Marie de Bourbon was one of the richest heiresses in France, and King Louis XIII didn’t at all want to miss an opportunity like this one. Marie of Bourbon was born on October 15th, 1605 in Normandy. She was the daughter of Henri of Bourbon and his wife, Henriette Catherine. Her father, the Duke of Montpensier, died when Marie was just two years old. He had not had any other children, so Marie became Duchess of Montpensier in her own right at the age of only two. The duchy of Montpensier came with a large fortune.
Marie was a very rich child, so the royal family did what they did best and had the two-year-old Marie betrothed to King Henri IV’s second son, Nicolas. He died when he was only four years old, so Marie was betrothed to his next son, Gaston, the Duke of Orleans. Gaston was next in line to the throne, as the king and queen, Gaston’s brother and sister-in-law, had not had any children.
Gaston was not so keen on the idea of marrying Marie, but his brother, King Louis XIII, wanted them to marry so that the royals could take control of Marie’s fortune. They wed in August of 1626. The Queen, Anne of Austria, and the king’s mother, Marie de’ Medici, were both in attendance. It was said that a sadder wedding was never seen. The consummation of the marriage was interrupted by Marie de’ Medici, who was looking for her dog.
Gaston and Marie had one child, a daughter, Anne Marie Louise of Orleans, later known as the Grand Mademoiselle, born in 1627. Marie died less than a week later of complications during the birth, on July 4th, 1627, and was buried in the Basilica of Saint-Denis. She was only twenty-one years old. Her titles and fortune passed to her daughter, Anne Marie Louise, who became Duchess of Montpensier.
Anne Marie Louise would write: “The beginning of the troubles of my house happened soon after my birth, for it was followed by the death of my mother, which greatly impaired the happy prospects which the rank I hold entitled me to expect.” Gaston remarried and had five children, so Marie’s daughter never became Duchess of Orleans.