Louise Marguerite de Lorraine, princesse de Conti

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Portrait of Louise-Marguerite de Lorraine by an anonymous 17th century painter

Louise-Marguerite de Lorraine, princesse de Conti (b. 1588[1] in Blois; † 30 April 1631 at Eu Castle in Eu) was a French author and, as wife of François de Bourbon, Princess of Conti.


Louise-Marguerite was the youngest daughter of Henri de Lorraine, Duke of Guise, who was assassinated in 1588, and his wife Catherines de Clèves, Comtesse d’Eu. She received her given names in honor of her two godmothers, the French queens Louise de Lorraine-Vaudémont and Marguerite de Valois. She grew up in the care of her mother and paternal grandmother, Anna d’Este.

On 24 July 1605, at the request of Henry IV, she was married at Meudon Castle to François de Bourbon, Prince of Conti. The marriage contract for this union, which was to bind the old noble dynasty of Lorraine more closely to the Bourbons, was signed on 1 May of the same year at Fontainebleau Castle. The Historiettes of Gédéon Tallemant des Réaux claim that Henry IV himself had previously considered marrying Louise-Marguerite, but she was ousted in the French king’s favour by Gabrielle d’Estrées in 1590. However, since Louise-Marguerite was only two years old at the time, this is considered disproved according to current research.

On 8 May 1610, the couple’s first and only child together was born in the Louvre, a daughter who was christened Marie. But the girl died already twelve days after her birth[2] and was buried in the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

François’ death on 2 April 1614 made Louise-Marguerite a widow at the age of 26, who then devoted herself with great zeal to the study of literature. As a patron, she supported many writers of her time, including François de Malherbe, Nicolas Renouard and Blaise de Vigenère, who dedicated many of their works to Louise-Marguerite.

However, the former Princess of Conti also wrote herself. In 1620, under the pseudonym “Sieur de Pilous(t)e”, she published the novel Royale ou Adventures de la Cour, a publication about the customs at the French royal court and especially the numerous love affairs of Henry IV. The novel was based on real events, which were combined with freely invented incidents. The characters appearing in the book also had real-life models, but Louise-Marguerite gave them different names. In 1652, the novel was republished in Paris with the title Histoire des Amours du Grand Alcandre, this time under the author’s real name. A third edition of the work followed in 1633, entitled Histoires des amours de Henri IV. The edition published in Leiden included an appendix with the names of the persons who were the models for the novel.

Louise-Marguerite wrote from her own experience, for as an honorary lady of Maria de’ Medici and Anne d’Autriches she had long been able to gain insights into everyday life at the royal court. During the disputes between Maria de’ Medici and Cardinal Richelieu, she loyally sided with the king’s mother and was banished to her estates in Eu for her participation in the Journée des dupes in February 1631. There she died only two months later.

Louise-Marguerite may have secretly married François de Bassompierre, then Marshal of France, between 1614 and 1630, but so far this has not been proven beyond doubt. According to Tallemant des Réaux, she even bore him a son.[3]


Factory Editions

  • Les Amours Du Grand Alcandre, Digitalisat (1786)
  • 1660, Recueil des diverses pièces servans à l’histoire de Henry III., roy de France et de Pologne, Digitalisat
  • 1663, Histoire Des Amours De Henry IV. Avec diverses Lettres escrites à ses Maitresses, Et autres Pieces curieuses, Digitalisat
  • 1665, Epithalame De Tres-Illvstre Francois De Bourbon Prince De Conti. Et De Tres-Excellente Princesse Loyse De Lorraine Damoiselle de Guise

Main Literature

  • Jean Baptiste Joseph Boulliot: Biographie ardennaise. Ou Histoire des Ardennais qui se sont fait remarquer par leurs écrits, leurs actions, leurs vertus ou leurs erreurs. Vol. 2. self-published, Paris 1830, pp. 147-149(digital copy).
  • Hilarion de Coste: Les Éloges et les vies des reynes, des princesses, et des dames illustres en pieté, en courage & en doctrine, qui ont fleury de nostre temps, & du temps de nos peres. Volume 2. Cramoisy, Paris 1647.
  • Jean Chrétien Ferdinand Hoefer: Nouvelle biographie générale depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu’à nos jours, avec les renseignements bibliographiques et l’indication des sources à consulter. Vol. 11. Firmin Didot, Paris 1856, pp. 663-665(digital copy).

Further reading

  • Gédéon Tallemant des Réaux: La princesse de Conti. In: Les historiettes de Tallemant de Réaux. Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire du XVIIe siècle. Volume 1. Levasseur, Paris 1834, pp. 45-52(digital copy).

Web links

Commons: Louise Marguerite of Lorraine– Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual references

  1. Some older publications give the year of birth as 1574, 1577 or 1582.

  2. J. B. J. Boulliot: Biographie ardennaise, vol. 2, p. 147.

  3. G. Tallemant des Réaux: Les historiettes de Tallemant de Réaux, vol. 3, p. 12(online).