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A son, Louis-Auguste, was born in In , the couple's three living illegitimate children were legitimated by Louis XIV and given the royal surname of de Bourbon. Their mother's name, however, was not mentioned in the legitimization documents, as Madame de Montespan was still married to her husband. If their maternal parentage had been revealed, the marquis could have legally claimed Madame de Montespan's illegitimate children with the king as his own. As Madame de Montespan spent the majority of her time immersed in the social whirl of the court, the three had little contact with their busy mother and spent most of their childhood with their governess, Madame Scarron.

Due to her role in royal adultery, the Roman Catholic Church soon became her adversary. Is this the Madame that scandalises all France? Go abandon your shocking life and then come throw yourself at the feet of the ministers of Jesus Christ. The King appealed to the priest's superiors, but the Church refused to yield to the king's demands.

Both were to be legitimised in The Affaire des Poisons , which erupted in September , was to be the beginning of the end of the reign of La Montespan. Madame de Montespan's relegation to the position of superintendent of the Queen's household as a result brought matters to a head. Before any further developments in her romance with the King could occur, Mlle de Fontanges died in Many at the time suspected that she had been poisoned by her rival, although none could prove it. It is now believed that Mlle de Fontanges died from natural causes.

Long assumed to have been involved in the infamous Affaire des Poisons , Madame de Montespan has never been conclusively implicated. Gabriel Nicolas de La Reynie , Paris' first Lieutenant General of Police and the chief judge of the court, before whom the famous poisoning cases were brought, heard testimony that placed Madame de Montespan's first visits to the so-called witch Catherine Monvoisin, known as La Voisin , in The witch and the Madame de Montespan would call on the devil, and pray to him for the King's love.

As a way to express her gratitude for her request, they sacrificed a newborn's life by slitting its throat with a knife. Next, the baby's body would be crushed, and the drained blood and mashed bones would be used in the mixture. Louis's food was tainted in this way for almost thirteen years, until the witch was captured after a police investigation where they uncovered the remains of 2, infants in La Voisin 's garden.

Presumably, the maid resented the loss of Louis' attention. Olympia Mancini , Countess of Soissons, herself a former mistress of the king and well-known intrigante, was also implicated in the conspiracy. From the end of onwards, Louvois , Jean-Baptiste Colbert and Madame de Maintenon all helped to hush up the affair in order to prevent further scandal about the mother of the king's legitimised children.

Concerning the king's need to avoid shocking scandal, Police Chief La Reynie said:. In , no longer in royal favour, Madame de Montespan retired to the Filles de Saint-Joseph convent, [5] in the rue Saint-Dominique [17] in Paris, with a pension of half a million francs. In gratitude for her departure, the king made her father the governor of Paris and her brother, the duc de Vivonne, a marshal of France. Louis had previously made one of her sisters, Gabrielle, whose vows were only six years old, the abbess of the wealthy Fontevraud Abbey.

The King wanted her to stay longer times at court but Gabrielle always declined and stayed only for very short times. In her long retirement, Madame de Montespan donated vast sums to hospitals and charities. She was also a generous patron of the arts and letters, and befriended Corneille , Racine and La Fontaine.

The last years of Madame de Montespan's life were given up to a very severe penance. She died on 27 May at the age of almost sixty-seven while taking the waters at Bourbon-l'Archambault in order to try to heal an illness. The king forbade her children to wear mourning for her. She also had an extravagant and demanding nature and possessed enough charm to get what she wanted. She was expensive and glorious, like the Palace of Versailles itself.

Her apartments were filled with pet animals and thousands of flowers; she had a private gallery, and costly jewels were showered upon her. She was highly discriminating as regards to the quality of the gems; returning them if they did not meet her exacting standards. She was given the nickname Quanto "How much", in Italian. Her love for food and her numerous pregnancies caused her to gain weight in her late thirties. At her death, Clagny was inherited by her oldest son, the duc du Maine , who, in turn, passed it on to his son, Louis-Auguste de Bourbon, prince de Dombes.

Louis XIV also had a pleasure pavilion, called the Trianon de porcelaine [20] built for Madame de Montespan, and surrounded by gardens, on the site of the former hamlet of Trianon which he had purchased near the Palace of Versailles. It was meant as a hideaway for the couple. The King, content to have made this memorable and salutary example, commuted the death penalty, and M.

Fouquet learned with gratitude that he would have to end his days in prison. Nor did the King insist upon the confiscation of his property, which went to the culprit's widow and children, all that was retained being the enormous sums which he had embezzled. Close of the Queen-mother's Illness.

As the Queen-mother's malady grew worse, the Court left Saint Germain to be nearer the experts and the Val-de-Grace, where the princess frequently practised her devotions with members of the religious sisterhood that she had founded. Suddenly the cancer dried up, and the head physician declared that the Queen was lost. The Archbishop of Auch said to the King, "Sire, there is not an instant to be lost; the Queen may die at any moment; she should be informed of her condition, so that she may prepare herself to receive the Sacrament.

My mother is resting calmly, and perhaps thinks that she is out of danger. We might give her her death-blow. Then the Archbishop retorted, "It is not with nature or the world that we have here to deal. We have to save a soul. I have done my duty, and filial tenderness will at any rate bear the blame. Anne of Austria was grievously shocked at so terrible an announcement, but she soon recovered her resignation and her courage; and M. A portable altar was put up in the room, and the Archbishop, assisted by other clerics, went to fetch the Holy Sacrament from the church of Saint Germain de l'Auxerrois in the Louvre parish.

The princes and princesses hereupon began to argue in the little closet as to the proper ceremony to be observed on such occasions. Madame de Motteville, lady-in-waiting to the Queen, being asked to give an opinion, replied that, for the late King, the nobles had gone out to meet the Holy Sacrament as far as the outer gate of the palace, and that it would be wise to do this on the present occasion.

Mademoiselle de Montpensier interrupted the lady-in-waiting and those who shared her opinion. It's quite far enough for the Holy Wafer-box; what's the use of walking any further for the Holy Sacrament? When the time came for taking the Sacred Heart to Val-de-Grace with the funeral procession, Mademoiselle, in a long mourning cloak, said to the Archbishop before everybody, "Pray, monsieur, put the Sacred Heart in the best place, and sit you close beside it. I yield my rank up to you on the present occasion. Cardinal Mazarin. Before taking holy orders, Cardinal Mazarin had served as an officer in the Spanish army, where he had even won distinction.

Coming to France in the train of a Roman cardinal, he took service with Richelieu, who, remarking in him all the qualities of a supple, insinuating, artificial nature,--that is to say, the nature of a good politician,--appointed him his private secretary, and entrusted him with all his secrets, as if he had singled him out as his successor.

Upon the death of Richelieu, Mazarin did not scruple to avow that the great Armand's sceptre had been a tyrant's sceptre and of bronze. Louis XIII. Mazarin was her Richelieu. In France, where men affect to be so gallant and so courteous, how is it that when women rule their reign is always stormy and troublous? Anne of Austria--comely, amiable, and gracious as she was--met with the same brutal discourtesy which her sister-in-law, Marie de Medici, had been obliged to bear.

But gifted with greater force of intellect than that queen, she never yielded aught of her just rights; and it was her strong will which more than once astounded her enemies and saved the crown for the young King. They lampooned her, hissed her, and burlesqued her publicly at the theatres, cruelly defaming her intentions and her private life.


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Strong in the knowledge of her own rectitude, she faced the tempest without flinching; yet inwardly her soul was torn to pieces. The barricading of Paris, the insolence of M. Our nobility who are only too glad to go and reign in Naples, Portugal, or Poland openly declared that no foreigner ought to hold the post of minister in Paris.

Despite his Roman purple, Mazarin was condemned to be hanged. The motive for this was some trifling tax which he had ordered to be collected before this had been ratified by the magistrates and registered in the usual way. But the Queen knew how to win over the nobles. Her cardinal was recalled, and the apathy of the Parisians put an end to these dissensions, from which, one must admit, the people and the bourgeoisie got all the ills and the nobility all the profits. As comptroller of the list of benefices, M.

Having made himself an absolute master of finance, like M. Fouquet, he amassed great wealth. He built a magnificent palace in Rome, and an equally brilliant one in Paris, conferring upon himself the wealthy governorships of various towns or provinces. He had a guard of honour attached to his person, and a captain of the guard in attendance, just as Richelieu had.

As to Hortense, the youngest, loveliest of them all,--Hortense, the beauteous-eyed, his charming favourite,--he appointed her his sole heiress, and having given her jewelry and innumerable other presents, he married her to the agreeable Duc de la Meilleraye, son of the marshal of that name. Society was much astonished when it came out that M.

He married, soon after, Madame de Montespan's niece. Nor did he retain the great possessions of the La Meilleraye family. Herein, certainly, he did not consult his devotion; since the secret and fatherly avowal of M. Beneath the waving folds of his large scarlet robe, the Cardinal showed such ease and certainty of address, that he never put one in mind of a cardinal and a bishop.

To such manners, however, one was accustomed; in a leading statesman they were not unpleasant. He often gave magnificent balls, at which he displayed all the accomplishments of his nieces and the sumptuous splendour of his furniture. At such entertainments, always followed by a grand banquet, he was wont to show a liberality worthy of crowned heads. One day, after the feast, he announced that a lottery would be held in his palace.

Accordingly, all the guests repaired to his superb gallery, which had just been brilliantly decorated with paintings by Romanelli, and here, spread out upon countless tables, we saw pieces of rare porcelain, scent-bottles of foreign make, watches of every size and shape, chains of pearls or of coral, diamond buckles and rings, gold boxes adorned by portraits set in pearls or in emeralds, fans of matchless elegance,--in a word, all the rarest and most costly things that luxury and fashion could invent.

The Queens distributed the tickets with every appearance of honesty and good faith. But I had reason to remark, by what happened to myself, that the tickets had been registered beforehand. The young Queen, who felt her garter slipping off, came to me in order to tighten it. She handed me her ticket to hold for a moment, and when she had fastened her garter, I gave her back my ticket instead of her own. When the Cardinal from his dais read out the numbers in succession, my number won a portrait of the King set in brilliants, much to the surprise of the Queen-mother and his Eminence; they could not get over it.

It belongs to the Royal Library in the Rue de Richelieu. Mazarin's house is now the Treasury. Marriage of Monsieur, the King's Brother. Monsieur would seem to have been created in order to set off his brother, the King, and to give him the advantage of such relief. He is small in stature and in character, being ceaselessly busied about trifles, details, nothings.

To his toilet and his mirror, he devotes far more time than a pretty woman; he covers himself with scents, with laces, with diamonds. He is passionately fond of fetes, large assemblies, and spectacular displays. It was in order to figure as the hero of some such entertainment that he suddenly resolved to get married. Mademoiselle--the Grande Mademoiselle--Mademoiselle d'Eu, Mademoiselle de Dombes, Mademoiselle de Montpensier, Mademoiselle de Saint-Fargeau, Mademoiselle de la Roche-sur-Yon, Mademoiselle d'Orleans--had come into the world twelve or thirteen years before he had, and they could not abide each other.

Despite such trifling differences, however, he proposed marriage to her. The princess, than whom no one more determined exists, answered, "You ought to have some respect for me; I refused two crowned husbands the very day you were born.

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The Princess possessed an admirable admixture of grace and beauty, wit being allied to great affability and good-nature; to all these natural gifts she added a capacity and intelligence such as one might desire sovereigns to possess. Her coquetry was mere amiability; of that I am convinced. Being naturally vain, the Prince, her husband, made great use at first of his consort's royal coat-of-arms. It was displayed on his equipages and stamped all over his furniture.

It was because you are a daughter and a sister of the Kings of England. In your country women succeed to the throne, and if Charles the Second and my cousin York were to die without children which is very likely , you would be Queen and I should be King. I love my brothers more than I do myself. I trust that they may have issue, as they desire, and that I may not have to go back and live with those cruel English who slew my father-in-law. The very next day he summoned his old bootmaker, Lambertin, and ordered him to put extra heels two inches high to his shoes.

Madame having told this piece of childish folly to the King, he was greatly amused, and with a view to perplex his brother, he had his own shoe-heels heightened, so that, beside his Majesty, Monsieur still looked quite a little man. The Princess gave premature birth to a child that was scarcely recognisable; it had been dead in its mother's womb for at least ten days, so the doctors averred.

Monsieur le Duc d'Orleans, however, insisted upon having this species of monstrosity baptised. My sister, De Thianges, who is raillery personified, seeing how embarrassed was the cure of Saint Cloud by the Prince's repeated requests for baptism, gravely said to the cleric in an irresistibly comic fashion, "Do you know, sir, that your refusal is contrary to all good sense and good breeding, and that to infants of such quality baptism is never denied? Of so absurd a proposal as this no notice was taken, which served to amaze Monsieur for one whole month. A few moments before he died, Cardinal Mazarin, through strategy, not through repentance, besought the King to accept a deed of gift whereby he was appointed his universal legatee.

Touched by so noble a resolve, the King gave back the deed to his Eminence, who shed tears of emotion. Faithful as he has been to me, so will he be to you; and while he keeps watch, you may sleep. He comes from the noble family of Coodber, of Scottish origin, and his sentiments are worthy of his ancestors.

Colbert begged the King to listen to him in an embrasure. There, taking a pencil, he made out a list of all the millions which the Cardinal had hidden away in various places. The monarch bewailed his minister, his tutor, his friend, but so astounding a revelation dried his tears. He affectionately thanked M. Colbert, and from that day forward gave him his entire consideration and esteem. Colbert was diligent enough to seize upon the millions hidden at Vincennes, the millions secreted in the old Louvre, at Courbevoie and the other country seats.

Françoise-Athénaïs de Rochechouart, Marquise de Montespan

But the millions in gold, hidden in the bastions of La Fere, fell into the hands of heirs, who, a few moments after the commencement of the Cardinal's death-agony, sent off a valet post-haste. The Cardinal's family pretended to know nothing of this affair; but they could never bear M. Colbert nor any of his kinsfolk. The King, being of a generous nature, distributed all this wealth in the best and most liberal manner possible. Colbert told him to what use Mazarin meant to put all these riches; he hoped to have prevailed upon the Conclave to elect him Pope, with the concurrence of Spain, France, and the Holy Ghost.

The Young Queen.

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At the time of her marriage she had lost her mother, and it was King Philip, Anne of Austria's brother, who himself presented her to us at Saint Jean de Luz, where he signed the peace-contract. The Spanish monarch admired his nephew, the King, whose stalwart figure, comely face, and polished manners, were, indeed, well calculated to excite surprise. Anne of Austria had said to him, "My brother, my one fear during your journey was lest your ailments and the hardships of travel should hinder you from getting back here again. Cantocarrero, the Castilian secretary of state, presented the Spanish notabilities, while Cardinal Mazarin, in his pontifical robes, presented the French.

As he announced M. On leaving Spain and the King, young princess was moved to tears. Next day she thought nothing of it at all. She was wholly engrossed by the possession of such a King, nor was she at any pains to hide her glee from us. Of all her Court ladies I was the most youthful and, perhaps, the most conspicuous. At the outset the Queen showed a wish to take me into her confidence but it was the lady-in-waiting who would never consent to this.

When, at that lottery of the Cardinal's, I won the King's portrait, the Queen-mother called me into her closet and desired to know how such a thing could possibly have happened. I replied that, during the garter-incident, the two tickets had got mixed. So keep this portrait, since it has fallen into your hands; but, for God's sake, don't try and make yourself pleasant to my son; for you're only too fascinating as it is. Look at that little La Valliere, what a mess she has got into, and what chagrin she has caused my poor Maria Theresa! The Queen-mother softened, and gave me her hand to kiss, now addressing me as "madame," and anon as "my daughter.

The Infanta, her niece, is a very pretty blonde, blue-eyed, but short in stature. To her slightest words the Queen-mother gives sense and wit; her daughter-in-law's speeches and actions are of the simplest, most commonplace kind. Were it not for the King, she would pass her life in a dressing-gown, night-cap, and slippers. At Court ceremonies and on gala-days, she never appears to be in a good humour; everything seems to weigh her down, notably her diamonds. However, she has no remarkable defect, and one may say that she is devoid of goodness, just as she is devoid of badness.

When coming among us, she contrived to bring with her Molina, the daughter of her nurse, a sort of comedy confidante, who soon gave herself Court airs, and who managed to form a regular little Court of her own. Without her sanction nothing can be obtained of the Queen. My lady Molina is the great, the small, and the unique counsellor of the princess, and the King, like the others, remains submissive to her decisions and her inspection. French cookery, by common consent, is held to be well-nigh perfect in its excellence; yet the Infanta could never get used to our dishes.

The Senora Molina, well furnished with silver kitchen utensils, has a sort of private kitchen or scullery reserved for her own use, and there it is that the manufacture takes place of clove-scented chocolate, brown soups and gravies, stews redolent with garlic, capsicums, and nutmeg, and all that nauseous pastry in which the young Infanta revels. Ever since La Valliere's lasting triumph, the Queen seems to have got it into her head that she is despised; and at table I have often heard her say, "They will help themselves to everything, and won't leave me anything.

But, fortunately for the Infanta, the King abounds in rectitude and good-nature. This very good-nature it is which prompts him to use all the consideration of which a noble nature is capable, and the more his amours give the Queen just cause for anxiety, the more does he redouble his kindness and consideration towards her.

Of this she is sensible. Thus she acquiesces, and, as much through tenderness as social tact, she never reproaches or upbraids him with anything. Nor does the King scruple to admit that, to secure so good-natured a partner, it is well worth the trouble of going to fetch her from the other end of the world. Madame de la Valliere Becomes Duchess. Out of affection and respect for the Queen-mother, the King had until then sought to conceal the ardour of his attachment for Mademoiselle de la Valliere. It was after the six months of mourning that he shook off all restraint, showing that, like any private person, he felt himself master of his actions and his inclinations.

He gave the Vaujours estate to his mistress, after formally constituting it a duchy, and, owing to the two children of his duchy, Mademoiselle de la Valliere assumed the title of Duchess. What a fuss she made at this time! All that was styled disinterestedness, modesty. Not a bit of it. It was pusillanimity and a sense of servile fear. La Valliere would have liked to enjoy her handsome lover in the shade and security of mystery, without exposing herself to the satire of courtiers and of the public, and, above all, to the reproaches of her family and relatives, who nearly all were very devout.

On this head, however, she soon saw that such fears were exaggerated. The Marquise de Saint-Remy was but slightly scandalised at what was going on. She and the Marquis de Saint-Remy, her second husband, strictly proper though they were, came to greet their daughter when proclaimed duchess. And when, a few days afterwards, the King declared the rank of the two children to the whole of assembled Parliament, the two families of Saint-Remy and La Valliere offered congratulations to the Duchess, and received those of all Paris. Colbert, who owed everything to the King, entrusted Madame Colbert with the education of the new prince and princess; they were brought up under the eyes of this statesman, who for everything found time and obligingness.

The girl, lovely as love itself, took the name of Mademoiselle de Blois, while to her little brother was given the title of Comte de Vermandois. It was just about this time that I noticed the beginning of the monarch's serious attachment for me. Till then it had been only playful badinage, good-humoured teasing, a sort of society play, in which the King was rehearsing his part as a lover. I was at length bound to admit that chaff of this sort might end in something serious, and his Majesty begged me to let him have La Valliere for some time longer.

I have already said that, while becoming her rival, I still remained her friend.


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  • Of this she had countless proofs, and when, at long intervals, I saw her again in her dismal retreat, her good-nature, unchanging as this was, caused her to receive and welcome me as one welcomes those one loves. First Vocation of Mademoiselle de la Valliere. What I am now about to relate, I have from her own lips, nor am I the only one to whom she made such recitals and avowals.

    Her father died when she was quite young, and, when dying, foresaw that his widow, being without fortune or constancy, would ere long marry again. To little Louise he was devotedly attached. Ardently embracing her, he addressed her thus: "In losing me, my poor little Louise, you lose all.

    What little there is of my inheritance ought, undoubtedly, to belong to you; but I know your mother; she will dispose of it. If my relatives do not show the interest in you which your fatherless state should inspire, renounce this world soon, where, separated from your father, there exists for you but danger and misfortune. Two of my ancestors left their property to the nuns of Saint Bernard at Gomer-Fontaines, as they are perfectly well aware. Go to them in all confidence; they will receive you without a dowry even; it is their duty to do so.

    If, disregarding my last counsel, you go astray in the world, from the eternal abodes on high I will watch over you; I will appear to you, if God empower me to do so; and, at any rate, from time to time I will knock at the door of your heart to rouse you from your baleful slumber and draw your attention to the sweet paths of light that lead to God.

    She never forgot it; and it needed the fierce, inexplicable passion which took possession of her soul to captivate her and carry her away so far. Before becoming attached to the King, she opened out her heart to me with natural candour; and whenever in the country she observed the turrets or the spire of a monastery, she sighed, and I saw her beautiful blue eyes fill with tears.

    She was maid of honour to the Princess Henrietta of England, and I filled a like office. Our two companions, being the most quick-witted, durst not talk about their love-affairs before Louise, so convinced were we of her modesty, and almost of her piety. In spite of that, as she was gentle, intelligent, and well-bred, the Princess plainly preferred her to the other three. In temperament they suited each other to perfection. The King frequently came to the Palais Royal, where the bright, pleasant conversation of his sister-in-law made amends for the inevitable boredom which one suffered when with the Queen.

    Being brought in such close contact with the King, who in private life is irresistibly attractive, Mademoiselle de la Valliere conceived a violent passion for him; yet, owing to modesty or natural timidity, it was plain that she carefully sought to hide her secret. One fine night she and two young persons of her own age were seated under a large oak-tree in the grounds of Saint Germain.

    The Marquis de Wringhen, seeing them in the moonlight, said to the King, who was walking with him, "Let us turn aside, Sire, in this direction; yonder there are three solitary nymphs, who seem waiting for fairies or lovers. They were discussing the last ball at the chateau. One extolled the charms of the Marquis d'Alincour, son of Villeroi; the second mentioned another young nobleman; while the third frankly expressed herself in these terms: "The Marquis d'Alincour and the Prince de Marcillac are most charming, no doubt, but, in all conscience, who could be interested in their merits when once the King appeared in their midst?

    Next day, the King, wholly occupied with what he had overheard on the previous evening, sat musing on a sofa at his sister-in-law's, when all at once the voice of Mademoiselle de la Beaume-le-Blanc smote his ear and brought trouble to his heart. He saw her, noticed her melancholy look, thought her lovelier than the loveliest, and at once fell passionately in love.

    They soon got to understand one another, yet for a long while merely communicated by means of notes at fetes, or during the performance of allegorical ballets and operettas, the airs in which sufficiently expressed the nature of such missives. In order to put the Queen-mother off the scent and screen La Valliere, the King pretended to be in love with Mademoiselle de la Mothe-Houdancour, one of the Queen's maids of honour. He used to talk across to her out of one of the top-story windows, and even wished her to accept a present of diamonds. But Madame de Navailles, who took charge of the maids of honour, had gratings put over the top-story windows, and La Mothe-Houdancour was so chagrined by the Queen's icy manner towards her that she withdrew to a convent.

    As to the Duchesse de Navailles and her husband, they got rid of their charges and retired to their estates, where great wealth and freedom were their recompense after such pompous Court slavery. The Queen-mother was still living; unlike her niece, she was not blindfold. The adventure of Mademoiselle de la Mothe-Houdancour seemed to her just what it actually was,--a subterfuge; as she surmised, it could only be La Valliere. Having discovered the name of her confessor, the Queen herself went in disguise to the Theatin Church, flung herself into the confessional where this man officiated, and promised him the sum of thirty thousand francs for their new church if he would help her to save the King.

    The Theatin promised to do what the Queen thus earnestly desired, and when his fair penitent came to confess, he ordered her at once to break off her connection with the Court as with the world, and to shut herself up in a convent. Mademoiselle de la Valliere shed tears, and sought to make certain remarks, but the confessor, a man of inflexible character, threatened her with eternal damnation, and he was obeyed. Beside herself with grief, La Valliere left by another door, so as to avoid her servants and her coach.

    More Books by Françoise-Athénaïs de Rochechouart de Mortemart Montespan

    She recollected seeing a little convent of hospitalieres at Saint Cloud; she went thither on foot, and was cordially welcomed by these dames. Next day it was noised abroad in the chateau that she had been carried off by order of the Queen-mother. During vespers the King seemed greatly agitated, and no sooner had the preacher ascended the pulpit than he rose and disappeared. The confusion of the two Queens was manifest; no one paid any heed to the preacher; he scarcely knew where he was.

    Meanwhile the conquering King had started upon his quest. Followed by a page and a carriage and pair, he first went to Chaillot, and then to Saint Cloud, where he rang at the entrance of the modest abode which harboured his friend. The nun at the turnstile answered him harshly, and denied him an audience. It is true, he only told her he was a cousin or a relative.


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    • Seeing that this nun was devoid of sense and of humanity, he bethought himself of endeavouring to persuade the gardener, who lived close to the monastery. He slipped several gold pieces into his hand, and most politely requested him to go and tell the Lady Superior that he had come thither on behalf of the King. The Lady Superior came down into the parlour, and recognising the King from a superb miniature, besought him of his grandeur to interest himself in this young lady of quality, devoid of means and fatherless, and consented, moreover, to give her up to him, since as King he so commanded.

      Louise de la Beaume-le-Blanc obeyed the King, or in other words, the dictates of her own heart, imprudently embarking upon a career of passion, for which a temperament wholly different from hers was needed. It is not simple-minded maidens that one wants at Court to share the confidence of princes. No doubt natures of that sort--simple, disinterested souls are pleasant and agreeable to them, as therein they find contentment such as they greedily prize; but for these unsullied, romantic natures, disillusion, trickery alone is in store.

      And if Mademoiselle de la Beaumele-Blanc had listened to me, she might have turned matters to far better account; nor, after yielding up her youth to a monarch, would she have been obliged to end, her days in a prison. The King no longer visited her as his mistress, but trusted and esteemed her as a friend and as the mother of his two pretty children. One day, in the month of April, , his Majesty, while in the gardens, received the following letter, which one of La Valliere's pages proffered him on bended knee: SIRETo-day I am leaving forever this palace, whither the cruellest of fatalities summoned my youth and inexperience.

      Had I not met you, my heart would have loved seclusion, a laborious life, and my kinsfolk. An imperious inclination, which I could not conquer, gave me to you, and, simple, docile as I was by nature, I believed that my passion would always prove to me delicious, and that your love would never die. In this world nothing endures. My fond attachment has ceased to have any charm for you, and my heart is filled with dismay. This trial has come from God; of this my reason and my faith are convinced.

      God has felt compassion for my unspeakable grief. That which for long past I have suffered is greater than human force can bear; He is going to receive me into His home of mercy. He promises me both healing and peace. In this theatre of pomp and perfidy I have only stayed until such a moment as my daughter and her youthful brother might more easily do without me. You will cherish them both; of that I have no doubt. Guide them, I beseech you, for the sake of your own glory and their well-being.

      May your watchful care sustain them, while their mother, humbled and prostrate in a cloister, shall commend them to Him who pardons all. After my departure, show some kindness to those who were my servants and faithful domestics, and deign to take back the estates and residences which served to support me in my frivolous grandeur, and maintain the celebrity that I deplore. Adieu, Sire! Think no more about me, lest such a feeling, to which my imagination might but all too readily lend itself, only beget links of sympathy in my heart which conscience and repentance would fain destroy.

      If God call me to himself, young though yet I am, He will have granted my prayers; if He ordain me to live for a while longer in this desert of penitence, it will never compensate for the duration of my error, nor for the scandal of which I have been the cause.

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      The King had not been expecting so desperate a resolve as this, nor did he feel inclined to hinder her from making it. He left the Portuguese ambassador, who witnessed his agitation, and hastened to Madame de la Valliere's, who had left her apartments in the castle at daybreak. He shed tears, being kind of heart and convinced that a body so graceful and so delicate would never be able to resist the rigours and hardships of so terrible a life.

      The Carmelite nuns of the Rue Saint Jacques loudly proclaimed this conversion, and in their vanity gladly received into their midst so modest and distinguished a victim, driven thither through sheer despair. The ceremony which these dames call "taking the dress" attracted the entire Court to their church. The Queen herself desired to be present at so harrowing a spectacle, and by a curious contradiction, of which her capricious nature is capable, she shed floods of tears.

      La Valliere seemed gentler, lovelier, more modest and more seductive than ever. In the midst of the grief and tears which her courageous sacrifice provoked, she never uttered a single sigh, nor did she change colour once. Hers was a nature made for extremes; like Caesar, she said to herself, "Either Rome or nothing! The King must have felt indebted to him for such reserve.

      Into his discourse he had put mere vague commonplaces, which neither touch nor wound any one; honeyed anathemas such as these may even pass for compliments. This prelate has won for himself a great name and great wealth by words. A proof of his cleverness exists in his having lived in grandeur, opulence, and worldly happiness, while making people believe that he condemned such things.

      Despite the endeavours made by the ministers concerning the pamphlet or volume about which I am going to speak, neither they nor the King succeeded in quashing a sinister rumour and an opinion which had taken deep root among the people. Ever since this calumny it believes--and will always believe--in the twin brother of Louis XIV. This false rumour, invented by far-seeing folk, is that which has most affected the King. I will recount the manner in which it reached him. Since the disorder and insolence of the Fronde, this prince did not like to reside in the capital; he soon invented pretexts for getting away from it.

      The chateau of the Tuileries, built by Catherine de Medici at some distance from the Louvre, was, really speaking, only a little country-house and Trianon. The King conceived the plan of uniting this structure with his palace at the Louvre, extending it on the Saint Roch side and also on the side of the river, and this being settled, the Louvre gallery would be carried on as far as the southern angle of the new building, so as to form one whole edifice, as it now appears.

      While these alterations were in progress, the Court quitted the Louvre and the capital, and took up its permanent residence at Saint Germain. Though ceasing to make a royal residence and home of Paris, his Majesty did not omit to pay occasional visits to the centre of the capital.

      He came incognito, sometimes on horseback, sometimes in a coach, and usually went about the streets on foot. On these occasions he was dressed carelessly, like any ordinary young man, and the better to ensure a complete disguise, he kept continually changing either the colour of his moustache or the colour and cut of his clothes.

      One evening, on leaving the opera, just as he was about to open his carriage door, a man approached him with a great air of mystery, and tendering a pamphlet, begged him to buy it. To get rid of the importunate fellow, his Majesty purchased the book, and never glanced at its contents until the following day. Imagine his surprise and indignation! A new edition, carefully revised. He shut himself up in his apartment, so as to be quite alone, and hastily perused the libellous pamphlet.

      The Queen, who secretly was Mazarin's mistress, had had twins by the Abbe, only the prettier of the two being declared legitimate. The other twin had been entrusted to obscure teachers, who, when it was time, would give him up. The princess, so the writer added, stung by qualms of conscience, had insisted upon having her guilty intimacy purified by the sacrament of marriage, to which the prime minister agreed.

      Then, mentioning the names of such and such persons as witnesses, the book stated that "this marriage was solemnised on a night in February, , by Cardinal de Sainte-Suzanne, a brother and servile creature of Mazarin's. This explains the indifference, or rather the firm resolve, on Mazarin's part; never to take orders, but to remain simply 'tonsure' or 'minore',--he who controls at least forty abbeys, as well as a bishopric. The same evening he sent full instructions to the lieutenant-general of police, and two days afterwards the nocturnal vendor of pamphlets found himself caught in a trap.

      The King wished him to be brought to Saint Germain, so that he might identify him personally; and, as he pretended to be half-witted or an idiot, he was thrown half naked into a dungeon. Memoirs of Madame la Marquise de Montespan by Montespan 2 editions published in in English and held by 22 WorldCat member libraries worldwide. Secret memoirs of Madame la marquise de Montespan by Montespan Book 4 editions published between and in English and held by 21 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.

      Now first translated in English by Montespan 2 editions published in in English and held by 20 WorldCat member libraries worldwide. Memoirs of Madame de Montespan by Montespan 2 editions published in in English and held by 12 WorldCat member libraries worldwide. Memoirs of Madame de Montespan -- Volume 6 by Montespan 2 editions published between and in English and held by 10 WorldCat member libraries worldwide. Memoirs of madame la marquise de Montespan by Montespan Book 1 edition published in in English and held by 9 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.

      Memoirs of Madame la Marquise de Montespan by Montespan Book 5 editions published between and in English and held by 8 WorldCat member libraries worldwide. Memoirs by Montespan Book 2 editions published in in French and English and held by 7 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.