Saturday, 6 April 2013

"Where is she from?" - "From every bed in Paris!"

Madame du Barry was a scandal in herself when she rose to the position of the King's maîtresse-en-titre. The court had experienced the rise of a bourgeois woman before but Madame du Barry was different.

Cartoon depicting Madame du
Barry - it is obvious how the public
saw her!
The future Madame du Barry embarked on certain liaisons before being noticed by Jean-Baptiste du Barry. It is widely believed that she had a brief affair with her first employer Monsieur Lametz though the rumours that he fathered a daughter by Madame du Barry are false. Her second job was also cut short due to flirtation on the young ladies part - both of the sons of a Madame de la Garde became attracted by her.

From the very beginning everyone at court knew that Jeanne Bécu (as she was christened) had caught the King's eye while working for Jean-Baptiste du Barry who was infamous for shamelessly procuring beautyful middle-class women as mistress for the great men of France. In fact, Jeanne was one of the courtesans under the protection of Jean-Baptiste du Barry (she had actually been his own mistress before this). While working for Jean-Baptiste she went by the name of "Mademoiselle Lange" - a name she would quickly discard of when she was noticed by the King. During her time as a courtesan she acquired many rich and famous clients whom she would later meet as the King's undisputed favourite!

This meant that she had several short liaisons with different men at court - one being none other than the high-standing Marèchal de Richelieu! Since the Madame's background was well-known Louis XV found it overwhelmingly difficult to find a lady who would willingly compromise her reputation by presenting the favourite at court. It was not until the King's advisers had to look for ladies who owed a lot to the King (metaphorically) that he was finally able to find Madame de Béarn - and thus Madame du Barry went from being a renowned courtesan to the royal favourite.

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