27.05.

1707: Marquise de Montespan – the “Official” Mistress of King Louis XIV

1707: Marquise de Montespan – the “Official” Mistress of King Louis XIV
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons / Mme de Montespan, by Pierre Mignard, c 1670

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 27 May 1707
  • The husband of Marquise de Montespan did not quietly accept the fact that she was cheating on him with the king. He allegedly challenged Louis XIV and raised a scandal at court. However, he was soon imprisoned and later exiled to his estates.

On this day in 1707, one of the most famous French royal mistresses – the famous Marquise de Montespan – died.

She was the official mistress (French: maîtresse en titre) of the French King Louis XIV (“Sun King”).

Louis XIV was the most powerful ruler in Europe, who ruled his country and his court as an absolute monarch. He is credited for the famous saying “I am the state” (“L’État, c’est moi”), though there is no proof that he ever said that.

Marquise de Montespan was born in a very respectable family. She was born under the name Françoise Athénaïs de Rochechouart de Mortemart and was the daughter of the powerful Duke of Mortemart, at one time the Governor of Paris.

Her family de Rochechouart was considered the oldest in France after the royal dynasty, which was enormously important for her reputation. In fact, in France, the reputation of the nobility was based more on the fact how old family the family was than on how high was the title they held (as opposed to the rest of Europe).

When she was 22 years old, she married Marquis de Montespan, after whom she got the title by which she is mostly known today. She became the king’s mistress when she was about 27 years old.

Indeed, she already had two children with her husband by that time. She pushed aside the king’s prior mistress, even though she was around 4 years older than her.

The husband of Marquise de Montespan did not quietly accept the fact that she was cheating on him with the king. He allegedly challenged Louis XIV and raised a scandal at court.

However, he was soon imprisoned and was later exiled to his estates.

Marquise de Montespan gave birth to as many as seven illegitimate children to King Louis XIV. The king was so caring towards these children that he even placed them in positions which children born outside marriage rarely received in European kingdoms.

The eldest son received the title of Duke of Maine, and the youngest the title of Count of Toulouse, and was created “Grand Admiral of France”, Secretary of the Navy (and received another five ducal titles).

The king made an effort to marry his children. He eventually even declared that they can inherit the throne, sparking a revolt among the king’s legitimate descendants.

Marquise de Montespan’s function of the king’s mistress was inherited by Marquise de Maintenon, who was still around four years older than her (i.e.mistresses that the king took were increasingly older as he aged).

The Marquise de Montespan died at the age of 66 at Bourbon-l’Archambault.

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