The first Baroque residence on the Upper Rhine

Rastatt Residential Palace

Portrait of Princess Augusta Maria Johanna of Orléans. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer
MARRIAGE TO THE SUN KING'S GRANDSON

AUGUSTA MARIA JOHANNA OF ORLÉANS

Sibylla Augusta, daughter of Augusta Maria Johanna (1704–1726), entered into a particularly advantageous marriage to Louis of Orléans, a member of the French royal family, who became her husband in 1724. Two large paintings in the palace testify to this connection.

Portrait of Louis of Orléans, Alexis Simon Belle, 1724. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Louis of Orléans, the princess' husband.

WHO WAS LOUIS OF ORLÉANS?

Louis of Orléans (1703–1752) was the grandson of the Sun King; his grandmother, Madame de Montespan, had been Louis XIV's mistress. His father, Philip II of Bourbon (1674–1723), Duke of Orléans, ruled as regent of France after the Sun King's death in 1715. The House of Bourbon were an extremely important family, but Augusta Maria Johanna had her doubts, because she had heard bad things about the Parisian court. Finally, she unhappily acquiesced to her mother's wishes.

Alliance coat of arms for Baden and Bourbon on the frame of a portrait of Augusta Maria Johanna. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

The Baden-Bourbon alliance coat of arms.

WHY A MARRIAGE WITH FRANCE?

The union had been suggested by Louis' mother, who was looking for a Catholic princess for her son. A marriage with the House of Bourbon brought prestige to Baden and good financial security for Augusta Maria Johanna. There was also likely a hope that this union would secure peace between the two houses. Sibylla Augusta described the union as "one of the greatest alliances in Europe." The other proposal of marriage from the House of Thurn and Taxis was thereby off the table.

Portrait of Princess Augusta Maria Johanna of Orléans, by Alexis Simon Belle, 1724. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Princess Augusta Maria Johanna of Orléans.

WHAT WAS THE ROYAL WEDDING LIKE?

The wedding took place on June 18, 1724 in Rastatt; the groom was absent. After the rings had been exchanged and the marriage contract signed, the church ceremony took place in the palace church. The bride's brother, Ludwig Georg, stood in for Louis during the ceremony, including a symbolic "wedding night," which was followed by three days of celebration, before Augusta Maria Johanna was ceremonially conducted to Strasbourg, and from there to Paris. It was on her way there that she first met her husband.

WHAT WAS THE NEXT CHAPTER IN THE PRINCESS' LIFE?

Augusta Maria Johanna lived with her husband, Louis, in the Palais Royal in Paris. She quickly met her contractually stipulated "requirement" of producing an heir to the throne with the birth of Louis Philippe in 1725. However, she died only a few years later of puerperal fever (childbed fever), following the birth of a daughter. Her husband and the French people sincerely mourned her passing. Louis increasingly withdrew from public life and finally entered a monastery.

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