torsdag den 23. november 2017

The House of de Neufville de Villeroy

The family's origins are somewhat obscure; the founding member was Nicolas Neufville but it is not known when he was either born nor died. The same can be said for his son and heir, Richard.
What is known is that the fourth generation served Philippe III de Bourgogne which in turn led to new positions of power including ambassadorships. 

Nicolas IV de Neufville de Villeroy was granted the title of Marquis de Villeroy by Louis XIII; his son was further given the marquisate of d'Alincourt.
The family was finally entered in the peerage in 1663 when Nicolas V was made Duc de Villeroy; he was also given the prestigious post of governor to the newly born Louis XIV. Governorship of a future king would be bestowed upon the family again when Louis XV turned seven years old.

The Neufville de Villeroy-family's generations as they were from the time of Louis XIV:

1) Nicolas V de Neufville de Villeroy married Madeleine de Blanchefort de Crèquy
Nicolas was under the protection of Cardinal Jules Mazarin who ensured him the title of Marèchal de France. The favour of the powerful Cardinal further led to the appointment of governorship of Louis XIV as well as the granting of a knighthood of the Saint-Esprit. Louis XIV would later make him head of the royal council of finances. Most importantly he was made a peer of France by the elevation to Duc de Villeroy.

Madeleine de Blanchefort de Crèquy was the daughter of the Prince de Poix

The couple had four children: 
  • Charles de Neufville de Villeroy - later Marquis d'Alincourt
  • François de Neufville de Villeroy - later Duc de Villeroy
  • Françoise de Neufville de Villeray - became first the Comtesse de Tournon, then Duchesse de Chaulnes and finally Marquise d'Hauterive
  • Catherine de Neufville de Villeroy - became Comtesse d'Armagnac 
2) François de Neufville de Villeroy married Marguerite-Marie de Cossé-Brissac
François was a playmate of Louis XIV and Philippe d'Orléans due to his father's governorship. When he reached adulthood he joined the military where he served as colonel of the infantry before being made Marèchal de France. He suffered a humiliating defeat to Prince Eugene who took him as a prisoner of war - eventually he was exchanged for the Count of Wallenstein. When he returned to court he was made head of the council of finance like his father - a position he would maintain during the regency. Louis XIV left him the governorship of Louis XV which the regent agreed to.

The couple had seven children:
  • Louis Nicolas de Neufville de Villeroy - Duc de Villeroy
  • Camille de Neufville de Villeroy - died young
  • François Paul de Neufville de Villeroy - Archbishop of Lyon
  • François-Catherine de Neufville de Villeroy - died young
  • Madeleine Thérèse de Neufville de Villeroy - became a nun
  • Françoise Madeleine de Neufville de Villeroy - Comtesse de Prado
  • Catherine Anne de Neufville de Villeroy - became a nun

3) Louis Nicolas de Neufville de Villeroy and Marguerite Le Tellier de Louvois
Like his father he entered the army where he became a Lieutenant General in 1702; later he was granted the knighthood of Saint-Esprit. By 1716 he inherited the title of Duc de Retz upon the death of his cousin who died without an heir.

Marguerite was the daughter of the king's minister, Louvois.

The couple had four children:
  • Louis François Anne de Neufville de Villeroy - became Duc de Villeroy
  • François Camille de Neufville de Villeroy - became Duc d'Alincourt
  • Marguerite Louise Sophie de Neufville de Villeroy - became Duchesse d'Harcourt
  • Madeleine Angélique de Neufville de Villeroy - became Duchesse de Boufflers
4) Louis François Anne de Neufville de Villeroy and Marie Renée de Montmorency
Louis became a Marèchal de camp in 1738 and later a Lieutenant General. It was under his patronage that the famous Villeroy-porcelain manufacturer was established in 1748.

Marie Renée was the daughter of the Duc de Piney-Luxembourg.

The couple had no children and the Dukedom of Villeroy went to the son of François Camille

4) Gabriel Louis François de Neufville de Villeroy and Jeanne Louise Constance d'Aumont
Gabriel was captain of the king's guards as well as a knight of the Order of Saint-Esprit in 1773. In 1778 he bought the title of Duc de Retz. Gabriel was guillotined on 28 April 1794.

Jeanne Louise Constance d'Aumont was the daughter of the Duc d'Aumont. She survived the revolution and tried in vain to regain her vast collection of books which had been confiscated.

The couple had no children but Gabriel had daughter by Étiennette Marie Périne Le Marquis.

Interesting facts and notes:

  • The family was granted the governorship of Lyonnais 
  • Marie-Josèphe de Boufflers (wife of François Camille) was a dame du palais to Marie Leszczynska
  • Their family's hôtel was built in 1650 by Nicolas IV and still stands 
  • François de Neufville was ambassador to Venice

Portrait Gallery:

Le maréchal-duc Nicolas V de Neufville de Villeroy (musée de la Révolution française).
Nicolas V de Neufville de Villeroy, 1st Duc de Villeroy

Marguerite-Marie, Duchesse de Villeroy
Le maréchal de Villeroy, Alexandre-François Caminade, 1834
François de Neufville de Villeroy, 2nd Duc de
Image illustrative de l'article François Paul de Neufville de Villeroy
Paul de Neufville de Villeroy, Archbishop of Lyon
François Anne de Neufville de Villeroy, 4th Duc de Villeroy
Catherine de Neufville de Villeroy
Billedresultat for de Neufville de Villeroy
Françoise de Neufville de Villeroy, married three times


The Duc and Duchesse du Châtelet

Diane Adélaide de Rochechouart had married Louis Marie Florent du Châtelet on 24 April 1752 in the presence of Louis XV and the royal family at Versailles. 

By 1788 the Duc du Châtelet had taken command of the French guards garrisoned in Paris. As it happens, the new colonel was an avid follower of the strict Prussian military discipline which he immediately attempted to impose on his troops. The Prussian army of the time was most likely the most disciplined in Europe; but it came a cost. Harsh physical punishment were commonplace for even minor infractions.

Naturally, his men were less than pleased at this new regime. Unfortunately, the Duc made it even worse for himself by not carrying the discipline thoroughly through. Officers of the 18th century were usually aristocrats (or at least wealthy) and this was the case in this regiment as well. However, these young men thought very little of their duties to their regiment and often neglected them - if they showed up at all. Louis failed to impose the same level of discipline and order amongst the officers which let to a clear difference in treatment.

Unsurprisingly, the Duc du Châtelet soon became an unpopular figure. In the summer of 1789 Paris was boiling with tension which would later erupt into the revolution. The morale in the regiment was low and ultimately failed to handle the scattered uprisings. Furthermore, the Duc became more and more a target of the people's anger.
On 12th July 1789 he was to experience exactly how deep the popular hatred for him went. He was basically kidnapped by an angry mob; it was only at the last moment that a detachment of his French guards came to his rescue.

Louis-Marie-Florent du Châtelet

Sadly for him, he was not to remain safe. On 14th July he lost all control of his soldiers when the majority deserted and joined the revolution. In the upheaval he was again arrested and imprisoned. 
By September 1793 the Duchesse du Châtelet was also arrested in Paris under charges of having attempted to emigrate without permission. She, too, underwent interrogation which particularly aimed at locating her son, the Comte du Châtelet. 

According to author Daniel Gerould Louis attempted to commit suicide by cutting his veins with a shard of glass while imprisoned. Another account also states that he allegedly attempted to smash his head against the wall. Exactly how he attempted to take his own life is unclear; what is clear, though, is that he became truly desperate during his imprisonment.

On 13th December 1793 the Duc du Châtelet was guillotined on the newly christened Place de la Revolution; the Duchesse was likewise executed on 22 April 1794.

onsdag den 22. november 2017

First Gentlemen of the King's Bedchamber

Considering that some of the tenure ships overlap I have chosen to arrange it alphabetically rather than chronologically. Note that some of these were listed as Premier Gentilhomme de la Chambre du Roi while others are merely mentioned as Premier Gentilhomme de la Chambre - this is how they were originally listed and not a distinction made by me.

Amédée-Bretagne-Malo de Durfort, Duc de Duras 
Tenure: 1789 and 1815
Served: Louis XVI
Other titles: none

Assisted in the marriage of Madame Royale after the execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in 1799. During the Reign of Terror he emigrated and accompanied Louis XVIII back into France in 1801. He died at Versailles in 1838.

Married to (I) Claire-Louise-Rose-Bonne-Guy de Coëtnempren de Kersaint in England (during his exile) and (II) Marie-Émilie Knusli 

Image illustrative de l'article Amédée-Bretagne-Malo de Durfort

André-Hercule de Rosset de Rocozel, Duc de Fleury
Tenure: 1741-1788
Served: Louis XV and Louis XVI
Other titles: none

Married to Anne-Madeleine-Françoise d'Auxy de Montceaux. He spent the majority of his court life as an officer in the army.

André-Hercule-Marie-Louis de Rosse de Rocozel, Duc de Fleury
Tenure: 1788-1792
Served: Louis XVI
Other titles: none

Married to Anne-Françoise-Aimée de Franquetot de Coigny but their marriage was dissolved in 1793. He accompanied the Comte de Provence to Rome during the Reign of Terror.

Charles de Créquy-Blanchefort, Duc de Créquy
Tenure: 1643-1687
Served: Louis XIV
Other titles: Prince de Poix, Duc de Poix, Marquis de Créquy

He initially served as a soldier until his grandfather purchased the position for him. He was a trusted member of Louis XIV's household being sent with gifts both to the then Infanta Marie Thérèse and later to Bavaria for the Grande Dauphine.

Billedresultat for Charles iii de Créquy-Blanchefort

Charles-Armand-Réne de La Trémoille, Duc de La Trémoille
Tenure: 1719-1741
Served: Louis XV
Other titles: Prince de Tarente, Comte de Laval, Comte de Montfort, Duc de Thouars

Married to Marie-Hortense-Victoire de La Tour d'Auvergne

Charles-Auguste de Rochechouart, Duc de Rochechouart
Tenure: 1732-1743
Served: Louis XV
Other titles: Grandee of Spain

Married to (I) Augustine de Coëtquen and (II) Marie-Charlotte-Élisabeth de Nicolaï

He died following the battle of Dettingen on 27 June 1743 where he served as a colonel for an infantry regiment

Charles-Belgique-Hollande de La Trémoille, Duc de La Trémoille
Tenure: 1687-1709
Served: Louis XIV
Other titles: Prince de Tarente, Comte de Laval, Baron de Vitré

Married to (I) Madeleine de Créquy and (II) Anne-Armande de Saint-Gelais de Lansac

Charles-Louis-Bretagne de La Trémoille, Duc de La Trémoille
Tenure: 1709-1719
Served: Louis XIV and Louis XV
Other titles: Prince de Tarente, Comte de Montfort, Baron de Vitré, Duc de Thouars

Married to Marie-Madeleine Motier, Marquise de La Fayette
Billedresultat for Charles-Armand-Réne de la Trémoille

Emmanuel-Céleste-Augustin de Durfort, Duc de Duras
Tenure: 1789-1791
Served: Louis XVI
Other titles: none

Married Louise-Charlotte-Henriette-Philippine de Noailles (daughter of Madame Etiquette)

He emigrated during the revolution; first, he joined the French princes who had been exiled to Germany but then travelled on to London where he died

Billedresultat for Emmanuel-Céleste-Augustin de Durfort

Emmanuel-Félicité de Durfort, Duc de Dufort
Tenure: 1757-1789
Served: Louis XV and Louis XVI

Married to (I) Charlotte-Antoinette de La Porte-Mazarini and (II) Louise-Françoise-Maclovie-Céleste de Coëtquen

Luckily for him, he died in his own apartment at Versailles in September 1789 - just before the palace was stormed


François de Beauvillier, Duc de Saint-Aignan
Tenure: 1649-1687
Served: Louis XIV
Other titles: none

Prior to being elevated to the rank of Duc he held the position of Captain of Monsieur's Guards and would later make a part of the king's private council.

Married to (I) Antoinette Servien de Montigny and (II) Françoise Géré de Rancé

François de Beauvillier

François de Beauvillier de Saint-Aignan, Comte de Séry
Tenure: 1657
Served: Louis XIV 

He died at the age of 29 which is why he did not serve in this capacity for long.

François-Bernard Potier de Luxembourg, Duc de Tresmes
Served: Louis XV 
Other titles: Duc de Gesvres, Marquis d'Annebaut, Marquis de Gandelu, Marquis de Fontenay-Mareuil

He was married to Marie-Madeleine-Genviève-Louise de Seiglière

François-Joachim-Bernard Potier de Luxembourg, Duc de Gesvres 
Tenure: 1739-1757
Served: Louis XV

He was appointed governor of Paris and later he was made knight of the Order of Saint-Esprit.

He married Marie-Madeleine-Emilie Mascranni 


Gabriel de Rochechouart, Duc de Mortemart
Tenure: 1630-1669
Served: Louis XIV
Other titles: Prince de Tonnay-Charente

Like the Duc de Gesvres, he was made Governor of Paris in 1669. He was elevated from Marquis to Duc de Mortemart in 1663. During the Fronde he remained with the royal family and enjoyed a close relationship with Anne of Austria as well as Louis XIV - the latter rewarded his loyalty with a peerage.

He married Diane de Grandeseigne


Henri de Daillon, Duc du Lude 
Tenure: 1653-1669
Served: Louis XIV

He was made governor of the château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye where Louis XIV was born. Originally, he was a Comte until Louis XIV raised him to a peerage.

He married (I) Renée Élénore de Bouillé and (II) Marguerite-Louise-Suzanne de Béthune

Billedresultat for Henri de Daillon
Henri de Daillon

Léon Potier de Luxembourg, Marquis de Gesvres 
Tenure: 1670-1704
Served: Louis XIV
Other titles: Comte de Sceaux, Duc de Tresmes

He was made Governor of Paris in 1687 and made good connections at court. However, he was also very adept at making enemies. Both the Duc de Saint-Simon and the Duc de Villeroy absolutely despised him.

Married to (I) Marie-Françoise-Angélique du Val and (II) Marie-Renée de Romillé

Louis d'Aumont de Rochebaron, Duc d'Aumont
Tenure: 1704-1723
Served: Louis XIV and Louis XV

When Louis XIV made his great-grandson King of Spain the Duc d'Aumont was charged to serve him. Once he returned to France he was first given the position of ambassador to England which he held from 1702-1723. As you might have noticed this overlapped with his time in this position. That is due to the fact that he was given the title after is father's death and shared the title with the governor of Boulogne.

Married to Olympe de Brouilly

Louis de Rochechouart, Duc de Mortemart 
Tenure: 1710-1729
Served: Louis XIV and Louis XV
Other titles: Grandee of Spain

In the army he was made general and participated in the siege of Barcelona in 1714. He was also a relative of Madame de Montespan.

Married to (I) Marie-Henriette de Beauvillier and (II) Marie-Charlotte-Elisabeth de Nicolai

Louis-Alexandre-Céleste d'Aumont de Rochebaron, Duc d'Aumont
Tenure: 1762-1782
Served: Louis XV and Louis XVI
Other titles: Duc de Villequier

He was made governor of bot Compiègne and Boulonnais while he held the rank of Lieutenant General in the king's army. In 1782 he was awarded with a knighthood of the Order of Saint-Esprit by   Louis XVI.

Married to (I) Félicité-Louise Le Tellier and (II) Antoinette-Marguerite-Henriette de Mazade

Louis-Antoine-Sophie du Plessis de Richelieu, Duc de Fronsac
Served: Louis XVI

In 1756 he was made both Premier Gentilhomme de la Chambre du Roi and a dragoon. His military career would later lead him to be both Marèchal de camp and Lieutenant General of the king's army. Madame de Pompadour had wanted to marry her daughter to the Duc de Fronsac but his father avoided the match by saying that he could not agree to marriage without the consent of the head of his house who was the Princesse de Lorraine.

Married to (I) Adélaïde-Gabrielle d'Hautefort and (II) Marie-Antoinette de Gallifret

Billedresultat for Louis-Antoine-Sophie du Plessis de Richelieu
Duc de Fronsac

Louis-François-Armand de Vignerot du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu
Tenure: 1744-1786
Served: Louis XV and Louis XVI

He was the godson of Louis XIV (having been born during that monarch's reign). By 1712 he became a musketeer but was gravely compromised in the scandalous Cellamare conspiracy which aimed to "dethrone" the regent in 1719. Apparently, he was forgiven since he later was entrusted with several important positions including envoy to Vienna, knight of the Saint-Esprit and Marèchal de France. Significantly, he was the one who was sent to Dresden to ask for the and of Marie Josèphe de Saxe.

Married to (I) Anne-Catherine de Noailles, (II) Marie-Élisabeth de Lorraine-Harcourt and (III) Jeanne-Catherine-Josèphe de Lavaulx

Jean-Marc Nattier (1685-1766) - Portret van maarschalk hertog Richelieu - Lissabon Museu Calouste Gulbenkian 21-10-2010 13-34-54.jpg
Duc de Richelieu

Louis-François-Charles-Augustin de Rochechouart, Duc de Rochechouart
Tenure: 1743
Served: Louis XV
Other titles: Duc de Mortemart and Grandee of Spain

He never actually fulfilled the duties of his title for a very good reason: he was three years old when he inherited it! Sadly, he also died in 1743.

Louis-Marie d'Aumont de Rochebaron, Duc d'Aumont
Tenure: April 1723 - November 1723
Served: Louis XV

He only got to serve in this position for seven months before dying in 1723. At the age of 15 he was made an infantry colonel.

Married to Catherine de Guiscard

Louis-Marie-Augustin d'Aumont de Rochebaron, Duc d'Aumont
Served: Louis XV and Louis XVI
Other titles: Marquis de Villequier

He inherited a vast fortune which enabled him to built a big art collection. In the army he quickly rose through the ranks being both awarded the ranks of Lieutenant General and Marèchal de camp.

Married Victoire-Félicité de Durfort

Louis-Marie-Céleste de Rochebaron de Villequier, Duc d'Aumont
Tenure: 1785 and again in 1815 
Served: Louis XVI
Other titles: Duc de Piennes

He emigrated during the revolution where he led a regiment of voluntary monarchist-soldiers in Spain; eventually, he would accompany Louis XVIII back to France in 1797

He married Mélanie Charlotte de la Rochechouart

Louis-Marie-Victor d'Aumont de Rochebaron, Duc d'Aumont
Tenure: 1669-1704
Served: Louis XIV
Other titles: Marquis de Chappes, Marquis de Villequier

He served as Captain of the king's guard before distinguishing himself in a military campaign in Flanders.

He married (I) Madeleine Fare Le Tellier and (II) Françoise-Angélique de La Mothe-Houdancourt

Billedresultat for Louis-Marie-Victor d'Aumont de Rochebaron

Louis-Victor de Rochechouart, Duc de Vivonne
Tenure: 1655-1669
Served: Louis XIV
Other titles: Viceroy of Sicily

Before being appointed he had primarily been in the king's military service where he was made Marèchal de camp and Lieutenant General.

Married to Antoinette-Louise de Mesmes

Image illustrative de l'article Louis Victor de Rochechouart de Mortemart

Paul de Beauvillier, Duc de Beauvillier
Tenure: 1666/1687-1710
Served: Louis XIV
Other titles: Duc de Saint-Aignan

He was made Chief of the Financial Council in 1685 and was later granted the title of First Gentleman of the Bedchamber to the Duc de Berry. Interestingly enough, he was also appointed as governor to the Duc de Bourgogne and his younger brother, the Duc d'Anjou.

He married Henriette-Louise Colbert de Seignelay

Billedresultat for Paul de Beauvillier
Paul de Beauvillier

Paul-Louis de Rochechouart, Duc de Rochechouart
Tenure: 1729-1731
Served: Louis XV
Other titles: Duc de Mortemart, Grandee of Spain

He only served for a brief while because he died at the age of 21 

He was married to Marie-Anne-Élisabeth de Beauvau

Réne Potier, Duc de Tresmes
Tenure: 1669-1670
Served: Louis XIV

Louis XIV sent him to England as his ambassador after having served for years either as a politician or as a soldier. Being born in 1579 he was already 80 years old when he was offered the position.

He married Marguerite de Luxembourg 

Réne Potier

lørdag den 18. november 2017

The Marquis d'Argenson & the Duchesse de Gontaut

Réne-Louis de Voyer de Paulmy d'Argenson is better known to history as the Marquis d'Argenson due to his memoirs. When the Marquis was 23 years old (and still a Comte) he met a young lady who at the time went under the title of Marquise de Biron. That lady's name was Marie-Adélaide de Gramont and she was four years his junior. 

Marie-Adélaide had been married at an early age to the Marquis de Biron and had then taken her place at court as a dame du Palais to Marie Leszczynska in 1725. The following year she and her husband were elevated to the rank of Duc and Duchesse de Biron although they were known as the Duc and Duchesse de Gontaut. On account of the Marquis d'Argenson himself (who describes her in his memoirs) their affair lasted for just year because he was obliged to leave on a political mission to Hainaut. 

The Marquis d'Argenson

D'Argenson's memoirs leaves us with a vivid image of the Duchesse:
"She had a touching face, was sincere and full of feeling, constant, reasonable and generous; extremely seductive in a tête-en-tête..."

Rather surprisingly, the Marquis admits that the affair was instigated by her. This he did not attribute to any particular sense of coquetry but rather, that since she had been married at an early age, she was more experienced in love than him. Their affair seems to have ended amicably; once the Marquis left she took another lover - her husband having been dead some years - and eventually married him.
Whether the Duchesse continued to habour romantic emotions for her former lover is unknown but we do know that that was the case for him. His memoirs attest to the fact that he continued to love her even after her marriage - in his own words he "often regretted their rupture".

Even though their intimate affair lasted just a short while several letters of theirs survive which tells us that they had a special relationship for quite some years before that. The letters that survive dates from 1737 to 1740 - the year that Madame de Gontaut died.

Despite his regret - or perhaps because of it - he ceased to visit her in her house following her marriage. He himself did not exclude himself from female company; other mistresses followed his dear Madame G. If you are wondering why the Marquis did not marry the Duchesse himself there was a very good reason for that: he was already married.
In 1718 Réne-Louis had married Marie-Madeleine Méliand; her year of death seems disputed but one source puts it as late as 1781 - if true then she would have been very much alive when the affair took place.

The Apollo Fountain

The fountain's impressive Apollo-feature was made between 1669 and 1671 but the spot itself already boasted a body of water during the reign of Louis XIII. The original pond was dug out in 1639 and called the "Pond of the Swans". The design of Louis XIV's addition was perfect both symbolically and aesthetically. Apollo - the Sun God - was designed by Le Brun and executed by Tuby. Originally, when the piece was transported to Versailles in 1670 it was still fresh from the mint and received its gilding the following year. The motif is as allegorical as could be wished for. Apollo rises from the water in his chariot drawn by four horses to usher in the new day while cherubs herald his arrival.

The pool in itself is quite large measuring 110 meters at it its widest. It formed the centre-piece of the post-banquet of the wedding of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Once the guests descended upon the garden an impressive display of fireworks went of which focused on the Apollo Fountain. Immediately behind the Apollo Fountain the Grand Canal stretches on and on seemingly endlessly.

Billedresultat for versailles bassin d'apollon

Relateret billede

fredag den 17. november 2017

A Wedding Farce

The Duc du Maine suffered the loss of his son in 1698; the little boy was just three years old. Court etiquette demanded that mourning was not to be observed for children under the age of seven but Louis XIV had become far more lax in this practice in his later years. Consequently, the September of that year saw the cancellation of court festivities and the courtiers dressed in sombre colours. 

However, an event was soon to take place which was hardly fit for a court in mourning. After searching in vain for a royal husband for Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans (daughter of Monsieur and the Princess Palatine) a marriage was finally arranged. The young lady - known as Mademoiselle - was to marry the Duc de Lorraine.
Monsieur was anxious that his daughter's marriage was not to be lessened by the mourning which cast a gloom over the court. Surprisingly, Louis XIV agreed and gave the orders for ending the mourning period in time for the wedding. Everyone were informed that they were to bring their best clothing for the ceremony but not everyone were happy about it.

The proxy ceremony

Louis XIV's two legitimized daughters - the Princesse de Conti and the Duchesse de Bourbon - did not consider the event worth dropping the mourning for. They made it clear that they had no intention of following orders; naturally, their father was displeased. Learning of his daughters' disobedience he gave them stern orders to do as they were told. Most courtiers would have caved in at the sight of the Grand Monarch's wrath but his daughters had a great deal of his own pride. They sassily responded that they had no other clothes!
Losing his patience, Louis XIV snappily replied that in that case they were to immediately order new clothes. Finally, they had to admit defeat and begrudgingly appeared at the ceremony dressed in the required court costume.

Louis de Lorraine, Comte d'Armagnac

On 7 December 1641 Louis de Lorraine was born to the couple of Henri de Lorraine and Marguerite Philippe du Cambout. His childhood was spent in the company of his brother - none other than the Chevalier de Lorraine, Monsieur's lover.

Louis' place at court was secured from an early age. Not only was he entitled to a life at court due to his aristocratic roots but his father also served as Master of the King's Stables (Grand Ècuyer). Once Louis was old enough he was given the same position which immediately made him an officer in Louis XIV's household. The position meant that he was known at court as "Monsieur le Grand". Considering how fond the Sun King was of hunting it is quite certain that Louis was often in the company of the king.
At the age of 25 he inherited the title of Comte d'Armagnac when his father died. In the Middle Ages this particular title had been accompanied by vast land areas but the power that came with it was no longer in his hands.

Louis of Lorraine, Count of Armagnac (1641-1718) by Alexandre Debacq (Versailles).jpg

His marriage was arranged to Catherine de Neufville who was the daughter of the Duc de Villeroy who had been Louis XIV's governor in his youth. Whether the marriage was happy or not is not quite clear but it certainly was effective. No less than 14 children were born to the couple.

The English envoy at the French court, Henry Savile, wrote a document of guidance to his successor. In it he warned him of what men he should be careful of. Savile classed Louis de Lorraine as a questioner but not with malicious intentions. As could be expected the Duc de Saint-Simon had another view of both Louis and his brother, the Chevalier. According to the memoirist Louis XIV sought Louis' help when arranging the marriage of Mademoiselle de Blois (daughter of Madame de Montespan and Louis XIV) to the Duc de Chartres since it was considered a great misalliance. Saint-Simon mentions that Monsieur le Grand accepted but demanded to be made a knight of an unspecified order. Exactly how this took place is not certain but Louis de Lorraine was nevertheless made a knight - and the marriage took place.

As a man Louis de Lorraine is described as being the epitome of a man of the court; his entire world focused around it. Surprisingly, he was also said to be a "very good man and very polite". His house was known to be open to guests whom he would entertain with gambling or plays. The Comte appears to have been somewhat of an enigma. One would think that someone described as a "very good man" would have a good reputation. However, he could also be "brutal and blunt - even to ladies" and apparently had his share of greed and unscrupulousness too when it came to his career at court.

It is not known if his death was caused by an illness but it seems more likely that he simply died out old age. What is known is that he suffered from gout in his last years and that he died in the Abbaye de Royaumont which could be an indicator that he was becoming frail. Still, he was 76 at the time of his death so some frailness is to be expected. Louis died on 13 June 1718.

lørdag den 11. november 2017


The style of déshabillé - or negligée - was a type of informal dress which had its roots in female undergarments (i.e. the chemise). Loose-fitting and relaxed it became synonymous with the privacy of the bedchamber - but, still, it could be used for more public displays. The beauty of the style was that it could be dressed up or down according to the circumstances.

One particular proponent of the fashion was Madame de Montespan; usually, the courtiers could tell whether the mistress was "in happy circumstances" by her choosing to discard the corset for the deshabillé.  Also, La Montespan was remarked to look her very best when in this sensual array - something she knew how to take advantage of.
The style quickly caught on due to the comfort it provided. A full court costume was unpleasant at best - tight corset, wide panniers and heels made maneuvering around a challenge in itself. It is no wonder, then, that women embraced the new trend and not always intended for the bedroom. Marie Adélaide of Savoy preferred to wear the style when she roamed around her private apartment.

Relateret billede
Madame de Montespan in déshabillé before her château of

However, not all court ladies were pleased with the new fashion. Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate never quite got the point of using clothing to lure men in. In her opinion clothing was either practical (such as her hunting habits) or underlined her rank (such as court gowns). 
The déshabillé was ideal for the toilette; this was particularly true for the prominent court ladies who received visitors (both male and female) while preparing their costume.

Maria Feodorovna of Russia

Given the nature of the style some fabrics were preferred for the déshabillé. Heavy fabrics such as brocade, cloth of gold and taffeta were not used; instead, silk, satin, linen and similar light fabrics were preferred. On occasion a sash would be draped around the waist.

Not only women were fond of the style; men, too, saw the advantages of loosening up once in a while. Their version involved a loose-fitting white undershirt perhaps accompanied by an equally loose coat for warmth.

George Savile, 1st Marquess of Halifax.jpg
The Marquis of Halifax sporting the male

Actually, the chemise de la Reine is a late 18th-century version of the déshabillé. Marie Antoinette made the style "in" again by this choice of style. Thus, it received somewhat of a renaissance during her reign although it was received with some frowns. While Marie Antoinette preferred the style as an alternative to the tight-laced court gowns some of her contemporaries imitated La Montespan's use. Madame du Barry was known to frolic in her apartment in frilly deshabillé. The last royal mistress would often don this type of airy attire for the king's private suppers. With flowers in her hair she would entertain the few guests invited by the king.

Relateret billede
Madame du Barry in déshabillé

fredag den 10. november 2017

Inbreeding in the Royal Family

Inbreeding has been the custom of ruling dynasties for thousands of years; mostly it was due to a desire to keep the bloodline "clean". In the age of Versailles marriages were made to form alliances with other European powers. 

The monarchs

Louis XIV and Marie Thérèse were first cousins and as such were the closest relations of the three kings and their consort inhabiting Versailles. Anne of Austria - mother of Louis XIV - was the sister of Philip IV of Spain; he happened to be Marie Thérèse's father.

Louis XV and Marie Leszczynska were not related by 18th century standards. Neither their parents nor their grandparents were related by blood. As such the chose of the Polish princess as a bride was a good choice in more than one sense: first, it enabled the king to produce an heir immediately, secondly, it angered none of the other powers and thirdly, it brought in "new blood".

Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were related but not closely. Marie Antoinette was the daughter of Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor who in turn was the grandson of Philippe, Duc d'Orléans (Monsieur) and Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate. 

King Louis XIV of France meets Philip IV of Spain and his bride Maria Theresa (Philip’s daughter) at Pheasant Island, June 1660.
Louis XIV meeting the king of Spain (his uncle) and his bride (his cousin)

The Dauphins and Dauphines

Louis, the Grand Dauphin and his bride, Marie Anne Victoire of Bavaria, were second cousins. The Grande Dauphine's grandparents were the Duke of Savoy and the French princess, Christine Marie (a sister of Louis XIII).

The Duc and Duchesse de Bourgogne were also second cousins. Marie Adélaide of Savoy's grandfather was Philippe, Duc d'Orléans (Monsieur). Ironically, her great-grandparents were Christine Marie of Savoy and Victor Amadeus - the parents of the Grande Dauphine.

Louis Ferdinand and Marie Thérèse Raphaëlle were also rather closely related. Actually, this short-lived Dauphine was a direct granddaughter of Louis XIV himself through the second son born to the Grand Dauphin.

Wedding of Marie Adélaïde and Louis, Duc de Bourgogne in December 1694
Wedding of the Duc and Duchesse de Bourgogne - the Duc d'Orléans is
depicted as well; a common ancestor of the couple

lørdag den 21. oktober 2017

Portrait Gallery: Marie Thérèse

By Jean Nocret
1660's by Joseph Werner - in
Polish costume
French school
By Jean-Marie Ribou
By François Troy
Illustration used after
her death
1660 - wedding portrait
By Jean Petitot
As queen
1680's by François Troy
Coloured engraving
After Beaubrun
French school
Probably at the Spanish
1680's by a follower of Mignard
As Sainte-Hélène
Before her marriage
By Juan de Mazo
1655 by Vélazquez
As a teenager
1660's by Joseph Werner
As a patron of Notre-Dame
With the Grand Dauphin
By Charles Beaubrun
By Vélazquez
Unknown artist