Marie Therese, Madame Royale
On Dec. 17, 1778, Marie Antoinette gave birth to her first child. Unfortunately, the child was a girl and not a son and heir. However, the little Princess was given the title Madame Royale and name Marie Therese Charlotte, after Marie Antoinette’s mother. The labor was long and painful for the Queen. To make matters worse, the Queen’s bedchamber was packed with courtiers who watched the birth. After the baby was born, Marie Antoinette nearly died from excessive bleeding and suffocation. It was said that Louis himself tore through the crowded room and broke a window to let in air. The Queen’s physician was said to have cut the Queen’s foot in order to lower her blood pressure and save her life.
There were rumors that the Queen was again pregnant, but miscarried in 1779. According to the memoirs of Marie Antoinette’s close friend Madame Campan, the Queen lost a child after too much exertion closing a window. She said that Louis spent an entire morning at her bedside, consoling the distraught Queen.
Marie Antoinette and her children
In 1780, Marie Antoinette received tragic news that her mother had died. Her brother Joseph II assured her that she would always have his support, which helped ease her fears after her mother’s death.
Despite these tragedies, Marie Antoinette gave birth to a son, Louis Joseph, in 1781. Louis told Marie Antoinette, “Madame, you have fulfilled our wishes and those of France. You are the mother of a Dauphin.” Characteristically, Louis spent the next few weeks framing sentences to include “My son, the Dauphin.”
In March 1785, Marie Antoinette gave birth to another son, Louis Charles (the future Louis XVII). She also gave birth to another daughter, Marie Sophie, in 1786. However, the infant died the next year.
In June 1789, tragedy struck the family once more. After a lifelong struggle with ill health, the much longed for Dauphin, Louis Joseph, died. Marie Antoinette and Louis were distraught with grief. However, the couple had another son who now became the Dauphin, and would eventually be king, even if in name only.