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The life of Madame Louise de France,…

The life of Madame Louise de France, daughter of Louis XV

by H. L. Sidney Lear

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A biography of the fifth daughter of King Louis XV of France and Queen Marie Leszczynska. Catherine Delors writes of her: Born on July 15, 1737, Louise-Marie was the last child of Louis XV and Marie Leszczynska. She was only 11 months old when, with her elder sisters, she left Versailles for the faraway Abbey of Fontevraud. . . she knew of no other world than the convent where she spent all of her childhood. When Louise returned to Versailles at last, she immediately realized the deficiencies of her education and set out on a thorough, one could almost say a passionate course of reading, in particular on history.
Madame Campan, the great memoirist and a reader to the royal sisters, describes Louise as “deformed and very short.” Madame Campan somewhat forces the trait, but it is true that Louise suffered from scoliosis, and she deliberately emphasized the problem. She had long felt a religious vocation and feared nothing more than being forced into marriage. It seems that Louis XV considered Charles Edward Stuart, pretender to the English throne; but the Stuart’s failure to win the throne led Louis XV to abandon any matrimonial plans with Madame Louise, who was no doubt very relieved. She remained quietly in Versailles until 1770 when she left one morning for the Convent of the Carmelites of Saint-Denis, where she became a nun under the name of Sister Thérèse de Saint-Augustin. Later she was elected Mother Superior of her community.
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