ELIZABETH, MADAME [Elisabeth Philippine Marie Hélène of France] (1764-1794), commonly called Madame Elizabeth, daughter of Louis the Dauphin and Marie Josephine of Saxony, and sister of Louis XVI., was born at Versailles on the 3rd of May 1764. Left an orphan at the age of three, she was brought up by Madame de Mackau, and had a residence at Montreuil, where she gave many proofs of her benevolent character. She refused all offers of marriage so that she might remain by the side of her brother, whom she loved passionately. At the outset of the Revolution she foresaw the gravity of events, and refused to leave the king, whom she accompanied in his flight on the 20th of June 1792, and with whom she was arrested at Varennes. She was present at the Legislative Assembly when Louis was suspended, and was imprisoned in the Temple with the royal family. By the execution of the king and the removal of Marie Antoinette to the Conciergerie, Madame Elizabeth was deprived of her companions in the Temple prison, and on the 9th of May 1794 she was herself transferred to the Conciergerie, and haled before the revolutionary tribunal. Accused of assisting the king's flight, of supplying émigrés with funds, and of encouraging the resistance of the royal troops on the 10th of August 1792, she was condemned to death, and executed on the 10th of May 1794. Like her brother, she had all the domestic virtues, and, as was to be expected of a sister of Louis XVI., she was in favour of absolutist principles. Hers was one of the most touching tragedies of the Revolution; she perished because she was the sister of the king.
The Mémoires de Madame Elisabeth (Paris, 1858), by F. de Barghon and Fort-Rion, are of doubtful authenticity; and the collection of letters and documents published in 1865 by F. Feuillet de Conches must be used with caution (see the bibliographical note to the article Marie Antoinette). See le Comte A.F.C. Ferrand, Eloge historique de Madame Elisabeth (1814, containing 94 letters; 2nd ed., 1861, containing additional letters, but correspondence mutilated); Du Fresne de Beaucourt, Etude sur Madame Elisabeth (Paris, 1864); A. de Beauchesne, Vie de Madame Elisabeth (1869); La comtesse d'Armaillé, Madame Elisabeth (Paris, 1886); Madame d'Arvor, Madame Elisabeth (Paris, 1898); and Hon. Mrs Maxwell-Scott, Madame Elizabeth of France (1908).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)