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NEURDEIN. Mademoiselle de Montpensier.
Paris, Neurdein, ca.1875, albumen print, 5,5 x 9 cm. Portraits Historiques. - Anne Marie Louise d'Orleans, duchesse de Montpensier (May 29, 1627 - April 5, 1693), French memoir-writer, was born at the Louvre. Her father was Jean-Baptiste Gaston, duc d'Orléans, "Monsieur," the brother of Louis XIII. Her mother was Marie de Bourbon, heiress of the Montpensier family. Being thus of the blood-royal of France on both sides, and heiress to immense property, she appeared to be very early destined to a splendid marriage. It was perhaps the greatest misfortune of her life that "la Grande Mademoiselle" was encouraged to look forward to the throne of France as the result of a marriage with Louis XIV, who was, however, eleven years her junior. Ill luck, or her own wilfulness, frustrated numerous plans for marrying her to persons of exalted station, including even Charles II of England, then Prince of Wales. She was just of age when the Fronde broke out, and, attributing as she did her disappointments to Jules Cardinal Mazarin, she sympathized with it not a little. In the new or second Fronde she not only took nominal command of one of the armies on the princes' side, but she literally and in her own person took Orléans by escalade. However, she had to retreat to Paris, where she practically commanded the Bastille and the adjoining part of the walls. On July 2, 1652, the day of the battle of the Faubourg Saint Antoine, between the Frondeurs under Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé and the royal troops under Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne, Mademoiselle saved Condé and his beaten troops by giving orders for the gates under her control to be opened and for the cannon of the Bastille to fire on the royalists. In the heat of the émeute which followed she installed herself in the Hôtel de Ville, and played the part of mediatrix between the opposed parties. Her political importance lasted exactly six months, and did her little good, for it created a lifelong prejudice against her in the mind of her cousin, Louis XIV. She was for some years in disgrace, and resided on her estates. It was not till 1657 that she reappeared at court, but, though projects for marrying her were once more set on foot, she was now past her first youth. She was nearly forty, and had already corresponded seriously with Françoise Bertaut de Motteville on the project of establishing a ladies' society "sans manage et sans amour," when a young Gascon gentleman named Puyguilhem, afterwards celebrated as Antoine Nompar de Caumont, marquis de Puyguilhem, duc de Lauzun, attracted her attention. It was some years before the affair came to a crisis, but at last, in 1670, Mademoiselle solemnly demanded the king's permission to marry Lauzun. Louis, who liked Lauzun, and who had been educated by Mazarin in the idea that Mademoiselle ought not to be allowed to carry her vast estates and royal blood to anyone who was himself of the bloodroyal, or even to any foreign prince, gave his consent, but it was not immediately acted on, as the other members of the royal family prevailed with Louis to rescind his permission. Not long afterwards Lauzun, for another cause, was imprisoned in Pignerol, and it was years before Mademoiselle was, able to buy his release from the king by settling no small portion of her estates on Louis's bastards. The elderly lovers (for in 1681, when Lauzun was released, he was nearly fifty, and Mademoiselle was fifty-four) were then secretly married, if indeed they had not gone through the ceremony ten years previously. But Lauzun tyrannized over his wife, and it is said that on one occasion he addressed her thus, "Louise d'Orléans, tire-moi mes boîtes," and that she at once and finally separated from him. She lived for some years afterwards, gave herself to religious duties, and finished her Mémoires, which extend to within seven years of her death (April 9, 1693), and which she had begun when she was in disgrace thirty years earlier. These Mémoires (Amsterdam, 1729) are of very considerable merit and interest, though, or perhaps because, they are extremely egotistical and often extremely desultory. They are to be found in the great collection of Michaud and Poujoulat, and have been frequently edited apart. Her Eight Beatitudes has been edited by E. Rodocanachi as Un Ouvrage de piete inconnu (1908). See the series of studies on La Grande Mademoiselle, by Arvède Barine (1902, 1905). As she was childless, her inheritance of Montpensier and Dauphinate of Auvergne was to be succeeded by her rather distant relatives. If the Calvinist marriage of her great-great-aunt Charlotte de Bourbon-Montpensier, a former nun, to William the Silent, prince of Orange, was canonically valid, then her heiress was Elisabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, the then wife of her first cousin, the Duke of Orleans, whose family in fact inherited her. Otherwise, her heir would have been an yet more distant relative, Henri de Lorraine, Duke of Elboeuf. Neurdein, Éditeur Photographe, Place de la Bourse, 8 Rue des Filles St. Thomas, Paris.
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