Marie-Clotilde-Elisabeth Louise de Riquet, comtesse de Mercy-Argenteau
Marie-Clotilde-Elisabeth Louise de Riquet (3 June 1837 – 8 November 1890) was the elder daughter of Michel Gabriel Alphonse Ferdinand de Riquet (1810–1865), created prince de Chimay
Prince de Chimay
Prince de Chimay is a noble title associated with Chimay in what is now Belgium. It is presently held by Philippe de Caraman-Chimay, 22nd Prince de Chimay.-Counts of Chimay:*1 Jean II de Croÿ, comte de Chimay...

 1834, for himself only, and Rosalie de Riquet de Caraman (1814–1872)

In childhood she developed considerable aptitude as a pianist. On 11 April 1860 she married Eugène Arnould Henri Charles François Marie, comte de Mercy
De Mercy
The De Mercy family rose to increasing power during the Middle Ages in the region of what is now southern Belgium, Lorraine and Luxembourg.By the fifteenth century Jean de Mercy was lord of Clémarais ; in 1477, Roger de Mercy was appointed Captain and Provost of Longwy by Duke René II of Lorraine...

-Argenteau (22 Aug. 1838-2 May 1888). She met Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

 the next year. In 1866, she met emperor Napoleon III
Napoleon III of France
Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte was the President of the French Second Republic and as Napoleon III, the ruler of the Second French Empire. He was the nephew and heir of Napoleon I, christened as Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte...

 and befriended him. After his defeat at the Battle of Sedan
Battle of Sedan
The Battle of Sedan was fought during the Franco-Prussian War on 1 September 1870. It resulted in the capture of Emperor Napoleon III and large numbers of his troops and for all intents and purposes decided the war in favour of Prussia and its allies, though fighting continued under a new French...

, she visited him for a last time when he was a prisoner of the Prussians at Schloss Wilhelmshöhe and consoled him playing music. She later wrote a book about their four-year relationship, The Last Love of an Emperor.

In the early 1880s she developed an interest in Russian music
Music of Russia
Music of Russia denotes music produced in Russia and/or by the Russians. Russia is a large and culturally diverse country, with many ethnic groups, each with their own locally developed music...

. This led to her studying the Russian language
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

, translating some vocal music by several Russian composers, and arranging concerts and recitals of their music. Her advocacy of music by The Mighty Handful favored that of César Cui
César Cui
César Antonovich Cui was a Russian of French and Lithuanian descent. His profession was as an army officer and a teacher of fortifications; his avocational life has particular significance in the history of music, in that he was a composer and music critic; in this sideline he is known as a...

 and facilitated the production of the latter's opera Prisoner of the Caucasus in Liège in 1886. Cui's collection of piano pieces entitled À Argenteau is a musical reminiscence of the count and countess' estate in Belgium. La Comtesse de Mercy-Argenteau died of cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 on 8 November 1890 in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...



  • César Cui: esquisse critique. Paris: Fischbacher, 1888.
  • The Last Love of an Emperor: reminiscences of the Comtesse Louise de Mercy-Argenteau, née Princesse de Caraman-Chimay, describing her association with the Emperor Napoléon III
    Napoleon III of France
    Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte was the President of the French Second Republic and as Napoleon III, the ruler of the Second French Empire. He was the nephew and heir of Napoleon I, christened as Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte...

     and the social and political part she played at the close of the Second Empire
    Second French Empire
    The Second French Empire or French Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.-Rule of Napoleon III:...

    . Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, Page & Co., 1926.

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