Monday, 11 December 2017

Cardinal Mazarin's Jewel Collection

Cardinal Mazarin used his immense wealth and influence to amass collections of art greater than that of the king himself. One of his most prized collections consisted of 18 exceptional gemstones. These magnificent stones were known as the Mazarins. Upon his death in 1661 the Cardinal left his diamonds to Louis XIV - thus, they became a part of the crown's royal jewels. 

Cardinal Mazarin had the twelve largest stones carved according to the fashions of the time; this mainly resulted in cutting the surface into many small facets - the Sancy is an excellent example. One of the stones was called Boin-Taburet but which is lost to history.

The Cardinal's love for gemstones went further than a simple admiration for their raw appearance. Like his royal master, Louis XIV, Cardinal Mazarin liked to create something of his own. He employed specific masters in the art of diamond-cutting who were set up in Paris where they came up with a new method of cutting diamonds. This allowed the diamond to reflect the light from within. It also made the outside light bend and refract off of the facets - thus, they sparkled more. Naturally, this was named the Mazarin cut and required the stone to be cut into 12 facets.

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Cardinal Mazarin

Some of these are more elaborately described in other posts, so they will only be described shortly here.

It had been the Cardinal's wish that his collection would continue to be known as the Mazarins. Thus, most are known to history by a number rather than a specific nickname. These stones were recorded in the inventory of crown both in 1691 and a century later, in 1791. Some were stolen during the revolution and has not been seen since while others were rediscovered. 
It should be noted that there are a few inconsistencies in the royal inventories. For example the carats seem to vary a bit - in some occasions the stones are recorded as larger in 1791. Furthermore, the way of measuring carat was slightly different which has led to a different carat value today.

It is also quite odd that the inventory of the royal possessions drawn up in 1774 mentions only one of the Mazarins when they are all accounted for in 1791. Clearly, they cannot have disappeared only to return again to the crown but why were they not recorded in 1774?

The Mazarin I - the Sancy
It was most likely mined in India but made its way to the crowned heads of Europe in the 16th century and probably earlier. The Sancy was the property of both James I of England and later Charles I before it ended in Cardinal Mazarin's collection. The diamond is white and cut in a pear shape. In 1691 it was measured at 53 1/2 carats and 53 12/26 in 1791. Today it is set at 55,23 carats.

The Sancy

The Mazarin II
Another white diamond the second Mazarin was in the so-called table-cut style; this basically means that the top had been cut off leaving a flat surface. It weighed 33 3/8 carats in 1691 but has shrunk considerably in 1791 when it was measured at 24 1/6 carats. Today it is estimated at 24.81 carats.

The Mazarin III - the Mirror of Portugal
The name is probably given due to the shape of the stone. It was not only table-cut but also square in shape. Combined with its white colour it is not hard to imagine the origins. It was the property of the Portuguese crown before it was sold to Elizabeth I. It disappeared during the revolution and has never been found. 
In 1691 it weighed 25 3/8 carats, in 1791 it was 21 2/16 and today it is 21.68 carats.

Replica of the Mirror of Portugal

The Mazarin IV
The fourth Mazarin stone is described as being of a "brownish" colour and formed into a heart-shape. Like the second stone, this also underwent a considerable reduction from 1691-1791 - or from 24 1/4 carats to 13 10/16 carats. Today it would be said to be 13.97 carats. It was recovered after having been stolen during the revolution.

The Mazarin V
Surprisingly, this almond-shaped diamond appears to have grown slightly in size. In 1691 it weighed 21 5/8 carats whereas the modern estimate is 22,97 carats.

The Mazarin VI
This one appears to have been a "little-sister" to the fifth stone. Like the former it was almond-shaped but weighed 18 1/4 carats in 1691, 19 12/16 in 1791 and 20,27 today.

The Mazarin VII - Le Grand Mazarin
The inventory of Louis XIV listed this one as weighing 21 carats; the revolutionaries were a bit more moderate and set to to be 18 9/16 carats. Today, a middle ground of 19,10 carats is estimated. Le Grand Mazarin is of a slightly rose colour and cut into a square. It was worn by no less than four kings, four queens, two emperors and two empresses.

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Le Grand Mazarin

The Mazarin VIII
A white diamond cut into a square, it weighs 15,14 carats today. In 1691 it was recorded as 18 1/4 and as 14 12/16 in 1791. This one also returned after the robbery of the Crown Jewels. 

The Mazarin IX
The ninth stone was cut in what would be known as the "marquise"-cut during Louis XV due to a rumour that it was inspired by the lips of Madame de Pompadour. It is almost estimated at the same weight today (15,27 carats) as it was in 1691 (15 1/4) but differs somewhat from the 1791-bid of 14 14/16 carats.

The Mazarin X
This is the only stone in the collection that is described as having a greyish colour. However, the shape - a square - is shared by most of the others. In 1691 it was noted as weighing 17 3/4 while both 1791 and the modern estimate aim at above 20 - 20 6/16 and 20,91 respectively. It is the only one that appears in the royal inventory of 1774 where it is described as the "tenth Mazarin" weighing 16 carats. At that time it was called a brilliant "of pure water" and valued at about 2000 §. 

The Mazarin XI 
A rectangular shape the eleventh Mazarin had a red glow to it. This is one of the stones were the estimated has been rather consistent over the years: both 1691 and 1791 rated it at 17 and today it is set at 17,45 carats.

The Mazarin XII
It appears to have been larger in 1691 (13 carats) than in 1791 (10 4/16) - today it is estimated at 10,52 carats. It, too, has a brownish hue and is square-cut.

The Mazarin XIII
Another stone that has been the victim of further cutting. Starting at 13 carats in 1691 it then went down to 10 4/16 carats in 1791 to finally 10,52 carats today. The stone was rediscovered after the burglary of the royal family's jewels.

Authentic copy of Mazarin's will that bequeathed the Mazarins to the
royal family

The Mazarin XIV
This one began at 11 1/3 and then fell to 8 7/16 before being estimated at 8,66 today. Like the Mirror of Portugal it is both square-cut and table-cut. This would make it ideal for a ring or a brooch.

The Mazarin XV
The colour of this one appears to have been somewhat uncertain as it is described as being yellow/brownish. What is clear is that it was square and table-cut. It weighed 10 3/4 in 1691, then 8 16/32 in 1791 and is finally estimated at 8,72 carats today.

The Mazarin XVI
Having gone from 8 3/4 in 1691 it quickly went to 6 which was slightly modified in modern times to 6,16 carats, it was square-cut and had also received the table-cut treatment. However, this one's yellow colour seems to have been indisputable. The last of the stones stolen to be returned.

The Mazarin XVII
Brownish in colour it was cut into a heart-shape but appears to have maintained its original weight somewhat. In 1691 it was at 21 1/2 carats, in 1791 21 6/16 and is today set at 21,94 carats. Both this and the eighteenth Mazarin made a part of Empress Eugènie's brooch.

The Mazarin XVIII
The last Mazarin is almost a twin to the seventeenth. Also brownish in hue it was likewise molded into a heart-shape. This one has a slight advantage in weight, though. From 22 carats in 1691 to 21 8/16 in 1791 it was finally decided to be 22.07 carats.

The entire collection was said to be worth 10.000.000. In 1900 two of the Mazarin stones were exhibited at the Paris Exhibition. One was described as weighing 18 11/16 carats while the other - a tad smaller - 16 9/16 carats.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

The Crown Jewels of France

As one of the most powerful countries in Europe and a court infamous for its style, it is hardly surprising that the House of Bourbon boasted quite a collection of jewels. These included individual precious stones, pieces of jewellery and entire sets. Sadly, some were stolen during the revolution and others were sold off; most are know either owned by the French state or form a part of private collections.

This post is divided into the actual jewels themselves and the styles of the Versailles-era. Click on the images below to learn more about the individual pieces.

The Royal Jewellery 

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Crown of Louis XV
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Marie Antoinette's Earrings

Louis XIV's Garnet Brooch

The Crown Jewels

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Le Bleu de France

The Regent

Jewellery Collections of the Royal Family & Court

Marie Josèphe de Saxe, Dauphine de France

Jewellery Styles

Jewellery of Versailles

Diamond Brooch of Louis XIV

Jewels of Europe

The United Kingdom
The German Principalities

Le Grand Mazarin

November 2017 saw one of France's most famous gemstones be put up for auction by Christie's. The diamond was mined in India (more specifically in the Golconda mines) and made its way to France where Cardinal Jules Mazarin added it to his collection. Le Grand Mazarin was the largest, square cut stone in his possession with 19.07 carats. 

The Cardinal died in 1661 and left his collection of exquisite jewels to Louis XIV. Marie Thérèse is likely the first person to have worn it as a decoration. It remained in the queen's possession until her death; Louis XIV then added it to his own chain of diamonds.

When Louis XVI ascended the throne it featured in his crown. Whether Marie Antoinette wore it is unknown. Le Grand Mazarin remained a centre piece of the French crown jewel until the revolution. By then it had been in the crown's ownership for 225 years.

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Le Grand Mazarin

Louis XVI was forced to sign over the crown's property in 1792 - including Le Grand Mazarin. While it was stored in Paris it was stolen along with almost all the royal jewels. Most of the thieves were caught and sentenced to death by the guillotine. However, one of the culprits offered to reveal the location of some of the diamonds - including La Grand Mazarin - if he was spared his life. It worked.

When Empress Marie-Louise received her new diadem it consisted of the former Crown Jewels and was topped by Le Grand Mazarin. In total the diamond has been worn by four kings, four queens, two emperors and two empresses. These include Louis XIV, Marie Thérése, Louis XV, Louis XVI, Louis XVIII, Napoleon I, Marie-Louise and Eugènie.

The final price for this famous diamond when it was sold on auction in Geneva? 14.600.000 $. When it was sold it was the first time in 130 years that the diamond has been shown outside of the private collection.

Cardinal Family Connections: The Mazarinettes

Cardinal Mazarin served Louis XIV as prime minister both during and after the tumultuous Fronde-years. Once the civil war had been won the Cardinal set about consolidating his power at court. This partially included his own personal prestige but also that of his family. Luckily for him, his family boasted of several young, beautiful women who were just ripe for the marriage market. 

In total, the Cardinal had seven brides to marry off as advantageously as possible. In 1647 he summoned his sister, Laura Margherita Mazzarini to France and included her daughters, Laura and Anne Marie Martinozzi.
His other sister, Girolama Mazzarini, had wedded the Italian Baron Lorenzo Mancini. Their union had produced no less than ten children; amongst those that survived childhood there were five girls: Laura Mancini, Hortense, Olympia, Marie and Marie Anne Mancini.

At court these seven young women were known as the Mazarinettes. They were introduced to Anne of Austria who took personal interest in the education and well-being of the young ladies.
For the time being they were installed in the royal court while their uncle searched for suitably powerful men to marry them off to - and he succeeded. 

The first to walk down the aisle was Laura Mancini. In 1651 she married Louis de Bourbon, Duc de Mercæur. This awarded her the right to be titled Serene Highness since she had married a legitimised prince. Their marriage was a success in more than one way. Both became very fond of each other and they soon produced three sons - including the Duc de Vendôme who later became a famous military leader.

Laura Mancini

Anne Marie Martinozzi gained a very prestigious marriage in 1654 when she was wedded to Armand de Bourbon, Prince de Conti. By this marriage she took precedence over her cousin, Laura Mancini, since the Prince de Conti was a Prince of the Blood whereas the Duc de Mercæur had been legitimised. She had three children but died already at the age of 35.

Anne Marie Martinozzi

Laura Martinozzi was sent back to Italy in 1655 where she married Alfonso IV d'Este, thus becoming Duchess of Modena. If Cardinal Mazarin had been alive in 1685 he would have witnessed her daughter becoming Queen of England by marriage to James II. When her husband died in 1662 she took the role of regent.

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Laura Martinozzi

The next in line was Olympia Mancini who - like Laura Mancini - remained at the French court. Unlike her sister, she married a prince étrangere or a foreign prince. In 1657 she was married to Prince Eugène-Maurice of Savoy, Comte de Soissons. While at court she was known as Madame la Comtesse. Olympia was said to be less attractive than her sister but possessing such a personal charm that she made up for it. Unfortunately, she had a pendant for intrigue. When Louis XIV and Henriette d'Orléans sought to dispel the rumours that they were lovers, they engaged Madame la Comtesse to find a decoy. She did excellently and came up with a certain Louise de La Vallière.
She would later become the king's mistress herself for a brief period only to be abandoned by the monarch again. Her career at court came to a crashing halt when she was accused of having conspired with La Voisin to poison La Vallière during the Affair of the Poisons. Olympia was exiled and she died in Brussels. 

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Olympia Mancini

1661 saw the marriages of two Mazarinettes: Hortense and Marie Mancini.

Hortense Mancini could have become Queen of England. In 1659 Charles II proposed to her but was rejected by her capricious uncle. At the time Charles was still in exile and his prospects of becoming king were uncertain. Instead, she was married off to one of the richest men in Europe: Armand Charles de La Porte de La Meilleraye. The couple were granted the title of Duc and Duchesse de Mazarin upon their marriage.
Sadly, Hortense quickly discovered that her husband was not only violent but mentally unstable. Despite their unhappy union they managed to produce four children; nevertheless, Hortense had to leave them behind when her husband's behaviour became so erratic that she had to flee. Both Louis XIV and the Duke of Savoy offered her their protection and she chose to former. While under the Sun King's protection she travelled to England where she became the mistress of Charles II.

Hortense Mancini

While her sister discovered the misery of her newfound marriage, the court of France was buzzing with rumours. It had become very obvious that the young king was deeply in love. The source of all this was Marie Mancini. Their relationship got to a point where it was speculated that Louis would marry her. Anne of Austria had watched the development with concern; she had long planned that her son was to marry her niece, Marie Thérése of Spain. Turning to her ever-present advisor, Cardinal Mazarin, a marriage was quickly arranged. Like Laura Mazzarini, Marie was sent back to Italy. A bridegroom had been found in Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna, Prince of Colonna.
Three children came of the marriage but like her sister Marie found no happiness in wedlock. Her relationship with her husband became so unstable that she feared for her life. This eventually led to her fleeing - alongside Hortense - from Italy.

Marie Mancini

The final Mazzarinette was Marie Anne Mancini. She had been no older than six when she was brought to Paris and quickly made herself the darling of the court. It was soon determined that she was the wittiest and possibly the prettiest of the Mazzarinettes. Her marriage was one of the last thing Cardinal Mazarin ever did. On the Cardinal's death bed he was approached by Turenne who asked to marry Marie Anne to his nephew, Godefroy Maurice de La Tour d'Auvergne. The couple was married  in 1662 in front of the royal family. Marie Anne then became the Duchesse de Bouillon.
Marie Anne was somewhat luckier than Marie and Hortense had been. While her husband was neither an ideal courtier nor a great scholar, he was not openly abusive. Marie Anne was also implicated in the Affair of the Poisons - where she was accused of trying to poison her husband (so they obviously had some issues) - but she was not punished.

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Marie Anne Martinozzi

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

A Perfumer's Dream: Favourite Scents of Louis XVI's Court

It is not for nothing that Versailles was referred to as "the perfumed court" -  ever since the court moved there in 1682 the halls and salons was flooded with the sensual notes of perfume. While Louis XIV preferred the strong scents of flowers - orange blossom being a favourite - perfume developed over the 18th century. By the time of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette the trade had developed into an art.
As it is today, everyone had their own preferences. The difference from most people today and the courtiers at Versailles is that the French elite had perfume made specifically after their own preferences in scents. Few people understood the delicate art of perfume as well as the royal perfumer, Jean-Louis Fargeon. He was made perfumer to Louis XVI and his court which gave him direct access to the royal family. The perfumes he made for them were inspired by the individual person and their moods.

Other influential perfumers of the time included François Houbigant who was under the patronage of the Duchesse de Charost - he was a direct rival of Fargeon's when it came to the queen's favour.    The perfumery of Houbigant still exists and boasts that Marie Antoinette wore three vials of their perfume on her way to the guillotine for strength. Furthermore, there were Vigier who had served the court of Louis XV and Jean-Marie Farina who invented the still famous Eau de Cologne. 

Some of the more famous perfumes of that age are as follows.

Eau de Cypre Composée 
The celebrated perfumer was first introduced to Madame du Barry around 1773; the royal mistress at first wanted something to preserve the shade of her hair and soon became infatuated with Fargeon's perfumes as well. 
To her he brought a vial of eau de cypre composée which was made of jasmine, rose, iris, angelica and orange blossom topped off by no more than three nutmegs and thirty drops of amber. Madame du Barry was in ecstasy about it.

According to Antoine Hornet - who published his book on perfumes and their distillations in 1788 - the best way of preparing this perfume is to go lightly with the amber since it "offends" the noses of most people.

Eau d'Ange
Unlike some of these other scents, the eau d'Ange was universally applicable. It could be used as a base for other perfumes and could be used in baths. In the latter part of the 18th century it was believed to keep the skin white - thus signalling the desired status symbol of a skin not tainted by working in the fields. Marie Antoinette used it to preserve her much-celebrated complexion. 

Fargeon's version included iris, rosewood, benzoin, sandalwood, calamus aromaticus and storax. 

The Parisian brand Jeanne Piaubert still carries the eau d'Ange in their assortment.

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The modern version by Jeanne Piaubert

Eau de Mille Fleurs 
This perfume has roots as far back as 1686 when Nicolas de Blégny published his works on the secrets of perfumery. The name could easily give rise to expectations of a strong floral scent but it is really rather heavier. Consisting of rose, benzoin, marjoram and musk it often had a base of eau d'Ange. Blégny was also convinced that the concoction could remedy certain physical disorders.

The types of flowers used could depend on the client; some wished to add lavender while others wanted orange blossom. Samuel Frederick Gray's book of 1831 mentions jasmine, essence of lavender, orange blossom and essence of bergamot as key ingredients. Perhaps this is where the name originates from - the possibility of adding any flower possible?

Eau d'Houbigant
The second oldest perfumery in France the House of Houbigant launched this particularly popular perfume not long after the ascension of Louis XVI to the throne. It consisted solely of flowers which gave it a sensual but light aroma. The founder advertised his new creation with the following words:
"It is to the beauty of the face what the morning dew is to the flowers; it refreshes and stimulates the skin while imbuing it with exquisite smoothness..."

Jean-François Houbigant - the creator of
this perfume

Eau du Roi 
Although the orange blossom was not the centre of a perfume until the reign of Louis XV it was definitely on the radar of the French court before that. Throughout his life Louis XIV would prefer this scent to any other - even in his later years when he could hardly stand any perfume he still found it soothing.

Eau de Mélisse
A blend of lemon, cinnamon, angelica, cloves and coriander; Fargeon gave it to Marie Antoinette to soothe her. It was not a new mixture. Charles V is rumoured to have used it and Richelieu always kept a vial of it on him - it was also referred to as eau de Carmelites since it was produced by Carmelite nuns for centuries. 

Eau de La Reine d'Hongrie 
The perfume was originally made for Elizabeth of Poland, Queen of Hungary in 1370. It was made from rosemary macerated in alcohol. Later bergamot, lavender, jasmine and amber were added. It was immensely popular at the French court. Madame de Maintenon and Madame de Sévigné both used it habitually.
Not only was it popular as a perfume but was also considered to have medical propensities - rheumatism amongst others. When Louis XIV was struck with sharp pains in his leg in 1675 he was administered several medicaments - including eau de La Reine d'Hongrie. It was given again in September 1678 when a bout of rheumatism plagued him.

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Receipt from Fargeon

Parfum du Trianon 
Created by Fargeon following an audience with Marie Antoinette at her private retreat. The dominant note was rose but added orange blossom, essentials oils of lemon and bergamot, lavender, galbanum, iris, violet, a bit of jasmine, jonquil and tuberose. Inspired by the lanes of the Petit Trianon he added cedar and sandalwood; amber and musk was chosen as a counteragent to the flowers. Finally, he added a little vanilla as a reference to her Austrian childhood.

Marie Antoinette was infatuated with the perfume. As a sign of favour she granted him access to her grande toilette where he would meet new clients.

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The back of Petit Trianon where Fargeon was met by the

Eau à la Marèchale
Named for the Marèchale d'Aumont, this perfume remained a favourite even when the monarchy fell. It was rich in everything: iris, rosewood, benzoin, eau d'ange, nutmeg, cloves, bark from a lemon tree, oranges, jasmine, coriander, marjoram, lavender, roses etc. Popularly said, it had so many scents that it was hard to define it by a single note.

Eau aux Herbes de Montpellier
This perfume's primary note was thyme and it was used for cleansing one's face. Marie Antoinette was given it for her nightly washing.

If you are interested in learning more about Fargeon and his relationship with not only Marie Antoinette but her court, I strongly recommend Elisabeth de Feydeau's book: "A Scented Palace: the Secret History of Marie Antoinette's Perfumer".

Sunday, 3 December 2017

The Visit of Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor

In 1777 it had been seven years since the 14-year old Archduchess Maria Antonia had married the French dauphin, Louis Auguste. Seven years and no children had come from the union. Worse yet, the marriage had not even been consummated. 

This was the year when Marie Antoinette - now queen of France for three years - would see one of her family members again. Joseph - her elder brother - was the only Austrian family member she would ever get the chance to see again. The Holy Roman Emperor had several reasons for paying his sister a visit. Partially, the imperial family in Vienna was deeply concerned about the state of its youngest daughter's behaviour. The Austrian ambassador, Count Mercy-d'Argenteau, was keeping the queen's mother, Empress Maria Theresia, intimately informed of her daughter's every movement - and he was not impressed. 

The young Marie Antoinette had come to consider the marriage bed a taboo; she could not discuss her problems with anyone and had to contend herself with everyone's interest in the subject. Thus, she turned her mind elsewhere - in her case, to her personal entertainment. This naturally led to considerable expenditure (but still not near that of Madame de Pompadour nor Louis XIV) which harmed her image. Reconciling the young couple was one major point of traveling to Versailles.

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Joseph II

Another was the emperor's own interest. He had never seen Paris nor France at all and had a desire to learn more about this European power. Furthermore, he was an emperor. Consequently, he had an interest in seeing for himself who his rival really was.

In an attempt to avoid the stiff etiquette that accompanied a visit by an emperor, Joseph decided to travel incognito. In France he would be known as the Count of Falkenstein. This allowed him to reside in an hôtel away from the palace itself. The Count of Falkenstein duly arrived in Paris in April 1777.

He immediately went about his business. On 19th April he went to Versailles where the courtiers were astonished to find that he arrived "without any pomp and almost unattended". A long meeting with his younger sister followed in which Marie Antoinette poured out all her worries about her marriage. Joseph attempted to console her and gave her a few good pieces of advice.

That same night he dined with the royal couple and Madame Élisabeth in the queen's chamber. Madame Campan was present at this dinner and described the emperor in a very positive way. According to her, the emperor "would talk much and fluently, he expressed himself in our language with facility."

However, Marie Antoinette would soon learn that her brother's visit was not all familial pleasure. One day he was invited as guest to witness her toilette where he brusquely mocked her and her ladies for their extreme use of rouge; he went so far as to compare them to the Furies. Naturally, the queen was deeply embarrassed but perhaps it hit home with her; ever since her arrival in France she had been molded into a Frenchwoman. Everything had been done to make her forget the simpler way of life in her native Austria.
While it may have been a wake-up call to the queen, the courtiers were less excited. The Austrians already had a reputation for being brusque and unrefined in France which the emperor's behaviour only seemed to confirm. 

Louis XVI was less welcoming. The young king's character made it impossible to be warm and welcoming to a complete stranger. Added to that was the fact that Joseph was a fixture of complex emotions for the monarch. On one side Joseph was his brother-in-law and despite the state of their marriage, Louis had no wish to hurt his wife. On the other side, Joseph was the head of France's historical enemy - a direct threat, especially if the marriage soured even more.
While the king of France was hesitant, the Holy Roman Emperor wasted no time in calculating how to manage the situation best. Joseph - like his sister - realized that it would only hurt his cause if he were to put pressure on Louis. Instead, Joseph adopted a calm and reasonable demeanor. And it worked. Louis began confiding in Joseph about his marriage and its problems. 

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Marie Antoinette

Joseph then turned his attentions to the French capitol. Here, he immediately became a popular figure - his incognito was basically useless since rumours ran like wildfire. His Austrian simplicity endeared him to the Frenchmen and his natural curiosity did the rest. 

On the 9th May he returned to the royal palace where he had planned a different type of audience with his sister. Rather than acting the comforting listener he handed out a few well-placed truths. Joseph even gave Marie Antoinette a book on her responsibilities as a wife and a queen before telling her that she needed to change her attitude towards Louis. Above all, she was to make her relationship with him the greatest priority of her life. 
Louis himself was not to be idle, either. To him, Joseph advised a small surgical operation to alleviate his issues with his "private parts". However, whether such an operation actually took place is widely debated.

In total, it was noted that the emperor spent the following days with Louis: the evening of the 19th April, the 29th-30th April, the 14th May and finally on 29th May.
It is equally recorded that the private conversation about the marriage issues took place on the 14th ("private" may be saying too much) while the two of them explored the gardens of Versailles on the 29th May.

With this tedious but necessary business over with, he could amuse himself. Joseph went to the royal menagerie, to the military barracks, to the Invalides and even to a hospital for foundlings and severely sick patients.
When Joseph left France after some weeks he had made a profound impact on the marriage between the French king and queen. Noticeably, they both made a far better effort to accommodate each other. The result was clear: the marriage was consummated on 18th August 1777.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Mistresses of Louis XV

Louise-Julie de Mailly-Nesle, Comtesse de Mailly
Years: 1732-39 and 1741-42

Louise-Julie was the first mistress Louis XV took following his marriage to Marie Leszczynska. Although their relationship began as early as 1732 it was not until 1738 that she was officially acknowledged. Louise-Julie was genuinely in love with Louis but never attempted to use her position to gain positions for her family nor interfere with politics. Court intrigues eventually deprived her of her position of dame du Palais to the queen which meant that she no longer had the right to live at court. The king ended their relationship for her sister, Marie-Anne, and she retired to a convent.


Thérèse-Eulalie de Beaupoil de Saint-Aulaire, Marquise de Beuvron
Year: 1738

She was brought to court due to her husband's rank where she became friends with Louise-Julie de Mailly. Shortly afterwards, she became the king's mistress herself but was soon replaced by Madame Amelot. Thérèse-Eulalie died the following year.


Marie-Anne de Vougny, Madame Amelot
Year: 1738

Marie-Anne was the wife of the Minister of Foreign Affairs when she became the king's mistress. However, their affair was very short-lived.

Pauline-Félicité de Mailly-Nesle, Comtesse de Vintimille
Years: 1739-1741

Pauline-Félicité was the sister of Louise-Julie; in 1738 she wrote to her sister asking for an invitation to court for her. Once granted, Pauline-Félicité was immediately received by her sister and the king. Louis XV was very much taken by his mistress' sister and decided to make her one too. However, Pauline-Félicité was more demanding than her pliant sister and asked for a title and a château. The former was granted by a marriage to the Comte de Vintimille and the latter by the lavish gift of the Château de Choisy-le-Roi. She became pregnant by Louis but died in childbirth.
Her body was laid out on parade when a mob broke in and mutilated her body.


Diane-Adélaïde de Mailly-Nesle, Duchesse de Lauraguais
Years: 1742-45

Diane-Adélaïde served the king as his mistress on and off for three years - when her sister, Marie-Anne died, the king was noted to "amuse himself" with Diane-Adélaïde. Actually, her title and marriage was due to the influence of Marie-Anne who demanded these from the king. Diane-Adélaïde sided with Marie-Anne in the feud with their sister, Louise-Julie.

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Marie-Anne de Mailly-Nesle, Duchesse de Châteauroux
Years: 1742-44

Marie-Anne was definitely far more ambitious than her sister, Louise-Julie, and at first refused to give in to the king before he fulfilled her demands. These included the title of duchess, the apartment of the royal favourite and lavish gifts. In private she greatly amused the king by her wit; when Cardinal Fleury died she began her political career. Marie-Anne understood that Louis would take offense if she began dictating state affairs, so she would use different tactics to influence him. She followed the king to Metz during the War of the Austrian Succession where she got ill and died of convulsions.


Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour
Years: 1745-64

By far the most influential maîtresse-en-titre of Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour managed to understand the king in a way that few people had hitherto. She understood that he suffered terribly from melancholia and arranged entertainments that would suit his personality; these included private theatricals and the famous suppers. Unlike Marie-Anne, Jeanne-Antoinette was careful not to alienate the queen by insulting her. She became known as the prime minister since she had immense influence in politics. Their relationship was rather odd; despite her being the king's mistress, she did not wish to share the king's bed after 1751. By then the king had grown so dependent on her that he could not let her go but still needed someone to take care of his "baser" needs. Thus, they came to an agreement that young women from - particularly from the opera - were to be brought to the king for him to have short-lived affairs. In this manner both got what they wanted.
She died before the king who was not allowed to attend her funeral; instead, he watched her funeral cortege leave Versailles from his private apartment.

Madame de Pompadour by François Boucher.jpg

Marthe-Antoinette Aubry de Vatan, Presidente Portail
Years: unknown

Three unknown women known only as "Rose-Blanche", "Belle-Nuit" and "la Pudeur" respectively

Given their rather romantic names it is likely that they were opera-dancers or actresses

A few women were simply known by their names and their exact years in the king's favour are not clear.
Madame de Grandis
Madame de Martinville
Mademoiselle de Ville (a professional courtesan)
Madame de Beadier
Mademoiselle de Malignan
Madame de Salis

Françoise-Catherine Boutinon Deshayes, Madame de La Pouplinière
Year: unknown

She attempted to become the new maîtresse-en-titre following the death of Madame de Châteauroux but failed miserably. Apparently, the king had invited her to wait in his private bedroom where he let her wait - due to the coucher-ceremony dragging out - and when he finally arrived he was too tired. Humiliatingly, Françoise-Catherine was asked to leave.

poupliniere madame

Louise-Julie Constance de Rohan-Montauban, Comtesse de Brionne
Year: unknown

It seems that her relationship with Louis XV could have been platonic but it is note quite certain. Louise-Julie became a close friend to Madame de Pompadour so she definitely had access to the king.

Princesse Louise Julie Constance de Rohan-Rochefort (1734 - 1815), Comtesse de Brionne et de Braine, Princesse de Lambesc et de Vaudémont, Princesse de Lorraine.

Louise Augustine Crozat de Thiers, Duchesse de Broglie
Year: after 1754

Louise was a companion to the king's younger daughters in the years 1754-1762; thus, she lived at Versailles full time. Not long after her introduction to court following her second marriage, she caught the eye of Louis XV who made her his mistress.

Jean Ranc (1674–1735), Louise Augustine Salbigothon Crozat, duchesse de Broglie, vers 1775
Louise Augustine

Marguerite-Elisabeth-Flavie de Cohorn de La Palun, Comtesse de Noé
Year: unknown

Marguerite-Élisabeth was at court due to her husband, Louis, being in the service of the Duc d'Orléans. Very little is known about her other than that she had a son by her husband.

Anne-Marie de Montmorency-Luxembourg, Princesse de Robecq
Year:  1748 or 1749

The anti-Pompadour courtiers hoped that the Princesse de Robecq would usurp the place of the royal favourite. These hopes seemed to be coming true when Louis and Madame de Pompadour hit a rough patch due to the poor health of the maîtresse. Anne-Marie and Louis were even noted to have gone missing for about 15 minutes following a trip to the Château de La Muette. However, Anne-Marie's relationship with the king quickly cooled and she turned to the future Duc de Choiseul instead.

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Marie-Anne-Françoise de Noailles, Comtesse de La Marck
Year: 1748

Marie-Anne was only mistress to Louis XV for a very short time; her and her husband were granted lodgings at Versailles despite not having a specific position at court.

Élisabeth-Charlotte Huguet de Sémonville, Comtesse d'Estrades
Year: supposed affair in 1749

Élisabeth-Charlotte was the one who introduced the future Madame de Pompadour to court in 1745. Apparently, she attempted to interfere quite a lot in the king's love life. Due to the favour she had done to Madame de Pompadour, Élisabeth-Charlotte was often invited to the king's private suppers. Here she attempted to entice the king but only succeeded in allegedly having a very brief affair with him. Failing in dethroning Madame de Pompadour herself, she attempted to push the young Comtesse de Choiseul into his arms.


Marie-Françoise de Carbonnel de Canisy, Marquise d'Antin
Year: 1749

Marie-Françoise was another renowned beauty who captured the eye of Louis XV. She was known to have shared the king's bed for a while during Madame de Pompadour's reign. When her husband died in 1753 she preferred to live at her hôtel in Paris where she could meet with her lover, Baron Scheffer.


Françoise de Chalus, Duchesse de Narbonne-Lara
Year: 1749-1750

Françoise's relationship with the king sparked a lot of rumours. Her affair with the king began in 1749 and gave birth to a son in 1750. For her birth she travelled to Parma which caused courtiers to speculate that the child's paternity was a bit more royal than the Duc de Narbonne-Lara since Louis XV's eldest daughter had been married to the Duke of Parma.

Françoise de Châlus ou plus précisemment de Chalus.jpg

Alexandrine Sublet d'Heudicourt, Marquise de Belsunce
Year: 1750

Alexandrine was an object of the king's attentions but eventually found herself overshadowed by the emergence of Madame de Pompadour.

Marie-Geneviève Radix de Saint-Foix
Years: 1750-1751

Marie-Geneviève was the wife of the minister for finance. However, her affair with Louis XV raised quite some eyebrows for one particular reason: she was also the mistress of his son! Neither the king nor the dauphin chose to make her an official mistress, though.

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Irène du Buisson de Longpré
Years: 1750 and 1760
Children: possibly a girl named Julie Filleul

Irène was first introduced to the king through the Parc-aux-Cerfs and the king seemed to have liked her company.

Charlotte-Rosalie de Romanet, Comtesse de Choiseul-Beaupré
Year: 1752

Unlike some of the king's other mistresses, Charlotte-Rosalie attempted to make a show of denying the king - for a while she openly declared that she would not betray her husband. However, she did eventually which caused Madame de Pompadour some concern. The favourite had little cause to fear which the king reassured her since the Comtesse was a passing passion.

Mademoiselle Trusson
Year: 1752

Mademoiselle Trusson was the daughter of two servants at court. Her father was a clerk to the minister of foreign affairs and her mother served Marie-Josèphe de Saxe. Nevertheless, she became associated with Madame de Pompadour who found that she could safely let Mademoiselle Trusson climb into the king's bed without fear.

Jeanne-Marguerite de Niquet
Year: 1752

The daughter of the president of the Toulouse parliament, Jeanne-Marguerite was another woman who went through the Parc-aux-Cerfs. She would later be called upon by the king again when Marie-Louise O'Murphy fell pregnant.

Mademoiselle de Saint-André
Year: 1752

Little is known about Mademoiselle de Saint-André other than that she was the daughter of a hair-dresser.

Marie-Louise O'Murphy
Years: 1753-1755
Children: Agathe-Louise de Saint-Antoine de Saint-André

The Irish Marie-Louise took the king by storm who nicknamed her Morphise. She fell pregnant twice by the king - the second time she almost died during childbirth. Louis became all the more attached to her after the near-fatal delivery and had her painted in a rather famous portrait (below). Marie-Louise made a crucial mistake when she attempted to dethrone Madame de Pompadour; she was quickly dispatched from her lodgings at the Parc-aux-Cerfs in November 1755 and married off to Jacques Pelet de Beaufranchet.


Thérèse Guerbois
Year: 1754

Brigitte O'Murphy
Year: 1755

Brigitte was the sister of Marie-Louise O'Murphy; following the fall of her sibling she quickly took her place although Brigitte never got as close to Louis XV as Marie-Louise had. She would continue to receive little gestures of goodwill through her lifetime, mostly in the shape of pensions.

Mademoiselle Fouquet
Year: 1755

Another daughter of a hairdresser, Mademoiselle was thanked for her services by being married off by the king himself.

Mademoiselle Robert
Year: 1755

Mademoiselle David
Year: between 1755-1759

Mademoiselle David would not be married off but ended her days in a convent instead.

Mademoiselle Armory 
Year: between 1755-1759

Mademoiselle Armory was nicknamed Mimi and was a professional opera dancer. She became the mistress of both Louis XV and the Duc de Choiseul; after these liaisons she married an American.

Gabrielle-Charlotte Françoise d'Hénin-Liétard, Vicomtesse de Cambis
Year: 1756

Gabrielle-Charlotte had became a protegée of Madame de Pompadour which is how she came to be near the king. Her aunt, the Marèchale de Mirepoix, had great ambitions on her behalf and placed Gabrielle-Charlotte in the king's bed. Alas, she faced the same fate of many before her and discovered that the king quickly lost interest.

Billedresultat for Gabrielle-Charlotte Françoise d'Hénin-Liétard,
Year: 1756

Dorothée was the daughter of a water-carrierer in Strasbourg which is all that is really known of her.

Mademoiselle Selin
Year: 1756

It is speculated that Mademoiselle Selin was of bourgeoise-origins from Brittany - it is not unlikely considering the king's fondness for the rising middle-class.

Marie-Anne de Mailly-Rubempré, Marquise de Coislin
Year: 1757

Marie-Anne had been introduced to the king back in 1755 by an associate of the Prince de Conti. It took a while but she eventually became the king's mistress; however, the king eventually gave her up after Madame de Pompadour expressed her anger about it.


Marie-Louise de Marny
Year: 1758

She was the wife of banker by the name of Giambone and her appearance was described as "very beautiful with almost childlike features".

Marguerite-Catherine Haynault, Marquise de Montmélas
Years: 1759-1762
Children: Agnès-Louise de Montreuil and Anne-Louise de La Réale

Marguerite-Catherine was employed as a lady-of-honour to Madame Adélaïde; she became Louis XV's mistress at the age of 23. She and Louis had two daughters before she was married off to the Marquis de Montmélas. Following the birth of their second daughter, the affair ended.

Marguerite Catherine Haynault.jpg

Louise Jeanne Marie de Courtarvel de Pezé, Marquise de Dreux-Brézé
Year: 1760

Louise had been brought up at court where she had long admired Louis. One day the two accidentally ran into each other which became the start of their relationship. Louise rented a house in Sèvres where the two would meet. She, too, became pregnant and begged the king to send her husband on a diplomatic relationship which was refused due to his rash personality. It is possible that Louise lost the child since there is no record of it.

Billedresultat for Louise Jeanne Marie de Courtarvel de Pezé

Marie-Madeleine Couppier de Romans
Year: 1760-1765
Children: Louis-Aimé de Bourbon

Marie-Madeleine was not lodged in the Parc-aux-Cerfs but was instead set up in a house of her own in the village of Passay. Louis XV would have her fetched from there to Versailles or he would come to visit her during his visits to La Muette. The king began to refer to her as his "belle Madeleine" which caused Madame de Pompadour to worry. Soon, favours and gifts began to rain down over Marie-Madeleine and she even managed to extract a promise from Louis that he would acknowledge their child if she should become pregnant. However, Louis did not honour this pledge when their son was born.
In the end it was Marie-Madeleine's own behaviour that led to her downfall. She treated her son by Louis as a child of France and flaunted him at court. Eventually, the king grew tired of it and following an implication in the Affair of La Chalotais she was exiled to a nunnery.


Lucie-Madeleine d'Estaing
Years: 1760-1763
Children: Agnès-Lucie Auguste and Aphrodite-Lucie Auguste

Lucie-Madeleine was the illegitimate daughter of Admiral d'Estaing who eventually legitimized her when he had no other children. She thus became his heiress. Lucie-Madeleine became Louis' mistress when she was 17 years old. Their two children were recognized by Louis XVI in 1774.

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Louise-Jeanne de Tiercelin de La Colleterie
Years: 1762-1765
Children: Benoît Louis le Duc

Louise-Jeanne was the daughter of a cavalry officer; she was 16 years old when she became his mistress. Louis was charmed by her often childish behaviour. Louise-Jeanne's ambition caused the end of her time with Louis. She had sought help as to make her son legitimate which greatly angered Louis and she was exiled to the provinces.

Béatrix de Choiseul, Duchesse de Gramont
Year: 1764

Béatrix was a friend of Madame de Pompadour and a frequent guest in the private suppers hosted by her and the king. When Madame de Pompadour died she attempted to take her place but Louis thought her too dominant and ambitious. Consequently, he rejected her and in time gave the title of maîtresse-en-titre to Madame du Barry.


Anne-Thoynard de Jouy, Comtesse d'Esparbès de Lussan
Years: between 1762-1765

Anne-Thoynard was introduced at court in 1758 where she became a part of Madame de Pompadour's entourage since they were distant relatives. Madame de Pompadour would turn a blind eye to her escapades with king; after all, Anne-Thoynard was not known for her virtue. Upon the death of the favourite, the Prince de Soubise attempted to get Anne-Thoynard named as the new declared mistress. The court was all but expecting it when she was granted lodgings at Choisy. However, something happened and rather than becoming his mistress, she was told to retire from court - basically being exiled.

Anne Thoynard de Jouy, Comtesse d'Esparbès de Lussan (1739 - 1825). / By J.M. Nattier.

Catherine-Éléonore Binary
Year: 1768
Children: Adélaïde de Saint-Germain

Catherine-Éléonore was a companion to Madame Adélaïde when she became Louis' mistress. Not long after her affair became known she was found to be pregnant. Her daughter was suspected to be the result of her time with Louis. Sadly, Catherine-Éléonore died from complications following the birth.

Marie-Thérèse Boisselet
Year: 1768
Children: Charles-Louis Cadet de Gassicourt

Marie-Thérèse had a son whose paternity was speculated at. While he received the surname of Marie-Thérèse's husband, his conception coincides with the time of her affair with Louis.


Jeanne-Marguerite Salvetat
Year: 1768

Jeanne-Marguerite was an actress (an reputedly a poor one) who was also known as Madame Mars. Due to her background she could not be presented at court and her liaison with Louis in 1768 turned out to be brief.

Jeanne Bécu, Comtesse du Barry
Years: 1768-1774

Jeanne was the last maîtresse-en-titre in the ancien regime. She had a background as a professional courtesan when she was introduced to Louis. Not long after becoming acquainted with her, Louis had her installed in the apartment above his own; however, Jeanne had not been presented at court and was thus confined to her chambers. She was finally presented in 1769. Louis showered her with gifts and jewels and she generally became accustomed to a life of luxury.
She was exiled from court when Louis XV died in 1774.

Madame du Barry

Madame Bèche
Year: 1771

Madame Bèche was the daughter of a musician at court and she was considered to be very beautiful which earned her a place in the king's bed for a while.

Françoise-Marie-Antoinette de Saucerotte, Mademoiselle de Raucourt
Year: 1772

Françoise was an actress at the opera; it was her role as Dido in 1772 that got her in contact with Madame du Barry. From there it was not long before she also became one his minor mistresses. Louis was remarked to be very taken by her and completely doted on her.


Madame d'Amerval
Year: 1772

Madame d'Amerval was the illegitimate daughter of the Abbé de Terray; she was just 13 years old when she was pushed into the king's bed by her relatives. Madame du Barry had sanctioned the affair hoping to take up the role that Madame de Pompadour had previously filled. Their affair was not long-lived.

Rose-Marie-Hélène de Tournon, Vicomtesse du Barry
Year: 1773

Rose was a relative by marriage to Madame du Barry; she had married the favourite's nephew in 1773. It is likely that she became Louis' mistress for a short while to which her aunt curtly commented that at least it "remained in the family".


Albertine-Élisabeth van Nyvenheim
Year: 1774

Albertine-Élisabeth was often used by anti-du Barry courtiers as an alternative to the royal favourite. The plan - hatched by d'Aiguillon and Choiseul - was to wait until Madame du Barry left to take the waters away from Versailles and then replace her with Albertine-Élisabeth. However, that never came to anything because the king died beforehand.

Billedresultat for Albertine-Élisabeth van Nyvenheim