Saturday, 27 October 2012

5 sisters, 1 king

Louis XV of France
Louis, Marquis de Nesle et de Mailly, Prince of Orange (1689-1767) and his wife Armande Felice de la Porte Mazarin (1691-1729) had five daughters, four of which all became the consecutive mistresses of King Louis from 1732 to 1745.

Louise Julie
Louise Julie (1710-51) was the eldest of the sisters, she married her cousin Louis Alexandre de Mailly, Comte de Mailly (1694-1743) on 31st May 1726. Not long after her marriage, she was noticed by the king and was permitted by her husband to become his mistress in 1732. It was not until 1738 that she was given the title of 'maitresse en titre', meaning that she was the official royal mistress. She did not use her position at court to become involved in poltics. After the death of her sister Pauline, Louise was devastated and began washing the feet of the poor in penitence. When her sister Marie became the king's mistress, she demanded that Louise be dismissed from court so that she could be recognised as the 'maitresse en titre'. Louis had become weary of Louise's tears and reproaches and so agreed to Marie's demands; Louise's post as dame du palais to the queen was taken from her and she was ordered to leave the royal court. Louise became quite religious and found refuge in a convent.
Pauline Felicite
Pauline Felicite (1712-41) wrote to her sister Louise Julie in 1738 and requested to come to the royal court, upon arrival she began to seduce the king and he fell in love with her. She became a mistress of the king as well as her elder sister. Pauline was described as being taller, louder and wittier than her older sister, more ambitious and had a great desire for money and political influence; however her arrogance meant she was hated by the court and the people.The king gave her many gifts, including the castle Choisy-le-Roi.
Choisy le Roi
To provide Pauline with a fitting status at court the king arranged for her to marry a nobleman who would not interfere in the king and Pauline's relationship; on the 28th September 1739 Pauline married Jean Baptiste Felix Hubert de Ventimille, Marquis de Ventimille, Comte de Luc (b.1720), who soon after the wedding left France. Pauline became pregnant by the king, and gave birth to a son Louis, Duc de Luc in 1741. While giving birth, Pauline suffered convulsions and died. Her body was placed at Lit-de-parade in Versailles, but during the night the guards left the room to drink and a mob broke in and mutilated the body. Her son Louis was said to resemble his father the king and was nicknamed 'Demi Louis', he was raised by his aunt Louise with the king taking care of his needs financially but never paid him much attention.
Marie Anne
Marie Anne (1717-44) was the youngest of the sisters. On the 19th June 1734 Marie married Jean Baptiste Louis, Marquis de La Tournelle (1728-40). After the death of her sister Pauline, the king's best friend the Duc de Richelieu began to look for a new mistress for the king, as he did not want Louise to regain the king's affections; Richelieu decided upon Marie Anne.
At a masked ball on Shrove Tuesday 1742, Richelieu introduced Marie to the king, however at first Marie rejected the king's advances as she already had a lover and didn't want to give him up; the Duc d'Agenois. Jealous, the king sent the Duc d'Agenois to war in Italy against the Austrians, however he returned only wounded. Richelieu was Agenois' uncle, and so to help the king in his suit, had his nephew go to Languedoc, where he had arranged for a woman to seduce him. Agenois fell for the young woman and they exchanged passionate love letters; the young woman sent those she received to Richelieu who brought them to the attention of Marie. As a result, Marie was furious with her lover and so turned her attentions to the king. In return for becoming his mistress she demanded the king remove her elder sister, his official mistress, from court and give her the title and also granted Marie the title of Duchess of Chateauroux. Marie aided the court faction which brought France against Austria in the War of the Austrian Succession, and also persuaded the king to take the field himself in pursuit of military glory, and in June 1744 King Louis allowed Marie to join him with his army in the Austrian Netherlands. In August 1744 Louis fell critically ill while in Metz and under advisement from priests sent Marie away, however she soon returned to him when he recovered.
Diane Adelaide
Diane Adelaide (1713-60) married in January 1742 to Louis de Brancas, Duc de Lauraguais, Duc et pair de Villars (1714-93) and she was his second wife. She lacked intelligence, once saying that "my husband cheated on me, so I'm not even sure to be the mother of my children", therefore she was not seen as much of a rival by her sister Marie who kept her as a companion at court. It was rumoured that Marie often suggested a menage a trois between herself, the king and Diane, as Diane was already the king's mistress too. After the death of Marie, Diane was the king's most prominent mistress, however this ended after only a few months until he became infatuated with his next royal mistress Madame de Pompadour.
Hortense Felicite
Hortense Felicite (1715-99) was the only one of the sisters to not become a mistress of the king. She married in 1739 Francois-Marie de Fouilleuse, Marquis de Flavacourt (1708-63). The couple had two children together; Augustus Frederick (1739-62) and Adelaide (1742-59). It was proposed after her sister Marie's death that Hortense become the king's mistress, however her husband was possessive and jealous and would not allow it; he threatened to kill his wife if she became 'a whore like her sisters'. Hortense became a close, lifelong friend of the queen and of Madame du Barry the king's final royal mistress.