Christine Marie of France

Christine Marie of France
Christine of France
Christine Marie in 1633 holding onto the Savoyard Coronet; in the background is the Castello del Valentino where she lived from 1630
Duchess of Savoy
Reign 26 July 1630 – 7 October 1637
Spouse Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy
Louise Christine, Princess Maurice of Savoy
Francis Hyacinth, Duke of Savoy
Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy
Margaret Yolande, Duchess of Parma
Henrietta Adelaide, Electress of Bavaria
Full name
Christine Marie
House House of Savoy
House of Bourbon
Father Henry IV of France
Mother Marie de' Medici
Born 10 February 1606(1606-02-10)
Palais du Louvre, Paris, France
Died 27 December 1663(1663-12-27) (aged 57)
Palazzo Madama, Turin, Savoy
Burial Basilica of Sant'Andrea, Vercelli, Savoy

Christine of France (Christine Marie; 10 February 1606 – 27 December 1663) was the sister of Louis XIII and the Duchess of Savoy by marriage. At the death of her husband Victor Amadeus I in 1637, she acted as regent of Savoy between 1637 and 1648.


Princess of France

Christine was born in the Palais du Louvre in Paris, she was the third child and second daughter of King Henry IV of France and his second wife, the Italian Marie de' Medici. As a daughter of the king, she was a Fille de France. She was a younger sister of Louis XIII of France and Elisabeth of France. She was also an older sister of Nicholas Henri, Duke of Orléans, Gaston, Duke of Orléans and Henrietta Maria of France. Christine was a sister-in-law of Philip IV of Spain through Élisabeth and of Charles I of England through Henrietta Maria.

After the marriage of her older sister Elisabeth in 1615 to the future Philip IV of Spain, Christine took on the honorary title of Madame Royale indicating her status as the eldest and most senior unmarried daughter at the court of her father. After her marriage, the style went to her younger sister Henrietta Maria of France.

Princess of Piedmont

She married Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy, on 10 February 1619 at the Louvre in the capital. From 1619 till her husbands accession, she was known as the Princess of Piedmont. He was a son of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy and Infanta Catherine Michelle of Spain. Caterina Micaela was in turn a daughter of Philip II of Spain and Elisabeth of Valois. Elisabeth was a daughter of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici. She was said to be volatile and frivolous. Educated at the French court, she introduced French culture to the court of Savoy; she later lived at the Palazzo Madama which she had rebuilt. She was also the driving force for the reconstruction of the Castello del Valentino as well as the additions to the Royal Palace of Turin. She would also later own Vigno di Madama Reale, old residence of her brother in law Maurice of Savoy.

She did as much as she could to ensure that her court rivalled in splendour that of her sister Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I of England. The sisters would have some what of a rivalry. Christine encouraged her husband to claim his right to the rather empty title of King of Cyprus and Jerusalem, a 'kingdom' which led to him being tagged as 'a king without a crown'. She did not keep it a secret that she would be a Queen rather than a Sovereign Duchess; she also wanted to transform the minor Duchy of Savoy into a little France.

Duchess and Regent of Savoy

Victor Amadeus became Duke after the death of his father in 26 July 1630. When her husband died in 1637, she was created regent in the name of her son Francis Hyacinth. At the death of Francis Hyacinth in 1638, her second son Charles Emmanuel II succeeded and Christine retained the regency. Both Prince Maurice and his younger brother Prince Thomas of Savoy disputed the power of their sister-in-law, and her French entourage. When the first heir Francis Hyacinth died in 1638, both brothers started the Piedmontese Civil War, with Spanish support. The two parties were called "principisti" (supporters of the Princes) and "madamisti" (supporters of Madama Reale). Christine was notorious as much for her capricious rule as for her many lovers, a trait from her father Henry IV who was famed for his many lovers also.[1]

After four years of fighting, Christine was victorious, thanks to French military support. Not only did she keep the Duchy for her son, she also prevented France getting too much power in the Duchy. When peace was concluded in 1642, Maurice married his fourteen-year old niece Louise Christine, abandoning the title of cardinal and asking dispensation from Pope Paul V. Maurice became governor of Nice. Christine of France stayed in firm control of the Duchy of Savoy, until her son could follow in her footsteps; her formal regency ended in 1648, but she remained de facto in charge until her death.

She lived an uninhibited private life and had relationships with the French Ambassador, Marini, her brother-in-law, Maurizio, and Count Filippo d'Aglié, a handsome learned and courageous man who remained faithful to her all her life. On 4 March 1663 she saw her son Charles Emmanuel marry her niece Françoise Madeleine d'Orléans in a proxy wedding. Françoise Madeleine was the youngest surviving daughter of Gaston, Duke of Orléans, her youngest brother. She died at the Palazzo Madama, Turin in 1663 at the age of 57 and was buried at the Basilica of Sant'Andrea. She had outlived 4 of her seven children.

Françoise Madeleine died in 1664 and her son later married another cousin, Marie Jeanne of Savoy. Marie Jeanne would give birth to Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia who would later marry another French Princess (and member of the House of Orléans) Anne Marie d'Orléans. 17 years after her death, in 1680, her granddaughter Victoria of Bavaria via her third daughter Princess Henriette Adelaide of Savoy, would marry her older brother's grandson Louis de France known as 'the Fat' and Monseigneur. Christine thus became a direct ancestress of the Spanish branch of the House of Bourbon via Victoria's second son Philip V of Spain.

Revealed on NBC's 'Who Do You Think You Are?' that one of her descendants is model/actress Brooke Shields.[2]


  1. Stillborn son (1621)
  2. Prince Louis Amadeus of Savoy (1622–1628)
  3. Princess Luisa Christina of Savoy (27 July 1629 - 14 May 1692) married Prince Maurice of Savoy no issue.
  4. Francis Hyacinth, Duke of Savoy (14 September 1632 - 4 October 1638), Duke of Savoy
  5. Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy (20 June 1634 - 12 June 1675) married Françoise Madeleine d'Orléans and had no issue; secondly married Marie Jeanne of Savoy and had issue.
  6. Princess Margaret Yolande of Savoy (15 November 1635 - 29 April 1663) married Ranuccio II Farnese, Duke of Parma and died in childbirth.
  7. Princess Henriette Adelaide of Savoy (6 November 1636 - 18 March 1676) married Ferdinand Maria, Elector of Bavaria and had issue.
  8. Princess Catherine Beatrice of Savoy (6 November 1636 - 26 August 1637) died in infancy.


Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

  • 10 February 1606 – 25 November 1615 Her Highness Princess Christine of France
  • 25 November 1615 – 10 February 1619 Her Highness Madame Royale
  • 10 February 1619 – 26 July 1630 Her Highness The Princess of Piedmont
  • 26 July 1630 – 7 October 1637 Her Highness The Duchess of Savoy
  • 7 October 1637 – 27 December 1663 Her Highness The Dowager Duchess of Savoy


  1. ^ Christine de France
  2. ^ "Brooke Shields". Participant: Brooke Shields; Director: Harvey Lilley; Executive Producer: Lucy Carter. Who Do You Think You Are? - USA. BBC. BBC One, United Kingdom. 9:15pm–10pm. No. 2. "Back in New York, Brooke sets out on the trail of her very different paternal ancestry, the family of her paternal grandmother, the glamour heiress Marina Torlonia. Her journey takes her to Rome where she discovers that as bankers to the Vatican, the Torlonia family became one of the wealthiest and most influential families in 19th-century Italy. But it doesn't end there - on the trail of yet another illustrious ancestor, the mysteriously titled 'Madame Royale', Brooke heads to Paris and the very heart of French nobility."
  3. ^ Robert Knecht, Renaissance France, genealogies; Baumgartner, genealogicl tables.
Christine Marie of France
Born: 10 February 1606 Died: 27 December 1663
French nobility
Preceded by
Elisabeth of France
Madame Royale
25 November 1615 – 10 February 1619
Succeeded by
Henrietta Maria of France
Italian royalty
Preceded by
Infanta Catherine Michelle of Spain
Duchess of Savoy
26 July 1630 – 7 October 1637
Succeeded by
Françoise Madeleine d'Orléans
Preceded by
Regent of Savoy
7 October 1637 - 1648
Succeeded by
Marie Jeanne of Savoy

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