Princess Maria Theresa of Savoy

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Marie Thérèse of Savoy
Countess of Artois
Marie Therese de Savoie par Jean-Baptiste André Gautier-Dagoty.jpg
Marie Thérèse by Jean-Baptiste André Gautier-Dagoty (1740–1786), with a bust of her husband and holding a portrait of her mother
Born (1756-01-31)31 January 1756
Royal Palace, Turin, Savoy
Died 2 June 1805(1805-06-02) (aged 49)
Graz, Austria
Burial Graz, Austria
Spouse Charles Philippe, Count of Artois
Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême
Sophie, Mademoiselle
Charles Ferdinand, Duke of Berry
Full name
Maria Teresa di Savoia
House House of Savoy (by birth)
House of Bourbon (by marriage)
Father Victor Amadeus, Duke of Savoy
Mother Maria Antonia of Spain
Religion Roman Catholicism

Maria Theresa of Savoy (Maria Teresa; 31 January 1756 – 2 June 1805) was a princess of Savoy by birth and the wife of Charles Philippe, Count of Artois, grandson of Louis XV and younger brother of Louis XVI. Some nineteen years after her death, her husband assumed the throne of France as King Charles X.


Princess Maria Theresa of Savoy was born at the Royal Palace in Turin during the reign of her grandfather Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia. The daughter of the heir apparent and his wife, Victor Amadeus and Maria Antonia of Spain, she was the couple's fifth daughter and eleventh child. She was raised with her sister Princess Maria Giuseppina who was three years her senior and who she would join later as a member of the royal family of France.

Betrothal and marriage

Following a series of dynastic alliances, Maria Theresa was betrothed to the Count of Artois, the youngest grandson of the reigning Louis XV of France. Artois had previously been intended to marry Louise Adélaïde de Bourbon, the daughter of the Prince of Condé. However the union never took place as her rank was much lower than Artois who, as a male line descendant of a French monarch, was a grandson of France. Maria Theresa married the count in a proxy ceremony at the Palazzina di caccia di Stupinigi before her official marriage, which took place at the Palace of Versailles on 16 November 1773.

This marriage was the second of three Franco-Savoyard marriages that would take place within four years. In April 1771, her elder sister Maria Giuseppina had married the Count of Provence, who was the elder brother of Maria Thérèse's husband; later, in 1775, her brother Charles Emmanuel, by then heir to the throne of Sardinia himself, would marry Princess Marie Clotilde of France, sister of the Count of Artois.

Marie Thérèse with her three surviving children, by Charles Leclercq, 1783.

As her husband was the grandson of a king, the newly named Marie Thérèse held the rank of granddaughter of France. This rank allowed to her to maintain the style of "Royal Highness" that she had enjoyed from birth as the granddaughter of the king of Sardinia. However, at Versailles, the simple style Madame la comtesse d'Artois was used instead.

Maria Theresa was one of the most disliked figures at the French court of the time, although she avoided the worst of the abuse directed at her sister-in-law Marie Antoinette. The Count of Mercy-Argenteau, who corresponded with Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa regarding Marie Antoinette, said that she was silent and interested in absolutely nothing.[1]

Maria Theresa was not regarded as a beauty at Versailles, but her complexion was generally admired. She was a cousin of the famous Princess Marie Louise of Savoy, Princess of Lamballe, a great friend of Marie Antoinette. She was also a cousin of the Prince of Condé, who would later be instrumental in leading a large counter-revolutionary army of émigrés.

Roughly a year after Maria Theresa's arrival at Versailles, she became pregnant with her first child, Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême, the first child of the new royal generation. The next year she gave birth to a daughter Sophie, who was known as Mademoiselle as the most senior unmarried princess at court. She died at the age of six in 1783. Her second son, Charles Ferdinand, Duke of Berry, was born in 1778. Her last child, Marie Thérèse d'Artois, presumably named after her mother, died while the court was at Choisy-le-Roi at the age of just 6 months.

Maria Theresa fled France with her husband shortly after the storming of the Bastille (14 July 1789), which marked the beginning of the French Revolution. Some time after, she took refuge in her homeland of Savoy. She died in exile at Graz, (Austria), in 1805. Because she died before her husband became king of France, she remained Countess of Artois. She was buried in the Imperial Mausoleum next to Graz Cathedral.


  1. Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême (Versailles, 6 August 1775 – Görtz, 3 June 1844) married Marie Thérèse of France, had no issue.
  2. Sophie d'Artois, Mademoiselle d'Angoulême (Versailles, 5 August 1776 – Versailles, 5 December 1783) died in childhood.
  3. Charles Ferdinand, Duke of Berry (Versailles, 24 January 1778 – Paris, 14 February 1820); married Princess Maria Carolina of Naples and Sicily and had issue.
  4. Marie Thérèse d'Artois, Mademoiselle d'Angoulême (Versailles, 6 January 1783 – Château de Choisy, 22 June 1783) died in infancy.


References and notes

Media related to Princess Maria Theresa of Savoy at Wikimedia Commons

  1. Fraser, Antonia, Marie Antoinette, The Journey, Anchor Books, (American edition, 2002): in Part One: Madame Antoine, p. 100

See also