Saturday, June 20, 2009

Louis XIV Mistresses - Louise de Valliere

In an age where women were subject to men and became their property under marriage the rules for extra-marital affairs were strange as well. Men usually married in their late teens to early twenties to a young lady much younger than them and were married until death since Catholic law prohibited divorce. Well-established men and women, especially kings and princes, married for political reasons rather than for love. This of course would sometimes be accepted in an honorable manner by both parties yet many times arranged marriages wallowed in disaster for as long as the marriage lasted. Louis XIV married his wife Marie Therese in 1660 at the age of 22 only to keep peace with Spain he did not find her attractive in the least an dreaded the marriage. Marie-Therese spoke very little French, she was his double first cousin and said to not be beautiful at all. She was extremely short and not nearly as sociable and warm as what was expected of a French woman. However, Marie Therese would be his until her death in 1683 having seen wars, financial difficulties and especially the infamous affiars that her husband would be well-known for.

When Louis XIV was much younger, before Marie Therese, he fell in love with Marie Mancini the niece of Cardinal Mazarin. She loved him very much and they maintained a very strong relationship until he was forced to marry Marie-Therese and pressured about producing a legitimate heir. Louis XIV was forced to break off their romance due to pressure from the authorities at the French court but after the installation of the new Queen and attempts at his "royal duty" with her, he was off in search of other interesting women at court that were not only beautiful but possessed an engaging personality that his wife lacked. In 1661, Louis began to become more familiar with Louise-Francoise who was the maid of honor to the king's sister in law Henriette of England. Louise-Francoise de Valliere who grew up very poor
but of a noble, well known family was prized by her family due to her good looks and charm. She was a blonde with blue eyes that was said to resemble an angel in which her family hoped would catch the eye of the King of France so that maye their family might once again gain the prestige they once had. Louis-Francoise did catch Louis' attention and became his mistress from 1661 to about 1668/9. She was his secret lover that was originally put in place to distract the king away from the very beautiful Henriette of England however the two fell in love and had six children (2 of them are pictured above with their mother) however four survived infancy as was quite common during that time. Louis XIV was known to have a devouring taste for women and it did not take long for his attention to be diverted towards other women. Soon, the king became enchanted with Francoise-Athenais de Montespan who was a lady-in-waiting to Louise. Louise became heartbroken when the affair became a bigger deal than a mere mutual attraction. Louise was becoming replaced and was being used as a decoy to hide their relationship from the prying eyes of the court. Louise-Francoise could take but so much humiliation and decided to join a convent and suffer there privately rather than in the public view of the the French court at Fountainbleu. Louise, entered a convent and was even forgiven by the Queen who blessed her habit's black veil during Louise's final appearance in court. Louise was hesitant to leave the life and let go of the man she loved so much yet it was now Francoise-Athenais' to bask in the rays of the Sun King at the dazzling French court.

Queen Marie Therese of France

Marie de Mancini - Louis XIV's first love

Louise-Francoise de Valliere - Louis XIV's first mistress

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