Friday, 12 April 2013

The Four de Mailly Sisters

Louis XV caused quite a scandal when he chose to take four out of five sisters as his mistresses!

The first of the de Mailly sisters to catch the eye of Louis XV was Louise Julie de Mailly. She was the eldest sister and was born in 1710. Louise Julie had married her cousin Louis Alexandre de Mailly and attended court when the King began to notice her - Louis Alexandre gave his permission for her to become the King's mistress. But even though Louise Julie actually was the mistress of Louis XV from 1732 it was not until 1738 that the King finally recognized her as his official maîtresse-en-titre. Louise Julie was a more passive mistress - she never used her influence to grant her friends and family titles and she never interfered in politics (it should also be said that she never tried to enrich her own position further).

In 1738 when Louise Julie finally enjoyed the title of official maîtresse-en-titre, she received a letter from her younger sister, Pauline-Félicité, who wanted to be introduced at court. In order to be presented at court, you had to know someone who was already a part of the court and was willing to take you in. Luckily for Pauline-Félicité, Louise Julie welcomed her invitation and soon afterwards could count her sister as a member of the French court. But that turned out to be a bad decision.

Pauline-Félicité was the second-eldest daughter of Louis de Mailly and Armande Félice de la Porte Mazarin. Pauline-Félicité had been born two years after her elder sister, Louise Julie, in 1712. When her plea to attend the court was accepted she swiftly took her chance and seduced the King - even though her sister was his official mistress! The King fell very much in love with Pauline-Félicité but decided to keep Louise Julie as his official maîtresse-en-titre - Pauline-Félicité became a "second" mistress. Louis XV adored Pauline-Félicité and showered her in expensive presents; he even gave her the château Choisy-le-Roi.

The King wanted to keep Pauline-Félicité at court so that he could enjoy her company whenever he wished to. Consequently, Pauline-Félicité was married to an aristocrat by the name of Jean Baptiste Félix Hubert de Ventimille and she then became the Marquise de Ventimille (conveniently, her newly-wedded husband left France shortly after their wedding). It did not take long before Pauline-Félicité was pregnant and everyone knew that the child was the King's.
Pauline-Félicité was louder than Louise Julie and far more ambitious. She had a fondness of money and political power but she was arrogant. This arrogance quickly made her very unpopular with not only the court but the people as well. But Pauline-Félicité died while giving birth to the King's son - a boy who looked so much like his royal father that he was known as "Demi-Louis". Her corpse was placed at the Lit-de-Parade before the burial but the guards that had been appointed to watch over her left their station. A mob broke in and mutilated the unguarded body of what they called "the King's whore".

Louise Julie was still the King's official mistress but she was not as close to the King that she once had been. In order to prevent her regaining her position, the Duc de Richelieu quickly arranged for another one of her younger sisters to be brought to court. This time it was Marie Anne.

Marie Anne was the youngest daughter and had been born in 1717. She was a widow of the Marquise de La Tournelle when she was brought to court. The Duc de Richelieu introduced her to the King himself at a mask ball in 1742 but had not foreseen the Marquise's reaction. She was not interested in becoming the King's mistress - besides she already had a lover in the Duc d'Agénois who was later made the Duc d'Aiguillon. The King thought differently. He was very interested in Marie Anne and worked with the Duc de Richelieu - who happened to be the uncle of Marie Anne's lover -towards having the young man removed. It ended with the Duc d'Agénois being sent to war where he was wounded and returned a hero.

This worried Louis - he had not expected the Duc d'Agénois to survive. But the Duc de Richelieu had a plan and sent him off to Languedoc where the Duc de Richelieu had a young and beautiful woman waiting for him. She had been giving the task of seducing d'Agénois and she succeeded - their passionate letters were sent to Richelieu in secret. Of course, Richelieu made sure that Marie Anne knew of the letters and out of anger and disappointment in her lover she accepted Louis XV's advances.
But Marie Anne would not become another "second" mistress like Pauline-Félicité. She demanded that Louise Julie was to be removed from her position and herself be granted the title of maîtresse-en-titre. The King was by this time tired of Louise Julie and gladly sent her away - Louise Julie went to a convent.

Marie Anne was not satisfied with being recognized as the King's maîtresse-en-titre. She wanted the title of Duchesse, a permanent income and an official position at court - the King readily granted her her desires. Now, Marie Anne found herself the dame du palais of the Queen, the Duchesse de Chateauroux with an income of no less than 80.000 livres. Marie Anne's role as the King's mistress gave her a great power over the infatuated King. She intended that he should become a greater King and often advised him to go to various battlefields - she would, of course, be accompanying him on these trips. She even encourage him to form an alliance with Frederick II of Prussia! At this time the fourth sister was already at court. Diane Adélaïde walked with her sister to and from the King's chambers but Marie Anne never considered her a threat. Marie Anne suddenly died on December 8 1744 and Diane Adélaïde became the King's mistress for a very short period of time.

Louise Julie de Mailly
Pauline Félicité de Mailly
Marie Anne de Mailly
Diane Adélaïde de Mailly

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