Madame de Maintenon

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Maintenon, Françoise d'Aubigné, Marquise de (1635–1719)

Before setting off, however, she met Madame de Montespan , who was secretly already the king's lover. In , when Madame de Montespan's second child by Louis XIV was born, she placed the baby with Madame Scarron in a house on Rue de Vaugirard , and provided her with a large income and staff of servants. Due to her hard work, the King rewarded her with , livres , and she purchased the property at Maintenon in At court, she was now known as Madame de Maintenon.

There would be great pleasure in being loved by her," said the king. He probably asked her to become his mistress at that time. Though she later claimed she did not yield to his advances "Nothing is so clever as to conduct one's self irreproachably," [9] she wrote to a friend , some historians doubt that she dared refuse the King at a time when her position remained very insecure.

In , the king made Madame de Maintenon second Mistress of the Robes to his daughter-in-law, the Dauphine. Madame de Maintenon proved a good influence on the king. Owing to the disparity in their social status, the marriage was morganatic , meaning that Madame de Maintenon was not openly acknowledged as the King's wife and did not become Queen. No official documentation of the marriage exists, but that it took place is nevertheless accepted by historians.

In his memoirs, the Duc de Saint-Simon himself only a boy at the time of the event wrote the following:. Bontems, governor of Versailles, chief valet on duty, and the most confidential of the four, was present at this mass, at which the monarch and La Maintenon were married in presence of Harlay, Archbishop of Paris, as diocesan, of Louvois both of whom drew from the King a promise that he would never declare this marriage , and of Montchevreuil.

The satiety of the honeymoon, usually so fatal, and especially the honeymoon of such marriages, only consolidated the favour of Madame de Maintenon. Soon after, she astonished everybody by the apartments given to her at Versailles, at the top of the grand staircase facing those of the King and on the same floor. From that moment the King always passed some hours with her every day of his life; wherever she might be she was always lodged near him, and on the same floor if possible.

The Marquise de Montespan , who had preceded Madame de Maintenon as the King's mistress, in her memoirs wrote the following about the marriage:. The following week, Madame de Maintenon After the ceremony, which took place at an early hour, and even by torchlight, there was a slight repast in the small apartments. The same persons, taking carriages, then repaired to Maintenon, where the great ceremony, the mass, and all that is customary in such cases were celebrated.

Louis XIV could take his choice amongst the most beautiful women at his court and had for years enjoyed the famed beauty of Madame de Montespan. In comparison, it was not Madame de Maintenon's looks that attracted the greatest attention but rather her strict sense of religion. The Duc de Saint-Simon guesses that she must have been beautiful in her youth - despite not knowing her then.

Louis XIV & Madame de Maintenon's all kisses (Versailles)

However, in the years he did "know" her he mentions more her mental capacities rather than her physical ones. She has left us a rather good description of her friend at the time. Her eyes were generally considered to be one of her greater features. Even Elizabeth-Charlotte of the Palatinate - Madame de Maintenon's great enemy - admitted that the royal mistress possessed very fine eyes. This close-up shows both her dark eyes as well as her - by then - very dark hair. However, it is interesting that her hair appears to have become a deeper brown over the years. Her figure, too, was considered "full" - that is it was the ideal of the age.

While his financial situation was precarious, his charm, wit, and literary skills soon brought him attention from the royal court. After the death of Louis XIII , Scarron received a pension from Anne of Austria and from that point on held nightly banquets and entertainments in his apartments. This was partly based upon mutual feelings of sympathy since both of them were lonely people who felt unloved and unwanted.

Within months after their first meeting, Scarron proposed marriage. The eight years of her marriage to Scarron were happy ones.

Madame Scarron

Their house was visited daily by witty and intelligent aristocratic women and men who attended her husband's literary salon. Scarron was at the height of his popularity, and his wife was blossoming into a beautiful young woman.


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Her desire not to be rich was realized when Scarron died on October 6, Fortunately, her husband's reputation enabled her to continue to receive the royal pension from Anne of Austria. Devoted to her women friends, she was a popular guest at their salons, where she counseled and advised them on various household matters.

She had no desire to remarry, and her continued aspiration was to be liked and esteemed. Her life changed forever, however, when she was called upon to look after King Louis XIV's illegitimate children. Like most royal marriages, however, it was based upon neither mutual love nor attraction but was instead the final component of a peace treaty with Spain.

Consequently, Louis did not take his marriage vows seriously and continued to have a series of sexual liaisons with other women. One woman, Madame de Montespan , managed to keep the king's interest and remained his mistress for 13 years. Tall, handsome and intense, Louis XIV took his office seriously.

Believing that he was God's divine representative on earth, Louis left no aspect of his government alone and followed a strict daily work routine. Having experienced civil warfare and upheaval during the early years of his reign, he was determined to unite the country and ensure that no further opportunities for rebellion would arise. As a result, Louis created an administrative apparatus which included not only an elaborate system of spies but also the largest army in Europe.

At the palace of Versailles, a ritualized court life was established in order to keep. More important, attendance at court kept them far away from their provincial lands where secret plots could be hatched. Finally, the king engaged in a series of foreign wars in an attempt to expand the borders of France.

Françoise d'Aubigné, Marquise de Maintenon - Wikipedia

This situation changed in when Louis had the royal children moved to the palace of St. To someone so reserved and pious, the ritual, luxury, extravagance and intrigue of Louis XIV's court was not only shocking but difficult to live with. Germain not only by her confessor but, more significantly, by several high-ranking members of the Catholic Church. Noticing that Louis was becoming increasingly interested in the year-old widow, they encouraged her to continue living at court in the hopes that she would have a positive moral influence on the king.

For the next several years, Madame de Maintenon's life at court revolved around teaching and caring for the king's children. Although she had been friends with Madame de Montespan, now that they were in closer proximity to one another, the differences of opinion they held regarding the upbringing of Louis' children surfaced. They openly disagreed and fought, often to the point of tears. Madame de Montespan was under additional pressure due to the church's remonstrances to the king that he give her up.


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The Montespan-Louis XIV relationship showed signs of stress from although it did not end until Rumors circulating at the time placed the blame for Louis' coolness towards his mistress on his new-found affection for Madame de Maintenon. Of Madame de Maintenon's feelings towards the king, even less is known. Although she left over 4, surviving letters, only two of them were from Louis XIV; she destroyed the rest he wrote to her. Even though it is well-known that she began corresponding with the king in , the contents of those letters will never be known.

By , the king's infatuation with Madame de Montespan came to an end. She was now no longer responsible for the king's illegitimate children but held a more prestigious and important role at court. Sometime after this appointment, she finally became Louis' mistress. Under her influence, the king's behavior changed. He began to pay more attention to his estranged wife, whom he had ignored for the past 20 years.

More significantly, he never took another mistress and remained faithful to Madame de Maintenon for the next 35 years. In most instances, a widowed king normally chose another royal princess for his second wife.