Louis XVIII of France - Marriage

Marriage

On 14 May 1771, Louis Stanislas married Princess Maria Giuseppina of Savoy. Marie Joséphine (as she was known in France) was a daughter of the then Duke and Duchess of Savoy, future king Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia.

A luxurious ball followed the wedding on 20 May. Louis Stanislas was repulsed by his wife, the new Countess of Provence, who was considered to be ugly, tedious and ignorant of the court at Versailles. The marriage remained unconsummated; biographers disagree about the reason, maintaining that it was due to Louis Stanislas' alleged impotence (according to biographer Antonia Fraser) or his unwillingness to sleep with his wife, due to her poor personal hygiene. She never brushed her teeth, plucked her eyebrows, or used any perfumes. At the time of his marriage, Louis Stanislas was obese and waddled instead of walked. He never exercised and continued to eat enormous amounts of food.

Despite the fact that Louis Stanislas was not infatuated with his wife, he boasted that the two enjoyed vigorous conjugal relations — such declarations were held in low esteem by courtiers at Versailles. He also proclaimed his wife to be pregnant, merely to spite Louis Auguste and his wife Archduchess Marie Antoinette of Austria, who had not yet consummated their marriage. The Dauphin and Louis Stanislas did not enjoy a harmonious relationship, and often quarrelled, as did their wives. Louis Stanislas impregnated his wife in 1774, having conquered his aversion to Marie Joséphine. However, the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. A second pregnancy in 1781 was also miscarried. The marriage was, ultimately, childless.

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