Was this woman the bastard daughter of Queen Marie Therese, consort of King Louis XlV of France? This nun’s name was Sister Louise Marie Therese. She was delivered to the doorsteps of the Benedictine abbey of Moret-sur-Loing as a newborn in 1664, and remained there as a virtual prisoner until her death in 1732. She lies at the heart of a centuries old royal mystery.
According to the diaries of several senior ranking aristocrats at the court of Louis XlV, Louise Marie Therese was the product of an affair his wife had with an African dwarf named Nabo that the Ottoman Sultan had given her as a present. The official story is that in 1664 the Queen gave birth to a sickly, unattractive and unusually dark infant daughter who died within a few hours. Many courtiers at the time, including the King’s lord chamberlain and his mistresses the Mesdames de Montespan and de Maintenon, believed the child was this woman and was exchanged for a dead changeling while the real little girl was smuggled to a convent. Madame de Montespan maintained in her diary, which may have been a forgery, that Queen Marie Therese and several other members of the Royal Family visited this nun regularly at her abbey, and took a special interest in her well being.
Historians, however, find the theory concerning the Queen’s affair problematic. Versailles was hardly the place where one could have an affair without everyone knowing, and Marie Therese was known to be a very pious woman. There’s certainly no mention in anyone’s diary of a pint sized African stud named Nabo existing until after the child had been born. In her diary Madame Royale, Louis XlV’s sister-in-law, maintains that the baby was not in fact black, but just ugly, at least according to her husband. Mind you, the fact that she clearly wasn’t a witness to the birth, and that her husband had to clarify that the child wasn’t black, suggests that the rumor was already widely believed shortly after the child was born.
Shortly after the death of his Queen Consort, Louis XlV’s lord chamberlain wrote to Sister Louise’s abbey stating that the King was providing her with 300 francs a year for the rest of her life. That was an astronomical sum at the time. Why would he make such a large provision for a black woman he presumably had no connection with? Could Louis in actual fact been the nun’s father? Could the story about his wife’s affair been a cover for his own adultery with a black woman? All that is known is that this nun existed, she possessed some connection to the French Royal Family that they were desperate to hide, and the nature of this connection remains to be unravelled several centuries after her death.