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Madame de Lamballe was from a younger branch of the House of Savoy. She was born in Turin. In 1767 she was made to marry the Prince de Lamballe, a young degenerate, son of the Duke of Penthièvre, grandson of Louis XIV by his father, the Count of Toulouse, who was legitimised in France. In 1768, she became a widow. She was nineteen years old. Having met the Dauphine, she became friends with her, and when Marie-Antoinette became Queen of France in 1774, she appointed Madame de Lamballe as superintendent of her household. Her role was above all to organise the entertainment for the Sovereign.

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