Madame de Lamballe reading to Marie Antoinette and her daughter, Marie Thérèse Charlotte (1858). Joseph Caraud (French, 1821-1905). 

Queen Marie Antoinette appointed Marie Thérèse Superintendent of the Queen’s Household, the highest rank possible for a lady-in-waiting at Versailles. Marie Thérèse was by nature reserved and there was never any gossip about her private life. However, in popular anti-monarchist propaganda of the time, she was regularly portrayed in pornographic pamphlets, showing her as the queen’s lesbian lover to undermine the public image of the monarchy.

The Princess of Lamballe. Jean-Baptiste Charpentier the Elder (French, 1728-1806). Oil on canvas.

Princess Maria Teresa of Savoy-Carignan (Marie Thérèse) (1749-1792) was married at the age of 17 to Louis Alexandre de Bourbon-Penthièvre, Prince de Lamballe, the heir to the greatest fortune in France. After her marriage, which lasted a year, she went to court and became the confidante of Queen Marie Antoinette. She was killed in the massacres of September 1792 during the French Revolution.

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Princesse de Lamballe:

Born as Marie Louise of Savoy, she would be one of Marie Antoinette’s most intimate friends. She was made “Superintendent of the Queen’s Household”, the highest rank for a lady-in-waiting. Marie Antoinette became incredibly close to the Princesse when she was introduced to court after her husband’s death. Courtiers were quick to notice the intimacy between the two, this would seal their fates later in life. Unlike the saucy Duchesse de Polignac, the Princesse had no gossips about her private life. Leading a respectable public and private image. When the revolution started, she fled to Bath,England in hopes of appealing to people to save The Queen. She returned out of loyalty to the Queen to France. When she arrived, she was taken along with the Marquess of Tourzel to a salon in which they ordered her to swear an oath against The Queen. Out of her loyalty and love to The Queen, she refused. Consequently, she was thrown outside and raped,mutilated,and murdered within minutes. Her head is said to be taken to a cafe where the customers drank to it. It was also taken to a salon where they would make her hair recognizable and penetrate her head on a pike. This would be taken to The Temple, where the revolutionaries had planned to take the head to The Queen’s window where she would have to look and kiss at her lover’s face (this was because of malicious libels published against them to destroy their reputation). The guards would not allow it but someone said to the King “They wish to show the Queen the head of Madame Lamballe” and the Queen promptly fainted. The head and body of the Princesse were never recovered. Marie Antoinette would have to suffer the atrocities the revolutionaries did until her death at the swift blow of the guillotine. Her death was less horrific than the poor fate of the Princesse of Lamballe.

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