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Marie Leczinska (1703–1768)

Marie Leczinska (1703–1768)

Queen of France. Name variations: Marie, Maria, or Mary Leszczynska; Maria Lesczinska. Pronunciation: (French) Lek-ZON-skah. Born on June 23, 1703, in Breslau, Silesia, Poland; died on June 24, 1768, in Versailles, France; daughter of Stanislaw also known as Stanislaus I Leczinski or Leszczynski (d. 1766), duke of Lorraine (r. 1737–1766), king of Poland (r. 1704–1709); married Louis XV (1710–1774), king of France (r. 1715–1774), on September 5, 1725; children: ten, including (twin daughters) Louise Elizabeth (1727–1759) and Henriette (1727–1752); Louis le dauphin (1729–1765, father of Louis XVI); Adelaide (1732–1800); Victoire (1733–1799); Sophie (1734–1782); Louise Marie (1737–1787).

Following his banishment from Poland in 1709, King Stanislaus I and his daughter Marie Leczinska settled in Alsace, destitute exiles. When she married Louis XV, she was a princess "who knew no cosmetics but water and snow," writes Nancy Mitford , "and who spent her time embroidering altar cloths." At first glance, Marie Leczinska was no one's idea of a queen of France. She won the right to marry Louis with the help of Madame de Prie (who assumed that Marie would be extremely grateful and grant much favor) after spirited competition between 40 princesses and courtwide wagering on the winner. Marie came to the throne with neither beauty, possessions, nor connections, and she was seven years older than the 15-year-old Louis. But she was kind and dignified, and the king was besotted on first sight.

Later, however, Marie began to tire of always being "in bed, or pregnant, or brought to bed" a pious woman, she excused herself from her husband's attentions on the feast days of major saints. Soon, she became interested in the minor saints. One saint too many caused an explosion on the part of Louis, who then turned to others, many others. Of Marie Leczinska's ten children, only six daughters and one son reached maturity.


Mitford, Nancy. Madame de Pompadour. NY: Harper & Row, 1968.

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