Monday, 16 November 2015

A Scandalous Love Affair

Although Louis XIV looked the other way when it came to most of his courtiers liaisons, he drew the line when a scheme emerged that might undermine his own power. Such a scheme took the shape of a love affair that became a little more public than originally intended.

The Princesse de Conti (favourite daughter of Louis XIV) met the impoverished Comte de Clermont at the Grand Dauphin's private retreat of Meudon. She immediately fell in love with him which the Comte was very well aware of. For a time the two of them exchanged numerous love letters but whether the Comte was actually sincere is to be guessed at.
As it happens an impoverished nobleman needs a "sponsor" and the Comte de Clermont had attached himself to the Duc de Luxembourg. At the time it was well-known that the Grand Dauphin was very much in love with Mademoiselle Choin (he would later marry her in secret) who was a maid of honour to none other than the Princesse de Conti.

Marie Anne de Bourbon par Rigaud c.1706.jpg
Princesse de Conti

The Duc de Luxembourg knew that Louis XIV had never liked him and thus it was unlikely that he would ever advance during his reign. But the King was old and the Grand Dauphin was next in line to the throne. The Duc de Luxembourg thought that he could ingratiate himself with the future King by ensuring that Mademoiselle Choin became a Comtesse. This was to happen by the Comte de Clermont marrying her which the Comte readily agreed to and abandoned the Princesse de Conti in the process.

Louis XIV was aware that something was afoot and quickly had the letters of that the Comte de Clermont had exchanged with Mademoiselle Choin intercepted. The King feared that if Mademoiselle Choin married the Comte they would attempt to control the Grand Dauphin. As could be expected the King quickly deduced that the instigator was the Duc de Luxembourg.

At around the same time the Comte decided to betray the Princesse de Conti by sending all the love letters she had written to Mademoiselle Choin. It was most likely from her that Louis XIV was informed of the Princesse's letters.

Mademoiselle Choin

Louis XIV was infuriated at his daughter's behaviour and decided to give her a lesson she would never forget. He summoned her and showed her the letters from the Comte de Clermont to Mademoiselle Choin in which the former ridiculed the Princesse in the strongest of terms. The King then made her read the letters aloud!

The Princesse was devastated and fell crying to her father's feet where she begged him that he would avenge her. Convinced that the Princesse had learned her lesson Louis XIV agreed.

The King banished Mademoiselle Choin and ordered the Duc de Luxembourg to strip the Comte de Clermont of his offices and send him to the farthest region of France. As need hardly be said, the Duc de Luxembourg certainly did not get closer to Louis XIV's favour and when the Grand Dauphin died before his august father those plans were squashed too.

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