Anne Marie Louise d'Orléans, duchesse de Montpensier (1627
), known as "La Grande Mademoiselle", or simply "Mademoiselle
," was a French
noblewoman, general, and author.
Anne Marie Louise d'Orléans was born in Paris, the daughter of Gaston, Duc d'Orléans, the brother of King Louis XIII. Her mother Marie de Bourbon, the former Duchesse de Montpensier, died when Mademoiselle was a week old, making her the richest heiress in France.
Mademoiselle spent much of her early life scheming against her cousin, King Louis XIV. Several of Europe's greatest royalty were considered as potential husbands for her, including Charles II of England, the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III, and Louis XIV himself. But before she could marry Mademoiselle and her father became involved in the Fronde (1650-1653), a revolt led by some of France's leading nobles, including the Prince de Condé, against Louis XIV and his minister Mazarin.
In March of 1652, Mademoiselle personally led an army that drove the King's forces from Orléans. In July she commanded the Bastille in Paris, ordering its guns to be turned on the King's troops as they sought to destroy Condé's army at Porte St. Antoine. When the king returned victorious to Paris that October, however, she and her father fled into exile.
While in exile, Mademoiselle took up writing, composing two short novels - Vie de Mme. de Fouquerolles (1653) and La Princesse de Paphlagonie (1659) - and a volume of literary portraits, including one of Louis XIV, which was published in 1659 under the name of her secretary, Jean Regnauld de Segrais. In 1657 she returned to court but was banished again in 1662 for refusing the King's order to marry Alfonso VI of Portugal.
By 1669 Mademoiselle had again returned to France, and had fallen in love with the Duc de Lauzun, who was greatly beneath her in rank. In 1670 the King reluctantly agreed to their marriage but soon changed his mind, imprisoning Lauzun in 1671. Mademoiselle finally managed to buy Lauzun's release in 1681 and secretly married him a year later. But the lovers had apparently changed after ten years of separation, the marriage did not last, and the couple separated in 1684.
Mademoiselle spent the rest of her life doing religious and charitable works and composing her memoirs. She died peacefully in 1693, at the age of 66.