Louise of Lorraine

Louise of Lorraine

Louise in 1580
Queen consort of Poland
Grand Duchess of Lithuania
Tenure 15 February 1575 - 12 May 1575
Queen consort of France
Tenure 15 February 1575 - 2 August 1589
Born (1553-04-30)30 April 1553
Died 29 January 1601(1601-01-29) (aged 47)
Moulins, Allier
Burial Saint Denis Basilica
Spouse Henry III of France
Full name
Louise de Lorraine
House House of Lorraine
Father Nicholas, Duke of Mercœur
Mother Margaret of Egmont
Religion Roman Catholicism
Styles of
Queen Louise of France as consort
Reference style Her Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Madame

Louise of Lorraine (French: Louise de Lorraine) (30 April 1553 – 29 January 1601) was a member of the House of Lorraine who became Queen consort of France from 1575 until 1589. Born in Nomeny in the Duchy of Bar, she was the daughter of Nicholas, Duke of Mercœur, and Margaret of Egmont.[1]


Her mother died whilst she was a baby and she was brought up by her father and step-mother.[1] Her childhood was unhappy; unloved by her father and stepmother, Catherine de Lorraine-Aumale, she was expected to keep out of the way of her family. This upbringing would result in her being quiet and dutiful as an adult. She was also very pious.

She first caught the eye of her future husband, Henry, Duke of Anjou, in 1574. Recently elected King of Poland, he was paying a visit to her cousin, the Duke of Lorraine (married to Henry's sister, Claude) on his way to his new kingdom, and caught sight of Louise whilst he was there. Henry was attracted to Louise, who was not only attractive, and sweet-natured, but who also resembled the Princess of Condé, Marie de Clèves, with whom Henry III was infatuated. He remembered Louise long after he left France.

Upon the death of Charles IX of France, and Henry's accession as Henry III, Louise was not initially considered to be a candidate for Queen – Henry intended to procure Marie a divorce from her husband and marry her himself. Marie died of a lung infection, however, and after a period of deep mourning, Henry III decided – against the advice of his mother and his councillors – to marry Louise, sending his councillor and alleged lover, Cheverney, to inform the girl and her family, who responded to the news by bowing and curtsying to her with embarrassment. Louise herself was on a pilgrimage to Saint-Nicolas-de-Port at the time, and was much surprised when she received the news from her family at her return. The match was a general surprise, as Louise was not considered to have high enough status to be queen.

The wedding took place on 15 February 1575, two days after Henry's coronation. The couple were finally married at the Cathedral of Reims by Charles, Cardinal de Bourbon that evening. Her mother-in-law, Catherine de' Medici, initially disliked the match as she feared that Louise would act as an agent of her family, but as she soon proved that she did not, Catherine came to appreciate the humble and calm personality of her daughter-in-law. Louise did, however, suffer because of the hostility between the family of her father and her spouse.

Although Louise worshipped her husband (who in response fussed over her), the marriage failed to produce children. She is believed to have suffered a miscarriage in the Spring of 1576; if so, it would possibly have prevented the couple from producing further children. As a result, the heir presumptive being by the end of the reign the controversial Henry III of Navarre – the relationship between the couple became more unhappy because of this pressure. The Queen as a result became thin, suffered fits of depression, and with her husband made pious offerings and pilgrimages to plead for sons. Between 1579 and 1586, they made numerous such pilgrimages, especially to Chartres. In 1584, there were rumours that Henry would divorce her, but they proved to be untrue.

Queen Louise was not neglected but often in the company of Henry, and participated in ceremonies, parties and receptions at his side. She was not politically active except in a ceremonial aspect: she was present in the royal council, received ambassadors in her own chambers, presided over the opening of parliament and lay the foundation stone to Pont Neuf with Henry 31 May 1578.

In 1589 Queen Louise inherited Château de Chenonceau and was staying there at the time her husband was assassinated on 2 August. She fell into a state of depression and spent the remainder of her days in mourning clothes amidst somber tapestries at the Chenonceau palace. The traditional mourning colour of French queens was white, and she was thereby called "The White Queen". As a widow, she was given the title Duchess of Berry. Queen Dowager Louise wanted to restore the name of Henry, who had been excommunicated after the murder of Cardinal de Guise. The 6 September 1589, she asked Henry IV to clear her late husband's name, and 20 January 1594, she officially demanded the rehabilitation of Henry III at a ceremony in Nantes.

Queen Louise died in Moulins, Allier in 1601 and was buried at the Convent of the Capuchins. In 1817 her remains were reinterred next to her husband in the Saint Denis Basilica.



  1. 1 2 Louise of Loraine, encyclopedia.com, retrieved 30 April 2016
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French royalty
Preceded by
Elizabeth of Austria
Queen consort of France
February 13, 1575 August 2, 1589
Succeeded by
Margaret of Valois
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