The fourth child and third daughter of Louis XIV and his wife Marie-Thérèse d’Autriche died two months after her fifth birthday.
Born at the château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, like her father, on 2 January in 1667, as a fille de France -daughter of France- Marie-Thérèse carried the last-name of de France. As the oldest daughter of the King, she also carried the honorary title of Madame Royale.
To distinguish her better from the two Madames, Henriette d’Angleterre and her successor to the form of address Liselotte von der Pfalz, Marie-Thérèse was later nicknamed Petite Madame.
Louise de Prie, Marquise de Toucy, was appointed as the governess of Madame Royale shortly after her birth and only a couple of months later, the little girl fell ill with smallpox. Mama Marie-Thérèse was in great alarm. She already had lost two girls, Anne-Élisabeth and Marie-Anne, in infancy.
Louis XIV was not less alarmed. Being away to fight the War of Devolution, he sent plenty of letters to inquire after the health of Madame Royale. All of them full of tenderness. Thank God, the little princesse recovered. Her parents took her to be baptised the following year at the Louvre on January 21 and the girl received the name Marie-Thérèse, after her mother.
Both maman and papa adored the little girl greatly. Mama had even in mind to see her as Queen of Spain some day. Alas, it should not be.
Marie-Thérèse fell ill again. On the night of March 1 in 1672, around 10 o’clock in the evening, her mother found the little girl covered all over in sweat. She died shortly later. “Maman… peux plus…” were the last words that came from the round lips of the little princesse.
Tuberculosis, an infectious disease caused by a bacterium, was the cause of death. Louis XIV was touched deeply regarding the demise of Madame Royal and ordered mourning for all the Kingdom.
Marie-Thérèse’s heart was brought to Notre-Dame du Val-de-Grâce and her body buried at Saint-Denis. Her remains suffered the same fate as that of her relatives during the French Revolution. Her coffin was opened, her body stripped of all valuables, and the remains tossed away into a mass grave.