1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gontaut, Marie Joséphine Louise, Duchesse de

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GONTAUT, MARIE JOSÉPHINE LOUISE, Duchesse de (1773–1857), was born in Paris on the 3rd of August 1773, daughter of Augustin François, comte de Montaut-Navailles, who had been governor of Louis XVI. and his two brothers when children. The count of Provence (afterwards Louis XVIII.) and his wife stood sponsors to Joséphine de Montaut, and she shared the lessons given by Madame de Genlis to the Orleans family, with whom her mother broke off relations after the outbreak of the Revolution. Mother and daughter emigrated to Coblenz in 1792; thence they went to Rotterdam, and finally to England, where Joséphine married the marquis Charles Michel de Gontaut-Saint-Blacard. They returned to France at the Restoration, and resumed their place at court. Madame de Gontaut became lady-in-waiting to Caroline, duchess of Berry, and, on the birth of the princess Louise (Mlle d’Artois, afterwards duchess of Parma), governess to the children of France. Next year the birth of Henry, duke of Bordeaux (afterwards known as the comte de Chambord), added to her charge the heir of the Bourbons. She remained faithful to his cause all her life. Her husband died in 1822, and in 1827 she was created duchesse de Gontaut. She followed the exiled royal family in 1830 to Holyrood Palace, and then to Prague, but in 1834, owing to differences with Pierre Louis, duc de Blacas, who thought her comparatively liberal views dangerous for the prince and princess, she received a brusque congé from Charles X. Her twin daughters, Joséphine (1796–1844) and Charlotte (1796–1818), married respectively Ferdinand de Chabot, prince de Léon and afterwards duc de Rohan, and François, comte de Bourbon-Busset. She herself wrote in her old age some naïve memoirs, which throw an odd light on the pretensions of the “governess of the children of France.” She died in Paris in 1857.

See her Memoirs (Eng. ed., 2 vols., 1894), and Lettres inédites (1895).