Princess Louise of Belgium

Princess Louise Marie Amélie of Belgium (18 February 1858 1 March 1924) was the eldest child and daughter of King Leopold II and Queen Marie Henriette of Belgium. She was a member of the House of Wettin in the branch of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. By her marriage with her cousin Prince Philipp of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, she retained her birth titles of Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Duchess in Saxony.

Louise of Belgium
Princess Philipp of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Princess Louise, ca. 1894.
Born(1858-02-18)18 February 1858
Royal Palace, Brussels, Belgium
Died1 March 1924(1924-03-01) (aged 66)
Hotel Nassauer Hof, Wiesbaden, Germany
(m. 1875; div. 1906)
Louise Marie Amélie
HouseSaxe-Coburg and Gotha
FatherLeopold II of Belgium
MotherMarie Henriette of Austria
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Louise was born during the reign of her grandfather Leopold I of Belgium, and she was named after her grandmother Queen Louise. She married in Brussels on 4 February 1875 with her second cousin Prince Philipp. Louise and Philipp settled in Vienna, where they had two children: Leopold Clement, born in 1878, and Dorothea, born in 1881.

Louise's marriage quickly fell apart. Endowed with a strong and whole personality, she refused to submit to a husband who did not suit her and who had been imposed by the reason of state. She reacted by leading a lavish and worldly life, making the heyday of the court of Vienna where her beauty attracts. Louise was quickly preceded by a reputation for scandal to which she gave credit by leading several successive affairs before falling in love with Geza Mattachich, an aristocratic Croatian officer. Louise scandalized Europe when her husband had her declared insane and convinced the Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria to intern her in a psychiatric hospital, while Mattachich was accused of forgery and imprisoned. Released four years later, Mattachich succeeded in helping the princess escape. Both then traveled across Europe. Succeeding in proving her mental balance, Louise divorced amicably in 1906.

Louise began the life of a stateless person. Together with her sister Stéphanie, she filed several lawsuits against the Belgian State to recover the inheritance of their father (who died in 1909) –by whom she felt aggrieved. These trials were lost by the two princesses. However, in 1914, she managed to received a part of King Leopold II's fortune. World War I and the German defeat further impoverished Louise, who decided to publish her memoirs under the title Autour des trônes que j'ai vu tomber (Around the thrones that I saw fall) which also constitute a testimony of the life of the European courts. Prince Philippe, her ex-husband, died in 1921. In 1924, at the age of 66, Louise died in poverty, a year after her lover Mattachich. Her only surviving offspring was her daughter Dorothea, whom she no longer saw. The major memory she leaves in Belgium is the namesake Avenue Louise in Brussels.

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