Marie Jeanne Baptiste of Savoy-Nemours was born on 11 April 1644 at the Hôtel de Nemours in Paris as the daughter of Charles Amadeus, Duke of Nemours and his wife, Élisabeth de Bourbon. Her father died in a pistol duel with his brother-in-law, and he was succeeded by his brother, who would be the last Duke. Marie Jeanne Baptiste, her sister, mother and uncle were then the last remaining members of the family.1
Her family wanted her to marry Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy and she and her sister were brought to Turn for inspection. The visit was not a success; she was vetoed by her prospective mother-in-law for being too strong-minded. Her next possible match came in the form of Prince Charles of Lorraine, who stood to inherit the duchies of Lorraine and Bar from his uncle.2 Their engagement was announced on 4 February 1662 with the support of the French Queen, Anne of Austria, and a marriage contract was signed. However, the marriage was not consummated, and Charles left to enter Imperial service. The unconsummated marriage was considered to be void, and in 1678, Charles married another woman.
When Charles Emmanuel II’s wife and mother-in-law died, he was without an heir and once again in need of a wife. Without the veto of his mother, Charles Emmanuel chose to marry Marie Jeanne Baptiste. He asked for her hand in April 1665, and their wedding finally took place on 20 May 1665.3 One year later, on 14 May 1666, she gave birth to a son and heir named Victor Amadeus. She was widowed suddenly on 12 June 1675, and on his deathbed, Charles Emmanuel named her as regent for their son.4 She threw herself into her new role, which eventually led to a troubled relationship with her son.
She remained as regent from 1675 until 1684 when her son was 18 years old. He had already attained his majority at the age of 14. This period can be divided into two halves. She began her regency with considerable energy, but as her son’s majority came closer, she desperately tried to cling to power. In 1680, the hunt for a daughter-in-law began. She had several choices, and all came with strings attached. The choice fell on the docile Anne Marie d’Orléans, who also brought a dynastic claim to the British throne and just happened the niece of the French King. They married in 1684. Her son became persistent in his inclination to rule alone. The death of Marie Jeanne Baptiste’s sister left her without her closest ally, and she formally withdrew from the administration.5
On her death in March 1724, Marie Jeanne Baptiste had become the grandmother of Europe. Her only child had become King of Sardinia. Her great-grandsons were Kings of Spain and France.6
- Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.17
- Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.20
- Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.21-22
- Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.26
- Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.37
- Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.44