Henrietta Anne (1644–1670)

views updated

Henrietta Anne (1644–1670)

Duchess of Orléans. Name variations: Henrietta Stuart; Henrietta of England; Henriette-Anne, Duchesse d'Orleans or Orléans; Henriette of England or Henriette d'Angleterre; (nickname) Minette. Born at Bedford House, Exeter, England, on June 16, 1644; died on June 30, 1670, at St. Cloud Palace, Paris; interred at St. Denis Cathedral; fifth daughter of Charles I, king of England (r. 1625–1649), and Henrietta Maria (1609–1669); married Philip (1640–1701), duke of Orléans (r. 1660–1701, brother of King Louis XIV of

France), on March 30 or 31, 1661; children: Marie Louise d'Orleans (1662–1689, who married Charles II of Spain); Philip Charles (1664–1666), duke of Valois; Anne-Marie d'Bourbon-Orleans (1669–1728, who married Victor Amadeus II of Savoy); she also had four miscarriages.

Henrietta Anne was born on June 16, 1644, in the midst of the English Civil War. Her mother Henrietta Maria was, in fact, in the process of fleeing the country at the time of her birth. Fifteen days after the princess was born, Henrietta Maria placed her in the care of a governess, Lady Dalkeith (afterwards countess of Morton), and sailed for France. As the war raged on, Lady Dalkeith was constantly on the move, hoping to keep the child safe from capture. Charles I established a household for the princess and ordered them to stay out of the grasp of Parliamentary forces.

When Charles I surrendered in May of 1646, the Parliament demanded that the princess be handed over to be kept with her siblings at St. James's Palace. Lady Dalkeith, whose orders from the king had been to stay with Henrietta Anne at all costs, instead executed a daring escape from their residence at Oatlands in Surrey. She disguised herself as a valet and dressed Henrietta in a tattered frock and referred to her as "Peter," which she believed was the nearest approximation of the child's own lisping of "princess." After walking to Dover and catching a French merchant ship across the Channel, Lady Dalkeith finally brought Henrietta Anne to her mother in Paris.

Henrietta Maria, overjoyed to see her daughter after an absence of two years, vowed to oversee her upbringing personally and to raise her in the Roman Catholic faith. The little princess quickly became a favorite ornament of the French court, where she impressed onlookers with her talent in dancing, which she inherited from her mother. She remained close by her mother throughout her exile in France, and returned to England with her in 1660, where she became equally popular in the English court of her brother Charles II, recently restored to their father's throne.

Henrietta Anne was married to Philip, first duke of Orléans and brother of Louis XIV, in March of 1661. From the very beginning, the two felt no attraction for each other. Philip, who was greatly enamored with one of Henrietta Anne's ladies-in-waiting, showed his wife little attention. In return, Henrietta Anne, who had grown up as a creature of the court, entertained herself in a whirl of extravagance and began to dabble in court politics. She became known as a patron of the arts, and she underwrote works by Racine, Corneille and Molière.

Henrietta Anne was able to use her family connections to act as a mediator in diplomacy between the English and French courts. Her knowledge of state secrets, often those hidden from Philip, enraged her jealous husband. As she became a close confidante of Louis XIV, she aroused increasing ire in her husband, and they quarrelled publicly. Henrietta Anne traveled to Dover in 1670, where she personally negotiated a treaty between her older brother Charles II and Louis XIV, in which Louis promised Charles a substantial subsidy in return for Charles' promise to work toward the restoration of the Catholic Church and of absolute royal power in England.

Louis XIV was so pleased with her efforts that he showered her with money and gifts, publicly honoring her for her role in the treaty. Philip was furious at this escapade, which had taken place entirely without his knowledge, and he insisted that Henrietta leave Versailles. Henrietta Anne, in tears, insisted upon bathing in the Seine, which she did regularly. On the following afternoon, after drinking a cup of chicory-water, Henrietta began to complain of severe stomach cramps. Terrified that she had been poisoned by her husband, she called in her physicians, who were unable to relieve her, and she died at two o'clock the next morning. A quick post-mortem conducted after her death attributed her end to natural causes, but suspicions of foul play were heard throughout Europe.

Anne-Marie d'Bourbon-Orleans (1669–1728)

Queen of Sicily and Sardinia. Name variations: Ana Maria of Orleans. Born on May 11, 1669; died on August 26, 1728; daughter of Henrietta Anne (1644–1670) and Philip Bourbon-Orleans, 1st duke of Orléans; married Victor Amadeus II (1666–1732), duke of Savoy (r. 1675–1713), king of Sicily (r. 1713–1718) and Sardinia (r. 1718–1730), on April 10, 1684; children: Marie Adelaide of Savoy (1685–1712), duchess of Burgundy (mother of Louis XV of France); Marie Louise of Savoy (c. 1687–1714, first wife of Philip V of Spain); Charles Emmanuel III (1701–1773), king of Sardinia (r. 1730–1773), and duke of Savoy; Vittorio (d. 1715).

On August 21, 1670, Henrietta Anne was buried at St. Denis, near her mother, only one year following Henrietta Maria's death. Her admirers were stunned by her untimely demise and declared that "never was any one so regretted since dying was the fashion." Henrietta Anne left behind two young daughters, Marie Louise d'Orleans and Anne-Marie d'Bourbon-Orleans , the eldest of whom later married Charles II of Spain and the youngest of whom later married Victor Amadeus II of Savoy. Within a year of his wife's death, Philip married her second cousin, Charlotte Elizabeth of Bavaria (1652–1722).


Barker, Nancy N. "Revolution and the Royal Consort," in Proceedings of the Consortium on Revolutionary Europe, 1990. Vol. 20, pp. 136–143.

Haynes, Henrietta. Henrietta Maria. NY: Putnam, 1912.

Shimp, Robert E. "A Catholic Marriage for an Anglican Prince," in Historical Magazine of the Episcopal Church. Vol. 50, 1981, pp. 3–18.

Smuts, R.M. "The Puritan Followers of Henrietta Maria in the 1630's," in English Historical Review. Vol. 366, 1978, pp. 26–45.

Veevers, Erica. Images of Love and Religion: Queen Henrietta Maria and Court Entertainments. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

suggested reading:

Marie-Madeleine de La Fayette (1634–1693) composed the history of her friendship with Henrietta Anne sometime between 1665 and 1670, though Histoire de Madame Henriette d'Angleterre was not published until 1720.

Kimberly Estep Spangler , Assistant Professor of History and Chair of the Division of Religion and Humanities at Friends University, Wichita, Kansas

About this article

Henrietta Anne (1644–1670)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article