Thursday, 11 April 2013

Catherine Charlotte de Gramont

Catherine Charlotte de Gramont was born in 1639 to the Maréchal Antoine de Gramont and Françoise Marguerite du Plessis. Not much is known of her childhood until she married Louis de Grimaldi in 1660. Her husband was the Duke of Valentinois and the heir to the throne of Monaco. Together the couple had six children. She was not pleased about having to leave France and had to get accustomed to her new home-country.

After becoming a princess of Monaco, she returned to France after three years in Monaco - her and her husband actually spent more time in France than they did in Monaco. At the French court the couple had a good reputation and Catherine served as a lady-in-waiting to Henrietta of England. Catherine herself was a noted beauty and renowned for her intelligence - two qualities that did not pass the King's attention.
But Catherine had another charismatic that did not quite correspond with her otherwise good reputation - although it was not uncommon at the French court. Catherine was "greedy for pleasure" (as quoted by Madame de Sévigné) and had quite a few lovers. These lovers included her own cousin, the Marquis de Villeroi and Louis XIV. This flirtatious behaviour (to say the least) earned her the nickname "the Torrent". She even had an affair with her cousin Nompar. Louis XIV had his eyes on Catherine at the time and asked Nompar to end the affair but he refused - a refusal that would cost him a six months stay at the Bastille.

Catherine's affair with Louis XIV was short-lived and lasted only for a few months. While the affair was going on, Catherine's husband left the court and went to war - this was common practise for men whose wives had suddenly attracted the King's notice. It is accepted among many historians that Catherine's affair with Louis XIV was actually planned by Henrietta of England who was hoping to regain her place as the King's mistress which was a place she had lost to Louise de la Vallière. However, the friendship between Catherine and Henrietta ended after - yet another - affair of Catherine's; this time with a Chevalier de Lorraine who was a friend of the Duke d'Orlèans which upset Henrietta.

After her affair with the King, Catherine returned to Monaco after being banished from the French court due to her many and well-known affairs. In 1672 she returned to France though where she received the position of lady-in-waiting to Madame de Montespan (the King's new mistress) and an estate at St. Germain. Here she would stay until she died on June 4 1678 at the age of 39.

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