Marriage Contract Signed by Four French Kings and Members of the House of Bourbon
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LOUIS XV. DS. (“Louis”). 23pp. Tall 4to. Château de Marly, May 24, 1767. Marriage contract between Marquis Eugene-Eustache Béthesy Verberie (1739-1823, “e.e. comte de béthesy”), French military commander who served under the Prince Condé and was made a lieutenant-general after the restoration, and Adélaïde Charlotte Marie Octavie du Deffand(?-?, “a.c.m.o. du deffand”), each of whom have also signed the contract. Additionallysigned bymany members of Louis XV’s court including three future kings of France. In French. The royal House of Bourbon included kings of France, Navarre, Spain, the Two Sicilies, and the dukes of Orléans, Vendôme, Parma, Bourbon, Luxembourg and Seville, holding power from the 16th through the 19th century. Our document was signed at the Château de Marly, a small royal residence known for its elaborate waterworks, built outside of Paris by Louis XIV as a retreat from the formality of Versailles. Louis XV commissioned a pair of marble horses by the sculptor Guillaume Coustou, well-known as “The Marly Horses,” and on display at the Louvre.
Signers of our document include:
1. LOUIS XV, KING OF FRANCE. (1710-1774; “Louis”). The great-grandson of Louis XIV and his successor to the throne. He ruled France and Navarre from 1715-1774 during which time he squandered both the good will of the people and his country’s wealth, ending his reign as one of the most unpopular kings of France.
2. Marie LesZCzynska, Queen Consort of France.(1703-1768; “Marie”). The daughter of King Stanisław Leszczyński of Poland and the grandmother of French kings Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X. The longest reigning queen consort of France, her place at court was eventually usurped by her husband’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour, after the latter’s introduction at court in 1745.
3. King Louis XVI. (1754-1793; “Louis August”). Succeeded his grandfather Louis XV and reigned as king of France from 1774-1792. From the outset, Louis XVI’s reign was troubled by France’s grave economic situation, worsened by his support of the American Revolution. Poor advice from Louis’ ministers aggravated the situation and lead to his gradual fall from power, giving way, finally, to the French Revolution, and the execution of most members of the royal family, including his wife, Marie Antoinette. By late September 1792, the king had been deposed, and in January 1793, following his trial and conviction for treason, Louis was guillotined.
4. King Louis XVIII.(1755-1824; “Louis Stanisłas Xavier”). King of France from 1814-15 and 1815-24. The grandson of Louis XV and brother of Louis XVI, his baptismal name was Louis Stanisław in honor of his great-grandfather King Stanisław I Leszczyński of Poland.Louis XVIII, who had fled from revolutionary France in 1791, became regent-in-exile upon the execution of his brother, Louis XVI, on January 21, 1793. With the dauphin’s death in 1795, Louis was recognized as king by the royalists, but was restored to the throne only after Napoleon’s abdication and subsequent exile to Elba in 1814.He was unseated again after Napoleon’s escape from Elba and the ensuing “Hundred Days” in 1815, but was restored to the throne following Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. During his fragmented reign, the power of the crown was greatly diminished.
5. King Charles X.(1757-1836; “Charles Philippe”). King of France and Navarre from 1824, when he succeeded his brother King Louis XVIII, until 1830, when he was unseated during the July Revolution. It was during this revolution that the Bourbon Monarchy was replaced by the July Monarchy, in the person of Charles’ cousin, Louis-Philippe, known as “King of the French.” With the ascension of Louis-Philippe, whose father was the pro-revolution “Philippe Égalité,” (see below) the French crown was transferred from the House of Bourbon to the lesser branch of the House of Orléans. Charles X’s last years were spent in exile in England and Prague.
6. Marie Adelaide Clotilde Xavière.(1759-1802; “Marie Adelaide Clotilde Xavier”). French princess; Louis XV’s granddaughter, sister of Louis XVI and future Queen of Sardinia. In 1775 she married Prince Emmanuel of Piedmont, the eldest son of Victor Amadeus III. Two of her sisters married two of the prince’s brothers, making a triple alliance between Sardinia and France. Nonetheless, shortly after she and her husband acceded to the Sardinian throne, the French First Republic declared war against the state.
7. Marie AdélaÏde. (1732-1800; “Marie Adélaïde”). The fourth daughter of Louis XV known as Madame Quatrième, Madame Troisième (after the death of her older sister) and Madame Adélaïde. The aunt of Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X as well as Marie Clotilde, Queen of Sardinia and Queen Maria Luisa of Spain. A strong personality, Marie Adélaïde took an interest in politics and openly opposed her father’s mistresses. She outlived her parents and died in exile in Italy with her sister.
8. Victoire Louise. (1733-1799; “Victoire Louise”). The fifth daughter of Louis XV known as Madame Quatrième and Madame Victoire. The aunt of Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X as well as Marie Clotilde, Queen of Sardinia and Queen Maria Luisa of Spain. She outlived her parents and died in exile in Italy with her sister.
9. Sophie Philippine Élisabeth Justine de france.(1734-1782; “Sophie Philippe”). The sixth daughter of Louis XV known as Madame Sixième and Madame Sophie. The aunt of Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X as well as Marie Clotilde, Queen of Sardinia and Queen Maria Luisa of Spain. She outlived her parents but predeceased her older sisters.
10. Louise Marie. (1737-1787; “Louise Marie”). The seventh daughter and youngest child of Louis XV, known as Madame Louise. She outlived her parents and all her siblings except Madame Adélaïde and Madame Victoire. In 1770, she became a Carmelite nun at the convent of Saint-Denis, eventually becoming head of the community.
11. Louis Philippe de Bourbon, Duc d’Orléans.(1725-1785; “L. Phil d’Orleans”). The most senior male of the French court after the royal family. He was the father of Philippe Égalité (see above) and grandfather of King Louis Philippe I.
12. Louis Philippe de Bourbon, Philippe ÉgalitÉ(1747-1793; “LPJ d’Orleans”). Cousin of Louis XVI whose anti-royalist sentiments led him to support the French Revolution and assume the name Philippe Égalité. He was, nonetheless, executed by guillotine during the Reign of Terror. His son, Louis Philippe I, was king of France from 1830-1848, during what was called the July Monarchy, after Charles X’s abdication. As such, he was the last king of France.
13. Louis Joseph de Bourbon. (1736-1818; “Louis Joseph de Bourbon”). Prince of Condé and grandson of Louis XIV who married Charlotte Élisabeth Godefride de Rohan.
14. Louis François de Bourbon, Prince of Conti.(1717-1776; “LJ de Bourbog”). Great-grandson of Louis XIV and father of Louis François Joseph, Prince of Conti. Distinguished himself in the War of the Austrian Succession. Louis XV officially supported his candidacy for the Polish throne, while opposing it in secret. His relationship with the king later deteriorated largely through the schemes of the king’s mistress Madame de Pompadour and he came to oppose the king openly.
15. Louis François Joseph, Prince of Conti.(1734-1814; “LFJ de Bourbog”). The last bearer of the Conti title. He served as a field marshal during the Seven Years’ War, and married his cousin, Marie Fortunée d’Este of Modena.
16. Marie Fortunée d’Este.(1734-1803; “Fortunée d’est”). The last Princess of Conti after her marriage to her cousin, Louis François, Prince of Conti. She was the great-granddaughter of Louis XIV by one of his mistresses.
17. Louis Jean Marie de Bourbon, Duc dePenthièvre.(1725-1793; “L.J.M. de Bourbon”). Grandson of Louis XIV and a mistress, brother-in-law of Marie Fortunée d’Este and father of Louis Alexander Joseph Stanisłas de Bourbon. Extremely wealthy and generous to the poor, the Duc de Penthiévre emerged from the French Revolution relatively unscathed.
18. Louis Alexander Joseph StanisŁas de Bourbon.(1747-1768; “L.A.J.S. de Bourbon”). The son and heir of Louis Jean Marie de Bourbon and a committed libertine. His father arranged for his marriage to a pious Italian princess in the hope that she could correct his lifestyle. While the marriage was initially happy, Louis Alexander soon fell back into his debauched life and died at the age of 20 from venereal disease.
19. Louis René Édouard de Rohan.(1734-1803; “Le Prince Louis de Rohan Card Juleus de Strasbourg”). The bishop of Strasbourg by hereditary right, Rohan was a French-born prince of the Holy Roman Empire and elevated to cardinal in 1778. He lived lavishly and was received at court because of the political influence wielded by his family. After gaining the enmity of Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, Rohan spread rumors about her daughter Marie Antoinette. However, he later fell in love with the French queen and sought to win her favor through a woman falsely claiming to have connections to her. Rohan was duped into purchasing a diamond necklace which he thought the queen had authorized. The necklace was never delivered and the jeweler never paid. Rohan was made aware of the fraud perpetrated against him and held under arrest until the conspirators in the hoax – dubbed The Affair of the Diamond Necklace - were discovered. Although Marie Antoinette was a victim, the incident did much to turn public opinion against her and contributed to her reputation of indulging in luxuries at a time of hardship for France.
A similar marriage contract was once in the collection of the famous Austrian author and autograph collector Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) who, in his description of his document, wrote, “important because it contains the signatures of four French kings on one page,” (Stargardt catalogue 651, lot 1353, March 1992).
Each page has been initialed by the bride, groom and three witnesses. Folded and foxed with wear and some slight paper loss at the edges. Two black ink royal stamps on the recto of the first six pages. The first two signature pages are lightly matte-burned from prior framing. Contained in a blue cloth slipcase with leather and gilt titles and sunned along the spine.
An extremely rare opportunity to own a document signed by four kings of France whose reigns extended from 1715-1830!