Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Never Get In The Way Of The King's Love

Marie Anne de Mailly never actively sought the position of the King's maitresse-en-titre. By 1742 Louis XV's recent mistress - and Marie Anne's sister - Madame de Vintimille had died giving birth to the King's child and the Duc de Richelieu was searching for a new mistress for his master - preferably one he could control.

Eventually, the Duc de Richelieu decided to stay in the family and pushed Marie Anne in front of the King who took a liking to her. However, Marie Anne was not as enthusiastic. It was not that she found the King unattractive (Louis XV was known to be the handsomest man at his own court) but that she was already in love with someone else. Of course, the fact that two of her sisters had already been the King's mistress might just have crossed her mind...

Emmanuel-Armand de Richelieu,
Duc d'Agénois

This someone else was at the time known as Emmanuel-Armand de Richelieu, the Duc d'Agénois even though he would later inherit the more famous title of Duc d'Aiguillon - he was no other than the Duc de Richelieu's nephew. The couple were both young and were generally known to be in genuinely in love with each other. For Marie Anne the case was clear: she was not about to give up her darling lover - not even for a King. That could have been the end of the story had it not been for the Duke de Richelieu's perseverance. He had set his mind on placing Marie Anne in the King's bed and were not about to drop the subject.

Marie Anne de Mailly
The King, too, wanted Marie Anne. So, in true Alexandre Dumas-style the poor Duc d'Agénois was reluctantly sent to war where he was to fight against the Austrians. Meanwhile, the King would have plenty of time alone with Marie Anne; and there was always the chance that d'Agénois would not return. This almost became the case when news arrived at Versailles that d'Agénois had been severely wounded in battle. Marie Anne was distraught. Luckily, the young Duc survived and was permitted to return to Versailles where he was received as a war hero.

So far, Richelieu's plan had failed and Louis was far from pleased. In an attempt to avoid the King's displeasure Richelieu made sure that his nephew would not reclaim his mistress, d'Agénois was sent from court to Languedoc. Here, the Duc de Richelieu had arranged for a beautiful lady to await d'Agénois with plenty of smiles and praise for the war-hero. Eventually, it worked. Richelieu managed to intercept several letters interchanged between the two of them and were able to present them to Marie Anne.

Distraught and furious Marie Anne decided to let her former sweet-heart go and turned her full attention to the King instead. Thus, their romantic affair ended with no sign that the two ever became close again.

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