Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Louis Henri de Pardaillan de Gondrin, Marquis de Montespan

Louis Henri was born in 1640 as the son of Roger-Hector de Pardaillan de Gondrin who was the Marquis d'Antan. At the age of 23 years old he married Francoise-Athénaïs de Rouchechouart de Mortemart - otherwise known to history as Madame de Montespan. Together they would have two children: a girl, Marie-Christine, and a boy, Louis. Louis Henri was not fortunate enough to be born into a wealthy noble family and so it would seem that he never had enough money. Therefore he would often be away from his château to deal with his many juridical duties. However, this meant that his wife would be alone quite often...

Louis Henri's problems began when Louis XIV fell in life with the Marquis' wife. Under these circumstances it was customary for the husband of the King's newest attraction to carefully look the other way and if he did so well he would just might be rewarded with titles or lands. But Louis Henri was anything but pleased to find out exactly how friendly his wife was with the King. First he added antlers to his carriage which was a well-recognized symbol for a man who was being cuckolded. Then he did the unthinkable and publicly challenged Louis XIV while the court was staying at Saint-Germain-en-Laye. This was more than what Louis XIV was willing to accept and consequently Louis Henri was arrested and taken to the prison of For-l'Évêque and then he was ordered to return to his private lands around the château de Saint-Elix where he would remain in exile.
Normally this would have been enough to more than frighten an average courtier but as you might have guessed Louis Henri was not easy to scare. Despite his status as an exiled man he continued to travel to Paris every year between 1670 to 1686 as well as insisting on an annual mass said for his wife throughout her entire life. While at his château de Saint-Elix he began large improvements to his abode. Louis Henri never managed to return to court and perhaps he would only have been miserable there.

Exactly when he died seems to be a disputable subject. Some of the sources I have found says 1691 but others say 1701.

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