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Christine of France

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Christine of France
Christine in 1633 holding onto the Savoyard Coronet; in the background is the Castello del Valentino where she lived from 1630
Duchess consort of Savoy
Tenure26 July 1630 – 7 October 1637
Born(1606-02-10)10 February 1606
Palais du Louvre, Paris, France
Died27 December 1663(1663-12-27) (aged 57)
Palazzo Madama, Turin, Savoy
(m. 1619; died 1637)
Full name
Christine Marie de France
FatherHenry IV of France
MotherMarie de' Medici
ReligionRoman Catholicism
SignatureChristine of France's signature

Christine of France (Christine Marie; 10 February 1606 – 27 December 1663) was the second daughter of Henry IV of France and Marie de Medici. A sister of Louis XIII, she was married to the future Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy in 1619 aged fourteen. She was said to be volatile and frivolous. Educated at the French court, she introduced French culture into Savoy. Her husband succeeded to the Savoyard throne in 1637 and thus Christine became Duchess of Savoy through marriage. At the death of Victor Amadeus I in 1637, Christine was created regent in the name of her son Francis Hyacinth. However, at the death of Francis Hyacinth in 1638, the throne went to her second surviving son who became Charles Emmanuel II. Officially regent till 1648, she maintained huge influence within the Savoyard government at the time which only ended at her death in 1663.

Daughter of France[change | change source]

Christine was born in the Palais du Louvre in Paris and was the third child of King Henry IV of France and his second wife, Marie de' Medici. As a daughter of the king, she held the prestigious rank of Fille de France. Baptised with the names Christine Marie, she was known simply as Christine. She was a younger sister of Louis XIII of France and Élisabeth, a future queen of Spain. After the marriage of Princess Élisabeth in 1615 to the future Philip IV of Spain, Christine took on the honorary title of Madame Royale indicating her status as the eldest and most senior unmarried daughter at the court. She would be known as this till her own marriage.

Princess of Piedmont[change | change source]

She married Victor Amadeus of Savoy, on 10 February 1619 at the Louvre in Paris. Her husband was styled the Prince of Piedmont and as such she the Princess. Victor Amadeus was the eldest surviving son of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy and Catherine Michelle of Austria the latter of which had died in 1597 as a result of childbirth. As such, Christine was the most senior female at the Savoyard court from the time of her arrival. Her husband was nineteen years older than she. Despite the age gap, the couple were happy and overall produced eight children, four of whom would survive childhood.

Duchess of Savoy[change | change source]

Victor Amadeus became Duke after the death of his father in July 1630. Her husband died in October 1637 having left Savoy with little money due to wars with Spain.

Regent of Savoy[change | change source]

When her husband died in October 1637, she was created regent in the name of her son Francis Hyacinth who succeeded her husband. At the death of Francis Hyacinth in 1638, her second son succeeded as Charles Emmanuel II. As a result of Charles Emmanuel's age, Christine maintained her grip on power. Despite this, her brothers-in-law, Prince Maurice and his younger brother Prince Thomas Francis disputed Christine's power as she was a woman. They also had little trust in her French entourage. When Francis Hyacinth, the brothers started the Piedmontese Civil War, with Spanish support. There were two parties. The "principisti", supporters of the Princes, and the "madamisti", the supporters of Christine. During her regency, she styled herself Madama Reale, Italian form of the style Madame Royale which she was known as prior to her marriage.

After four years of fighting, Christine was victorious thanks to French military support of her brother Louis XIII. Not only did she keep the duchy for her son, she also prevented France getting too much power within her sons dominions thus preserving power for herself. When peace was concluded in 1642, Prince Maurice married Christines eldest daughter Luisa Cristina to cement the peace. Christine stayed in control of Savoy, until her son could follow in her footsteps. Even though her formal regency ended in 1648, she remained ruler of Savoy till her death.

Later life[change | change source]

Christine was notorious as much for her capricious rule as for her many lovers. She lived an uninhibited private life and had relationships with the French Ambassador, Marini, her brother-in-law, Maurice as well as Count Filippo d'Aglié, a handsome courtier who remained faithful to her all her life. It was under her influence that her son married her niece, Françoise Madeleine d'Orléans in a proxy wedding. Knowing that Françoise Madeleine was so young and timid, it allowed Christine the opportunity to maintain her power over Savoy and her son. However, she died shortly after her sons wedding at the Palazzo Madama, her residence in Turin aged 57. She was buried at the Basilica of Sant'Andrea.

Legacy[change | change source]

Françoise Madeleine died in 1664 childless. He remarried in 1666 to Marie Jeanne of Savoy. Marie Jeanne would give birth to Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia who would later marry another French Princess Anne Marie d'Orléans. 17 years after her death, in 1680, her granddaughter Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria married Louis XIII's grandson Louis, Grand Dauphin thus making Christine a direct ancestress of most royalty today. Revealed on NBC's 'Who Do You Think You Are?' that one of her descendants is model/actress Brooke Shields.[1]

In her widowhood she lived at the Palazzo Madama which she had rebuilt. She was also organised the reconstruction of the Castello del Valentino as well as the additions to the Royal Palace of Turin. She would also later own Vigno di Madama Reale, later the private residence of Anne Marie d'Orléans.

Issue[change | change source]

  1. Stillborn son (1621)
  2. Prince Louis Amadeus of Savoy (1622 - 1628)
  3. Luisa Cristina of Savoy (27 July 1629 - 14 May 1692) married Prince Maurice of Savoy no issue.
  4. Francis Hyacinth (14 September 1632 - 4 October 1638), Duke of Savoy
  5. Charles Emmanuel II (20 June 1634 - 12 June 1675) married Françoise Madeleine d'Orléans and had no issue; secondly married Marie Jeanne of Savoy and had issue.
  6. Margaret Yolande of Savoy (15 November 1635 - 29 April 1663) married Ranuccio II Farnese, Duke of Parma and died in childbirth.
  7. Henriette Adelaide of Savoy (6 November 1636 - 18 March 1676) married Ferdinand Maria, Elector of Bavaria and had issue.
  8. Catherine Beatrice of Savoy (6 November 1636 - 26 August 1637) died in infancy.

Titles, styles, honours and arms[change | change source]

Titles and styles[change | change source]

  • 10 February 1606 – 25 November 1615 Her Highness Princess Christine of France
  • 25 November 1615 – 10 February 1619 Her Highness Madame Royale
  • 10 February 1619 – 26 July 1630 Her Highness The Princess of Piedmont
  • 26 July 1630 – 7 October 1637 Her Highness The Duchess of Savoy
  • 7 October 1637 – 27 December 1663 Her Highness The Dowager Duchess of Savoy

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Christine of France at Wikimedia Commons

References[change | change source]

  1. Participant: Brooke Shields; Director: Harvey Lilley; Executive Producer: Lucy Carter (4 July 2010). "Brooke Shields". Who Do You Think You Are? - USA. Episode 2. United Kingdom. BBC. BBC One. Back in New York, Brooke sets out on the trail of her very different paternal ancestry, the family of her paternal grandmother, the glamour heiress Marina Torlonia. Her journey takes her to Rome where she discovers that as bankers to the Vatican, the Torlonia family became one of the wealthiest and most influential families in 19th-century Italy. But it doesn't end there - on the trail of yet another illustrious ancestor, the mysteriously titled 'Madame Royale', Brooke heads to Paris and the very heart of French nobility. {{cite episode}}: Unknown parameter |began= ignored (help); Unknown parameter |ended= ignored (help)