Monday, November 9, 2009

H.S.H. Princess Louise d'Aumont

HSH Princess Louise Felicite Victoire d'Aumont, Duchess d'Mazarin had a very colorful life of extreme ups and downs as seems to be common with every member by birth of marriage of the Princely Family of Monaco. She was born in Paris on October 2, 1759 (I've also seen 22nd) and was well known at all the best parties. She was a well-built, vivacious and outspoken woman and as such was not well liked by Queen Marie Antoinette who (despite the popular myths) was a very proper and genteel sort of lady. As the only child of the Duc d'Aumont she was sole heiress to the family fortune and this got the attention of HSH Prince Honore III of Monaco who was eager to arrange a lucrative marriage for his son and heir the 19-year-old future Prince Honore IV. Exactly when the two married I have no idea as I have seen 1771, 1773 and 1777 listed in various sources. Louise was also, through her mother, heiress of the fortune of the famous Cardinal Mazarin and was even a descendant of Hortense Mancini who had been mistress to both King Charles II of England and Prince Louis I of Monaco.

Honore III was so intent on the marriage that he passed his son the lucrative title of Duc d'Valentinois to help sweeten the deal. This meant Honore IV would get the income of the estate and also effectively shut out Honore III from the French court. Nonetheless, he thought it would all be worth it as part of the marriage contract was that when Louise came of age she would inherit her family property and this would be turned over to the Princely Family of Monaco. The two were married but Honore III would prove sadly disappointed in the long-run. Not only did the marriage break down fairly quickly but the estate Louise inherited was so hampered by mortgages and legal disputes as to end up costing more than they were worth. There was also the over-the-top lifestyle of his new daughter-in-law.

Princess Louise was known for her wild parties. One of the more famous was when she served a pie filled with live birds that caused such a stir when the pie was cut and they were released that she had to have her guests abandon the party as the birds refused to escape out the window and flew around the room in confusion. Another party that included a great number of live animals, an enclosed array of mirrors and a great deal of candlelight ended in a stampede when the flickering lights and bewildering reflections caused the sheep and dog (Louise had appeared as a shepherdess) to panic and bolt. Louise also spent vast sums of money gambling and on jewelry and the latest fashions. The marriage that Honore III had hoped would put Monaco on firm financial ground not only failed to help but put him in danger of losing his own estates just to pay the bills.

Princess Louise and Honore IV did do their duty for the Monegasque monarchy and had two sons; Honore V and Florestan, both of whom would eventually rule over Monaco. Nonetheless, the two were not well matched and coldness grew between them which would eventually become hatred. By the time of the French Revolution they were separated and Honore IV was dealing with sickness as he often was and living with his father. There was a family reunion of sorts in September of 1793 when Honore III, Honore IV, Princess Louise and their 8-year-old son Prince Florestan were all arrested by the revolutionaries and locked up in the barracks on the rue de Sevres as class enemies. However, Princess Louise and little Florestan were rescued by Doctor Desormeaux, a family friend of the Grimaldis, who hid the two in his home until the Reign of Terror was over.

Sometime during that period Honore IV and Louise officially divorced, which was very hard on their children as is usually the case. Honore V later complained that his mother called for him only when she needed some attention and was constantly threatening to cut him out of her will and gave him lectures of disaproval on his behavior (particularly when he fathered an illegitimate son in 1814). By that time Louise d'Aumont had already gone through another failed marriage having been wed to Rene Francois Tirnand-d'Arcis in 1801 before getting divorced in 1803. However, her family connections were still a force to be reckoned with and her cousin the Duc d'Aumont, who was close to the French king Louis XVIII, was helpful to Honore V in getting his uncle Prince Joseph removed from being regent of Monaco for the ailing Honore IV and taking his place.

Prince Florestan also had problems in his relationship with his mother. He was born just as the marriage of Honore IV and Louise was breaking up and was kept away from his father, living with Princess Louise and her family in Normandy while Honore IV was serving in Napoleon's army. Princess Louise was outraged when her 17-year-old son announced he wanted to be an actor. He went to Paris to pursue the career but his hero Alexandre Dumas crushes his hopes and many have suspected Princess Louise of putting him up to it as Dumas had often visited Princess Louise and her family at their estate. When Louise threatened to cut Florestan out of her will unless he get a respectable job he joined the army -a thoroughly miserable experience for him; never getting higher in rank than corporal and eventually being taken prisoner in the invasion of Russia.

By the time all was said and done the family was a mess. Honore IV and Louise hated each other and the two brothers Honore V and Florestan finally stopped speaking to each other. It probably did not help their relationship that when Princess Louise died she left her family fortune, or what was left of it, to her younger son Florestan who had bent to her will and who had always been closer to her than Honore V. She died on December 13, 1826 in Paris.


  1. The variences in her birth dates may be due to the days being changed from the O.S. calendar to the N.S. calendar. Geo. Washington was born O.S. 11 February 1732 but the style changed an his birthdate was changed as well.

  2. Thanks for the tip; I hadn't thought of that. I've never been very good with dates...or anything involving numbers at all really.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...