Catherine Henriette de Bourbon

Catherine Henriette de Bourbon (11 November 1596 – 20 June 1663) was an illegitimate daughter of King Henry IV of France and his long-term maîtresse en titre Gabrielle d'Estrées. She was declared legitimate on 17 November 1596 at the Abbey of St. Ouen in Rouen and married into the Princely House of Guise.

Catherine Henriette de Bourbon
Légitimée de France
Duchess of Elbeuf
Frosne after Vary - Catherine Henriette de Bourbon, Légitimée de France.jpg
Catherine in 1659 as a widow, by P Vary
Born(1596-11-11)11 November 1596
Rouen, France
Died20 June 1663(1663-06-20) (aged 67)
Hôtel d'Elboeuf, Paris, France
SpouseCharles II, Duke of Elbeuf
Charles III, Duke of Elbeuf
François Louis, Count of Harcourt
François Marie, Prince of Lillebonne
Catherine Henriette de Bourbon, Légitimée de France
FatherHenry IV of France
MotherGabrielle d'Estrées

Early yearsEdit

Born on 11 November 1596 in Rouen, France,[1] Catherine was baptised on 17 November 1596. At her birth, Queen Elizabeth I of England sent a special ambassador who also proposed a new treaty between the two nations.

In her youth, Catherine was known as Mademoiselle de Vendôme, derived from the Duchy of Vendôme which had been in possession of the House of Bourbon since 1393. When she was just three, her 26‑year‑old mother died of an attack of eclampsia after giving birth to a stillborn child. As a result of her mother's death, Catherine Henriette inherited her wealth in her own right. Her mother's duchy, Beaufort, was given to her older brother, César.


Charles II de Lorraine duc d'Elbeuf

It was discussed that Catherine should marry Henry, Prince of Condé, but the idea was dropped. She married Duke of Elbeuf, born Charles de Lorraine at the Palais du Louvre in Paris on 20 June 1619.[2]

The dowry was 1.3 million livres and included pensions as well. Most of this money was spent and re-mortgaged for various reasons including a failed lawsuit against her brother César.[3]

As Catherine Henriette was marrying into the House of Guise, she took on the style of Highness, the Guises being foreign princes at court. After her marriage, she was known as the Légitimée-duchesse. She used to sign documents as C H. L de France – Catherine Henriette. Légitimée de France.

Catherine's husband died in Paris at the Hôtel d'Elboeuf, the family town house. She remained a widow until her own death in 1663.


References and notesEdit

  1. ^ Pitts 2009, p. 217.
  2. ^ Gerber 2012, p. 81.
  3. ^ Spangler 2009, p. 154.


  • Gerber, Matthew (2012). Bastards: Politics, Family, and Law in Early Modern France. Oxford University Press.
  • Pitts, Vincent J. (2009). Henri IV of France: His Reign and Age. The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Spangler, Jonathan (2009). The Society of Princes; the Lorraine-Guise and the conservation of power and wealth in the Seventeenth Century. Ashgate.