Princess Louise, Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1858-1924)
Princess Louise of Belgium (1858-1924)
This thread is about Princess Louse Marie Amélie of Belgium (Brussels, 18 Feb 1858 - Paris 1 Mar 1924)
Parents: King Leopold II of The Belgians and Archduchess Marie-Henriette of Austria
Husband: Prince Philip of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Children: Prince Leopold Clemens of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Duchess Dorothea Marie of Sleswig-Holstein
Siblings: Prince Leopold of Belgium, Crownprincess Stefanie of Austria and Princess Clementine Napoleon
Note that all images posted in this thread by me are free of copyrights, unless stated differently. The TRF policy conserning copyrights has not changed
Louise Marie Amélie (18 Feb. 1858 - 1 Mar. 1924) of Belgium, Princess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was the first child of King Leopold II of the Belgians and his wife Queen Marie-Henriette.
Her birth was a severe blow for her father, King Leopold II as he was hoping for a son. Princess Louise grew up at the court of Laeken, and received a Spartan upbringing, slightly tempered by the nice moments she shared with her younger brother Prince Leopold and her younger sister Princess Stefanie.
In 1875, at 17 years of age the barely adult Louise was forced to marry her second cousin, Prince Philip of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who belonged to the wealthy Hungarian branch of the Coburg family and who was 14 years older then his bride. From the marriage two children were born, Princess Dorothea and Prince Leopold, but the marriage was by no means succesfull. Leopold II however was proud as his marriage strategy, which almost meant that he sold his daughter with the eye on political issues. His inexperienced daughter quickly found herself waking up in a nightmare. Already on her first night with her husband she exchanges their bed for the glasshouses of Laeken, where she was hiding in fear. Her mother Marie-Henriette however points out to her the duties of a Princess and she has to return...
After her marriage the Princess moved to Vienna, far away from her familiar and safe envronment. Her motherhad already told her many stories about the Habsburg court, but still it was very different from what she expected. She was bedazzled by the glitter and glamour which seemed without an end. Due to her birth and marriage she was allowed into the close circle around the Emperor and the -usually absent- Empress. The couple enjoyed it that they were allowed to sit at the Imperial table and received many important curteseys. The Princess, who was financially dependent on her husband, started to enjoy her new and cosmopolitan life in Vienna to the fullest.
Her husband gave her lessons how she had to fulfill her duties as an adult. The Princess seems to get a serious make-over and start to get glamour allures, which she showed of to anybody who liked (and didn't like), which caused the Emperor to get some misgrievings with this couple. This lifestyle worried Louise's mother, Queen marie-Henriette, who usually received full reports from her Habsburg relatives on her daughters scandalous conduct. Marie-Henriette did everything she could to make her daughter change her lifestyle and live a more sober life.
In the mean time her husband merrily went on partying as he did before his marriage, he didn't take his vows too seriously and is terribly promiscuous. Slowly the first cracks start to appear in the marriage. Another problem was that the Princess came into financial troubles due to her lifestyle, and her husband who slowly estranged from her wasn´t willing to pay her debts anymore.
Louise now took several lovers herself but finally found her true love in the person of the Croatian count Mattacic, whom she met at the Prater. A romance started which wasn´t kept very discrete. A vindictive Archduke Ludwig-Victor, turned to his brother the Emperor and urged him to discipline Louise, but Louise still failed to realise the seriousness of the matter.
She fell completely from grace with the imperial couple and her father chose the side of Louise´s husband instead of that of his daughter. Louise decided to chose for her count, dispite of everything. Philip felt that he had to defend his honour and entered into a duel with Mattacic, which he lost. Louise´s triumph was shortlived only as she came into serious financial troubles as her husband refused to give her even a penny.
Louise was forced to sell her pocessions in public, even her own underwear. Phillip felt humiliated by this and the Emperor was shocked and urged Phillip to do something about it. As a solution to the problem, Phillip had to buy everything that was sold by Louise, even the undergarments. Followed by fiunancial troubles Louise left for Croatia, but even there the power of the Habsburg court was felt.
Count Mattacic was soon arrested for embazzlement and lost his title. Louise, who didn´t find any support with her children or Belgian relatives, was send to a ÿchiatric hospital. She was ignored by her relatives in Vienna and Brussels, only her sister, Crownprincess Stefanie of Austria kept in touch with her in secret. Mattacic managed to escape from prison and was able to release the Princess in a heroic way, after which the two fled to France. There the Princess acquired a divorce from her husband and got estranged completely from her father. King Leopold II remarked that his daughter was dead to him, to which the Emperor of Austria cynically (but probably close to the truth) replied that Leopold even had to ¨pay for a dead daughter.
After Leopolds death Louise and her sisters chose the attack, they were hunting for the Baroness de Vaughan, Leopodl II's mistress who was left with a considerable part of Leopolds fortune. The sisters started a court case against the Belgian state to defend their rights to the inheritence. But it was to no avail, the King even preferred to put his money in the 'Royal Dotation' than to give it to his own daughters. In the end the sisters only 15 million francs, only a fraction of the original capital.
Louise died in 1924, a year after Count Mattacic while she lived impoverished in Paris. She died while holding the picture of her deceased lover...
Prince Ferdinand Philip (Paris, 28 Mar. 1844 – Coburg, 4 July 1921) of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was the son of Prince August of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Princess Clementine of France (Orleans).
Philip was a confident and brother-in-law of Crownprince Rudolf of Austria and it was he with Count Hoyos who discovered the bodies of Rufdolf and Marie Vestera were at Mayerling. From 1870 he was a major in the Hungarian army. On Feb 4th 1875 he married Princess Louise of Belgium (see above), the couple divorced on Jan 15th 1906.
Prince Philip owned a coin collection of Saxony, the Orient and oversees coins. He published articles about oriental coins. His collection of coins was auctioned in 1928 by the auctionhouse Leo Hamburger in Frankfurt am Main.
The couple got two children:
Prince Leopold Clemens Philipp August Maria (Leo) of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Szent-Antal, Hungary 19 Jul 1878-Vienna 27 Apr 1916), died unmarried.
Princess Dorothea Marie Henriette Auguste Louise (Dora) of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Vienna 30 Apr 1881-Taxis, Württemberg 21 Jan 1967), married to Duke Ernst Günther of Sleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (1863-1921). The marriage remained without children.
A picture of Louise and her two children:
In Vienna Louise and her husband lived in Palais Coburg, which is a hotel today, have a look at their website here.
Here an old drawing:
Two more pictures, one of Lousie and her husband and one of Louise alone:
This large first picture shows of Princess Louise (standing) and her sister Crownprincess Stefanie of Austria.
Louise was burried in Wiesbaden, here an old picture of her grave:
Princess Louise of Belgium: 'Eve after the Fall of Man'
After an unhappy childhood in the court of her father King Leopold II, Princess Louise Marie of Belgium gained some freedom in her marriage to Prince Philip of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. However, the couple drifted apart, and Louise finally found happiness with Count Geza Mattachich. Her life with Mattachich involved scandal, debt, imprisonment, and exile, but she stayed with him until his death and outlived him by only a few months.
Marengo is continuing his series of historical biographies with an article about a very eccentric and unusual princess, Princess Louise Marie of Belgium, who scandalised Europe with her affair and ended up living in poverty and exile. As usual this is an interesting, informative, and scholarly article, and it makes a very welcome addition to the Biography section.
We have a thread about the princess here in the Belgian Royal History forum.
And apart from interesting and informative very enjoyable may I say.
Thanks Marengo, I have really liked your article! I didn't know this Princess before...
Here you have something I wrote in 2001. Since then Olivier Defrance became a good friend of mine and a book was published in Belgium in 2005 by a psychiatrist who studied the Louise´s affair ("Charlotte et Léopold II de Belgique - Deux destins d'exception entre histoire et psychiatrie", par le Dr. Emile Meurice (Ed. du Cétal, 2005)).
I am thinking of writing and publishing an article for a royal magazine.
Sorry for my errors of English and the lack of pictures.....
(nice to see you are interested in Louise´s life too, Marengo)
"Louise of Saxe-Cobourg"
I read, a few weeks ago, the book "Louise de Saxe-Cobourg, Amours argent, procès" by Olivier Defrance, 2001, ISBN 2-87386-230-0.
Although I read it a while ago I think it's a very interesting book on a VERY interesting life.
Princess Louise of Belgium had a hard childhood like her younger sister Stéphanie, both were submitted to the cold treatment of their father, King Leopold II, and the somewhat distant and too conventional behaviour of their mother, Queen Marie-Henritte.
When Louise approached the age of getting married her first cousin once removed, Prince Philippe of Saxe-Cobourg, made a proposition. Her father didn't appreciate it as prince Philippe was not a brillant party politicaly speaking. As elder son Prince Philippe would inherit some day the huge fortune of the Saxe-Coburgs(Kohary) established in Hungary and in Austria but this branch of the Saxe-Coburgs could not offer any powerful political position. The Countess of Flandres proposed then her brother, prince Frederik of Hohenzollern and at the same time, Prince Napoleon, the son and Heir of ex-Emperor Napoleon III made his proposition. Both the 2 last princes could offer danger to Belgium as both would have antoganize (republican) France and in a hurry Leopold II accepted prince Philippe of S-C (to the great joy of Queen Marie-Henriette, who as a Hungarian was most in favour of prince Philippe, Q Marie-Henriette should know better, but it's an irony that mothers unhappy in marriages arrange unhappy marriages for their daughters).
Prince Philippe was almost double the age of princess Louise. Although he was not the monster presented by Louise in her memoirs ("Aux Tour des Trônes que j'ai Vu Tomber") he was different in every way from Louise. He enjoyed listenning to and playing music, he collected medals and he was a bibliophile having a library of tens of thousands of books. Also hunting and women were his passions...
But it was decided and King Leopold II took the precaution of including clauses in the contract of marriage in which Louise would not have right to anything of his properties, the Belgian Ministry protested and a small dowry was provided.
The wedding was very simple as Leopold II didn't want to spend money, to the great regret of the Belgian people, but anywway there were 2 bals with the presence of the prince of Wales, the Count of Paris and Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
The tragedy started the night of the wedding...
Defrance says one cannot use the verb "to rape" but according to all appearances Philippe did not act with too much patience to Louise that night. By morning, taking advantage Philippe was sleeping Louise ran away to the gardens of Laeken where her mother would find her crying and sobbing.
Certainly Philippe didn't have good maners that night, but by reading this biography one can conclude princess Louise exaggerated too much in her memoirs presenting Philippe as an insensitive man who taught her debauchery and drinking too much. He looked if not a model of perfect husband at least he was most civilized, patient and tolerant with Louise's excentric behaviour.
She would start spending too much money(fortunes) from the start. She changed her way of dressing and as a matter of fact she could not complain too much about Philippe as she would have many flirts(among them with her brother-in-law the future Czar Ferdinand of Bulgaria) before the great scandal.
Louise had as female friends her sister-in-law Duchess Amélie in Bavaria(the only friend among her in-laws), her sister Stéphanie (a friend until a certain point..) and the Duchess Alexandrine of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha(née Baden), who behaved more as a mother than the Queen of the Belgians.
Marie-Henriette had a blind faith in her son-in-law and anyway she didn't want to listen to Louise. (once when she was visitting Vienna she caught her daughter hidding a book in a hurry from her mother). In 1883 Louise started her (discreet) relationship with baron Daniel d'Ablaing de Glessenburg who served her husband. And at the same time Louise was received and received all Royalty in Europe. Besides the Habsburgs she visitted the English Royal Family, the Prussian, the Bavarians, etc, etc. Interesting to note it as when the great scandal would come only the (widow) Duchess of Saxe-Coburg would remain loyal to Louise. In 1888 baron Daniel d'Ablaing died and prince Philippe replaced him as his aide by baron Nicolas Dory de Jobahaza, immediately he became Louise's lover...to the great shock of Stéphanie who told everything to her mother Marie-Henriette. The Queen of the Belgians proposes to meet baron Dory who visitted then the Queen in Belgium, in Ostende, far from Brussels so that Leopold II could not know about it(but he would find out the same way). The baron promised the Queen he would not go on his affair with Louise, and Marie-Henriette was even moved by his gentlemanlike and polite behaviour...but he would re-start the affair with Louise and by the first time Marie-Henriette said Louise was mad and she should be put into a mad house...
In 1894 Louise and Philippe travelled together to Egypt in order to try and save the marriage. Louise took 32 luggages with her but not her children(the lives of Louise's 2 children deserve another thread, they are TOO impressive as well...)but on their return to Europe Louise re-started her affair with the baron till the end of 1894, then in May of 1895, in the Prater in Vienna, Louise would meet the man who would cause her downfall, disgrace and the awful scandal, a Croat militar man, Géza Mattachich.
Their love relationship has its place in the biggest love stories list of all the times...not so much by its beauty but by all the pain, suffering and tragedy involved. But on the other hand it's a beautiful story as well in its own way because of all the fidelity on both parties to each other for decades facing misery and illness.
To cut a long story short: they fell in love, they travelled together all around Europe with more than 30 servants in special trains and ALL Courts talked about them.
Archduke Ludwig-Victor, the younger brother of Emperor Franz-Josef, dennounced Louise formaly to his brother (was Ludwig-Victor angry because Louise refused to have an affair with him? Or was he jealous Louise was having an affair with the man he wanted for himself, Mattachich? Ludwig-Victor was a notorious homosexual who would face his own scandal a few years later).
The liaison becoming "official" Philippe hasd no other choice(and pushed by the Emperor himself) but to defy Mattachich to duel. The duel took place in Vienna and Mattachich really spared the life of Philippe.
Meanwhile Duke Ernst-Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein, brother of the Empress of Germany and fiancé of Louise's daughter(Dora), instructed by Philippe, asked Louise to take Dora to visit his mother in Germany with the promise to come back soon...they would never come back to Louise.
The scandal Mattachich was already bad enough but the fact Louise spent money like a desperate woman(I am avoiding carefully the word "mad" as Defrance does in his book) made things MUCH worse.
Having debts by all sides and Philippe this time refusing to pay these debts Louise and/or Mattachich faked the signature of Stéphanie to pay them. Louise sent a telegramm to her sister to warn her but Stéphanie was ill in bed and she didn't read the telegramm...
An order of arrest was published and Phillippe published the fact in all main newspapers in Eurpe. The couple Louise and Mattachich tried to ask for the help of Queen Victoria but the Queen left England the same day the couple arrived. Leopold II refused to pay a penny of his daughter's debts and Emperor Franz-Josef paid in his place.
Emperor Franz-Josef and Philippe agreed Louise should be taken to a mad house and Mattachich arrested. The problem was not only the money(and the jewels which was said Louise would sell) but they were also really affraid of the rumours Mattachich would take Louise as a hostage and eventually murder her, after Mayerling the Court of Vienna wanted to avoid other bloody scandal at all costs.
Louise and Mattachich run away to Croatia to stay with Mattachich's father (who run away from this disgraced couple as well). Soon after Louise and Mattachich would be caught.
Louise would be sent to the mad house of Vienna. Before going to the mad house she was asked to sign a paper in which she would agree to be sent to a "clinic", she did not realize it was a mad house until the moment she was locked inside....to her great horror...
Mattachich was sent to a militar prison where he would spend years of starvation (and he would start writting his own memoirs ”Folle par Raisons d’Etat” which I've read as well)
Philippe would not have acted this way if Louise had accepted to not see Mattachich anymore but she refused and besides there was the famous possible future inheritance Louise would receive some day from her rich father (who had made a fortune in Congo)
For years Louise would remain in mad houses ignored by al her relatives. Not even once her parents wrote to her, it would be a pain even harder to bear when she knew her parents were in Vienna for the burial of Empress Elizabeth of Austria-Hungary and they didn’t send any word to their daughter who was in the same town arrested in a mad house. The conditions of her treatment in Vienna were terrible, a real nightmare becoming true. Doctors would see her and although some brave ones dared saying she was not mad superior orders kept things unchanged. After Vienna Louise would be tranferred to other (better) mad houses in Saxony. In 1902 the Countess of Flandres paid her a visit and all this time Duchess Alexandrine kept saying Louise was not mad at all. In March 1903 the Duke of Argyll (son-in-law of Queen Victoria) was sent by the English Royal family to check the conditions Louise was being treated what left Philippe worried as the Duke of Argyll could find Louise was “normal”.
But by then Mattachich was free and he was planning to liberate Louise.
In 1904 Mattachich would succeed by an amazing, “movie-like” adventure........(too long ot be written here....)
Running away from Germany the couple had to cross Belgiun by train, the ticket controller recognized Louise but he promised her he would not call the police. Arriving in Paris and in safety Louise ocupied the front pages of newspapers again. And after 6 years of silence Stéphanie would meet her sister, Stéphanie noticed her sister was not mad after all and she tried to help her but Emperor Franz-Joseph cut short this friendship by making threats to Stéphanie. King Leopold II also refused to hear from his daughtr(Queen Marie-Henriette was dead by now)
And Louise..............Louise would re-start making expenses and buying everything and borrowing money(big fortunes) like a desperate person........now she was only one of Mattachich’s mistresses (who had love affairs with Louise ex-lady-in-waiting and with the woman who helped to free Louise and who would follow the couple to Paris and live there in a “ménage-à-trois”). She would obtain at last the divorce from Philippe and when King Leopold II died he left pratically nothing to Louise and she started to sue the Belgian Government(which refused to give her a Belgian passport). Unfortunately Louise and Mattachich would act then as crooked persons and they would cheat and destroy some innocent and naif people.
During the I War they would spend most of their time in Bavaria in the darkest poverty and starvation, Luoise’s son died in the most tragic way in Vienna(I will thell his short life later) and Louise would not see money from this side nor from her daughter’s side. After the War Louise and Mattachich went to live in the castle of Stéphanie but the creditors and the police were as always following the couple because of their debts and they had to leave to Paris where Mattachich died in the most extreme misery. An anonymous rich American man sent Louise money to pay the burial and she had to leave Paris as she could not pay the bill of the humble hotel. Too bad princess Clémentine of Belgium, her younger sister, declined to help Louise even when Louise had not Mattachich anymore by her side. By the way the Belgian government wanted to prevent Louise to get into the country at all costs. Louise went to Wiesbaden in Germany where she was most unhappy for less than 3 months till the day she died.
The book concludes by a clinical rapport by Doctor Jean-Paul Beine, emitted on September 2000 where he answers the question if Louise was mad or not. And Doctor Beine answers “NO”, she was not mad
oh my that was interesting poor louise what a cruel man her father was and the belgian goverment at that time were heartless they refuse to recognize the ''true love'' louise had for her second husband i am very disapoint that princess clementine who endire almost the same suffering as louise refuse to help her sister and i cant believe in her book she called her father ''great man and great king'' had she forgot it was him who was the architect in making her life miserable
alerto2244 i want to know more how mattarnich help her escape from the mad-house
Which are your sources for your item 12 ?
In Belgium we know Louise 's story on a different way. Louise's behaviour was bad for a Princess who had sibblings amoung a lot of royal houses.
Leopold II reacted as a King and not like a father, and his wife Marie Henriette was a mother without any affection.. Their drama was their only son's death ; he was 10 years old and should have been King Leopold III.
Philippe de Cobourg was in Mayerling the very day Rodolphe commit (?) suicide.
Princess Louise had a sad life according to biographies.
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