Thursday, 11 April 2013

Catherine Bellier, Baroness de Beauvais

No portrait of Catherine Bellier survives -
but this is reputed to be a very close
likeness of the Baroness - it is obvious
that she was not beautiful.
Little is known of Catherine Bellier other than that she was the very first mistress of Louis XIV. She was born in 1614 and was a part of the French court with the title of Baroness de Beauvais after her marriage to the Baron Pierre de Beauvais. Catherine became a lady-in-waiting to Anne of Austria and she became a valued companion to the Queen - she is described as having been intelligent woman. Anne of Austria even provided the stones for the foundation of Catherine and her husband's first house. But there was one thing missing from an otherwise good lady at court: she was not beautiful. Catherine was either completely blind or blind on one eye (it is rumoured that she was called "One-Eyed Kate"). But despite that she was considered unattractive, she still managed to get involved in several love affairs (even with the Bishop of Sens!).

Catherine was given a peculiar task by the Queen. She was to give the young Louis XIV sexual experience! At the time Louis XIV was fourteen years old and Catherine was about 24 years older than him when she was delivered this task in 1652. Exactly how Catherine managed to make the young King sleep with her has been the cause of a rather strange and almost perverse story. Rumours has it that Catherine surprised Louis when he was making his way from his bath in a very "familiar way" - and that was that, now Anne of Austria was assured that her son would know exactly how to produce an heir! Apparently, Catherine was successful and their relationship lasted for two years. Another rumour claims that Louis was infected with gonorrhoea after his little liaison. 

The Queen was thankful for the job Catherine had done and decided to award her with an estate and a pension of 2000 livres - this also meant that Catherine's relationship with Louis XIV was over.
Catherine used her pension to establish the Hotel de Beauvais in Paris and remained in high favour with both mother and son. She died on June 7 1689.

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