Princesse de Lamballe  

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"On lui coupa les seins et la vulve"-- Vie du Marquis de Sade by Gilbert Lély

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Maria Teresa Luisa of Savoy, Princess of Lamballe (8 September, 1749 – 3 September, 1792) was a member of the House of Savoy. She was married at the age of nineteen to Louis Alexandre de Bourbon, the greatest heir in France. After her marriage, which lasted a year, she returned to court and became the confidante of Queen Marie Antoinette. Her death in the massacres of September 1792 during the French Revolution sparked a movement of anti-revolutionary propaganda, which ultimately led to the development and implementation of the Reign of Terror.

The princesse de Lamballe has been portrayed in several films and miniseries. Two of the more notable portrayals were by Anita Louise in W.S. Van Dyke's 1938 film Marie Antoinette and by Mary Nighy in the 2006 film Marie Antoinette directed by Sofia Coppola.


The Princesse de Lamballe accompanied the royal family to the Tuileries Palace after the Women's March on Versailles in October 1789. In Paris, her salon served as a meeting place for the queen and the members of the National Constituent Assembly, many of whom the queen wished to win over to the cause of the Bourbon Monarchy.

During a visit to a house she rented in the Royal Crescent, Bath, Great Britain in 1791 to appeal for help for the royal family, the princess wrote her will, since she feared death upon returning to Paris, which she nonetheless did out of loyalty to Marie-Antoinette. She returned to the Tuileries, and continued her services to the queen until the attack on the Palace on 10 August 1792, when the Royal Family took refuge in the Legislative Assembly, and after it was taken to the Temple.


Details of the death of Princess of Lamballe

On 19 August, she and the Marquise de Tourzel, governess to the royal children, were separated from the royal family and transferred to the La Force prison. On 3 September, she was brought before a hastily assembled tribunal, who demanded she "take an oath to love liberty and equality and to swear hatred to the King and the Queen and to the monarchy". The latter she refused to swear, upon which her trial summarily ended with the words: Élargissez madame ("Take madame away"). She was immediately brought to the street and thrown to a group of men who killed her within minutes.

Some reports allege that she was raped and that her breasts were cut off, in addition to other bodily mutilations, and that her head was cut off and stuck on a pike. Other reports say that it was brought to a nearby café where it was laid in front of the customers, who were asked to drink in celebration of her death.

Other reports state that the head was taken to a barber in order to dress the hair to make it instantly recognizable, though this has been contested. Following this, the head was replaced upon the pike and was paraded beneath Marie Antoinette’s window at the Temple.

Those who were carrying it wished the Queen to kiss the lips of her favourite, as it was a frequent rumor that the two had been lovers. The head was not allowed to be brought into the building, but the Queen's guards did force her to look out of the window at the sight, whereupon the Queen fainted almost immediately. In her historical biography, Marie Antoinette : The Journey Antonia Fraser claims that the Queen did not actually see the head of her long-time friend, but was aware of what was occurring, stating; "...the municipal officers had had the decency to close the shutters and the commissioners kept them away from the of these officers told the King '..they are trying to show you the head of Madame de Lamballe'...Mercifully, the Queen then fainted away".

Five citizens of the local section in Paris delivered her body (minus her head which was still being displayed on a pike) to the authorities shortly after her death. Royalist accounts of the incident claimed her body was displayed on the street for a full day. According to author Blanche Christabel Hardy, her heartbroken father-in-law finally succeeded in retrieving her corpse and had it interred in the Penthièvre family crypt at Dreux.

However, French historian Michel de Decker writes that her body was never found, (as was never found that of her brother-in-law Philippe Égalité), which is the reason why she is not inhumed in the Orléans family necropolis at Dreux. Marie Grosholtz, better known as Madame Tussaud, was ordered to make the death mask.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Princesse de Lamballe" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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