Marie Leszczyńska was queen consort of King Louis XV of France from 1725 until her death in 1768. She was the longest queen in service in French history, ruling for almost 43 years. Daughter of deposed Polish king Stanislaw I, Marie was a devout Roman Catholic and enjoyed great popularity among the French people. She is responsible for the introduction of many Polish customs to the royal court at Versailles and her dynastic connections led to France eventually annexing Lorraine.
Early Negotiations for Marriage
Marie was born in 1703 in Silesia, now Poland. A year after her birth her father Stanislaw was crowned King of Poland. However, he was deposed four years later and the royal family moved to Wissembourg in France. There, they gained the protection of Philippe II, the Duke of Orleans, who was serving as regent of France during Louis XV’s minority.
As the French prince suffered from ill health, it became a matter of urgency to arrange a marriage so that he could have an heir to the throne. Although he was initially engaged to Infanta Mariana Victoria of Spain, the engagement was soon called off due to the Infanta’s young age to bear children. Marie, who was seven years older than the prince, became then one of the many potential candidates to be his wife. Despite the fact that her lack of wealth decreased her chances of becoming the chosen one, soon all of the parties involved in the discussion of their marriage agreed that she was the best choice. Marie and Louis were married by proxy on August 15 1725 at the Strasbourg Cathedral but the official ceremony took place at the chapel of Fontainebleau on September 5. Together they had ten children.
Private relationship with Louis XV
Marie and Louis didn’t meet until the eve of their wedding when the couple fell in love at first sight. Louis was delighted with her wife and refused to hear any criticism of her. His happiness was further increased when she gave birth to two twin girls, as their birth put a stop to the rumours of his infertility. However, Marie and Louis' relationship fell apart after she nearly died giving birth to their last child and started to refuse any kind of romantic contact with her husband. Louis then became a notorious womanizer and gave his mistresses positions in the royal court, something which terribly distressed the Queen. Among these women, the most well-known is Madame de Pompadour, who ended up developing a friendly relationship with Marie.
Marie's role as Queen
Queen Marie avoided taking part in politics, mainly because she was not respected by the royal court, which regarded her as low-born. However, she did have political views and managed to have a little political influence. During the War of the Polish Succession (1733-1736), she supported her father’s candidacy for the Polish throne. Once the war was over, her father was granted the Duchy of Lorraine, which became part of France after his death.
The Queen also took part in a plot to banish Cardinal de Fleury, Louis’ chief minister, from the royal court, which ended up causing a disagreement with the King. Soon afterwards, Marie decided not to take part in politics anymore.
Still, she maintained a fully strict protocol of French etiquette and embraced all of her royal responsibilities, intending to gain the respect of the nobility and the French people. However, once she had fulfilled her duties, she preferred to retreat to her apartments with her friends. Marie enjoyed gambling in her free time and was in debt often.
Queen Marie died on June 24 1768 at the Palace of Versailles and was buried in the Basilica of St. Denis in Paris. Having ruled for almost 43 years, she was the longest-serving Queen in French history.
- marie leszczynska
- louis xv
- queen consort
- queen marie
- stanislaw i
- war of polish succession