Marie-Thérèse, Duchess of Angoulême Biography

(Eldest Child of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette)

Birthday: December 19, 1778 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Versailles, France

Marie-Thérèse Charlotte was the eldest child and daughter of King Louis XVI of France and Queen Marie Antoinette. She was also known as the Duchess of Angoulême after her marriage to her cousin, Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême. She also became the Dauphine of France when her father-in-law, Charles X, took over the French throne. She became the queen of France, too, but only for a while, as her husband, Louis Antoine, became King Louis XIX, for 20 minutes, before he abdicated during the 1830 July Revolution. The only child of her parents to survive till adulthood, she spent over three years in the Temple Tower prison and was also the only member of the royal family to survive the Reign of Terror and come out of prison alive, after losing her father, mother, and brother in the aftermath of the French Revolution.

Quick Facts

French Celebrities Born In December

Also Known As: Marie-Thérèse Charlotte, Madame Royale

Died At Age: 72


Spouse/Ex-: Louis XIX of France ​ ​ (m. 1799; died 1844)

father: Louis XVI of France

mother: Marie Antoinette

siblings: Dauphin of France, Louis Joseph, Louis XVII, Princess Sophie Hélène Béatrice of France

Born Country: France

Royal Family Members French Women

Died on: October 19, 1851

place of death: Austria

Cause of Death: Pneumonia

Childhood & Early Life

The eldest daughter of King Louis XVI of France and Queen Marie Antoinette, Marie-Thérèse was born on December 19, 1778. It is believed, Marie Antoinette had almost died of suffocation during Marie-Thérèse’s birth, due to the room being crowded. As a result, Louis XVI banned public viewing of the birth of his children in future, allowing only a handful of close family members to be there.

Also known as Marie-Thérèse Charlotte and Madame Royale, she faced tragedy quite early in her life. She lost her sister Sophie in 1787, at only 11 months old, while her brother Louis Joseph, the Dauphin, died of tuberculosis, in 1789, when he was 7.

Blessed with good looks, she was the only one of her parents’ four children to grow up past the age of 10. The queen also called her Mousseline la Sérieuse, or Muslin the Serious.

It is believed, Marie Antoinette taught her values such as gratitude, love for humanity, charity, and compassion towards the less fortunate. She received a royal education and was inspired by her mother to give away her toys to the poor, despite Marie Antoinette having the image of a materialist.

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The French Revolution & the Temple

During the Fall of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, Marie was 10 years old. Back then, many members of the royal family, including her uncle, Comte d'Artois, and the Duchesse de Polignac, were ordered by Louis XVI to move to other places for their own safety.

While the Palace of Versailles was mobbed on October 5, 1789, the royal family fled to the king's apartments. However, the crowd demanded that the royal family be moved to the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

With the constant deterioration of the political situation, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette planned an escape route with Count Axel von Fersen’s help. On June 20, 1791, Marie-Thérèse, who was 12 by then, dressed up and fled the palace along with her family.

She and her brother, Louis-Charles, dressed up as girls, and pretended to be children of a Russian lady, while their parents disguised themselves as servants of the supposed Russian lady, who was, in fact, their governess. They wished to escape to the north-eastern fortress of Montmédy, but the royal family was arrested in Varennes and brought back to Paris.

The attempted escape of the royal family was termed treason by the revolutionary forces. Soon, the family was shifted to a medieval prison named the Temple Tower. Following this, Louis XVI was deposed on August 10, 1792. Monarchy was abolished on September 21 that year, and the royal family and the French noblemen and noblewomen faced trial and death.

Marie-Thérèse thus spent more than three years in the Temple Tower and was imprisoned along with her father; her mother; her aunt, Elisabeth; and her brother Louis Charles. She had almost nothing to do while in prison and ended up reading only two books, The Imitation of Christ, a prayer book, and Voyages by Jean-François de la Harpe, repeatedly.

On January 21, 1793, Louis XVI was guillotined, and the royalists declared Louis Charles as King Louis XVII of France. On July 3, 1793, Louis Charles was taken away by guards forcibly and handed over to the Temple commissioner.

Following this, only Marie Antoinette, Marie, and Madame Élisabeth, remained in the Tower. On August 2 that year, Marie Antoinette was taken to the Conciergerie. On May 9, 1794, Madame Élisabeth was taken away. She was executed the next day. Thus, Marie-Thérèse, eventually, became the only member of the royal family to survive the Reign of Terror and come out of prison alive.

A lady named Madame Renée de Chanterennewsa was picked as a companion for her a few days after the death of her brother. After starting her duties in June 1795, Madame Renée broke the news of the death of her family members to her.

In her final days in the prison, her living conditions improved, and she was allowed to keep paper, ink, and other objects of requirement. In 1795, the Austrian forces eventually negotiated her release. The princess, now orphaned and without a family, shifted to the court of Emperor Francis II in Vienna.

Post-Prison Life & the Bourbon Restoration

In 1799, she got married to her cousin Louis Antoine d’Artois in Latvia. Louis Antoine d’Artois (later Louis XIX of France) was the son of Louis XVI’s younger brother. Marie-Thérèse thus became the Duchess of Angoulême. The royal family then moved to Britain.

She went back to France after the restoration of Bourbon monarchy in 1814, when Louis XVIII, brother of Louis XVI, took to the throne after abdicating Napoleon. In 1815, Napoleon launched his campaign again, and Louis XVIII fled. However, Marie-Thérèse remained in Bordeaux. Napoleon thus named her “the only man in the Bourbon family” during the Hundred Days.

In 1824, Charles X took over as the new ruler, and Louis Antoine d’Artois became Dauphin. With this, Madame Royale became the Dauphine de France.

With the Revolution of 1830 and the July Monarchy, the Orleanist branch of the family took over the throne and Louis Philippe I became the new king. Marie-Thérèse went into exile again. In 1836, following the death of Charles X, she was declared the Queen of France and Navarre by the royalists.

With the death of her husband in 1844, she moved to Schloss Frohsdorf, near Vienna, where she spent her final days taking walks, sewing, and reading. Her nephew, the comte de Chambord, and his sister, joined her as her caregivers.


On October 19, 1851, Marie-Thérèse died of pneumonia. She was buried next to her family members in the Franciscan monastery church of Castagnavizza in Görz (then in Austria, now in Slovenia).

Her gravestone describes her as the "Queen Dowager of France,” referring to her husband's 20-minute rule as King Louis XIX, before he abdicated following his father's abdication during the 1830 July Revolution.

See the events in life of Marie-Thérèse, Duchess Of Angoulême in Chronological Order

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