Maria Leszczynska
Marie Leszczyńska was a queen consort
Queen consort
A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king. A queen consort usually shares her husband's rank and holds the feminine equivalent of the king's monarchical titles. Historically, queens consort do not share the king regnant's political and military powers. Most queens in history were queens consort...

 of France. She was a daughter of King Stanisław Leszczyński of Poland (later Duke of Lorraine) and Catherine Opalińska. She married King Louis XV of France
Louis XV of France
Louis XV was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1 September 1715 until his death. He succeeded his great-grandfather at the age of five, his first cousin Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, served as Regent of the kingdom until Louis's majority in 1723...

 and was the grandmother of Louis XVI
Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before being executed in 1793....

, Louis XVIII
Louis XVIII of France
Louis XVIII , known as "the Unavoidable", was King of France and of Navarre from 1814 to 1824, omitting the Hundred Days in 1815...

, and Charles X
Charles X of France
Charles X was known for most of his life as the Comte d'Artois before he reigned as King of France and of Navarre from 16 September 1824 until 2 August 1830. A younger brother to Kings Louis XVI and Louis XVIII, he supported the latter in exile and eventually succeeded him...

. In France, she was referred to as Marie Leczinska. She was the longest serving Queen consort of France.


Maria Karolina Zofia Felicja Leszczyńska h. Wieniawa was the second daughter of Stanisław Leszczyński and his wife Katarzyna Opalińska. Her older sister Anna Leszczyńska
Anna Leszczynska (1699-1717)
Anna Leszczyńska the eldest daughter of King Stanisław Leszczyński of Poland and Katarzyna Opalińska. Her sister, Maria Leszczyńska, went on to become the wife of King Louis XV of France. Anna died of pneumonia....

 (1699–1717) died at the age of 18 of pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...


Maria's early life was troubled by her father's political misfortune. Ironically, King Stanisław's hopeless political career was eventually the reason why his daughter Maria was chosen as the bride of King Louis XV of France
Louis XV of France
Louis XV was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1 September 1715 until his death. He succeeded his great-grandfather at the age of five, his first cousin Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, served as Regent of the kingdom until Louis's majority in 1723...

. Devoid of political connections, his daughter was viewed by the French as being free from the burden of international alliances.

She was born in Trzebnica
Trzebnica is a town in Lower Silesian Voivodeship in south-western Poland. It is the seat of Trzebnica County, and of the smaller administrative district called Gmina Trzebnica. Prior to 1945 it was in Germany...

, Lower Silesia
Lower Silesia
Lower Silesia ; is the northwestern part of the historical and geographical region of Silesia; Upper Silesia is to the southeast.Throughout its history Lower Silesia has been under the control of the medieval Kingdom of Poland, the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy from 1526...

, the year before her father was made King of Poland by Charles XII of Sweden
Charles XII of Sweden
Charles XII also Carl of Sweden, , Latinized to Carolus Rex, Turkish: Demirbaş Şarl, also known as Charles the Habitué was the King of the Swedish Empire from 1697 to 1718...

 who had invaded the country that year. She would be brought up as a fugitive princess living for a while in Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

, (Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....


Very close to her father, Maria shared his exile in Wissembourg
Wissembourg is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in northeastern France.It is situated on the little River Lauter close to the border between France and Germany approximately north of Strasbourg and west of Karlsruhe. Wissembourg is a sub-prefecture of the department...

 in the French province
Provinces of France
The Kingdom of France was organised into provinces until March 4, 1790, when the establishment of the département system superseded provinces. The provinces of France were roughly equivalent to the historic counties of England...

 of Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

, a place suggested by Philippe II, Duke of Orléans
Philippe II, Duke of Orléans
Philippe d'Orléans was a member of the royal family of France and served as Regent of the Kingdom from 1715 to 1723. Born at his father's palace at Saint-Cloud, he was known from birth under the title of Duke of Chartres...

, a nephew of Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

 and Regent of the Kingdom of France
The Régence is the period in French history between 1715 and 1723, when King Louis XV was a minor and the land was governed by a Regent, Philippe d'Orléans, the nephew of Louis XIV of France....

 during Louis XV
Louis XV of France
Louis XV was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1 September 1715 until his death. He succeeded his great-grandfather at the age of five, his first cousin Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, served as Regent of the kingdom until Louis's majority in 1723...

's minority.

The family was supported by a pension from the Régent and, while living in Wissembourg, Maria was asked for her hand in marriage by Louis Henri de Bourbon, Prince of Condé, who became Louis XV's prime minister at the death of the Regent in December 1723. That same year, the young king fell ill and, fearing the consequences of the unmarried king dying without an heir, the prime minister suggested marrying the young king.


Maria was on a list of 99 eligible European princesses to marry the young king.

Cardinal Fleury, who wanted for the king a royal bride who would not drag France into any complicated political alliances, supported the marriage. One aspect in the choice of Marie was the fact that she was old enough to have children, while the former designated bride, the Infanta Mariana Victoria of Spain
Mariana Victoria of Spain
Mariana Victoria of Spain was an Infanta of Spain and Queen consort of Portugal as wife of King Joseph I. The mother of Queen Maria I of Portugal, she also acted as Regent of Portugal during the last months of her husband's life and advisor to her daughter during her reign.-Background:Mariana...

, was too young to bear children.

The marriage by proxy took place on 15 August 1725 in the cathedral of Strasbourg
Strasbourg Cathedral
Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Strasbourg, France. Although considerable parts of it are still in Romanesque architecture, it is widely consideredSusan Bernstein: , The Johns Hopkins University Press to be among the finest...

, Louis XV being represented by his cousin the Duke of Orléans, Louis le Pieux.

Louis and Marie first met on the eve of their wedding, which took place on 5 September 1725, at the Château de Fontainebleau. Marie was twenty-two years old and Louis fifteen. The young couple was reported to have fallen in love at first sight..

The announcement of the wedding was not received well as the royal court, who considered the match to be a misalliance, as the father of Marie had been a monarch for such a short time. There were rumours before the wedding that the bride was ugly, epileptic and sterile. However, Marie earned popularity among the population from the beginning, when she handed out money on her way to her wedding in Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau is a commune in the metropolitan area of Paris, France. It is located south-southeast of the centre of Paris. Fontainebleau is a sub-prefecture of the Seine-et-Marne department, and it is the seat of the arrondissement of Fontainebleau...


Cardinal de Fleury, who had been Louis' tutor, was appointed Grand Chaplain to Marie.

Upon her marriage, Maria's Polish name was modified into French as Marie Leczinska.

The young couple's marriage was initially happy. In August 1727, Maria gave birth to her first children, twin daughters named Louise Élisabeth de France and Henriette Anne de France, at the Palace of Versailles
Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles , or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles....

. The elder twin, Louise Élisabeth, later married the Infante Felipe of Spain
Philip, Duke of Parma
Philip of Spain was Duke of Parma from 1748 to 1765. He founded the House of Bourbon-Parma , a cadet line of the Spanish branch of the dynasty...

 and eventually became the Duchess Consort of Parma. Through Louise Élisabeth, Marie became an ancestor of Juan Carlos I of Spain
Juan Carlos I of Spain
Juan Carlos I |Italy]]) is the reigning King of Spain.On 22 November 1975, two days after the death of General Francisco Franco, Juan Carlos was designated king according to the law of succession promulgated by Franco. Spain had no monarch for 38 years in 1969 when Franco named Juan Carlos as the...


After the difficult birth of Louise Marie de France, in 1737, which nearly took her life, she had no more children. In 1738, she refused Louis entrance to her bedroom, and after this, their private relationship ended, though the formal marriage continued in spite of her husband's infidelities.

Louis XV was a notorious womaniser. Several of his mistresses, particularly Madame de Pompadour
Madame de Pompadour
Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, also known as Madame de Pompadour was a member of the French court, and was the official chief mistress of Louis XV from 1745 to her death.-Biography:...

, who was introduced at the court of Versailles in 1745 on the occasion of the marriage of the Dauphin Louis, eventually eclipsed the Queen's social status. Most of her husband's romantic affairs were with her knowledge, and she either simply accepted them, or was powerless to stop them, and throughout, she displayed an attitude of discretion and dignity. She upheld a relatively good relationship toward Madame de Pompadour.

Marie had a very close relationship to her children.


On 5 September 1725, she married Louis XV of France. They had eleven children:
  • Louise Élisabeth (14 August 1727 – 6 December 1759) Duchess of Parma, had issue;
  • Henriette (14 August 1727 – 10 February 1752) died unmarried.
  • Marie Louise
    Princess Louise of France
    Marie Louise de France, fille de France was a French Princess by birth. She was one of 10 children.-Biography:...

     (28 July 1728 – 19 February 1733) died in childhood:
  • Louis, Dauphin of France (4 September 1729 – 20 December 1765) married Infanta Maria Teresa Rafaela of Spain; had issue then married Duchess Marie-Josèphe of Saxony and had issue;
  • Philippe of France, Duke of Anjou (30 August 1730 – 17 April 1733) died in childhood
  • Adélaïde (23 March 1732 – 27 February 1800) died unmarried
  • Victoire (11 May 1733 – 7 June 1799) died unmarried
  • Sophie (17 July 1734 – 3 March 1782); died unmarried
  • Stillborn Child (28 March 1735 – 28 March 1735)
  • Thérèse
    Princess Thérèse of France
    Thérèse de France, fille de France was a French Princesse du Sang.-Biography:...

     (16 May 1736 – 28 September 1744) died in childhood
  • Louise Marie
    Princess Louise-Marie of France
    Louise Marie de France was the youngest of the ten children of King Louis XV of France and his wife, Queen Maria Leszczyńska. As a daughter of the king, she held the rank of a fille de France, and was known as Madame Louise...

     (5 July 1737 – 23 December 1787) was a nun


Queen Marie never managed to acquire any political influence. She made an attempt to involve in politics at the very beginning of their marriage when she, in 1726, asked Louis to appoint the unpopular Duke of Bourbon as minister of Cabinet, despite her father's warnings. King Louis took her attempt to involve in politics very badly, and after 1726 she was completely separated from the affairs of State and any political influence on Louis. In 1733, she declared her father her support in his demand on the Polish throne as a private person.

Queen Marie represented the King many times in ceremonial rituals at the court of Versailles during his many absences from such matters.

Louis provided her with a large apartment in the palace where she could live more informally with her circle of friends. Among her most noted guests were the de Luynes
Charles Louis d'Albert de Luynes
Charles Louis d'Albert de Luynes was a French nobleman and member of the House of Albert...


She was given an allowance of 96,000 livres for pleasure, charity and gambling, which was not considered to be very large. She enjoyed a game called cavagnole
Biribi, or cavagnole, a French game of chance similar to Lotto, Lottery, played for low stakes, that prohibited by law in 1837. It was played on a board on which the numbers 1 to 70 are marked. The players put their stakes on the numbersthey wish to back...

, and was often in debt because of the reluctance of her husband and father to pay her debts.

Marie was a devout Roman Catholic. Her major contribution to life at Versailles was the weekly event of Polish choral concerts. She was also a great lover of music and painting and the protector of many artists. She met the castrato
A castrato is a man with a singing voice equivalent to that of a soprano, mezzo-soprano, or contralto voice produced either by castration of the singer before puberty or one who, because of an endocrinological condition, never reaches sexual maturity.Castration before puberty prevents a boy's...

Farinelli , was the stage name of Carlo Maria Broschi, celebrated Italian castrato singer of the 18th century and one of the greatest singers in the history of opera.- Early years :...

 in 1737, and, in 1764, the young Mozart whom she found very charming, and she acted as an interpreter for her husband and family who did not understand German. She also started a correspondence with Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

, for whom she secured a pension.

During an era when France was a very powerful nation, often in conflict with Austria, the Austrian ambassador to France, comte de Mercy-Argenteau
Florimond Claude, Comte de Mercy-Argenteau
Florimond Claude, comte de Mercy-Argenteau was an Austrian diplomat.He was the son of Antoine, comte de Mercy-Argenteau, and entered the diplomatic service of Austria going to Paris in the train of Reichsfürst Kaunitz...

 (who later helped secure the marriage of the Dauphin
Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before being executed in 1793....

 and Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette ; 2 November 1755 – 16 October 1793) was an Archduchess of Austria and the Queen of France and of Navarre. She was the fifteenth and penultimate child of Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I....

) was said to have been romantically involved with the queen; this seems highly unlikely and was disregarded as court gossip. Marie was known for her good manners, grace and her piety.

Her daughter-in-law, the dauphine, died at the age of 20 after giving birth to a daughter Marie Thérèse de France, Madame Royale. The Queen, very fond and loving of her only son, encouraged him to take as his second wife Duchess Marie-Josèphe of Saxony the daughter of her father's rival, Frederick Augustus Wettin of Saxony, King August III of Poland. Initially, this connection caused some friction between the Queen and her new daughter-in-law. However, the friction was soon overcome, reportedly because the young German princess was an admirer of the Queen's father. In honour of him, several of the Queen's grandsons received the name Stanislas at their christening.


Marie died at Versailles on 24 June 1768, six years before her husband. Her family sincerely grieved her death. She was buried at the Basilica of St Denis, and her heart was deposed at the church of Church of Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours in Nancy (Lorraine
Lorraine (région)
Lorraine is one of the 27 régions of France. The administrative region has two cities of equal importance, Metz and Nancy. Metz is considered to be the official capital since that is where the regional parliament is situated...


In Culture

  • Marie is a major character in the novel The Royal Merry-Go-Round, the story of Louis XV's adventurous love life. In the anime Le Chevalier D'Eon
    Le Chevalier D'Eon
    is a 24-episode anime TV series produced by Production I.G based on an original story by Tow Ubukata. The anime originally aired in Japan on WOWOW from August 19, 2006 to February 2, 2007. The story has also been adapted into a manga series written by Tow Ubukata and illustrated by Kiriko Yumeji,...

    , she is one of the characters manipulating many of the events in the story.
  • Though presumed to be not too clever, Marie Leczinska was an author of at least a few quips. It is said that following the death of the Protestant marshal Maurice de Saxe she remarked: "How sad, that we cannot sing "De Profundis
    Psalm 130
    Psalm 130 , traditionally De profundis from its Latin incipit, is one of the Penitential psalms.-Commentary:...

    ", for a man thanks to whom we sang so often "Te Deum
    Te Deum
    The Te Deum is an early Christian hymn of praise. The title is taken from its opening Latin words, Te Deum laudamus, rendered literally as "Thee, O God, we praise"....





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