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Lamballe, Marie Thérèse Louise of Savoy-Carignano, Princesse de (1749–1792)

Lamballe, Marie Thérèse Louise of Savoy-Carignano, Princesse de (1749–1792)

French royal. Name variations: Marie Thérèse Louise de Savoie-Carignan. Born Marie Thérèse Louise of Savoy-Carignano in Turin on September 8, 1749; died in the massacre at La Force on September 3, 1792; fourth daughter of Louis Victor of Carignano (who died in 1774 and was the great-grandfather of King Charles Albert of Sardinia) and Christine Henriette of Hesse-Rheinfels-Rothenburg ; married Louis Alexandre Stanislaus de Bourbon, Prince de Lamballe (son of the duke of Penthièvre, a grandson of Louis XIV's illegitimate son, the count of Toulouse), in 1766 (died 1767).

In 1766, Marie Thérèse Louise of Savoy-Carignano was married to Louis Alexandre Stanislaus de Bourbon, prince of Lamballe, great-grandson of Louis XIV's misbegotten son, the count of Toulouse. When her husband died the following year, Princesse de Lamballe, a widow at 18, retired with her father-in-law to Rambouillet, where she lived until the marriage of the dauphin and Marie Antoinette (1770); Lamballe then returned to court.

Charmed by Lamballe's gentle and naive manners, Marie Antoinette singled her out for a companion and confidante. The impetuous dauphiness found in Lamballe a submissive temperament, and the two became fast friends. Lamballe was so close to Marie Antoinette that their relationship was used to fuel damaging gossip. Despite this and the dauphin's opposition, Lamballe was made superintendent of the royal household in 1774, the year the dauphin was crowned Louis XVI.

From 1780 to 1785, possibly because she had been replaced as confidante by Yolande Martine Gabrielle de Polignac , Lamballe lived outside of court, but when the queen tired of the supposed greed of the Polignacs, she turned again to Lamballe. From 1785 to the French Revolution, Lamballe was Marie Antoinette's closest friend and a pliant instrument. She accompanied the queen to the Tuileries in Paris (October 1789), when a mob of women, angry over rising bread prices, marched on Versailles and demanded that the royal couple come to the city and relieve their plight. There, the queen and king and their children were, in effect, held hostage to the demands of both the National Assembly and the more radical city government. Around them swirled innumerable intrigues and counterplots. The royal family made plans to flee the country and find help at foreign courts. As Lamballe's salon served as a meeting place for the queen and the members of the Assembly whom Marie Antoinette wished to win over, the people believed Lamballe to be the soul of all the intrigues.

After visiting England to appeal for help for the royal family and writing her last will and testament on October 1791, Lamballe returned to support the queen and to set an example for other emigres. She was imprisoned in the Temple along with the queen on August 10, 1792. On August 19, Lamballe was transferred to La Force. On September 3, after refusing to take the oath against the monarchy, she was torn to pieces by the mob as she left the courthouse. Her head was placed on a pike and carried before the windows of her longtime friend, Marie Antoinette. Mme de Lamballe was 38.

suggested reading:

Bertin, George. Madame de Lamballe. Paris, 1888.

Dobson, Austin. Four Frenchwomen. 1890.

Hardy, B.C. Princesse de Lamballe. 1908.

Lescure, Comte de. La Princesse de Lamballe … d'après des documents inédits. 1864.

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