Sunday, March 02, 2008

All she wanted was to be a mother....


Imagine being engaged, promised or betrothed to be married at 10 years old? And then being married at 14 years old, to another teenager, who happened to be the heir to the French Throne. That's what happened to Anne of Austria.
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On November 25, 1615, the teenagers, both royals, married. Anne was then the wife of Louis XIII. They say that the couple consummated the marriage quickly. But, for a variety of reasons it appears there was long stretches of time that the royal couple were not intimate. Could it be that Louis was unkind to Anne? Perhaps Anne missed her homeland and her family.
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During the 1620's, there were rumours of pregnancies. A pregnancy was a must for the Bourbon Line. The couple must have a male child. It's recorded that Louis himself told an ambassador that his Queen had four miscarriages. In thinking about this young girl, fair, with a sweet smile.. about 20 years old, I feel for her. Not being able to get pregnant is enough to throw the strongest of women into a depression. If you add in the possibility of more than one miscarriage, how tragic for this Spanish Princess. What pain she endured. She must have wondered why she couldn't conceive or carry a child. At times she must have feared being sent back to her homeland. If Louis had wanted to...well, he could have acted to have the marriage annulled.
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Louis's younger brother wasn't loosing sleep over Queen Anne's infertility. If she didn't produce an heir, he was next in line to inherit the French crown. The Queen's marriage wasn't hostile, but it definitely wasn't pleasant. That we know. Anne traveled to the different royal residences, prayed, enjoyed the theater very much---she prayed more---and she enjoyed eating. And she loved sweets. Sounds like us, don't you think?
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She wasn't the most popular Queen and she knew it. She continued to pray about her infertility. and it wasn't only Anne that prayed. Many of the religious of her day prayed for her. While the faithful prayed, there was scandal, gossip and Anne was even suspected of conspiracies against her husband. None of this could have been easy for her. To make things worse, she had been married now 20 years---yes, 20 years--and still there was no child. You have to imagine that in her heart of hearts, Anne was near to giving up. She was in her thirties. It would be rare to become pregnant at that age. In the 1600's, she was considered old. Her marital relationship wasn't the best as we know and obviously that brings its own problems. And even somehow, if there was some miracle...would she have a boy? And if she did have a boy, would he even live? Child mortality rates were very low.
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November and December of 1637 were interesting for several reasons. In December, we know that the royal couple spent at least one night together under the same roof due to an unexpected storm. (Surely there were more as well.) And in November, a monk in Paris claims to have had a vision. He claimed that the Virgin Mary appeared to him, telling him that the Queen would indeed become pregnant and that he should inform her of this. The monk sent word to the couple.
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When Brother Fiacre, the monk, finally met personally with the King and Queen several months later, Anne was ecstatic. She was pregnant! Her doctor had confirmed it weeks before. It was a miracle, a miracle! It appears that the Queen felt it was so. Whether it was a miracle or not...I certainly do not know...what a wonderful story! I can almost imagine her joy and happiness. At age thirty six, she was carrying a baby, finally. She must have been on cloud nine, or whatever they called it in the 1600's. It was generally thought by all that this baby would be a lucky child, protected by God.
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The baby that was born on the 5th of September 1638, was the famous Louis XIV. He was certainly a lucky King, a great King. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. At that point, on that warm September day in a room that overlooked the river Seine, there was a healthy Dauphin born. The birth was witnessed by many of the Court. To say there was rejoicing would be an understatement. As the afternoon wore on and the witnesses left, Anne rested. It would not be stretching the truth to say that the fragrance of flowers flowed through the open windows of Anne's room as she laid in bed that day, looking at her robust son. No doubt she feel asleep exhausted, but with a smile on her face.
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Anne adored her son. She spent much time with him, although it was not the court etiquette of the day. None of that mattered to her. She played with him and took him outside. Her baby was considered very beautiful and she enjoyed fussing over him and combing his hair. He inherited her soft, warm brown curls. Her joy was compounded when she gave birth to another boy named Phillipe two years later. She waited half her life for these miracles that had eluded her for so long...so she didn't waste a moment.
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She adored being a mother and the children came to her often. Little Louis loved Anne and formed a very close attachment to her, as most boys do. And it did not fade. This attachment remained with Louis. Although Anne loved both sons, she clearly adored her eldest. Did Anne show him this preference to prepare him for his future role? We can only guess. But whether the three of them shared a bath, played, shared dinner....or prayed together... the time they spent together was special, sweet and lasting. Anne gave them a real childhood and a feeling of safety. She was their constant. They didn't see their father nearly as much as their mother. And the brothers played as brothers do...laughing sometimes and fighting at other times. It was evident to all at court that these boys were the joy of her life.
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And they said she couldn't do it.
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Well done, Anne!

1 comment:

de Brantigny said...

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I'll trade you 2 for one with all the proper redirects.

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Amicalment,
Richard, known as de Brantigny

gunnyb1973@yahoo.com

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