Charlotte de Bourbon-Monpensier

Female 1546 - 1582  (36 years)

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  • Name Charlotte de Bourbon-Monpensier 
    Born 1546 
    Gender Female 
    Died 1582 
    Person ID I6373  Database
    Last Modified 11 Jul 2016 

    Spouse William of Orange Nassau,   b. 1533, Dillenburg, Hessen, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1584, Delft, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 51 years) 
    Married 24 Apr 1575 
    Last Modified 10 Jul 2016 
    Family ID F2668  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • William married for the third time on 24 April 1575 to Charlotte de Bourbon-Monpensier, a former French nun, who was also popular with the public. They had six daughters. The marriage, which seems to have been a love match on both sides, was happy.

      Her paternal grandparents were Louis, Prince of La Roche-sur-Yon and Louise de Bourbon, Duchess of Montpensier. Her maternal grandparents were John IV de Longwy, Baron of Pagny, and Jeanne of Angoulême, illegitimate half-sister of King Francis I of France.

      Her mother, Jacqueline, was a believer in the Reformed doctrines, and she secretly taught them to her children. By some accounts, Charlotte's father determined to thwart his wife's influence by sending three of his daughters to convents. Charlotte was then only thirteen years old and begged to be allowed to stay with her mother, who died during the time Charlotte was in the convent.Her father, influential in the court of Catherine de' Medici, placed her in the royal convent of Jouarre, near Meaux, to be raised as a nun. When she was professed as a nun at the age of thirteen, she made a formal written protest.

      Other sources claim that Louis simply wanted to avoid paying dowries in order to conserve his only son's patrimony. Charlotte was first sent to Jouarre, where her aunt was abbess, as an infant. The plan for Charlotte was to renounce her inheritance and succeed her aunt. This plan was carried out upon the aunt's death, against Charlotte's wishes, and despite her being only 12. While abbess, Charlotte was secretly instructed in Calvinism by a dissident priest.

      The young Charlotte shocked both her family and the royal court by escaping the convent in 1572, announcing her conversion to Calvinism and, on the advice of Jeanne d'Albret, fleeing to the Electorate of the Palatinate, well beyond her parents' reach.

      On 24 June 1575 Charlotte married the Protestant William, Prince of Orange. They had six daughters, including Louise Juliana of Nassau, from whom descended the House of Hanover and most other (Protestant) royal houses. The marriage was very happy -it is said to have been the only one of William's four marriages which was for love- and the obvious happiness of the couple increased William's popularity.

      Charlotte allegedly died from exhaustion while trying to nurse her husband after an assassination attempt in 1582. Though William was outwardly stoical, it was feared that his grief might cause a fatal relapse. Charlotte's death was widely mourned. Following her death, William married on 24 April 1583, his fourth and last wife, Louise de Coligny, by whom he had a son Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange.

      William's brother John, who had initially opposed the marriage, paid tribute to Charlotte as a wife "so distinguished by her virtue, her piety, her great intelligence, in sum as perfect as he (William) could desire her".