Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria

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Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria, Dauphine of France (Maria Anna Christina Victoria; 28 November 1660 – 20 April 1690) was Dauphine of France by marriage to Louis, Grand Dauphin, son and heir of Louis XIV. She was known as the Dauphine Marie Anne Victoire or la Grande Dauphine. The dauphine was regarded a "pathetic" figure at the court of France, isolated and unappreciated due to the perception that she was dull, unattractive and sickly.

Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria
Dauphine of France
Duchess Maria Anna Christina Victoria of Bavaria, 'la Grande Dauphine'.
Posthumous portrait holding the coronet of a Dauphine, François de Troy
Born 28 November 1660
Munich, Bavaria
Died 20 April 1690 (aged 29)
Palace of Versailles, France
Burial Royal Basilica of Saint Denis, France
Spouse Louis, Dauphin of France
Issue Louis, Dauphin of France
Philip V of Spain
Prince Charles, Duke of Berry
Full name
Maria Anna Christine Victoria
House Wittelsbach
Father Ferdinand Maria, Elector of Bavaria
Mother Princess Henriette Adelaide of Savoy
Religion Roman Catholicism


Maria Anna was the eldest daughter of Ferdinand Maria, Elector of Bavaria and his wife Princess Henriette Adelaide of Savoy. Her maternal grandparents were Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy and Christine Marie of France, the second daughter of Henry IV of France and Marie de' Medici, thus her husband the dauphin was her second cousin.

Born in Munich, capital of the Electorate of Bavaria, Maria Anna was betrothed to the dauphin of France in 1668, at the age of eight, and was carefully educated to fulfill that role. Besides her native language of German, she was taught to speak French, Italian and Latin. She was said to have looked forward to the fate of becoming dauphine of France. Maria Anna was very close to her mother, who died in 1676. Her siblings included Violante of Bavaria, future wife of Ferdinando de' Medici as well as the future Elector of Bavaria, Maximilian II Emanuel.


Marie Anne Victoire de Bavi%C3%A8re, dauphine de France
Dauphine Victoire, 1680

Prior to her marriage to the dauphin, there was a proxy ceremony in Munich on 28 January 1680; the couple would meet for the first time on 7 March 1680 in Châlons-sur-Marne. She was the first dauphine of France since Mary, Queen of Scots married Francis II of France in 1558.

Upon her marriage, Maria Anna took on the rank of her husband as a Fille de France (Daughter of France); this meant that she was entitled to the style "Royal Highness" and the form of address Madame la Dauphine.

When she first arrived in France, Maria Anna made a good impression with her good French. When she entered Strasbourg, she was addressed in German, but interrupted the greeting by saying, "Gentlemen, I speak French!" The impression of her appearance, however, was not as good, and she was called "terribly ugly". Others said, that although she may not have been beautiful, she did have personal charm.

As soon as she married the dauphin, Maria Anna was the second most important woman at court after her mother-in-law, Queen Maria Theresa of Spain. When the queen died in July 1683, Maria Anna ranked as the most prominent female at court and was given the apartments of the late queen. The king expected her to perform the functions of the first lady at court, but her ill health made it very difficult for her to carry out her duties. The king was completely unsympathetic to her situation and accused her falsely of hypochondria.

Her husband took mistresses, and she lived an isolated life in her apartments, where she spoke with her friends in German, a language her husband could not understand. She was very close to a fellow German at court, Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, the wife of the king's younger brother Philippe. She was said to be depressed having to live at a court where beauty was so much prized, not being beautiful herself. She died in 1690. An autopsy revealed a multitude of internal disorders that completely vindicated her complaints of chronic and severe illness.

Maria Anna was buried at the Royal Basilica of Saint Denis.


Grand Dauphin Family
la Famille du Grand Dauphin, or the Family of the Grand Dauphin in 1687; (L-R) Louis, le Grand Dauphin himself; on the floor is Philippe de France, Duke of Anjou and future King of Spain; Maria Anna of Bavaria, la Grande Dauphine with the youngest child, Charles of France, Duke of Berry on her lap; Louis de France, Duke of Burgundy and father of Louis XV plays on the far right with an arrow


Ancestors of Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria
16. Albert V, Duke of Bavaria
8. William V, Duke of Bavaria
17. Anna of Austria
4. Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria
18. Francis I, Duke of Lorraine
9. Renata of Lorraine
19. Christina of Denmark
2. Ferdinand Maria, Elector of Bavaria
20. Charles II of Austria
10. Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor
21. Maria Anna of Bavaria
5. Maria Anna of Austria
22. William V, Duke of Bavaria
11. Maria Anna of Bavaria
23. Renata of Lorraine
1. Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria
24. Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy
12. Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy
25. Margaret of France
6. Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy
26. Philip II of Spain
13. Infanta Catherine Michelle of Spain
27. Elisabeth of Valois
3. Princess Henriette Adelaide of Savoy
28. Antoine of Bourbon
14. Henry IV of France
29. Jeanne III d'Albret
7. Princess Christine Marie of France
30. Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
15. Marie de' Medici
31. Johanna of Austria

Titles and styles

  • 28 November 1660 – 7 March 1680 Her Serene Highness Duchess Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria
  • 7 March 1680 – 20 April 1690 Her Royal Highness the Dauphine of France


  • Simone Bertière, Les Femmes du Roi-Soleil, Éditions de Fallois, 1998, ISBN 2-253-14712-5

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