ELIZABETH CHARLOTTE (LISELOTTE), DOWAGER DUCHESS OF
ST URBAIN, Ferdinand de: Lorraine, ca.1730,
Bronze, 56 mm
Obv: Bust of Liselotte (l). ELIZ. CAR. PALAT. RHENI. D. AVREL.
MATER. FELICIT. PVBLICAE
Rev: Female standing. FECUNDITAS. CONSERVATRIX. GALLIAE.
Ref: Forrer V, p. 310, #11
This medal is similar to medal # BW354 except the reverse is not inverted.
Elizabeth Charlotte of Bavaria (Liselotte) (1652––1722), Duchess of Orleans,
was a German princess, called the Princess Palatine. The Palatinate, an
historically important area in central Europe that includes land surrounding
the Rhine, has been fought over for centuries. It is governed by an Elector
Palatine. Elizabeth Charlotte was the second wife of Louis XIV’s brother,
Philip I, Duke of Orleans (his first wife, Henrietta, sister of Charles II
of England, ended with her death by poison in 1670, presumably on order of
her husband Philip), and the sister of Charles, the Elector Palatine of the
Rhine. As Charles had died without heirs in 1685, he had been succeeded as
Elector Palatine by the head of the Zweibrucken line, Philip William of
Neuberg, the father-in-law of the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, with whom
Louis was at war. As this strengthened his adversary’s position, Louis
decided to claim that some part of the Palatine succession ought to have
gone to Charles’ sister, and Louis’ sister-in-law, Liselotte. Though the
duchess herself was not inclined to insist on her rights to this land, Louis
decided to enforce the claim. In 1688, Louis issued a manifesto setting
forth the French demands, and shortly thereafter, a French army under the
command of the dauphin (Louis XIV’s eldest son) advanced into and devastated
the Palatinate. This contributed to the onset of the War of the Grand
Alliance, which pitted an alliance of England, Holland and the Holy Roman
Empire against France. This war lasted from 1689 to 1697 and, with no clear
victor, ended with the Treaty of Ryswick.
Liselotte wrote many frank and vigorous letters which
provide a valuable insight into the social history of her time. She was the
mother of Philip II d’Orléans, regent to King Louis XV.