Louise Adélaïde d'Orléans

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Louise Adélaïde d'Orléans
Abbess of Chelles
File:Painting of Louise Adélaïde d’Orléans by Gobert; Abbesse de Chelles.jpg
Louise Adélaïde as Abbess of Chelles by Pierre Gobert
Born (1698-08-13)13 August 1698
Palace of Versailles, France
Died 10 February 1743(1743-02-10) (aged 44)
Convent de la Madeleine de Traisnel, Paris, France
Full name
Marie Louise Adélaïde d'Orléans
Father Philippe d'Orléans
Mother Françoise Marie de Bourbon

Louise Adélaïde d'Orléans (Marie Louise Adélaïde; 13 August 1698 – 10 February 1743) was the third daughter of Philippe d'Orléans, and Françoise Marie de Bourbon, a legitimised daughter of Louis XIV of France and his mistress, Madame de Montespan. She was Abbess of Chelles.


Marie Louise Adélaïde d'Orléans was born at the Palace of Versailles on 13 August 1698. After the marriage of her aunt Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans, Louise Adélaïde was known at court as Mademoiselle de Chartres. She assumed the style of Mademoiselle d'Orléans in 1710 after her older sister Marie Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans married Charles, Duke of Berry.

Her siblings were:


Very close to her sisters Marie Louise Élisabeth and Charlotte Aglaé, Louise Adélaïde was considered the most beautiful of the Orléans daughters. Her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, described her in the following manner:

...[She is] well made, and is the handsomest of my granddaughters. She has a fine skin, a superb complexion, very white teeth, good eyes, and a faultless shape. Her hands are extremely delicate, the red and white are beautifully and naturally mingled in her skin. I never saw finer teeth; they are like a row of pearls.[1]

Also according to her grandmother, Louise Adélaïde was very passionate about music and showed an interest in both theology and the sciences.[2] In particular, she was intrigued with the science of surgery which was then going through an era of change and improvement.

On her entrance into a convent, Louis Racine composed a verse about her:

Plaisir, beauté, jeunesse, honneurs, gloire, puissance,
Ambitieux espoir que permet la naissance,
Tout au pied de l'Agneau fut par elle immolé.[3]

Louise Adélaïde and her sister Charlotte Aglaé were both placed in the Abbey of Chelles from a young age. Their education was briefly interrupted in 1710 for the wedding of their oldest sister Marie Louise Élisabeth. Louise Adélaïde and Charlotte Aglaé held her train.[4]

Initially, young Louise Adélaïde was considered as a possible bride for her cousin, Louis-Auguste de Bourbon, Prince of Dombes. He was the eldest son of her uncle, the Duke of Maine and his wife, Anne Louise Bénédicte de Bourbon. As the eldest son, he was the heir to his father's immense fortune. Louise Adélaïde, very pious by nature, though, refused his hand in marriage. The young prince then turned to her younger sister, Charlotte Aglaé, who also refused his hand. Both the Prince of Dombes and Louise Adélaïde eventually died unmarried.

Another possible candidate was James Francis Edward Stuart, the "Old Pretender" to the British throne.

In 1716, Louise Adélaïde wanted to marry the Chevalier de Saint-Maixent; he was one of the King's pages, who had saved her from an accident during a hunt at the cost of an injury which nearly proved fatal. Louise Adélaïde tried as much as she could to try to get her parents' permission to marry the young Chevalier but both refused. The Duchess of Orléans was horrified at the suggestion of such a mesalliance and reportedly treated Louise Adélaïde so harshly on the subject that it caused her to "take the veil" and become a nun.[4]

It was on 31 March 1717 that she took the veil officially; the ceremony was held in front of her parents.

Abbesse de Chelles

As a result of the scandalous life led by her older sister, the Dowager Duchess of Berry who was notoriously promiscuous and concealed several pregnancies, Louise Adélaïde decided to become a nun. Her parents, as well as her paternal grandmother, were opposed to it, but she became a nun anyway. As a nun, she took the name of Sœur Sainte-Bathilde (Sister Saint Bathilde) in 1717. She held that name until the next year. While at Chelles, Louise Adélaïde showed a slight interest in Jansenism.[citation needed]

During the Regency of Louis XV, Louise Adélaïde was seen as the preeminent religious figure in the country.

In 1719, she became the Abbess of Chelles, a post she held until her death. She was also the Abbess of Val-de-Grâce, a church built under the auspices of her maternal and paternal great-grandmother, Anne of Austria, the wife of King Louis XIII. Her elder sister, the Duchess of Berry died on 21 July 1719 and was found to be pregnant again, just over three months after suffering a horrendous confinement during which she had been denied the Sacraments.[5]

In 1720, when Charlotte Aglaé had to leave France to meet her husband in Modena, she insisted on seeing her sister before she left. According to their grandmother, it was a sad scene.

While at Chelles Louise Adélaïde greatly embellished the Abbey: she ordered the repaving of the cloisters, the restoration of the Chapter Room, had an infirmary constructed, and had a system where drinkable water could be accessed by the Abbey members as well as the town. Louise Adélaïde also allowed the Sisters of the Abbey of Nevers to build a house in the town in order to help educate the local girls.[6]

She was known as Madame d'Orléans while at Chelles from 1719 until 1734.[7] She died at the age of forty-four from smallpox at the Convent de la Madeleine de Traisnel in Paris.[7]


Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

  • 13 August 1698 – 6 July 1710 Her Serene Highness Mademoiselle de Chartres
  • 6 July 1710–1719 Her Serene Highness Mademoiselle d'Orléans
    • She took on this style due to the marriage of her older sister to the Duke of Berry. She was then the eldest unmarried Orléans daughter;
  • 1719 – 10 February 1743 Her Serene Highness Madame d'Orléans.[8]


  1. Letters from Liselotte: Elizabeth-Charlotte, Princess Palatine and Duchess of Orléans
  2. The Memoirs of Reign of Louis XIV: Elizabeth-Charlotte of The Palatinate
  3. "Pleasure, beauty, youth, honors, glory, power; Ambitious hope allowed by birth; At the feet of the Lamb were by her offered in sacrifice."
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Orléans Daughter
  5. The Memoirs of the Duke of Saint-Simon on the reign of Louis XIV and the Regency, chapter XXIII, pp. 206-220.
  6. Louise Adélaïde d'Orléans
  7. 7.0 7.1 thePeerage.com - Person Page 4471
  8. NOTE:Though she was not married, she had taken a religious vow and was allowed to use the more formal style of Madame rather than Mademoiselle.


  • Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh. Burke's Royal Families of the World, Volume 1: Europe & Latin America. London, U.K.: Burke's Peerage Ltd, 1977.
Louise Adélaïde d'Orléans
Cadet branch of the House of Bourbon
Born: 13 August 1698 Died: 10 February 1743
French nobility
Preceded by
Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans
Mademoiselle de Chartres
Succeeded by
Louise Diane d'Orléans
Preceded by
Marie Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans
Mademoiselle d'Orléans
Succeeded by
Louise Marie d'Orléans
Religious titles
Preceded by
Abbess of Chelles
Succeeded by