Marie Louise of Orléans (1662–1689)

For other people called Princess Marie Louise, see Princess Marie Louise (disambiguation).
Marie Louise of Orléans

Marie Louise by Mignard, 1679
Queen consort of Spain
Tenure 19 November 1679 12 February 1689
Born (1662-03-26)26 March 1662
Palais-Royal, Paris, France
Died 12 February 1689(1689-02-12) (aged 26)
Alcázar of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Burial El Escorial, Spain
Spouse Charles II of Spain
Full name
French: Marie Louise d'Orléans
Spanish: Maria Luisa de Orleans
House House of Orléans
Father Philippe I, Duke of Orléans
Mother Henrietta Anne of England
Religion Roman Catholicism

Marie Louise of Orléans (26 March 1662 12 February 1689) was Queen consort of Spain from 1679 to 1689 as the first wife of King Charles II of Spain. She was a granddaughter of Louis XIII of France. In her adopted country, she was known as María Luisa de Orleans.


Enamel miniature by Jean Petitot, circa 1678

Marie Louise d'Orléans was born at the Palais Royal in Paris. She was the eldest daughter of Philippe, Duke of Orléans, the younger brother of Louis XIV of France and of his first wife, Henrietta Anne of England. As a petite-fille de France she was entitled to the attribute of Royal Highness although, as was customary at court at the palace of Versailles, her style, Mademoiselle d'Orléans, was more often used.

Charming, pretty and graceful, Marie Louise, who was her father's favourite child, had a happy childhood, residing most of the time in the Palais-Royal, and at the château de Saint-Cloud situated a few kilometers west of Paris. Marie Louise spent a lot of time with both her paternal and maternal grandmothers - Anne of Austria, who doted on her and left the bulk of her fortune to her when she died in 1666; and Henrietta Maria, who lived in Colombes.

Marie Louise's mother died in 1670. The following year, her father married Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, who became a real mother to Marie Louise and her sisters. All her life, Marie Louise would maintain an affectionate correspondence with her stepmother.


Marie Louise

It has been said that she wanted to marry her cousin Louis, Dauphin of France, however the surviving letters of her stepmother suggest that Marie Louise and the Dauphin were never in love. Her marriage to Charles II was seen as a way to induce better relations between France and Spain; the two nations had been on bad terms because of her uncle’s battles in the Spanish Netherlands.

The proxy marriage took place at the Palace of Fontainebleau on 30 August 1679; standing for the groom was Mademoiselle d'Orléans' distant cousin Louis Armand I, Prince of Conti. Until mid-September there were a series of formal events held in honor of the new Queen of Spain. Marie Louise went to the convent of Val-de-Grâce, before her departure, where the heart of her mother was kept. She would never return to France.

Marie Louise, Charles and his mother, Mariana of Austria, attend together an auto de fe from a balcony in Madrid's Plaza Mayor on 30 June 1680. Detail from Auto de fe (1683), painting by Francisco Rizi. Prado Museum, Madrid.

On 19 November 1679, Marie Louise married Charles in person in Quintanapalla, near Burgos, Spain. This was the start of a lonely existence at the Spanish court. Her new husband had fallen in love with her and remained so until the end of his life. However, the confining etiquette of the Spanish Court (e.g., touching the Queen was forbidden), the King's mental and physical infirmities and her unsuccessful attempts to bear a child caused her distress.

Her French attendants were accused of plotting against the King and his family and, as a result, one of her personal maids was tortured. Riots occurred outside the palace in Madrid. Unlike the fashionable palaces at Versailles, Saint-Cloud and Paris, her new residences were the forbidding Real Alcázar de Madrid and the even more stark Palacio del Buen Retiro - a country palace where Marie Louise was allowed to stable her French horses. She also spent time in the Palacio Real de Aranjuez, south of Madrid.

After ten years of marriage the couple had no children. Marie Louise confided to the French ambassador, that

she was really not a virgin any longer, but that as far as she could figure things, she believed she would never have children.

Marie Louise, Queen of Spain, lying in state in the Royal Alcazar of Madrid (1689), oil painting by Sebastián Muñoz.

During the last years of her life she became overweight. After horseback riding on 11 February 1689, she felt a severe pain in the abdomen which forced her to lie down the rest of the evening. She died the following night.


Coat of arms of Queen Marie Louise

The death of Marie Louise left her husband heartbroken. There were rumours that she had been poisoned by the notorious intrigante Olympia Mancini, comtesse de Soissons, at the behest of her mother-in-law, the dowager queen Mariana of Austria, because of Marie Louise's childlessness. Mariana and Marie Louise had, however, not been known to be estranged and the elder queen appeared devastated at the young queen's death. It seems likely that the real cause of Marie Louise's death was appendicitis.


House of Orléans
See descendants
Marie Louise, Queen of Spain
Philippe Charles, Duke of Valois
Anne Marie, Queen of Sardinia
Alexandre Louis, Duke of Valois
Philippe, Duke of Orléans
Élisabeth Charlotte, Duchess of Lorraine


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Marie Louise d'Orléans.
    Marie Louise of Orléans (1662–1689)
    Cadet branch of the House of Capet
    Born: 26 April 1662 Died: 12 February 1689
    Royal titles
    Title last held by
    Mariana of Austria
    Queen consort of Spain
    1679 – 1689
    Title next held by
    Maria Anna of Neuburg
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