Louisa Maria Teresa Stuart was the second child of King James II and his second wife, Mary of Modena. Born on 28th June 1692 at St-Germain-en-Laye, Louisa was referred to as The Princess Royal by her father’s supporters, the Jacobites.
The newborn baby was christened as Louisa Maria, Louisa in honour of King Louis XIV in response to the help he provided to King James II, and Maria was one of her mother’s names. Teresa was added later on as a confirmation name. Her father declared that Louisa was a gift sent from God. She was a consolation for her parents at their time of distress. The Glorious Revolution had just deposed James from the English throne, and he saw his daughter Queen Mary II co-ruling with her husband William of Orange, in place of King James.
Louisa was brought up in France alongside her brother, James Francis Edward later known as the ‘Old Pretender.’ She was tutored by an English Catholic priest, Father Constable, who taught the youngster Latin, history and religion. Her governess was the Countess of Middleton, wife of the Jacobite peer Charles, 2nd Earl of Middleton.
By the summer of 1701, King James was becoming seriously ill and at the age of 68, he suffered a stroke while hearing mass at the Chateau de Saint-Germain-en-Laye leaving him partially paralysed. Though James was in a bad way, he was still able to converse with his children and requested to speak to them one last time while on his deathbed, it is said he spoke the following words to Louisa Maria:
“Adieu my dear child. Serve your creator in the days of your youth. Consider virtue as the greatest ornament of your sex.”
King James II died from a seizure on 16th September 1701.
Following the death of James, many in Europe now recognised his son, James Francis Edward, as King including Louis XIV who proclaimed him King James III and VII of England, Scotland and Ireland. A proclamation that was recognised by Spain, the Papal States and Modena though one that was barely acknowledged by England. Because James was still a minor, his mother acted as his Regent. He and Louisa Maria were taken to Passy and into the care of Antoine Nompar de Caumont and the Countess of Middleton, who was still the Governess of Louisa.
During her teenage years, Louisa Maria became very popular at the French Court. She was even a guest of honour at a ball at the Chateau de Marly, ranking only after Louis XIV, her mother Mary and brother James. She began to enjoy dancing and opera, and two possible marriage matches were considered for her, Charles Duke of Berry and King Charles XII of Sweden.
The marriage was not to be however as in 1712, Louisa and her brother Edward both contracted smallpox. While James made a full recovery, Louisa sadly did not and died on the 18th April at the tender age of 18. She was buried alongside her father at the Church of English Benedictines in Paris.
The 1st Earl of Dartmouth wrote of Louisa’s death:
“Queen Anne showed me a letter wrote in the King of France’s own hand, upon the death of her sister, in which there was the highest character that ever was given to any princess of her age.”