Friday, 29 April 2005

Double Adultery at Court

Athenais de Montespan was the mistress of Louis XIV. She was extremely clever, beautiful and well educated (which was something of a rarety in her time). Through her role as mistress, she managed to acquire more power than the Queen, therefore being refered to sometimes by historians as the true Queen of France.

Athenais came from an aristocratic family. At a young age she was engaged to a young man whom she was very fond of, an unusual circumstance for those times when arranged marriages were the norm. Unfortunately this man died just before they were to be married. Athenais then had the misfortune of being married off to the Marquis de Montespan, who was always having affairs and managed to get himself into enormous debt. Trapped in an unhappy marriage, but with a focused, ambitious mind and very good looks, she maintained an air of modesty and virtuousness beyond reproach, while she set out to be the King's mistress. Luckily she was already lady in waiting to the King's current mistress, Louise de la Valliere, so it was not difficult to displace her.

King Louis was an insatiable womanizer so he did not take long to notice Athenais. Pretty soon she was having an affair with him while at the same time remaining married to Montespan. This scandalized court and nearly led her to disgrace. She was so quick-witted and had such a powerful hold on the King, that she managed to get her way with alot. Through the years she had nine children, two by Montespan and seven by the King. She managed to get Louis to legitimize all seven of them. She was a patron of the arts (opera, ballet, literature and architecture) and

However, the King did have a roving eye and did not stop putting his fingers in every pie he could get his hands on, so to speak. When accusations of being involved in satanism arose, during the "Affair of the Poisons", she quickly fell from grace and the King's passion for her began to cool down significantly. She was eventually replaced by Madame de Maintenon, the governess to her own children...


Peter said...

Just wanted to say I've really enjoyed your blog so far, especially the biographical posts like this one. Keep it up!

Alterior said...

Oh, thank you so much! It's so nice to know that! More biographical posts will definitely follow soon. :-)

Sairah said...

I've read several of your posts, but I think I'll go back and comment on them all after this one.

Can't say I can keep all those names straight in my head, what with there being so many Louis' and such. Which one was the one married to Antoinette? And is this woman who's having the affair the same one who died during childbirth? The one who had like...was it a mini college or theatre in her home?