectively. She died in 2009 at the age of fifty-eight. Nadia’s brother, Hussein Chirine, never married or had children and died in 2016 at the age of sixty-one. Ismail Chirine, Fawzia’s second husband, died in 1994 at the age of seventy-four. Fawzia survived him by nineteen years before her own death on July 2, 2013 at the age of ninety-one in Alexandria. She was buried in Cairo alongside Ismail.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Aristocratic Ladies of Great Britain of the Edwardian Era | Portraits by Philip de László

Philip de László (1869-1937) was a Hungarian painter who became well known for his many portraits of royal and aristocratic men and women of the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. In 1907, he moved to London but he was constantly traveling throughout Europe to carry out the various artistic commissions he was assigned. His impeccable work, which focused mainly on English and American socialites, earned him a slew of awards and honors. King Edward VII named him a MVO (a member of the Royal Victorian Order) and Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, King of Hungary ennobled him as "Philip László de Lombos" in 1912 (until then, he went by his birth name, "Laub Fülöp"). He became a British citizen in 1914 and at the turn of the century he married the Irish Lucy Madeleine Guinness, a member of the famous banking and brewing Guinness family. They had six children and seventeen grandchildren before de László died of a heart attack, which was brought on by overworking. Philip de László painted several members of royalty, such as: Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, Queen Louise of Sweden, King Constantine I of Greece, Queen Elizabeth II, and King Edward VII, but he also painted many aristocratic women of the U.K. in the early 1900's. Below are some of his beautiful works and their equally stunning subjects.

Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry

Edith Helen Chaplin was born on December 3, 1878 in the village of Blankney, Lincolnshire to Henry Chaplin, a British landowner and conservative politician in the House of Commons, and Lady Florence Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, a daughter of the 3rd Duke of Sutherland. Edith had one older brother, Eric, and one younger sister, Florence. Her mother died in childbirth with her younger sister in 1881 and her father, who was a member of the Privy Council, was named the 1st Viscount Chaplin. Edith was just two years old when her mother died so she was sent to her maternal grandfather's estate of Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland to be brought up. Edith matured into a charming, sociable, dark-haired beauty with elegant features, a slender figure, fair skin, and blue eyes. On November 28, 1899 just five days away from her twenty-first birthday, she married Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, the eldest son and heir of the 6th Marquess of Londonderry, who was just seven months her senior. At the time of his marriage to Edith, he was a lieutenant in the British Army. The couple resided in the Londonderry family estate of Mount Stewart near Newtownards, County Down in Northern Ireland where Edith would become active in creating the lovely gardens around the estate. Today, Edith's gardens at Mount Stewart are regarded as some of the best in the British Isles. 

Edith had five children with her husband, four daughters and one son: Maureen (1900-1942), Edward (1902-1955), Margaret (1910-1966), Helen (1911-1986), and Mairi (1921-2009). When Edith's father-in-law died in 1915, Charles became the 7th Marquess of Londonderry, making Edith his Marchioness. Edith became a popular and influential socialite and hostess in the 1920's-30's and was active in the war effort during World War I. She was the Colonel-in-Chief of the Women's Volunteer Reserve and opened up the Londonderry townhouse as a military hospital. For her work, she was the named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Military Division in 1917, the first woman to receive such an honor. Her husband, who served during the war, was a prominent politician as the Secretary of State for Air from 1931-35 but he was forced from government in 1938 when he applauded Nazi Germany. He was not faithful to his wife, as he had an illegitimate daughter with the American actress Fannie Ward in 1900. Edith, who became the Dowager Marchioness of Londonderry in 1949 upon her husband's death, died on April 23, 1959 from cancer at the age of eighty. 

Grace Curzon, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston

Grace Elvina Hinds was born in 1879 in Decatur, Alabama to Joseph Monore Hinds, a one-time U.S. Minister to Brazil, and Lucy Trillia of Montevideo, Uruguay. On May 1, 1902, she married a wealthy Irish Argentinian landowner, Alfred Huberto Duggan, when she was about twenty-three. They lived in Buenos Aires for around three years where Grace had two sons - Alfred Duggan (1903-1964), a future historian and archeologist, and Hubert Duggan (1904-1943), who would become a British Army officer and conservative politician. In 1905, Grace's husband was given a position at the Argentine Legation in London so the family moved to England. Grace would remain here for the rest of her life. She had another child with her husband, a daughter named Grace Lucille Duggan (1907-1995), before his death in 1915. 

Grace inherited her late husband's extensive estancias in Argentina after his death, which made her a very rich widow. She served as a nurse for Britain during the First World War before she married again in 1917 to the haughty and stubborn George Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston (the Viceroy of India from 1899-1905), at the age of thirty-eight. Curzon, who was twenty years older than Grace, had been married once before from 1895-1906 to another wealthy American, the beautiful Mary Victoria Leiter of Chicago, who gave him three daughters before her early death. Curzon married Grace in an attempt to produce a much-desired son and heir. Grace miscarried several times and had a few fertility-related operations but she was unable to have a living child with Curzon because of her age. Though they always remained faithful to each other, Curzon and Grace became estranged (but still lived together) after it became apparent that Grace wouldn't have a son. In 1922, Grace was named a Dame Grand Cross (GBE), the highest honor of the Order of the British Empire for her services as a nurse during the war. Two years after Curzon was passed over for the position of Prime Minister, he died of a severe bladder hemorrhage in 1925. Grace survived him by thirty-three years before her death in 1958 at the age of seventy-nine.

Hon. Harriet Sarah Jones-Loyd, Lady Wantage

The Hon. Harriet Sarah Jones Loyd was the only surviving child of Samuel Jones-Loyd, 1st Baron Overstone and Harriet Wright. She was born in 1837 at her family seat of Wolvey Hall in Wolvey, Warwickshire. He father, who was one of the richest men in Britain, was a banker and a Whig politician of Welsh ancestry. He was ennobled as a baron in 1850. In 1858, the twenty-one year old Harriet married Brigadier General Sir Robert James Lindsay, who was five years her senior. Harriet's father gifted her with a substantial fortune upon her wedding as well as the property of the Lockinge Estate, making her one of the wealthiest heiresses of her day. However, Harriet could never inherit her father's title upon his death because of her gender. When Lindsay married Harriet, he took the name of "Robert Loyd-Lindsay" by deed poll. The couple mainly resided at Lockinge Estate, which was near Wantage, but they also had a second home of Overstone Park in Northampton. Though Harriet and Lindsay were unable to have any children, they were happy together.

The respected and benevolent Harriet dedicated most of her time and efforts to charitable and philanthropic activities. She was greatly involved in hospital and nursing work and helped to create the National Aid Society, the precursor of the British Red Cross Society. When Queen Victoria established the Order of the Red Cross in 1883, Harriet was one of the first individuals to be awarded the honor. In 1885, Harriet became the Lady Wantage when her husband was ennobled as the 1st Baron Wantage (the title was taken from the name of their favorite estate and principal home). In 1901, Lindsay, who had served valiantly in the Crimean War, died at the age of sixty-nine.  Since Lindsay had no children by his wife, his title died with him. Harriet created a monument to him after his death on the Ridgeway. In 1908, she opened Wantage Hall for the University of Reading as the first Hall of Residence in honor of her late husband. Harriet wrote a biography and memoir of er late husband before her own death on August 9, 1920 at the age of about eighty-three.

Viscountess Lee of Fareham

Ruth Moore, Viscountess Lee of Fareham 

Ruth Moore was the eldest child of New York financier and Wall Street stock market promoter, John Godfrey Moore, and his first wife, Miriam Jane Aldrich, of Munson, Massachusetts. Ruth was born sometime in the 1870's or 1880's and she had one younger sister, as well as a younger brother from her father's second marriage (Ruth's mother died in 1890). The petite, blue-eyed blonde was described by one newspaper as possessing an, "atmosphere of royalty with an unconscious girlish charm." Ruth met Arthur Hamilton Lee, a British military attaché at the British Embassy in Washington D.C. at parties in Kingston and Gananoque. Lee, who was a close friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, was the half-American son of a clergyman and was born in Bridport, Dorset. A mutual attraction developed between the two and Lee invited her to a few balls with him at the Royal Military College in Kingston. On December 23, 1899, the couple married. Ruth inherited a great amount of wealth from her father right before the wedding, as he died just a few months prior to the ceremony. 

Lee had a career in Parliament and joined the Cabinet and the Privy Council in 1919 before he was named the First Lord of the Admiralty in 1921. A year later, he was named the 1st Viscount Lee of Fareham. Ruth, as the Viscountess Lee, had a happy and stable marriage with her husband despite the fact that they had no children. In 1909, they took over the lease of Chequers Court in Buckinghamshire and completely renovated the estate into a fashionable main residence. When the Great War began, the couple opened up their house as a hospital and later a convalescent home for officers. When the war began to draw to a close in 1917, they gave the entire house and its contents in trust to the government as the official home of future British Prime Ministers. Lee died in 1947 at the age of seventy-eight and was survived by his wife for almost two decades until her death in 1966.

Mary Louise Douglas-Hamilton, Duchess of Montrose

Lady Mary Louise Douglas-Hamilton was the only child of William Douglas-Hamilton, 12th Duke of Hamilton and Lady Mary Montagu. Mary Louise was born in 1884 in London a decade after her parents' wedding. While her mother was a daughter of the 7th Duke of Manchester and Louise Cavendish, the "Double Duchess", her father (who also held the titles of 9th Duke of Brandon, 2nd Duke of Châtellerault, and 8th Earl of Selkirk) was the son of his namesake, the 11th Duke of Hamilton, and Princess Marie of Baden, the adoptive granddaughter of Napoleon I. Mary Louise's paternal aunt, Lady Mary Victoria Hamilton, was the Hereditary Princess of Monaco as the first wife of Prince Albert I of Monaco. When Mary Louise's father died in 1895 when she was just eleven years old, his title passed to his fourth cousin. Mary Louise's mother remarried two years after her husband's death but had no more children. 

In 1906, the twenty-two year old Mary Louise married James Graham, the son and heir of the 5th Duke of Montrose, who was six years her senior. Graham was a naval officer and later a politician in the House of Lords. Mary Louise had four children with her husband, two sons and two daughters: James (the future 7th Duke of Montrose), Mary, Ronald, and Jean. Graham was also an engineer and invented the world's first naval aircraft carrier in 1912. He also served as the President of the British Institution of Marine Engineers and was active in World War I as a commodore. His father died in 1925, making him the 6th Duke of Montrose. Mary Louise was the Duchess of Montrose until her husband's death in 1954 at the family seat of Buchanan Castle in Stirlingshire. She died in 1957 at the age of about seventy-three.

Lady Margaret Alice Leicester-Warren

Margaret Alice Leicester-Warren was the eldest child of Cuthbert Leicester-Warren, a son of Sir Baldwyn Leighton, 8th Baronet and the Hon. Eleanor Leicester Leighton-Warren, and Hilda Marguerite Davenport. She was born in either 1905 or 1906 in her family home of Tabley House, Knutsford and had two younger brothers. On January 18, 1933 at the age of about twenty-seven, Margaret Alice married Lieutenant General Sir Oliver William Hargreaves Leese, 3rd Baronet, a senior Army officer who was about eleven years her senior. Leese was the eldest son of Sir William Hargreaves Leese, 2nd Baronet, a barrister, and Violet Mary Sandeman. He served as a second lieutenant in World War I and was wounded three times during the conflict, including during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. His bravery in this particular battle earned him the Distinguished Service Honor.

When Leese married Margaret Alice, he was ranked as a major but by 1938, he was a colonel. His father died a year prior to this promotion, so by the time he became a colonel he had also succeeded to his father's baronetcy. Leese and Margaret Alice had no children and lived at the estate of Lower Hall in Worfield, Shropshire. Leese served as a military instructor in India for a few years before returning home to Britain to fight in World War II. He replaced Bernard Montgomery as the Lieutenant-General of the Eighth Army's XXX Corps in 1944 and fought in North Africa and Italy. He died in 1978 of a heart attack at the age of eighty-three, five years after his right leg had to be amputated due to health reasons. He survived his wife by thirteen years, as she had died on April 30, 1964 at the age of about sixty-one. 

Margot Asquith, Countess of Oxford and Asquith

Emma Alice Margaret Tennant was born on February 2, 1864 in Peeblesshire, Scotland as the eleventh child and sixth daughter of Sir Charles Tennant, 1st Baronet, an industrialist and Liberal politician, and Emma Winsloe. The childhood home of Emma Alice, who went by the name of "Margot", was her family's country estate of Glen, where she grew up as an adventurous, wild, and riotous child. She was very close to her sister Laura and she liked she venture throughout Glen's moors, ride horses, play golf, and climb up to the rooftop at night. When Laura died in 1888, Margot was so devastated with grief that she developed chronic insomnia, a sickness that followed her until her dying day. On May 10, 1894, the thirty year old Margot married the Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Asquith, a widower who was twelve years her senior. His first wife had died of typhoid fever in 1891, leaving him with four sons and one daughter. Margot was the complete opposite of Asquith's quiet and meek late wife; she was, according to one of her stepchildren, a "dazzling bird of paradise, filling us with amazement, amusement, excitement, sometimes with a vague uneasiness as to what she might do next". Margot introduced her husband to her extravagant social world, which helped him achieve the position of Prime Minister of the U.K. in 1908. Before Asquith became Prime Minister and moved to 10 Downing Street with his wife, they lived in the Asquith family home of in Cavendish Square. Their favorite residence was their weekend home of The Wharf in Sutton Courtenay, which the politics-loving couple set up as a meeting place for intellectuals in literature, art, and government. 

Margot had five children with Asquith but only two - a daughter named Elizabeth (1897-1945) and Anthony (1902-1968) survived past infancy. Elizabeth would become the Princess of Bibesco after her marriage to the Romanian Prince Antoine of Bibesco while Anthony would become a notable director in film. Asquith was the longest continuously serving prime minister in the twentieth century as he was in office from 1908-16. However, his successes as Prime Minister before the Great War have been forgotten due to his weak leadership during the conflict. In 1925, he was named the 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, making Margot a countess. After his death in 1928, Margot lived in a state of destitution. She made some money writing autobiographies but the death of her daughter in 1945 from pneumonia proved to be her breaking point. She died on July 28, 1945 at the age of eighty-one just three months after her daughter's death.

Muriel Thetis Warde 

Muriel Thetis Wilson was born in 1875 to the shipping magnate Arthur Wilson and Mary Emma Wilson. Her father was the son of Thomas Wilson, the owner of the Thomas Wilson Sons & Co. shipping business, which operated steamship lines throughout the globe. When Arthur inherited his father's company in 1907, he was arguably the richest ship owner in the world. Muriel had a sister and three brothers, one of whom, Arthur Stanley,  served as a conservative member of Parliament for Hull. Muriel's family became involved in a scandal when her father hosted his good friend, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, at the Wilson family home of Tranby Croft near Hull in 1890. The Prince and Arthur fell into legal trouble when it was revealed that one of Arthur's guests was discovered to have cheated in a game of baccarat, a card game which was illegal in England at the time. The Prince was so embarrassed by the whole affair that he never went back to Tranby Croft. Although Arthur was offered a peerage some time after this event, he was so negatively affected by the royal baccarat scandal that he refused a title and withdrew from the public eye. 

Muriel was said to be one of the most beautiful girls in Britain during her youth. She was described as having a, "small and oval" face, "a complexion so dark as to verge on olive...large, dark, lustrous and very expressive eyes," a small mouth, and a shapely nose. She had many admirers and was engaged to some well known British aristocrats such as Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough and Gilbert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 2nd Earl of Ancaster, but these betrothals fell through. She was also good friends with future Prime Minister Winston Churchill who was said to have unsuccessfully proposed to her. Muriel was a charming amateur actress and a skilled horsewoman who loved to wear lavish and unique fashions. She married later in life (most likely in the first decade of the twentieth century) to a Richard Edward Warde who was nine years her junior. They had no children and she died in 1964 at the age of eighty-nine. 

Nancy Beatrice Borwick, Lady Croft

Nancy Beatrice Borwick was the daughter of Robert Hudson Borwick, 1st Baron Borwick and Caroline Johnston, who had been born in Madras, India. Nancy was born in 1885 in her father's hometown of Regent Park, London and had one brother and two sisters. In 1907, Nancy married Henry Page Croft, a conservative member of Parliament. Henry, who was four years older than Nancy, was the son of Richard Benyon Croft, a naval officer and the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, and Anne Elizabeth Page, the daughter of a successful businessman in the grain and malster industry. Nancy had two children with Henry - a son named Michael Henry and a daughter named Diane. 

Henry entered Parliament in the House of Commons in 1910 but served in France during World War I from 1914-16. He co-founded the National Party in 1917, which stood for strong diplomacy and more armaments, anti-German policies, the end of the sale of honors, etc. Much to his horror (as he was an anti-German Protectionist), his daughter Diana married a German lawyer and painter in 1936. In 1940, Henry was named 1st Baron Croft, making Nancy the Lady Croft. Prime Minister Winston Churchill made him the Under-Secretary of State for War from 1940-45. He devoted much of his time to raising the morale of British soldiers in the Army and made it so education and entertainment was provided to the men fighting in Europe and Africa. Nancy survived her husband by two years, as she died in 1949 at the age of sixty-four.

Winifred Cavendish-Bentick, Duchess of Portland

Winifred Anna Dallas-Yorke was the only daughter of Thomas Yorke Dallas-Yorke of Walmsgate, Lincolnshire and Frances Graham. She was born on September 7, 1863 at Murthly Castle in Perthshire and grew up alongside her only sibling, her younger brother Hailburton Francis. She was friends with Queen Alexandra, the wife of King Edward VII, and served as her canopy bearer during the King's coronation in 1902 before being named Mistress of the Robes from 1913 until the Queen's death in 1925. On June 11, 1889, Winifred married William Cavendish-Bentick, 6th Duke of Portland, who was six years her senior. William was the son of Lieutenant-General Arthur Cavendish-Bentinck by his first wife, Elizabeth Sophia Hawkins-Whitshed. He became the Duke of Portland in 1879 when his cousin, the 5th Duke, died without issue. He was a conservative politician in the House of Lords with a military career and served as the Master of the Horse from 1886 to 1892. Winifred and William had three children: Victoria (1890-1994), William Arthur (1893-1977), and Francis (1900-1950).

Winifred, who had always loved animals, had numerous stables at her home of Welbeck Abbey, the family seat of the Dukes of Portland, which she used to house old horses and dogs in need of homes. She used her title and prominence as the Duchess of Portland to make a different in the areas of humanitarianism and animal rights. She became the first president of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds as well as the vice-president of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the president of the ladies committee of the RSPCA. She even convinced her husband to use most of the winnings he earned in horse racing to set up almshouses at Welbeck. Winifred also supported miners in the community by paying for their health care and creating sewing and cooking classes for their daughters. Her efforts earned her the honor of being made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1935. She survived her husband by eleven years before her death on July 30, 1954 at the age of ninety.

Victoria Mary 'Vita' Sackville-West (1892–1962), Later Lady Nicholson

Vita Mary Sackville-West, Lady Nicolson

Victoria Sackville-West, more commonly known as "Vita", was the only child of Lionel Sackville-West, 3rd Baron Sackville and Victoria Josefa Sackville-West, the illegitimate daughter the 2nd Baron Sackville, who was Lionel's uncle, and a Spanish dancer. Vita was born on March 9, 1892 at Knole House in Kent, the family seat of the Baron Sackville family. In 1913, the twenty-one year old Vita married the twenty-seven year old politician and writer, Harold George Nicolson, a son of a British diplomat named Arthur Nicolson, 1st Baron Carnock. Vita and Harold, who were both bisexual and had affairs with both genders before and after their wedding, had an open marriage and lived in Cihangir, Istanbul (because of his father's profession, Harold had been born in Iran) until 1914, after which they lived in Kent. Here, they had two sons: Benedict (1914-1978), an art historian, and Nigel (1917-2004), who became a leading writer and politician like his father. Vita herself was a writer and published several novels, which earned her the honor of being named a Companion of Honor in 1947. But despite Vita's fame as an author, she was far more proliferate for her various affairs. She had a brief fling with Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood, the future husband of Mary, Princess Royal, and Hilda Matheson, the head of the BBC Talks Department, which lasted from 1929-31. After this, she was involved in a ménage à trois with a journalist named Evelyn Irons and her boyfriend.

Her most famous affairs were with Rosamund Grosvenor, a granddaughter of the 1st Baron Ebury, Violet Trefusis, a daughter of the Hon. George Keppel and his wife, Alice Keppel (a mistress of King Edward VII), and the famous author, Virginia Woolf. Vita and Rosamund (who was four years her senior) went to the same school in 1899 and were educated under the same governess. They grew up together and fell in love but their covert affair ended when Vita married. Vita had a more passionate affair with Violet, who she also went to school with. They began their relationship after both married and became writers. They eloped many times in 1918 (often to France) with Vita usually cross-dressing as a man when they went out in public. The two always remained deeply in love with each other but their affair ended after Violet didn't uphold the promise she and Vita had made to each other that they wouldn't be intimate with their husbands. In the late 1920's, Vita engaged in a relationship with fellow author Virginia Woolf. Vita inspired Woolf to write one of her most famous novels - Orlando. Vita died just a month after her husband at the age of seventy on June 2, 1962.

Mabell Ogilvy, Countess of Airlie

Mabell Frances Elizabeth Gore was the eldest daughter of Arthur Gore, Viscount Sudley and Edith Jocelyn, the daughter of Viscount Jocelyn. She was born on March 10, 1866 and had two younger sisters. After her mother's death in 1871, she and her sisters were sent to live with their maternal grandmother, Lady Jocelyn. Their grandmother was acquainted with the Duchess of Teck so the girls often visited the Duchess and her family, allowing Mabell to become good friends with the Duchess's daughter, the future Queen Mary, wife of King George V of the U.K. In 1884, Mabell's paternal grandfather died and her father inherited his title of the Earl of Arran, which gave Mabell the title of "Lady". On January 19, 1886, the twenty year-old Mabell married David Ogilvy, 11th Earl of Airlie, who was ten years her senior and a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army. Now the Countess of Airlie, Mabell had six children with her husband: Kitty (1887-1969), Helen (1890-1973), Mabell (1892-1918), David (1893-1968), Bruce (1895-1976), and Patrick (1896-1917). Mabell lost her husband in 1900 when he was killed in action at the Battle of Diamond Hill in the Second Boer War. Her eldest son, David, became the new Earl of Airlie at the age of seven so Mabell oversaw his duties as Earl in his name.

A year after her husband's death, Mabell's old friend, Mary of Teck (now the Princess of Wales), appointed Mabell as her Lady of the Bedchamber. When Mary became Queen of the U.K. once George V succeeded to the throne in 1910, Mabell stayed at court as the Lady of the Bedchamber. Like many other aristocratic women during World War I, Mabell did her part in supporting the war effort. She volunteered for the Red Cross and her work as the president of Queen Alexandra's Army Nursing Board earned her the honor of being named a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in 1920. But she had to undergo heavy personal losses during the conflict; her youngest son and son-in-law were killed in action as well as her daughter, Mabell. The Dowager Countess of Airlie served Queen Mary as Lady of the Bedchamber for fifty-two years until the Mary's death in 1953, after which Queen Elizabeth II awarded her with the Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) for her many decades of service. After Mary of Teck's death, Mabell moved from Airlie Castle to Bayswater Road in London where she died a few weeks after her ninetieth birthday on April 7, 1956. Mabell's grandson, Angus (a son of David Ogilvy, 12th Earl of Airlie), married Princess Alexandra of Kent, the youngest granddaughter of King George V and Queen Mary, in 1963, thus uniting Mabell's family with Queen Mary's, her oldest and closest friend, in blood.

Beatrice Violet Wyndham, Lady Leconfield

Beatrice Violet Rawson was the eldest daughter of Colonel Richard Hamilton Rawson and Lady Beatrice Anson. She was born on May 6, 1892 in London and had one older brother (who died young in a horse-riding accident) and a younger sister. While her father was a High Sheriff for Sussex as well as the county's Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant, her mother was the second daughter of the Earl of Lichfield and a granddaughter of the 1st Duke of Abercorn. In 1911, the nineteen year-old Violet (as she went by) married the wealthy Charles Wyndham, 3rd Baron Leconfield, who was twenty years her senior. Violet, now known as Lady Leconfield, lived with her husband at the Leconfield family seat - Petworth House in West Sussex. They also had property in Cumberland, such as Cockermouth Castle and Scafell Pike.

Wyndham, who served in a cavalry regiment of the British Army as a lieutenant in the 1890's, rejoined this regiment in World War I to command the Royal Sussex Volunteers as the Lord Lieutenant of Sussex. Later, in World War II, he would be named Honorary Colonel of the 5th Battalion of the Border Regiment for Cumberland. Although he and Violet had no children of their own, they adopted two children - Peter and Elizabeth Geraldine (whose birth name was Betty Seymour) Wyndham. Peter was not able to succeed his father as the 4th Baron of Leconfield after Wyndham died in 1952 at the age of eighty following a long illness since he was not of his blood. Instead, Wyndham's younger brother inherited the Leconfield title and lands. Wyndham's daughter, Elizabeth,  a civil servant and socialite, would become a linguist for the British codebreaking department in World War II (she was a skilled polyglot). Violet survived her husband by four years before dying on May 22, 1956 at the age of sixty-four. 

Violet Warwick Bampfylde, Countess of Onslow

Violet Marcia Catherine Warwick Bampfylde was the only daughter of Coplestone Bampfylde, 3rd Baron Poltimore and Margaret Harriet Beaumont, the daughter of the 1st Baron Allendale. She was born on December 22, 1884 and had three brothers. On February 22, 1906, the twenty-one year old Violet married Richard Onslow, Viscount Cranley, who was eight years her senior. Onslow was the eldest son and heir of William Onslow, 4th Earl of Onslow, who was also the Governor of New Zealand from 1889-92. His mother was the Hon. Florence Coulston Gardner, a daughter of the 3rd Baron Gardner. Before World War I began, he was a diplomat who worked in Madrid, Tangier, St. Petersburg, and Berlin before working in the Foreign Office from 1910-14. In the Great War, he served as an Honorary Colonel. 

In 1911, Onslow's father died and he became the 5th Earl of Onslow, making Violet the Countess of Onslow. They had two children - a daughter named Mary Florence and a son named William Arthur, who eventually succeeded his father as the 6th Earl of Onslow. After the war, Onslow had a variety of government jobs such as the Chairman of the Committees and Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords. Onslow died in 1945 at the age of sixty-eight. His wife survived him by nine years before dying on October 23, 1954, two months before her seventy-first birthday. 

Jane Graham Murray, Viscountess Dunedin

Jane (also known as Jean) Elmslie Henderson Findlay was the only child of George Findlay, a hat maker in Aberdeen, and Jane Elmslie Henderson. She was born on Christmas Day of 1885 in Aberdeen, Scotland. By the time her birth was registered in January 11, 1886, she was an orphan (why her parents died so soon after her birth is unknown). She became an author and later the editor of Everyman magazine, as well as the secretary of the Scottish War Savings Committee during World War I. In 1923 at the age of thirty-seven, she married the widowed Andrew Graham Murray, 1st Viscount Dunedin, a Scottish politician and judge as the Lord Justice General and Lord President of the Court of Session. He had also been the Secretary for Scotland from 1903-05.

Murray, who was a whopping thirty-six years older than his wife, had been married once before to a woman named Mary Clementina, a daughter of a Scottish naval commander and baronet. They had two daughters and one son before Mary died in 1922. He married Jane less than a year later but due to her age at the time of their wedding, they had no children. His son by his first wife died in 1934, eight years before his father, who passed at the age of ninety-two. Since Murray died without a surviving son, his title became extinct upon his death. Jane lived as the Viscountess Dunedin until her death in 1944 at the age of fifty-eight.

Helen Percy, Duchess of Northumberland

Helen Magdalan Gordon-Lennox was the youngest daughter of Charles Gordon-Lennox, 7th Duke of Richmond and Lennox, 2nd Duke of Gordon, and his second wife, Isabel Sophie Craven. Through her father, Helen was descended from Charles II by his mistress, Louise de Kerouaille. She was born on December 13, 1886 in London and had one full sister as well as two half-sisters and three half-brothers from her father's first marriage. The fair-haired Helen lost her mother just a year after her birth and by the time she was eighteen, she acted as hostess for her father and took on the duties of the lady of the house. The kind-hearted Helen, who was described as a "saint" by one of the Queen of Spain's ladies-in-waiting, was "the sort of woman who rides in buses, pays her bills, and is nice to old servants". On October 18, 1911, the twenty-four year old Helen married Alan Percy, Earl Percy, who was six years her senior. 

Alan was the second surviving son of Henry Percy, 7th Duke of Northumberland, and Edith Campbell, a daughter of the 8th Duke of Argyll. He became his father's heir in 1909 when his older brother, Henry, died of pleurisy. Alan had served as a Captain in the South African War of 1901-02 and took part in the Sudan Campaign in 1908. When World War I erupted less than three years after Helen and Alan's marriage, Alan worked with the Intelligence Department to supply eyewitness accounts of battles as part of the Grenadier Guards. In 1918, his father died and he became the 8th Duke of Northumberland, which made Helen a duchess. She had six children with her husband: Henry (1912-1940), Hugh (1914-1988), Elizabeth (1916-2008), Diana (1917-1978), Richard (1921-1989), and Geoffrey (1925-1984). Alan also became the Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland in 1918, a position he held until his death in 1930 at the age of fifty. Seven years after Alan's death, Helen, now the Dowager Duchess of Northumberland, became the Mistress of the Robes to Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. A year after she received this position, she was honored as a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO). Her eldest son, the childless 9th Duke of Northumberland, died fighting in World War II so her second son, Hugh, succeeded his late brother as the 10th Duke of Northumberland. Meanwhile, two of her daughters became duchesses by marriage; her eldest, Elizabeth, married the 14th Duke of Hamilton and her youngest, Diana, married the 6th Duke of Sutherland. Helen retired as Mistress of the Robes in 1964 and died not long after on June 13, 1965 at the age of seventy-eight. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Amélie of Orléans, Queen of Portugal

Princess Marie Amélie Louise Hélène d'Orléans, more commonly known as simply “Amélie”, was the eldest child of Prince Philippe of Orléans, Count of Paris and Princess Marie Isabelle of Orléans. Amélie was born on September 28, 1865 in Twickenham, London. Her father was the son of Ferdinand Philippe, Prince Royal of France and Duke of Orléans and Helene of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. He was a claimant to the French throne from 1848 until his death in 1894, as he was the paternal grandson of King Louis Philippe I of the French. Amélie’s mother was an Infanta of Spain by birth, being the daughter of Infanta Luisa Fernanda, the youngest daughter of King Ferdinand VII of Spain and his fourth wife, Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies, and Prince Antoine, Duke of Montpensier, himself a son of King Louis Philippe I of the French and Maria Amalia of Naples and Sicily. Thus, Amélie’s parents were first cousins, though her father was ten years older than her mother.

Amélie of Orléans
Amélie was born a year after her parents married and she had five younger siblings who lived to adulthood, three sisters and two brothers. Her siblings were: Prince Philippe, Duke of Orléans, Princess Hélène (Duchess of Aosta by marriage), Princess Isabelle (Duchess of Guise by marriage), Princess Louise (Princess of Bourbon-Two Sicilies by marriage), and Ferdinand, Duke of Montpensier. Amélie and her family lived in exile in England since her parents had been forced to flee France after King Louis Philippe I was deposed in 1848. The family wasn’t allowed back into France until after the fall of the Second French Empire in 1871 when Amélie was just six years old. They settled down in the Hôtel Matignon in Paris and the Château d'Eu in Normandy. Amélie was a very caring and nurturing older sister to her siblings and acted like a second mother to them. While she was very close with her father, as they both loved nature and horses, she was more distant with her mother. Marie Isabelle was a strict and rigid parental figure and would slap Amélie in front of other people if she thought her daughter wasn’t behaving well enough. Because of her mother’s treatment, Amélie would become a very loving and compassionate mother towards her own children, as she was determined not to follow in her mother’s footsteps. She received a substantial education and her favorite subjects were history (especially French history), archaeology, poetry, and fiction. Besides her native French, Amélie was learned in Latin and German. She was a serious reader whose hobbies included drawing, oil painting, riding, fishing, and walking. She became interested in the arts, especially the opera and the theater. Overall, Amélie was an attractive, elegant, and tall young girl with dark hair and eyes, soft features, and a welcoming smile. She was admired for her benevolence, empathy, and her constant willingness to help others. The Princess of Orléans also genuinely enjoyed meeting ordinary people in France and engaging in conversation with them so that she could learn more about their hardships and joys.

Carlos, Prince Royal of Portugal and his wife, Amélie of Orléans
In 1884, the Prince Royal of Portugal, Carlos, saw a photograph of Princess Amélie and was smitten with her. Prince Carlos was the eldest child of King Luís I of Portugal and Princess Maria Pia of Savoy, the daughter of King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy and his first wife, Archduchess Adelaide of Austria. In January of 1886, he left Lisbon to meet Amélie face-to-face at Chantilly Castle, the home of Amélie’s great-uncle. The French princess and the Portuguese heir to the throne shared a mutual attraction to one another from the time they met. Though both shared a birthday, Carlos was two years older than Amélie. They attended a gala dinner upon their initial meeting during which it was apparent that Carlos was absorbed with just one thing – Amélie. After the dinner, Carlos was so confident that Amélie was the one for him that he wrote to his father: “no other creature is more beautiful than her.” Before Amélie met Carlos, her family had tried to marry her to a prince or nobleman of Austria or Spain. Meanwhile, Carlos’s parents tried to match him with Archduchess Marie Valerie of Austria (the youngest child of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and Empress Elisabeth), Princess Mathilde of Saxony, Princess Viktoria of Prussia, or Princess Victoria of Wales (a daughter of King Edward VII of the U.K. and Alexandra of Denmark). But after meeting Amélie, it was clear that Carlos would marry no one but her. So, the couple were soon engaged and by May 19th of the same year she had met Carlos, Amélie arrived in Portugal at the Palace of Necessidades in Lisbon adorned in a beautiful blue and white silk dress with a hat in the colors of the monarchist Portuguese flag. Three days after her arrival, Princess Amélie married Prince Carlos on May 22, 1886 in the Church of São Domingos in Lisbon. The ceremony was a huge event that seemingly everyone in the city attended and political differences were forgotten. Amélie wore a white gown of faille silk with a long train and a lace veil, which was a gift from her friends in France. Though she chose not to wear any jewelry, she did sport a garland of orange blossoms on her brow. With her marriage to Carlos, the twenty-one year old Amélie became the Princess Royal of Portugal and the Duchess of Braganza.

Amélie of Orléans, Princess Royal of Portugal
The newlyweds had a short honeymoon in the city of Sintra before moving into the Palace of Belém where Amélie learned that her parents, who had come to Lisbon for their daughter’s wedding and were currently staying in the Palace of Necessidades, had been exiled from France a second time. The reasoning behind this was because the lavish celebrations of Amélie’s wedding had sparked royalist feelings in France (the government had always been suspicious of Amélie’s family and viewed public interest in her wedding as a threat). Amélie and Carlos were happy together during the first few years of their marriage. Almost right after the wedding, Amélie became pregnant and on March 21, 1887, she gave birth to a son named Luís Filipe after a long and arduous labor. The infant boy was named the Prince of Beira and the Duke of Barcelos upon his birth. Soon after Amélie recovered from her delivery, she traveled with her husband to London for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee where Amélie was able to meet her French relatives who were living in exile in England. After the festivities, Amélie and Carlos spent some time in Edinburgh, Scotland where they discovered that Amélie was pregnant again. She gave birth to a daughter named Maria Anna on December 14, 1887 but the baby was premature and died soon after the delivery. The loss of their child devastated Amélie and her husband to the point where they couldn’t talk to each other about their daughter’s death for days. Physically, Amélie never recovered from the labor and suffered from chronic heart problems for the rest of her life.

King Carlos I of Portugal and Queen Amélie
Initially, Amélie was unpopular with the Portuguese people not because of her personality or appearance but because the monarchy itself was unpopular. The republicans found that by attacking Amélie, they could attack the monarchy. So, she was criticized for everything she did, no matter it if was a mandatory royal duty or a private hobby. Amélie liked to personally visit institutions for the poor and meet with the people there. The aristocracy saw this as unfitting for a future queen while the republicans panned her as a liar and a phony. But Amélie ignored all these criticisms and founded the Institute Princess Dona Amelia to support workers’ social rights and the National Association against Tuberculosis. She dedicated much of her time to promoting health care and became a significant financial donor to the Red Cross, schools, and hospitals. Eventually, the people warmed to her and she became a popular figure, which lessened the rising reproach of the monarchy. Amélie was much more likeable than her formal mother-in-law because she was much more relaxed, calm, and open-minded. The Portuguese also liked the fact that Amélie made a successful effort to become fluent in their native tongue. However, she was criticized for being a spendthrift and for being too vain and over concerned with French fashion in the eyes of the republicans. Though Carlos always cared for and respected his wife, he was never faithful to her and engaged in various extramarital affairs. On October 19, 1889, Carlos’s father died and he ascended the throne as King Carlos I of Portugal with Amélie, who was just twenty-four years old, as his Queen Consort.

Amélie of Orléans, Queen Consort of Portugal
(Vittorio Matteo Corcos, 1905)
As the Queen of Portugal, Amélie was very active in her work with charities and the welfare of the poor and sick. Less than a month after her husband’s accession, Amélie gave birth to her last child – a son named Manuel, who was named the Duke of Beja. Amélie mainly resided at the Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa, the seat of the House of Braganza with her young sons while her husband ruled. But it was clear that a storm was brewing amongst their subjects. The monarchy’s popularity with the people was at an all time low and the kingdom was suffering from manufacturing troubles, criticism from the media, republican and socialist resentment, and a broke economy. When King Carlos went on a series of official visits to foreign countries in late 1895, Amélie served as his regent during his absence. She spent much of her free time writing about her thoughts, troubles, and emotions in her private diary and whenever she needed some time alone or to just relax, she would ride or take a short trip to the ocean. Amélie’s heart problems worsened in 1902 and her doctors suggested that she take a vacation to improve her health. Thus, the Queen took her two sons with her on a three-month voyage in the Mediterranean on her husband’s yacht, the Amélia. Though the Queen and her sons enjoyed their trip throughout Europe, the press heavily criticized Amélie for the excessive luxury of her cruise. Her health didn’t improve as a result of the vacation; in fact, she suffered from a stroke that summer. Her relationship with her husband also became more distant, as he no longer asked for her opinion or advice on political events like he had always done in the past. As the years passed, general hostility towards the monarchy continued to rise and Carlos’s position on the throne seemed less and less secure. Socialism was becoming popular throughout Portugal and Catholic Church, which had once been a highly influential institution in both government and daily life, was fading into the background. The greatest threats to the monarchy was the militant Republican Party and their revolutionary, conspiratorial left-wing organization, the Carbonária. The monarchy itself was crumbling from internal tensions since the royalist parties that made up Carlos’s regime were constantly at each other’s throats.

Amélie of Orléans, Queen of Portugal
(early 1900's)
Portugal finally exploded on February 1, 1908 when the King and Queen, along with their sons, were travelling by open carriage to the Palace of the Necessidades. Two republicans fired a series of shots at the carriage, which hit the King and his two sons. While Amélie was uninjured and her youngest, Manuel, was just hit in the arm, her oldest son, Luís Filipe, was mortally wounded and her husband died immediately from the hit he received. Luís Filipe lingered for about twenty minutes before dying from his wounds at the age of twenty. He was buried next to his father, who was forty-four years old at the time of his assassination, in the Pantheon of the Braganzas. The death of King Carlos and his oldest son and heir, the Prince Royal, was known as the Lisbon Regicide. Amélie was grief-stricken at the shocking deaths of her husband and son but she knew that she had to be strong for her young son, Manuel, who succeeded to the throne as King Manuel II at the age of eighteen. Manuel was only alive because his mother had prevented his death by hitting a gunman in the face with her bouquet. But he had never been expected to succeed to the throne and as a result, he was completely unprepared for his new position as the leader of an anti-monarchist country. In the two years that Manuel sat on the throne, his mother had a huge amount of influence over him. She wrote the official texts that he would sign, read dispatches to him and then gave her opinion on what he should do, and headed political meetings. But her control over Manuel just further enraged the republicans. It was only a matter of time before the country devolved into rebellion. The revolution finally began on October 3, 1910 and just two days later, the Republican Party had successfully overthrown Manuel and replaced that constitutional monarchy with a republic. Amélie and her son had no choice but to escape Lisbon for Ericeira, after which they headed to Gibraltar, a British territory in Spain, on the Amélia with the late King Carlos’s brother, Prince Alfonso, and his mother, Queen Maria Pia.

Manuel II of Portugal and his wife, Augusta Victoria of Hohenzollern
Amélie lived the rest of her life in exile. She lived in England until 1920, after which she moved back to her native France since the cold English winters were negatively affecting her health. She resided in the Château de Bellevue, a mansion in Chesnoy, and she spent much of her time helping the local community by supporting charities and the Red Cross. There was not enough support for Manuel, who now lived in England, to ever make a serious attempt to reclaim his throne. In 1913, he married his second cousin, the German Princess Augusta Victoria of Hohenzollern, a daughter of William, Prince of Hohenzollern, and Princess Maria Teresa of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, the only child of Prince Louis, Count of Trani and Duchess Mathilde Ludovika in Bavaria. Although Manuel and Augusta Victoria had a peaceful and happy marriage, they had no children. When World War I broke out in 1914, both Amélie and her son participated in humanitarian activities, such as working in hospitals for the wounded. She lost Manuel on July 2, 1932 when the forty-two year old king in exile died of suffocation from an abnormal swelling in his tracheal oedema. The Portuguese government permitted his remains to be buried with those of his father and brother in the Royal Pantheon of the House of Braganza but Amélie and Augusta Victoria were not allowed to attend the funeral. In fact, Amélie was not permitted to set foot in Portugal until World War II, when the government allowed her to return. She refused this invitation until after the war, when on May 19, 1945, the fifty-ninth anniversary of her arrival in Portugal as the betrothed of Prince Carlos, Amélie went back to Portugal for the first time in thirty-four years. She was received with open arms by the Portuguese people, who welcomed her arrival quite enthusiastically. She only stayed in Portugal for a few days, taking the time to visit the tombs of her husband and her sons before she met her pen pal and close friend, António de Oliveira Salazar, the Prime Minister of Portugal, for the first time. In the last three years of her life, Amélie’s physical and mental health deteriorated rapidly. She suffered from dementia and by 1951, she was asking people why she had been exiled and who had killed her sons. On October 25, 1951 at her home in France, the eighty-six year old Amélie of Orléans, the last Queen Consort of Portugal, passed away. She was buried in the Royal Pantheon of the Braganza alongside her husband and sons. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Mazarinettes | Seven Italian Beauties in the Court of the Sun King

In the splendid royal court of King Louis XIV of France, there were seven attractive noblewomen who caught the attention of every aristocrat in France. With their striking features, Italian mannerisms, and powerful family connections, these foreign beauties were destined for wealth, fame, and, in some cases, disaster. All made impressive noble marriages and all were unique in their own way. One was the mother of an ill-fated English queen, another was an alleged mistress of the Sun King himself who was forced to flee her home after she became embroiled in the infamous Affair of the Poisons. One was the first genuine love of the King of France and was denied happiness with the man she loved by her own family, another was a gorgeous bisexual who escaped her hellish marriage to find solace in the arms of the King of England. These are the Mazarinettes, some of the most prolific figures to ever grace the royal court of France. 

Cardinal Mazarin
(Pierre Mignard, 1658-60)
For nearly two decades, the most powerful man in France was not the king but his Chief Minister, an Italian Cardinal from a noble background named Jules Raymond Mazarin. Mazarin was the Cardinal-Duke of Rethel, Mayenne, and Nevers. He was appointed as the de facto ruler of France during the minority of King Louis XIV, who succeeded to the throne at the age of four in 1643. Mazarin effectively ruled the kingdom alongside the young King’s mother and regent, Anne of Austria, even after Louis reached his majority in 1654. Mazarin would continue to hold the reigns of government until his dying day in 1661. The Cardinal became a surrogate father and a political mentor to the King but he made sure to make his own mark on history. He played a large role in putting a stop to the tumultuous period of civil war known as the Fronde and shaped foreign policy by negotiating the Peace of Westphalia at the conclusion of the Thirty Years’ War, as well as achieving peace between France and Spain with the Peace of the Pyrenees. But perhaps he is most well known for his seven beautiful nieces who he personally arranged expedient marriages for to rich and powerful French and Italian nobles. His nieces, known collectively as the “Mazarinettes”, were famous at the French court for their exotic beauty, as well as their dynastic impact on the European aristocracy.

Three Nieces of Cardinal Mazarin (left to right): Marie, Olympia, and Hortense
Between 1647-55, the Cardinal summoned his sisters, Laura Margherita and Girolama Mazzarini, to live under his protection at court. He also asked that they bring their daughters, his nieces, with them at various times so that he could provide for them and marry them off to influential aristocrats, which would benefit not only the girls but the family fortune as well. His eldest sister, Laura Margherita, was the mother of two daughters - Anna Maria and Laura Mazzarini - while Girolama (whose married surname was Mancini) was a widowed mother of five daughters - Laura, Olympia, Marie, Hortense, and Marie Anne Mancini - and three sons. Mazarin also wanted his sisters and the girls nearby because he knew that he could trust members of his family as opposed to the conniving, greedy power mongers that populated the court. His desire to arrange prosperous marriages for his nieces was not solely for their benefit. Since he had no legitimate children of his own, the only way he could secure his legacy was through his nieces and nephews. Once the girls arrived in Paris, they were gawked at and whispered about by French society due to their “strange” appearances. At a time when pale skin, fair hair, and a full figure were praised, the Mazarinettes stood out with their dark Italian complexions and features as well as their slender frames and flamboyant mannerisms. Nevertheless, the Queen Mother, Anne of Austria, became a mentor to the girls and even educated the younger Mazarinettes with the King and his younger brother, the Duke of Orléans, who were about the same age as the Cardinal’s youngest nieces. With this action, the Queen Mother positioned the Mazarinettes on the same level as a legitimate child of royalty.

Hortense, Duchesse de Mazarin (left) and Marie, Princess of Paliano (right)
(Jacob Ferdinand Voet, 1670-1700)
The first three of the Cardinal’s nieces to arrive in Paris in 1647 were Laura Mancini, the eldest daughter of Girolama, Olympia Mancini (Laura’s younger sister and the second eldest of Girolama’s daughters), and Anna Maria Martinozzi, the eldest daughter of Laura Margherita. Laura Mancini was the eldest of the group at eleven years old. Laura, who was a “pleasing brunette with a handsome face”, was born on May 6, 1636 in Rome as Laura Vittoria Mancini after her paternal grandmother. Laura had four younger sisters and three brothers – Paul, Philippe, and Alfonso. Paul died in the early 1650’s in battle before he was twenty years old while Alfonso died in 1658 at the age of fourteen. Philippe would be made the Duke of Nevers in 1660 and ten years later, he would marry the niece of Louis XIV’s mistress, Madame de Montespan – Diane-Gabrielle de Damas de Thianges. They had six children and through one of their sons they are the ancestors of the royal family of Monaco. Olympia, who was born on July 11, 1638, was Laura’s closest sister in age at nine years old and was described as a dark-haired girl “with a long face and pointed chin, and small bright eyes” with lovely dimples. Laura and Olympia’s cousin, Anne Marie Martinozzi, the oldest daughter of Laura Margherita, the Cardinal’s eldest sister, was born in 1637. She was in between her two cousins in age at ten years old and was said to be a pretty blonde with soft, sweet eyes. The girls lived at the Palais Royal, the home of the Queen Mother, the King, and his younger brother while their uncle showered them with favors, gifts, and privileges. During the Fronde, the girls were taken to the safety of the convent of Val-de-Grâce to be cared for by the nuns there until the civil war came to an end. In 1653, the next “shipment” of the Cardinal’s nieces arrived – the third and fourth daughters of Geronima, Marie and Hortense, and Laura Martinozzi, the youngest daughter of Laura Margherita. The fourteen year-old Marie (who was born on August 28, 1639), was said to be the least attractive of the gorgeous Mazarinettes, as she was very tall and thin with coarse, large black eyes, a wide mouth, and bad teeth. One contemporary said she had “no charm in her person, and very little in her cleverness, though of that she had an infinity but of a bold, resolute, violent kind, licentious and far removed from every sort of civility and polish.” Apparently, as Marie grew older, she became more beautiful, as her portraits can attest to. Meanwhile, her younger sister Hortense was said to be the most beautiful of the seven Mazarinettes. Hortense, who was born on June 6, 1646, was no more than seven years old when she came to France but even then it was apparent that she would become one of the most beautiful women in France. Born as “Ortensia”, she was said to be “one of the most perfect beauties of the Court” with immense intelligence and charm. She also happened to be the Cardinal’s favorite niece. Marie and Hortense’s cousin, Laura Martinozzi (born May 27, 1639), was two years younger than her older sister, Anne Marie, and was fourteen years old when first set foot in court. Like her older sister, she was religious, friendly, and smart. Though she didn’t share her sister’s blonde hair, she was described as a “Roman beauty”. The last of the Mazarinettes to be called to Paris by the Cardinal was the youngest, Marie Anne Mancini, the younger sister of Laura, Olympia, Marie, and Hortense and the fifth and final daughter of Geronima. Marie Anne, who was born in 1649, was the most charming of the five Mancini sisters and the darling of the family. She was six years old when she arrived in Paris in 1655 and was “piquant in appearance, with plenty of grace and aplomb”, which made her a skilled ballet dancer. She had an “expressive face, [a] retroussé nose…[a] delicate smile…[a] graceful figure, small hands and feet, a brilliant complexion, and magnificent hair.”

Laura Mancini, Duchess of Mercœur
The first of the Mazarinettes to marry was Laura Mancini, who wed Louis de Bourbon, Duke of Mercœur on February 4, 1651 at Bruhl near Cologne. Laura was fifteen at the time of her wedding while her bridegroom was thirty-eight, more than double her age. Louis was the son of César, Duke of Vendôme (an ancestor of Louis XV of France, Juan Carlos I of Spain, King Albert II of Belgium, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, and Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples), an illegitimate son of King Henry IV of France and his mistress, Gabrielle d’Estrées. Louis’s mother was Françoise de Lorraine, the wealthy daughter and heiress of Philippe Emmanuel, Duke of Mercœur. Françoise became the Duchess of Mercœur and Penthièvre in her own right upon her father’s death in 1602 when she was just ten years old. She passed on her titles and lands to her son in 1649, twenty years before her death, while Louis inherited his father’s dukedom upon his death in 1665. Though César succeeded in fulfilling his marital duty by having three children with his wife, he was also known for engaging in a number of homosexual affairs on the side. Unlike most men in his family, Louis was a loyal and pacific man who was, “gentle, pious, and tranquil.” Because he was of such a passive nature, he was seen as “mediocre” by the royal court and was viewed with disdain by his fellow aristocrats. Though he loved to make peace, not war, he had a career in the military and was named the governor of Provence in 1640.

But luckily for Laura, she found that her much older husband was completely enchanted with her and she with him. She had three sons with her husband during her time as the Duchess of Mercœur; the first, Louis Joseph, was born in 1654 when Laura was eighteen years old. Philippe followed in 1655 and the final and third son, Jules César (a namesake of his paternal grandfather) arrived in 1657. However, the birth of her third son cost Laura her life. She died almost two weeks after the birth on February 8, 1657 at the young age of twenty in her adopted home of Paris. Jules César didn’t live long either; he died in 1660 at the age of three. After Laura died, her widowed husband became a cardinal and legate of France. He sent his young sons to be raised by his sister-in-law and Laura’s youngest sister – Marie Anne Mancini. Louis died twelve years after his wife on August 6, 1669 at the age of fifty-six. Laura and Louis’s eldest son, Louis Joseph, became the Duke of Vendôme upon his father’s death. He was a successful French military commander as the Marshal of France during the War of the Grand Alliance and the War of the Spanish Succession and is remembered as “one the most remarkable soldiers in the history of the French army.” Although he was married to the daughter of the Prince of Condé – Marie Anne de Bourbon – he had no children most likely because he, like his grandfather, was a homosexual. When he died on June 11, 1712 at the age of fifty-seven, his younger brother, Philippe, inherited the duchy of Vendôme. Philippe, like his brother had a career in the military, although his was not as impressive. As he died unmarried and without issue in 1727 at the age of seventy-two, the dukedom of Vendôme fell into extinction.

Anne Marie Martinozzi, Princess of Conti
After Laura Mancini, the next of the Mazarinettes to marry was her cousin and the oldest daughter of Laura Margherita – Anne Marie Martinozzi. The blonde Italian married Armand de Bourbon, Prince of Conti on February 22, 1654 at the Palais du Louvre when she was no older than seventeen and Armand was twenty-four. Anne Marie had been disappointed with her betrothed at first since he was an unattractive hunchback with an, “uncertain disposition” and, “alternate fits of devotion and debauchery.” Armand wanted to marry Anne Marie not out of love but for power, as he longed to achieve a high position in government from the Cardinal if he wed his niece. Eventually, the couple warmed up to each other and lived respectfully in Guienne and Languedoc where Armand was governor. Anne Marie, now the Princess of Conti, spent most her time dedicating her efforts to charitable causes such as visiting the poor, giving her money to the needy, and using her influence with the King to help the lower classes. Anne Marie and Armand had three sons; their first, Louis, was born on September 6, 1658 but died just eight days later. Their second child, Louis Armand, was born on April 4, 1661 and their third child, a son named François Louis followed on April 30, 1664. Less than two years after their third son’s birth, Armand died on February 26, 1666 at the age of thirty-six in Pezenas. His eldest surviving son, Louis Armand I, who was not yet five years old at the time of his father’s early death, inherited his title. Anne Marie, widowed before she was even thirty years old, only survived her husband by six years before her death from apoplexy on February 4, 1672 at the age of about thirty-five.

The Granddaughters of Anne Marie Martinozzi, Princess of Conti (left to right): Marie Anne de Bourbon,
Duchess of Bourbon, and Louise Adélaïde de Bourbon
She didn’t live to see both her sons marry in 1680. Louis Armand I wed his cousin, Marie Anne de Bourbon, the favorite child of King Louis XIV and his mistress, the beautiful Louise de La Vallière, while François Louis married Marie Thérèse de Bourbon, the daughter of the Prince of Condé and Anne Henriette of Bavaria, a great-granddaughter of King James I of England through his daughter, Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia. Since Louis Armand and his wife were only young teenagers at the time of their wedding, they had a bad experience during their first night together (neither had been educated in the art of consummation), which resulted in Louis Armand never sleeping with a woman ever again. Therefore, he was childless when he died from smallpox on November 9, 1685 at the age of twenty-four. His younger brother, François Louis, who also had a troublesome marriage, succeeded him as Prince of Conti. Though his wife was head-over-heels in love with him, he had homosexual inclinations and was infamous for his disgraceful reputation as a libertine. He barely paid attention to his devoted wife and was actually in love with her sister-in-law, Louise Françoise de Bourbon, Duchess of Bourbon, the eldest legitimized daughter of King Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan. Nevertheless, he managed to produce seven children with his wife, only three of whom survived infancy – two daughters and one son. His eldest daughter, Marie Anne de Bourbon, Duchess of Bourbon, married but had no children while his youngest, Louise Adélaïde de Bourbon, never married but had many illegitimate children. His son, Louis Armand II, succeeded him as Prince of Conti upon his death on February 9, 1709 at the age of forty-four from gout and syphilis. Louis Armand II married a legitimized daughter of King Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan named Louise Élisabeth de Bourbon, who he had one surviving son and daughter with.

Laura Martinozzi, Duchess of Modena and Reggio
Laura Martinozzi, the younger sister of Anne Marie, Princess of Conti, was the next of the Mazarinettes to be married off. On May 27, 1655, Laura was married by proxy at the Palace of Compiègne to the eldest son and heir of Francesco I d’Este, Duke of Modena and Reggio – Alfonso d’Este. Alfonso, who was five years Laura’s senior, was related to the Medici family through his father as well as the royal families of France and Spain (his paternal great-great grandparents were Philip II of Spain and Elisabeth of Valois, daughter of King Henry II of France). His mother, Maria Caterina Farnese, was the daughter of Ranuccio I Farnese, Duke of Parma, and a descent of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, as well as King Manuel I of Portugal. The marriage between Alfonso and Laura was arranged because Alfonso’s father, one of France’s best generals, wanted the support of Mazarin against Spain. After her proxy marriage, Laura moved back to her birthplace of Italy to meet her husband for the first time at her new home of the Ducal Palace of Modena. Three years after the marriage, Laura’s father-in-law died and her husband became the Duke of Modena and Reggio as Alfonso IV d’Este, making her a Duchess. The pious and demanding Laura had three children with Alfonso but just two survived infancy. Their first child, a son named Francesco, was born in 1657 when Laura was no more than eighteen years old. However, Francesco didn’t survive long and died just a year after his birth. Laura’s second child was a daughter named Maria Beatrice who was born just nine days before her parents became the new Duke and Duchess of Modena and Reggio on October 14, 1658. In 1660, Laura gave birth to her last child – a son named Francesco II.

Mary of Modena, Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland
(Simon Pietersz Verelst, 1680)
Alfonso IV d’Este had never been of robust health and on July 16, 1662, he died at the age of twenty-seven from gout and tuberculosis after a little less than four years of being Duke. His only surviving son, the two year-old Francesco II, succeeded him with Laura, widowed at the age of twenty-three, as his regent. She ruled “with a firm and gentle hand” for twelve years and supported her duchy with her personal connections to France. In 1673, she left Modena to take her daughter to her betrothed in England but when she returned, she found that her fourteen year-old son (who was weak both in mind and body) had taken power into his own hands under the control of his illegitimate half-brother, Cesare. Laura, no longer regent, had no choice but to leave Modena for Rome where she lived until she died on July 19, 1687 at the age of forty-eight. Her daughter, the beautiful Maria Beatrice, became the second wife of King James II of England in 1673 when she was just fifteen years old. Her husband (who was just the Duke of York upon their marriage; he succeeded to the throne in 1685) was twenty-five years older than her at the age of forty. Maria, or, as she is more commonly known in England, “Mary of Modena”, had twelve children with James II but only two – James Francis Edward Stuart and Louisa Maria Teresa – survived past infancy. When James Francis Edward was born in 1688, the Catholic James II was deposed due to his religion in the Glorious Revolution in favor of his eldest daughter from his first marriage, Mary II, and her husband/cousin, William III, Prince of Orange-Nassau. James and Mary fled to France where they lived as monarchs in exile until their deaths. Mary of Modena died on May 7, 1718 from breast cancer at the age of fifty-nine. Her son, James Francis Stuart, known as the “Old Pretender”, claimed the English, Scottish, and Irish thrones after his father’s death in 1701 as the Jacobite pretender. He married a Polish princess, Maria Clementina Sobieska, who he had two sons with – Charles Edward Stuart (“the Young Pretender”) and Henry Benedict Stuart, Cardinal Duke of York. Mary’s daughter, Louisa Maria Teresa, never married or had children as she died at the age of nineteen from smallpox. Meanwhile, Mary’s brother, Francesco II d’Este, married his first cousin, Margherita Maria Farnese but they had no children. Francesco died in 1694 at the age of thirty-four and was succeeded by his uncle.

Olympia Mancini, Countess of Soissons
(Pierre Mignard, 1650's-80's)
The fourth Mazarinette to marry was the second daughter of Girolama – Olympia Mancini. Olympia married Eugene Maurice of Savoy, Count of Soissons on February 24, 1657 when she was eighteen and he was a few days shy of his twenty-second birthday. Eugene was a prince of blood in France through his mother, a Bourbon princess, and though he wasn’t very intelligent, he was a good soldier. His paternal grandmother was Infanta Catherine Michelle of Spain, the youngest surviving daughter of Philip II of Spain and Elisabeth of Valois (by this descent, he was the first cousin once removed of the husband of his cousin-in-law, Laura Martinozzi – Alfonso IV d’Este, Duke of Modena and Reggio), and his paternal grandfather was Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy, a grandson of Francis I of France and Princess Claude, Duchess of Brittany. Eugene Maurice was deeply in love with his beautiful wife and spoiled her rotten, even going as far as to ignore the various affairs and scandals she was involved in at court. Meanwhile, the flippant Olympia cared little for her loyal spouse. The new Countess of Soissons was appointed as the Superintendent of the Queen’s Household in 1661, which made her the most prominent woman at court after the Princesses of the Blood. But this newfound influence and authority did nothing to improve Olympia’s personality, as she was an innate gossip with a flair for intrigue. She was rumored to have been a mistress of the King himself before her marriage for a short period of time and was a close friend of his sister-in-law (and alleged lover), Henrietta, Duchess of Orléans, the most fashionable and popular woman at court. Olympia had eight children with her love-struck husband before his death from a fever in 1673 at the age of thirty-eight, all of whom survived infancy. They had five sons but just one married and had children. Not much is known of Olympia’s three daughters. Interestingly enough, there were claims that Olympia’s eldest son was actually an illegitimate child of the King. Six years after her husband’s death, Olympia became involved in the disreputable Poison Affair where she was accused of having plotted to poison the King’s mistress, Louise de La Vallière, and threatening the King to “come back to [her], or [he would] be sorry.” She was also rumored of poisoning her late husband and the daughter of her late close friend, the Duchess of Orléans - Marie Louise, Queen of Spain. All these accusations resulted in Olympia being banished from France. She moved to the Spanish royal court where she was expelled from in 1690. Olympia, who always maintained her innocence, moved to Brussels where she remained until her death on October 9, 1708 at the age of seventy. Her most prominent child was her youngest son, Prince Eugene of Savoy, who was one of the most successful military commanders in the history of modern Europe. He fought for the Holy Roman Empire as the general of the Imperial Army during the Great Turkish War, the Nine Years’ War, the War of the Spanish Succession, the Austro-Turkish War of 1716-18, and the War of the Polish Succession. Eugene never married or had children and is thought to have been a homosexual.

Marie Mancini, Princess and Duchess of Paliano
(Jacob Ferdinand Voet, 1660-80)
Marie Mancini, the third of the five Mancini sisters, was the fifth of the Mazarinettes to marry. As mentioned previously, she had not been as beautiful as her sisters and cousins in her youth. Her mother openly criticized her by comparing her to her sisters and even sent her to a convent at the age of seven but removed her two years later due to her poor health. However, Marie did become more beautiful with age, so beautiful in fact that the King of France himself fell for her. By 1658, Louis XIV had begun a love affair with the vivacious and highly intellectual Marie, who was just one year his junior. They studied Italian poetry and French romances together, as well as art and tragic plays. Marie made him a more independent, confident, and open man while he grew extremely devoted and fond of her. So much so that Marie’s family, especially the Cardinal, worried that the willful Marie would become the Queen of France. Although such a marriage was the ultimate prize for the ambitious Cardinal, he feared that a union between Louis and Marie would result in the King being less subservient towards him. Politically, it was also necessary that the King marry a Spanish princess since France and Spain needed a marital union to achieve peace. The marriage of a powerful sovereign to an Italian niece of a Cardinal would not achieve anything for France. It also didn’t help that Marie was not on good relations with her uncle and therefore, he couldn’t expect her to support his station if she was on the throne. Though Louis’s love for Marie was somewhat naïve, he was so infatuated with her that he pronounced his desire to make her his wife. This declaration of love shocked the Cardinal and the Queen Mother to the point of where they had to force Louis into marriage with his Spanish double first cousin and send Marie away from court to Italy. It is known that Marie never had sexual relations with the King, as she was a proud and dignified woman who cherished her honor. Even if Louis had wanted Marie to stay at court as his mistress, she would have never conceded. Instead, Marie went to Italy eager to marry just to show how angry she was over how she had been treated. So, in the early summer of 1661, the twenty-one year old Marie married Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna, 8th Duke and Prince of Paliano as well as the hereditary Grand Constable of the Kingdom of Naples, in Milan. Lorenzo was just two years his wife’s senior and was a member of the powerful and noble Colonna family. He made a famous remark on his wedding night to Marie, as he was surprised to find that she was still a virgin and said that he had not anticipated to discover “innocence among the love of kings.”

Marie, now the Princess and Duchess of Paliano, lived with her husband at his palace in Rome. Lorenzo was a rather uninteresting man who didn’t hold much regard for honor. But despite this, the couple were happy during their early years of marriage, especially after Marie gave birth to three sons in quick succession. The first, Filippo II, was born in 1663 and was followed by Marcantonio in 1664 and Carlo in 1665. The Prince and Princess of Paliano greatly supported and promoted the arts, so much so that many artists dedicated their works to Marie and her husband. Their palace was renowned for its, “artistic grace and luxury,” as well as its, “Parisian fashions of cards, theatricals, and dances, and the Parisian freedom of conversation, that shocked Roman prejudices and caused few husbands to allow their wives to be seen in the Palazzo Colonna.” But Marie’s marriage to Lorenzo fell apart soon after the birth of their third and final child because of Lorenzo’s extramarital affairs and Marie’s unwillingness to have any more children. In 1668, her younger sister, Hortense, fled her horrible husband to find solace with Marie in the Palazzo Colonna. It seems as though the rebellious Hortense inspired her older sister (who was now terrified that her husband was harboring a desire to kill her) to escape with her to Rome in June of 1672. The sisters didn’t stay in Rome for long and left the city dressed as men for the coast of Provence where they parted ways – Hortense to Savoy and Marie to Paris. She hoped to find support from her old lover, the King, but Louis did not welcome her with open arms. Instead, he refused to see her and banished her from the court. After this denial, Marie lived a “wandering life” for some live, first staying with Hortense in Savoy and then moving on to Switzerland and Spain. She lived in various convents on her husband’s expense (though he did not willingly support her) until his death in 1689 when she went back to Italy, now fifty years old. According to contemporaries, she was even more beautiful in old age than she had been in her youth. She died on May 8, 1715 in Pisa at the impressive age of seventy-five. Her eldest son, Filippo II, became the 9th Duke and Prince of Paliano after his father’s death and married a Spanish aristocrat named Lorenza de la Cerda, a descendant from the noble family of Castile, in 1681. After she died without having children in 1697, Filippo II remarried an Italian noblewoman named Olimpia Pamphili, who he had several children with. Filippo died months before his mother in 1714 at the age of fifty-one from severe bladder stones and kidney disease. Not much is known of Marie’s two younger sons except that her youngest, Carlo, became a Cardinal. 

Hortense Mancini, Duchesse de Mazarin
(Jacob Ferdinand Voet, 1675)
The fourth Mancini sister, the gorgeous Hortense, was the most beautiful and the most defiant of the seven Mazarinettes. Her sumptuous beauty and marvelous charm made her nearly impossible to resist for many men and women – including the future King Charles II of England. In 1659, Charles came to the French court to visit his maternal first cousin, the King, and found himself falling for the seductive Hortense, who was sixteen years his junior. In fact, when Charles first met the Italian beauty, she was just thirteen years old to his twenty-nine years. Charles asked her uncle for her hand in marriage, as he hoped her family’s wealth and connections would work in his benefit, but the Cardinal was quick to rebuke Charles’s proposal. This was because Charles was just an exiled king, so the Cardinal believed that a match between his niece and the son of an executed and deposed monarch was far from idealistic. However, the Cardinal soon realized his error in turning down Charles when he was reinstated as king just a few months later. Mazarin hastily tried to reinvigorate Charles’s desire to wed Hortense with a promise of an enormous dowry but the new King was no longer interested in marrying someone who turned him down. The Cardinal knew that he would have to pursue other prospects for his favorite niece’s hand. Thus, on March 1, 1661, the fifteen year-old Hortense married one of the richest men in Europe, a French general named Armand-Charles de La Porte de La Meilleraye, who was fourteen years older than his bride. The day after their wedding, the couple was made the Duc and Duchesse de Mazarin. Although the marriage looked promising on paper, it would prove to be a complete disaster.

Hortense Mancini, Duchesse de Mazarin
(Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1671)
Armand-Charles was an extremely odd, jealous, and stingy man. He was also spoiled, arrogant, and used to getting his own way since he had been born with a silver spoon in his mouth. It’s safe to say that he was mentally unstable, which his youthful, lively, and sociable wife bore the brunt of. He possessed an intense sexual jealousy towards Hortense coupled with an theatrical sense of morality. He demanded that the front teeth of all his female servants be knocked out so they wouldn’t attract the attentions of men and he also barred his dairy maids from milking cows because the sight of them squeezing the cows’ udders would excite any on-looking man sexually. The Duc de Mazarin also painted over or chipped away all the “dirty bits” in paintings in his own art collection. He suffocated Hortense to the point where he always believed that she was unfaithful to him and searched her room every night for hidden lovers. She was forbidden from ever being alone with a man and was compelled to spend the majority of her day at church praying “for forgiveness for the sins of the flesh.” Hortense revolted against her husband’s madness by engaging in a lesbian affair with a friend her own age named Sidonie de Courcelles. Their little tryst went on happily for some time until an enraged Armand-Charles discovered what they were doing and sent them off to a convent to “cure” them. This was futile, as the young girls were constantly creating trouble for the nuns by putting ink in the holy water, flooding the nuns’ beds, and climbing up the chimneys in attempts to escape. Eventually, Armand-Charles took his wife back and, astonishingly enough (considering their mismatched personalities), had four children with her. Hortense had her first child, a daughter named Marie Charlotte, in 1662 and a second daughter, Marie Anne, the following year. A third daughter named Marie Olympe was born in 1665 and in 1666, Hortense had her fourth and last child, a son named Paul Jules. Two years after the birth of her son, Hortense had enough of her horrible marriage. On the night of June 13, 1668, she left her children and husband with the help of her brother, Philippe, Duc de Nevers, and fled to Rome to live with her older sister, Marie Mancini, the Princess Colonna. Luckily enough for Hortense, she managed to procure the support of King Louis XIV himself who supported her flight from her marriage by granting her a large pension that allowed her to live independently. She used this money to buy a home in Haute-Savoie after leaving Rome with her sister and further managed to provide for herself by becoming the mistress of a former suitor, Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy, who made himself her protector until his death in 1675. After the Duke’s demise, his jealous widow kicked Hortense out, leaving her homeless and penniless since her estranged husband had managed to freeze her income (including the pension from the King). But Hortense’s fortunes changed when the English ambassador to Rome, Ralph Montagu, made her acquaintance and cooked up a scheme to use her to improve his political and social standing back home. He planned to bring Hortense with him back to England to win the heart of King Charles II, a past suitor, as his new mistress. With Hortense in the King’s bed, Montagu could use this as a way to gain favor and influence with the King and thus, the court. The audacious Hortense was eager to try this plan and quickly journeyed to England dressed as a man (she had a tendency to cross-dress, which is seen as an “outward expression” of her bisexuality) under the pretense of going to London to visit her niece, Mary of Modena, the newly wedded wife of the King’s brother. 

Marie Charlotte de La Porte Mazarin
(Jacob Ferdinand Voet, 1680's-1700's)
It didn’t take long for Hortense to find her way into the King’s bed; by the summer of 1676 she was the King’s new mistress (replacing his former favorite, Louise de Kerouaille) and was living large off a grand pension Charles had bestowed upon her. But the wild Hortense wasn’t faithful to the King in the least. In fact, her sexual escapades earned her the nickname of the “Italian Whore” by the English people. She had an affair with the King’s illegitimate daughter by Barbara Palmer, the Duchess of Cleveland – Anne Lennard, Countess of Sussex – a married woman who was fifteen years Hortense’s junior. Hortense even had a public fencing match with her young lover, both clad in nightgowns, for an audience of courtiers. This induced Anne’s husband to ship her off to the country to keep her away from Hortense. The Duchesse de Mazarin moved on from her young admirer quite quickly to begin an affair with Louis I, Prince of Monaco, which enraged Charles II so greatly that he cut off her pension and removed her as his favorite mistress. Eventually, he did reinstate her payments and the two remained good friends until Charles’s death in 1685. Hortense lived in England for the rest of her life at her sophisticated home in Chelsea. She stayed in the good graces of Charles’s brother and successor, James II, as well as his own successors, his daughter Mary II and her husband William III. She headed her own salon of intellectuals at her home until her death on November 9, 1699 at the age of fifty-three. It is said by some that she took her own life by drinking herself to death. Strangely enough, after her death her estranged husband claimed her body and took it with him wherever he went until he eventually allowed her remains to be buried in the tomb of her uncle, the Cardinal. Hortense’s oldest daughter, Marie Charlotte, married a French nobleman named Louis Armand de Vignerot du Plessis, Duc d’Aiguillon and Comte d’Agénias who she had one son with. Her younger sister, Marie Anne, never married and became an abbess while Hortense’s youngest daughter, Marie Olympe, married Louis Christophe Gigault, Marquis de Bellefonds et de Boullaye and had one daughter. Hortense’s only son, Paul Jules, became the Duc de Mazarin after his father’s death in 1713 and married a woman named Félice Armande Charlotte de Durfort who he had a son and a daughter with. His daughter, Armande Félice de La Porte Mazarin, married a Prince of Orange and had five beautiful daughters known as the Mademoiselles de Nesles. Four of these girls would become mistresses of King Louis XV. Paul Jules’s son, Guy Jules, also became the Duc de Mazarin after his father’s death. His descendants include the current royal family of Monaco.

Marie Anne Mancini, Duchess of Bouillon
(Benedetto Gennari II, 1715)
The youngest Mazarinette, Marie Anne Mancini, was the last to marry. When her eldest sister, Laura, the Duchess of Mercœur, died in childbirth in early 1657, the eight year-old Marie Anne took her late sister’s three sons into her home, despite her young age. When Marie Anne was thirteen years old, her uncle died in 1661. On his deathbed, he was approached by the well-known field marshal, the Vicomte de Turenne, who asked for Marie Anne to marry his nephew, Godefroy Maurice de La Tour d'Auvergne, Duke of Bouillon. The hesitant Cardinal died before agreeing or disagreeing to the match so Marie Anne’s mother betrothed her youngest daughter to the Duke of Bouillon herself. On April 22, 1662, Marie Anne (who was no more than fifteen years old) married the Duke of Bouillon at the home of her sister Olympia - the Hôtel de Soissons. Godegroy Maurice was thirteen years older than his bride and though he was a good solider, he was a blunt man with bad manners and little intellect. Thus, his young wife, the new Duchess of Bouillon (who was far more gifted and aspiring than her dull husband), lived rather independently for her time, as she was able to engage in her own political and literary pursuits without having to seek out her husband’s approval. She even had her own salon at her home of the Hôtel de Bouillon. Like her sister Olympia, she became involved in the scandalous Affair of the Poisons when she was accussed of planning to poison her husband to marry her maternal nephew, Louis Joseph, Duke of Vendôme (the eldest son of her sister, Laura). Unlike her sister, who had to flee France to avoid arrest, Marie Anne was not imprisoned, punished, or convicted. She had seven children with her husband between the years of 1665-1679, five sons and two daughters, all of whom survived infancy. Only five of her children married but just two of her sons had children who lived to adulthood. Marie Anne Mancini, Duchess of Bouillon, died on June 20, 1714 at the age of sixty-five while her husband died seven years later at the age of eighty-five.