From the Emperor’s Desk: instead of doing an entire biography of Henrietta Anne of England in this entry I will focus on her move to France and her marriage to Philippe duc d’Orléans.
Henrietta Anne of England (June 26, 1644 – June 30, 1670) was the youngest daughter of King Charles I of England and Queen Henrietta Maria.
Henrietta was born on June 26, 1644, on the eve of the Second Battle of Newbury during the Civil War, at Bedford House in Exeter, a seat of William Russell, 5th Earl of Bedford, who had recently returned to the Royalist side.
Her father was King Charles I of England, her mother the youngest daughter of Henri IV of France and Marie de’ Medici. All her life, Henrietta had a close relationship with her mother, Queen Henrietta Maria. Her connections with the French court as niece of Louis XIII and cousin of Louis XIV proved very useful later in life.
Shortly before Henrietta’s birth, her mother had been forced to leave Oxford for Exeter, where she arrived on May 1, 1644. Many thought she would not survive the birth due to her state of health. After a particularly difficult birth, Henrietta was put in the care of Anne Villiers, Countess of Morton, known at that time as Lady Dalkeith.
For Henrietta’s safety, the queen made her way to Falmouth and then returned to France to ask Louis XIV to assist her husband’s war efforts. Arriving at Falmouth in mid-July, the queen was informed that Henrietta had been taken ill with convulsions, from which she recovered. On July 26, Henrietta met her father, Charles I of England, for the first time. Before his arrival, he had ordered that Henrietta be baptised in accordance with the rites of the Church of England, and she was baptised Henrietta at Exeter Cathedral on July 21.
A canopy of state was erected in honour of her dignity as a princess of England. Henrietta was moved to Oatlands Palace outside London, where she and her household lived for three months before fleeing secretly in June 1646; Lady Dalkeith ensured Henrietta’s safe arrival in France, where she was reunited with her mother.
While living at the French court, Henrietta was given the name Anne in honour of her aunt, the French queen Anne of Austria. When she first arrived, she was known as Henrietta d’Angleterre or the princesse d’Angleterre in France. She and her mother were given apartments at the Louvre, a monthly pension of 30,000 livres and the use of the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. This lavish establishment soon diminished, as all the money Queen Henrietta Maria received was given to her husband in England or to exiled cavaliers who had fled to France.
During the Fronde, the civil war that raged in France from 1648 to 1653, Henrietta and her mother stayed at the Louvre.
In February 1649, Henrietta’s mother was informed of the execution of her husband, who had been beheaded on January 30. At the end of the Fronde, Queen Henrietta Maria and her daughter moved into the Palais Royal with the young Louis XIV and his mother and brother Philippe.
At the same time, Queen Henrietta Maria decided to have her daughter, who had been baptised in the Church of England, brought up as a Catholic. With the arrival of Henrietta’s brother, Henry Stuart, Duke of Gloucester, in 1652, their small court was increased.
After the Fronde was over, the French court made it a priority to find a bride for the young king of France. Queen Henrietta Maria hinted at the idea of a union between Henrietta and Louis XIV but Queen Anne rejected the idea, preferring instead her niece by blood, Infanta Maria Theresa of Spain. Louis XIV and Infanta Maria Theresa married in June 1660, after which Queen Anne turned her attentions to her unmarried son Philippe.
While residing at the Château de Colombes, Henrietta Maria’s personal residence outside Paris, mother and daughter heard of the restoration of the monarchy in England under Henrietta’s brother Charles II of England, and returned to Paris. This change of fortunes caused the flamboyant Philippe, a reputed homosexual who had been party to a series of sexual scandals, to propose to Henrietta. Before this, there were rumours at court that Henrietta had received proposals from Charles Emmanuel of Savoy and the Grand Prince of Tuscany, but nothing came of them as a result of her status as an exile.
The impatient Philippe was eager to make sure he married Henrietta as soon as possible, but Queen Henrietta Maria was intent on going to England to sort out her debts, secure a dowry for Henrietta, and prevent the Duke of York’s announcement of his marriage to Anne Hyde, a former maid-of-honour to the Princess Royal.
During this time, Henrietta became distraught when her brother the Duke of Gloucester died of smallpox in September 1660. In October, Henrietta and her mother embarked at Calais for Dover, where they stayed at Dover Castle. The French court officially asked for Henrietta’s hand on November 22 and her dowry was arranged. Charles II agreed to give his sister a dowry of 840,000 livres and a further 20,000 towards other expenses. She was also given, as a personal gift, 40,000 livres annually and the Château de Montargis as a private residence.
Henrietta’s return to France was delayed by the death from smallpox of her elder sister Mary, Princess of Orange. She finally left England in January 1661. She and Philippe signed their marriage contract at the Palais Royal on March 30, 1661; the ceremony took place the next day. The marriage was elaborately celebrated and she and her husband moved into the Palais des Tuileries. As she had married Monsieur, Henrietta was styled Madame, la duchesse d’Orléans.
The marriage started well and Philippe seems to have been a doting husband. A year into the marriage, Henrietta gave birth to a daughter later baptised Marie Louise.
The child’s paternity was doubted by some of the court, who insinuated Louis XIV or the Count of Guiche was the father. Henrietta and Guiche may have started an affair early in her marriage, despite his having been an alleged former lover of Philippe. These flirtations made the once-adoring Philippe intensely jealous, and he complained to Queen Anne.
Soon after, Louis XIV started an affair with one of Henrietta’s ladies-in-waiting, Louise de La Vallière, who had joined her household at the end of 1661 and protected Henrietta with regard to the affair of Guiche.
The couple’s next child was a son born in July 1664 who was given the title Duke of Valois. The son died in 1666 of convulsions after being baptised Philippe Charles hours before death. The loss of the little Duke of Valois affected Henrietta greatly. She gave birth to a stillborn daughter in July 1665, but another daughter was born in 1669 who was baptised Anne Marie in 1670.
In 1666, her husband’s most prominent alleged lover, the Chevalier de Lorraine, became attached to the Orléans household. Lorraine often vied for power within Philippe’s household, an unusual arrangement for the time.
Jacobite claims to the British throne after Henry Benedict Stuart’s death descend from Henrietta Anne’s daughter Anne Marie, Queen of Sardinia.