Skip to comments.Undercover Queen:THE SECRET WIFE OF LOUIS XIV Françoise d’Aubigné, Madame de Maintenon
Posted on 09/07/2009 2:41:35 PM PDT by Cincinna
Kings, Louis XIV once observed, should enjoy giving pleasure and when it came to the fairer sex, he obeyed this precept zealously and often. Theyre all good enough for him, provided theyre women, his sister-in-law remarked, peasants, gardeners daughters, chambermaids, ladies of quality; women of every stripe benefited from the Sun Kings sexual largesse. Neither the bonds of matrimony (to the sad, neglected Marie-Thérèse of Spain) nor the intrigues of his official mistresses (one of whom, Athénaïs de Montespan, wasnt above spreading the rumor that a particular rival had scabs all over her body) could deter him from sharing the love.
But the prospect of eternal damnation was, to a Catholic sovereign, a rather more forceful deterrent. As Louis aged afflicted by chronic tooth decay, a prostate tumor and a nasty case of gout he worried that his adultery might cost him the kingdom of heaven. Eventually and paradoxically, this concern propelled him into a liaison with the morally exacting, middle-aged Françoise dAubigné, Marquise de Maintenon. To the astonishment of the court, accustomed to a monarch whose tastes ran more to pulchritude than to piety, she exerted such influence over him in his final years that once he was a widower he even, despite her shameful origins as a convicted felons daughter, deigned to wed her (albeit secretly). In his well-known chronicle of Louis XIVs reign, the Duc de Saint-Simon demonized Madame de Maintenon as ruthless schemer whose devoutness was a ruse, devised solely to exploit her lovers fear of sin. While likewise revealing that her faith was a matter of strategy rather than of substance, The Secret Wife of Louis XIV: Françoise dAubigné, Madame de Maintenon, by Veronica Buckley, offers a lively, sympathetic portrayal of the woman who, against all odds, succeeded in taming the royal tomcat.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Another excellent book on the subject is l'Allee du Roi by Francoise Chadernaggor.
This qualifies as 'old news'.
Fascinating. Thanks for posting, I would have missed that review (and the opportunity to buy the book) had you not posted it.
Bump for later. Thanks for posting!
It had nothing to do with sex.
Louis XIV was an extraordinaty man, with an extraordinary inyellect and education. His writings show an artistic temperament, but disciplined, well school in the art of statecraft.
We FReepers are very interested in History, historical figures and Biographies,ancient history to the recent past.
I see a pattern here ~ there's ol' Henry, fat dumb and happy living in a very prosperous France at peace with itself, and with its Protestant neighbors. Then, here comes Madame de Maintenon and she turns Henry to "the Church" whereupon he revokes the very act of official state toleration that kept France's middle class and Protestant merchants at home.
Next thing you know France is up to its eyeballs in conflicts with its Protestant neighbors; the Brits turn hungry eyes on French zones in India, and on the Ohio Valley and on New France!
Real smart Madame de Maintenon!
That's called "screwing the pooch".
Francoise d’Aubigne. later later la Veuve Scarron, later Madame de Maintenon was a Calvinist. Her piety and devotion were known throughout France.
Henry? I think you have your Kings of France mixed up!
Nothing sexier than a king with chronic tooth decay. Ugghh. The horror.
I had heard vaguely of this woman, and thinking that she was called “Maintenant” (now), I figured that this had something to do with her readiness to serve the King in a sexual way.
No one with a brain would confuse Louis the 14th with anything sexual. Not hetrosexual, anyway.
I read a book about her years ago and dang, I wish I could remember the name and author! It was a good read, covering the years before her marriage to Scarron, through her friendship with Montespan and the years she spent raising the ‘royal bastards’ apart from the court. Ended with Louis’ proposal to her. I’d never heard of her before reading it, but it hooked me.
King Henry?????? Huh?
She had an absolutely fascinating life.
Let me know if you remember the name of the book.
Next time I'll be more careful.
Louis XIV was definitely hetero, and quite a womanizer in his early years.
You may be confusing him with Henri III.
Henri III, 1551-89, was elected king of Poland in 1573 but returned to France in 1574 to succeed his brother Charles IX. His reign was almost continually disturbed by the Wars of Religion. The death in 1584 of his brother François made him the last male member of the House of Valois. His recognition of Henri de Navarre (later Henri IV) as heir presumptive was opposed by Henri, 3rd Duc de Guise, head of the Catholic League (the “War of the Three Henrys” resulted). Having procured the murder of Guise (1588), the king was faced with a revolt of the League and was expelled from Paris. Henri de Navarre came to his aid, but Henri III was assassinated in the siege by Jacques Clément, a fanatic monk. —Columbia-Viking desk encyclopedia, 1953
Henri III is something of an historical enigma. The beautiful sketches of the royal family by Clouet show a young man with compellingly soulful eyes; later there is a certain haunted quality to them. He was the military hero of Jarnac and Montcontour (notable royal victories over the Huguenots), a keen blade and afficionado of the fence, who occasionally dressed in women’s clothing and whose taste for luxury was considered the height of decadence. He kept a retinue of “mignons” — his fanatically loyal courtiers, pretty boys with sharp swords who picked duels with the retainers of his enemies. He was sincerely, if intermittently, religious, establishing congregations of Penitents in Paris and walking barefoot in their processions, flagellating himself (there is a certain masochistic quality to his outbreaks of piety). In 1577 he gave the Protestants all the rights they would later have in the Edict of Nantes in 1598, although these were annulled over the years under pressure from the Catholic wing. In the end he valued blood ties over religion, and named Henri de Navarre his heir on his deathbed. History remembers him as an indolent “Prince of Sodom”, but he was the most intelligent and capable of Catherine’s brood
I definitely liked the intro to the Wiki piece though ~ it began: "Si Mme de Montespan pensa à elle pour devenir la gouvernante des bâtards royaux, c'était parce que la veuve Scarron avait su la divertir et qu'elle était ..." and when you got one like that on the line you know it's gonna' get down and nasty before you know it.
Now, about this ol'gal being a Calvinist, her father renounced such things just before he murdered her mother.
These people were such sweethearts ~ just who the heck let her get near the Court?
Louis quatorze stands in history on his own.