Queen of France 1660- 1683
She spent the majority of her years in France in her rooms with her Spanish ladies and the dwarves she
loved to be entertained by, and had little impact on the court around her. With
Louis, she had 6 children, only one of whom survived to adulthood. She was always
treated with respect by her husband, but he did not choose to spend any more time than necessary with her. At the prompting
of Madame de Maintenon, Louis took to visiting Marie-Therese more regularly, and most likely the last years of her life were
happier for it: Louis was treating her less like a piece of family furniture, and more like a woman. In July of 1683, Louis’
wife, Marie-Therese, passed away. She had been a quiet, dignified queen, and
he remarked that her death was the only trouble she had ever caused him.
Louise de La Valliere (1644-1710)
Mademoiselle de La Baume Le Blanc
Maitresse en titre 1661-1666
Less than a year into this marriage, Louis began to find his attentions diverted towards a certain Mademoiselle
Louise de La Valliere. She is always described as a gentle, shy girl of 16 when
she comes to court and takes up the attention of a dashing 22 year old Louis XIV. At
that time she was a lady-in-waiting to the Duchesse d’Orleans, wife of Louis’s brother Philippe who was known
in Court parlance as Madame. She and Louis had 4 children over the course of
their 6 year affair, only one of whom survived into adulthood (Marie Anne, Mlle de Blois).
Their relationship had a secretive air to it, as Louis didn’t want to offend his deeply religious mother, Anne
of Austria, by parading around a mistress in front of her and her niece (his wife, Marie-Therese). Sadly, once the Queen Mother had passed, and Louis and Louise were able to be more open about their relationship,
Louise wasn’t able to withstand the public eye. Although she loved Louis, she wasn’t proud of their adulterous
relationship. This made her timid. Over
the years, perhaps because of her inability to rise to the occasion, the ardor of their relationship lessened. She called on her friend, Athena´s de Montespan, to help her entertain Louis when he visited Louise. Louise tried to hold on to Louis by crashing a court excursion to Flanders at the start of
the campaign of the War of Devoltion. Eventually she tried a couple of times to immure herself in a convent, but Louis compelled
her to return. On her third attempt to retire to a Carmelite convent she was
successful and became Sister Louise de La Misericorde.
Athena´s de Rochechouart-Mortemart
Marquise de Montespan
Maitresse en titre 1666- 1680
With Louise de La Valliere out of the way, Athena´s de Montespan
was able to truly conquer Louis XIV. Louis was, of course, willingly conquered. Athena´s was the female version of Louis; high-born, proud, and vivacious. As Louis came into his own and felt his kingship, she was the kind of woman he needed at his side. She
was respectful of Louis without being servile. They were together for about 15
years, and during this time they had 8 children, 6 of whom survived into adulthood.
These children were cared for in secrecy at a house in Paris
on the Rue Vaugirard by Francoise Scarron, later to be known as Madame de Maintenon (in 1675, when Louis made her a Marquise,
gifting her with the estate of Maintenon).
In 1676, Louis and Athena´s split. He spent time away on the
campaign in Holland during this time of the Franco-Dutch War. She went to Bourbon to take the cure. They
both returned to Versailles and reconciled for long enough
to produce the last two of their children together. By 1680 the affair fizzled out, and although Athena´s remained at Court
for several more years, she eventually retired to a convent.
Marquise de Maintenon
Morganatic wife (1683-1715)
Raised in Martinique, Francoise returned to France with her mother when her father died. They were very poor, and when Francoise’s mother died, she was faced with the dilemma of how to survive:
either she would need to enter a convent or find someone to marry. An invalid
poet named Paul Scarron became her husband for the next nine years until he died.
During this time she became friends with Mme de Montespan, and when Mme de Montespan began to have children
with Louis XIV, she asked Francoise d’Aubigne to be their governess. She
was placed in a house at a secret location where she came in occasional contact with Louis XIV. At first he did not like her, but as he observed how much care and attention she gave to his children,
he began to appreciate her company.
Always a religious woman, she hit the right note with Louis XIV, who at this time in his life began to
gravitate towards a calmer lifestyle than what he had been leading. Athena´s
was not a particularly maternal person and therefore could not mirror his change of direction.
Louis gave Francoise the estate and title of Marquise de Maintenon, and she became first lady-in-waiting to the Dauphine,
Marie-Adelaide of Savoy, who arrived at the French court at the age of twelve.
Mme de Maintenon founded the school of Saint-Cyr, near Versailles, to provide an education for girls from
families of the impoverished nobility. There were four levels, and upon graduation
the girls were provided with a modest dowry if they had found a husband, or were accepted into a convent.
She had a brother, known as the Comte d’Aubigne, who was somewhat of a thorn in her side, causing
her embarrassment at the court of Versailles. He would have terrible arguments
with her over the facts that he was no higher rank than a captain of infantry, and that he had received no special appointments
such as a governorship, a peerage or at least a higher ranking title. According,
to the Duc de Saint-Simon, the Comte d’Aubigne was a spendthrift who “chased after the whores at the Tuileries
and everywhere else.” Despite all this, he was generally considered to
be a pleasant man, and one who enjoyed telling stories about his sister’s life before she came to court, when she was
the wife of Paul Scarron. He would rather indiscreetly refer to the King as his
brother-in-law. Spurred on by the complaints of irresponsibility, debauchery
and manhandling from his wife, the situation was resolved with the Comte being confined to a community for Christian gentlemen,
and his wife moving into a convent, where their expenses were paid every month, and given a small amount of spending money
as well. Madame de Maintenon took their daughter to be raised at Versailles, eventually marrying her into the Noailles family.
Louis XIV married Mme de Maintenon
in a secret marriage ceremony, most likely in 1684. It was a marriage never publicly
recognized because their social stations were so unequal. When Louis XIV died she retired to the school of St. Cyr.
Other names associated with the reign of Louis XIV:
of Austria (1601-1666)
Mother of Louis XIV
Queen Consort of France
Regent of France (1643-1651)
Chief Minister of France (1642-1661)
Disgraced Superintendant of Finance
of Louis XIV
Owner of Vaux-le-Vicomte
Minister of Finance of Louis XIV