Claude of Lotharingia
Claude of Lotharingia (19th of the Sun’s Smile, 1596 - 11th of Snow’s Maiden, 1631), who was also known as Claude Henriette, Claude d’Amaury and monikered ‘L’Impératrice’ by her contemporaries, was an Empress-Consort of Oren as the only wife of John V, Emperor of Oren.
She was the youngest of the “Lotharingian Sisters”, a set of three sisters from House d’Amaury that were all wed to prominent human monarchs in rapid succession.
Family and Childhood
Claude Henriette d’Amaury was born minutes after her twin brother, Hughes I of Lotharingia, on the 19th of the Sun’s Smile, 1596, in Metz, then the capital city of the Kingdom of Lotharingia. Her father and mother was King John I of Lotharingia and his Horen wife, Charlotte Sophia of Alstion, the only daughter of Emperor John III of Oren. Claude would be King John and Queen Charlotte’s sixth child, third daughter, and last child.
Claude had six siblings, Lothar I of Lotharingia, Marie Therese d’Amaury, Prince Philip Owyn of Lotharingia, Eleanor Alexandra, and her twin brother, King Hughes I of Lotharingia. It is attested by many who were a part of the court of her father, John I of Lotharingia, that Claude was adored by every member of her family, her mother and father doted on her constantly, and, apparently her siblings, who were all older than her, were very protective of the girl. She was also affectionately called ‘Claudette’ by almost everyone who resided at the royal court of Lotharingia.
After Claude finished her schooling in Aeldin, which took place at a highly exclusive finishing school for noblewomen named Brillantmont, Claude was encouraged to return to Metz by her family. The exact date of Claude’s return is unknown, but, it is known she arrived only a couple of months before the sixth return of Oren. Claude apparently spent the first few weeks of her stay in Metz in the constant company of her mother, Charlotte of Alstion, two of her five older siblings, King Hughes and Eleanor Alexandra, and Hughes’ new wife, Mary Elizabeth of Leone. It is incorrectly believed that around this time King Hughes offered up his twin sister to the newly installed Emperor John V of Oren, even though it would be months after the death of Hughes that talks began involving a possible betrothal between Claude and John V.
Claude and one of her older sisters, Eleanor Alexandra, attended the coronation of John V where the two sisters allegedly saw the flayed body of one of their brothers, King Hughes, and wept. Whether or not the story of Claude weeping over the mangled body of her twin brother is true or not, it is known that Claude was devastated after the death of Hughes, and she went through a deep, albeit short period of mourning.
After it was discovered that Eleanor Alexandra, one of Claude’s older sisters, was plotting with unknown individuals with the intention of seeing herself married to John V and made the Empress-Consort of Oren, Eleanor’s enemies at the Lotharingian royal court decided to act quickly by hastily marching to Auguston, then the capital city of the Orenian Empire, to offer up Claude’s hand in marriage to John V. It is believed that John V was initially reluctant when it came to accepting the offer of the Lotharingians, until Claude was presented to him, and it is said that after he was able to lay his eyes on Claude, he immediately stated that Claude was his betrothed and that they were to be married soon.
In the early morning hours of the 9th of Malin’s Welcome, 1614, Claude arrived in the outskirts of the city of Auguston, then the capital of the Orenian Empire, where she was stripped of all of her clothing and possessions and made to wear a wedding gown made in the colors of the House of Horen, purple and black, in front of all of the ladies of the imperial court in a heavily guarded tent. She was forced to relinquish her belongings and clothing simply because they belonged to the Lotharingian court, and many at the imperial court thought an Orenian empress should not possess any belongings from a foreign court. After the ceremony at the border concluded, Claude was escorted into a new carriage that bore the insignia of the House of Horen. It is attested by many that were there that day that when Claude entered the capital city, she was greeted with much fanfare and her carriage was weighed down with gifts from the various commoners that welcomed her to Auguston. It is said that Claude donned a large smile while waving to the crowds. After she arrived at the cathedral, she and John V were married in a formal ceremony that went relatively smoothly until one of Claude’s siblings, Eleanor Alexandra, controversially exclaimed “Long may she reign!” after John and Claude were announced as husband and wife for the first time. After the ceremony had concluded, John and Claude embraced each other and hurriedly made their way out of the cathedral to greet the crowds. Many were convinced that the imperial couple were very much in love with each other.
Empress-Consort of Oren
Soon after the wedding, Claude became pregnant. The days leading up to the birth of her only child, John, Prince of Alstion, were very happy for Claude. She enjoyed the role of empress and was allegedly a very gracious and effective hostess. It is widely attested by many at the imperial court that Claude was an exceptional empress and a good example of what an Orenian noblewoman should be. She supposedly enjoyed a very good relationship with her Horen siblings-in-law, and not only was she beloved by the vast majority of Orenians, both noble and commoners alike, Claude’s husband, John V, adored her and frequently embraced her in public and showered her with expensive gifts.
Claude gave birth to the only child she would ever have, John, Prince of Alstion, on the 12th of Snow’s Maiden, 1615. Bells rang almost everywhere in the Orenian Empire for nearly two consecutive days in honor of John and Claude’s child. Everyone was very happy that the new empire now had an heir. It is widely attested that John V was ecstatic upon finding out that his beloved wife had given birth to a boy and he dropped everything he was doing just so that he could visit Claude and his son.
After the fanfare surrounding the birth of Claude’s son began to die down, many outside and inside of the imperial court started to plot against Claude’s husband, John V. Members of the Orenian nobility, such as Stephen I of Haense, did not want an autocratic emperor leading the Orenian Empire. Claude began to worry about the future of her husband and her son, but, whenever she tried to meddle in politics, she was politely told by her husband and his close friends to stop. She eventually relented and decided to completely devote herself to setting an example for the noblewomen of Oren to follow, something that she allegedly did with ease. Around this time, she started to frequently visit her homeland, Lotharingia, and she was eventually given the moniker ‘L’Impératrice’ by her Auvergnian-speaking countrymen.
When her only son, John, Prince of Alstion, died of consumption in 1619 at the age of three, the Orenian Empire was left without a crown prince or an heir whose claim to the throne of Oren could not be challenged. Some accounts say that after the death of John V’s son and heir, his enemies moves grew bolder. It is widely attested that after the death of her only child, Claude became severely depressed and confined herself to her chambers for the last few months of her husband’s reign. It is unknown if Claude tried to get pregnant again after the death of her son, it is assumed that she did not by many, due to how dejected she felt the months after her only child’s death. John V was supposedly very emotionally supportive of his wife during this time in her life.
Death of John V
John V died in battle on the 8th of The Grand Harvest, 1619, during the Siege of Trier. It is accounted by many at the imperial court that after Claude was informed that her husband was dead, Claude, dressed in all black, seeing as she was still mourning her son, fell to her knees and let out a piercing screech that was allegedly heard all throughout the palace. Claude refused to eat anything for two days and supposedly slept in a closet full of her husband’s clothes instead of sleeping in a bed for three nights, until her mother, sister, and great-aunt, Charlotte Sophia, Eleanor Alexandra, and Eleanore Theresa, came to Auguston and slowly escorted her all the way back to Metz. When the commoners caught sight of the disheveled widow, who was once the young empress they welcomed cheerfully, almost every single one of them stopped what they were doing in order to bow or curtsy to the noblewoman in silence.
Some years after the death of her first husband and only child, Claude had decided to permanently reside in Metz with her family. She was still known as ‘L’Impératrice’ in the city, and her family had started to call her ‘Claudette’ once more, especially after one of her sisters, Eleanor Alexandra, got married to a Barbanov and left Metz. It was around the time that Eleanor was married when Claude’s cousin, Leufroy Augustus d’Amaury, who was serving as the Archduke of Lorraine, wanted a wife. Many at the Lotharingian court suggested that Leufroy look no further for a wife than his very own cousin, Claude, who was at the time still relatively young and allegedly beautiful, even though Claude made it obvious to all that she did not wish to remarry.
When Claude’s mother, Charlotte Sophia, decided to embark on a trip to Aeldin, Claude was left without someone that could protect her from the advances of her cousin, Leufroy. On the 16th of Malin’s Welcome, 1621, Claude was forced by Leufroy to marry him. Not much is known about Leufroy and Claude’s life together seeing as only a couple of weeks after the wedding, Claude fled Metz with the help of her great-aunt, Eleanore Theresa. It is assumed that the marriage between Leufroy and Claude was never consummated, seeing as there are no reports of Claude ever being pregnant again past 1615, and also simply because Claude made it obvious that she did not wish to be married to Leufroy.
After fleeing to the Duchy of Alba, an Aeldinic duchy held by the descendants of her great-aunt, Eleanore Theresa, Claude lived a quiet and simplistic life with her mother, Charlotte Sophia, at the ducal court of Alba. It is unknown how Claude reacted when she was told that her second husband, Leufroy Augustus, had died, but, it is known that she rejoiced after finding out that her twin brother’s son, Lothar Augustus, became the Archduke of Lorraine after Leufroy died. It is rumored around this time that Claude planned on returning to Metz.
The last major recorded event that would happen in the life of Claude would be when she ran into her eldest sister, Marie Therese, the wife of King Joseph Staunton and the former Queen-Consort of Courland, in the royal court of Banardia. It is said that Claude and Marie, sisters who had not seen one another in a decade, wept in each other's arms in front of the whole of the Banardian court.
On the 11th of Snow’s Maiden, 1631, Claude died in her sleep of hypothermia during a carriage ride from Velling, the capital city of the Kingdom of Banardia, to Walden, the capital city of Alba. It is not known why Claude decided to leave the royal court of Banardia in the dead of winter, but, it is known that the two women she was visiting Velling with, her mother, Charlotte Sophia, and her cousin, Princess Augusta Maria, were still residing in Velling and did not know Claude had left. Many believe that the date of Claude’s death is the reason why she would embark on such a precarious journey during the winter, seeing as the day Claude died, the 11th of Snow’s Maiden, is only one day before the birthday of Claude’s only child, 12th of Snow’s Maiden. Claude died at thirty-five. She is buried in a tomb in Alba, beside the mausoleum for her de Morvelyn relatives.
|John-Peter, Prince of Alstion||1616||1619||Unwed||Heir of Oren, died of consumption.|