Monday, July 28, 2008

Archduchess Clotilde

Archduchess Clotilde of Austria, who died at the age 81 at her home in Budapest, on June 3, 1927, was "a real member of the Orleans-Coburgs, proud, energetic and ever anxious for the advancement of her family."
The princess was born Marie Adelaide Clotilde Amélie of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a member of the Catholic Kohary branch of the family. She was the third of five children of Prince Augustus of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Princess Clementine d'Orleans. Clotilde's siblings included two older brothers. Philipp (whose disastrous marriage to Louise of Belgium was chronicled by the media of the day), August (married to Leopoldina of Brazil), and a younger sister and brother (Amalie, the wife of Maximilian, Duke of Bavaria), and Ferdinand, who was the king of Bulgaria.
Clotilde's father was a first cousin to Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, and his older brother, Ferdinand, was the husband of Queen Maria II of Portugal.
Although there were ties to the British and Belgian cousins (King Leopold II was also a first cousin to August), the strongest connections came through the Orleans - the French royal family.
In April 1843, Prince August married Princess Clémentine at St. Cloud. This was only one of several marriages that strengthened ties between the Catholic Coburgs and the French Royal Family. Twelve years earlier. Clémentine's older sister, Louise, was married to August's uncle, King Leopold I of the Belgians. Her brother, Philippe, was married to August's sister, Victoria. (Their eldest son, Louis Philippe, was married to Isabel of Brazil, whose younger sister, Leopoldina, was married Prince August of Saxe-Coburg - Clotilde's brother.)
Thus, the strong ties between the family of King Louis Philippe and the Kohary Coburgs.
When it came to find a husband for Clotilde, the family turned toward the Habsburgs - and to the Hungarian branch of the family. Clotilde was not even eighteen-years-old when she was married to Archduke Joseph of Austria, who was the head of the Hungarian branch of the Habsburg family.
The marriage took place at Coburg on May 12, 1864.
Clotilde and Joseph were the parents of three daughters, Elisabeth (died as an infant), Marie Dorothea and Margarethe and one son, Joseph.
The family ties between the Coburgs and the Orleans continued with Maria Dorothea's marriage to Philippe, Duke of Orleans. They were second cousins, as Philippe's grandfather and Maria Dorothea's grandmother, Clementine were brother and sister.
Clotilde was especially close to her younger brother, Ferdinand, despite a fifteen year age difference.
The marriage between Maria Dorothea and Philippe was celebrated at the Hofburg on November 5, 1896 in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph II, the Queen of Portugal (Philippe's sister) and other foreign royals. The Duke of Orleans, accompanied by his uncle, the Duke of Chartres and Archduke Joseph, was the first to make the procession from the state apartments to the chapel.
The bride, ostensibly nervous, made her way to the chapel, accompanied by her mother and her future mother-in-law, the Countess of Paris, the Austrian emperor and the queen of Portugal, the Duke of Connaught (representing Queen Victoria), the Duke of Aosta and Archduchess Maria Josepha of Austria.
The Archbishop of Vienna sprinkled the bridal couple with holy water, and the Court Chaplain married the couple. The marriage, which was childless, was full of discord. In 1913, Maria Dorothea filed suit in Brussels against her husband. She charged her husband for maintenance and for reimbursement for the money she had advanced him over the years.
Although Clotilde was a party to numerous political plots, especially concerning her brother and his throne, she was unable to avoid the ascent of Bolshevism in Hungary after the first world war. When Bela Kun came to power in Hungary, the Archduchess, persecuted by the Communists, was forced to flee the country, although she eventually returned to her castle in Alcuth, where she died in June 1927.

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