Madame Élisabeth: The Life of Louis XVI’s Sister

1 October 2017

On 10 May 1794, the thirty year old Madame Élisabeth of France, youngest sister of Louis XVI and one of the last members of the royal family to still be living in France, was loaded into a tumbrel and taken along with several other prisoners from the formidable Conciergerie prison to the Place de la Révolution, where she was guillotined in sight of the Tuileries palace where she had lived with her family after their departure from Versailles in October 1789. Although the princess had been given more than one opportunity to escape the horrors of the French Revolution, she had insisted upon remaining with her brother and his family, supporting them with a steadfast loyalty that would eventually lead to her death on the scaffold, despite the efforts of Robespierre and other prominent revolutionaries to save her.

This engaging new biography of Madame Élisabeth follows her journey from a pampered childhood amongst the splendours and intrigues of Versailles to the bloody horrors of the Terror in Paris, when she was forced to draw upon all of her considerable courage and faith in order to support her family as their position became increasingly precarious – endangering her own life in the process. Usually overshadowed by her more celebrated sister-in-law Marie Antoinette, this  book finally turns the spotlight on to Élisabeth, revealing a highly intelligent, resourceful, courageous and endearing young woman who bore close witness to the final decadent days of the ancien régime and the bloodbath that followed.