Elizabeth Charlotte, duchess of Orleans, born in Heidelberg, May 27,1652, died at St. Cloud, Dec. 8, 1722. She was a daughter of the elector Charles Louis of the Palatinate, and so homely that a duke of Courland who had been betrothed to her refused to marry her. After embracing Catholicism she became the second wife (Nov. 16, 1671) of Philip, duke of Orleans, brother of Louis XIV. At the French court she became distinguished for her integrity and intellect, as well as for her blunt-ness and eccentricity. She had a cordial hatred for Mme. de Maintenon, and opposed the marriage of her son (the future regent) with Mlle, de Blois, the king's natural daughter. Saint-Simon gives an amusing account of the energetic manner in which she displayed her feelings on the occasion by slapping her son in the face in the presence of the whole court. She often attended Louis XIV. to the chase, and the king enjoyed her wit and originality and esteemed her truthful character. Her predilection for the German language and literature increased the intercourse of French with German scholars, especially with Leibnitz, one of her principal favorites.
Her claims to the Palatinate, however, proved disastrous for Germany, resulting in the devastation of that country by the armies of Louis XIV. (1688-'93). She wrote various memoirs, which have been several times translated and published in France. Her posthumous letters were also translated into French from the German, and published by P. G. Brunet in 1853; and into English, edited by Holland (2 vols., London, 1867-'72).