Happy new year! I hope you had an enjoyable festive season. Like probably quite a lot of people, I spent some of the holidays binge-watching TV shows, including the new BBC series, Marie Antoinette.
Whenever I watch historical dramas, I find myself googling characters or plot lines; sometimes to find out more, sometimes to establish what is based on fact and what is a pure fiction. I did this frequently while watching Marie Antoinette, and it was during one of these many searches that I came across a really interesting piece of information which again connects the French royal family to Edinburgh.
As I discussed in last September’s blog post, Holyroodhouse provided sanctuary to Louis XVI’s brother, the Comte D’Artois (and future Charles X) from 1796 and into the early years of the nineteenth century. Thirty years later, 21 Regent Terrace in Edinburgh’s New Town hosted Marie-Thérèse Charlotte, Duchess of Angoulême, the eldest and by that time only surviving child of King Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette.
When Marie-Thérèse arrived in Edinburgh in 1830, she had gone into exile for a second and final time in a life which was undoubtedly marked by danger and personal tragedy. Born in 1778, Marie-Thérèse was still a child when the French Revolution began. In the 1790s she endured a lengthy and distressing captivity in the Temple Tower in Paris, during which she suffered the loss of her parents and younger brother. In 1796 she was allowed to leave France for Austria, where she was reunited with other exiled members of the French royal family. It was during this time that she married her cousin, Louis-Antoine, the Duke of Angoulême, before moving to England.
In 1814, the abdication of Napoleon and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy meant that Marie-Thérèse was able to return to France, and in 1824 she became the French Dauphine following the death of Louis XVIII and the accession of her father-in-law, the Comte D’Artois, now Charles X. However, Marie-Thérèse would never be Queen of France. In 1830 revolution arrived again, sending Marie-Thérèse, her husband and other members of the Bourbon royal family once more into exile. This time, their destination was Edinburgh.
While the deposed King Charles X made his home in Holyroodhouse for a second time, Marie-Thérèse settled at 21 Regent Terrace near to Calton Hill. At this time, the houses on this street were brand new, having been designed by architect William Playfair in the 1820s. Interestingly, when 21 (now 22) Regent Terrace went up for sale twenty years ago, it was described in an article by The Scotsman newspaper as being largely unchanged since the nineteenth century.
Marie-Thérèse lived at 21 Regent Terrace until 1833 before leaving Scotland for Prague and spending the rest of her life in the Austrian Empire. She died in 1851, having lived long enough to see France become a republic for a second time in 1848.
- Marie-Thérèse, Duchess of Angoulême – Wikipedia
- Marie-Thérèse of France, Duchess of Angoulême | Unofficial Royalty
- Madame Royale | Palace of Versailles (chateauversailles.fr)
- Regent Terrace – Wikipedia
- The New Town’s later extensions | Edinburgh World Heritage (ewh.org.uk)
- For sale: tragic royal’s bolthole | The Scotsman