Thursday, 25 February 2016

The Social Circle of Marie Leszczynska

With the birth of the "Madame Last" the relationship between Louis XV and Marie Leszczynska dwindled into a mere formality. As the King drew further away from the Queen, so did the rest of the court since there was little use in spending time with Her Majesty if it could do nothing for one's career.

However, Marie Leszczynska was not totally abandoned although it often appeared so to spectators.
The family of de Luynes were faithful attendants in the Queen's private apartments with both the Duc and Duchesse de Luynes as well as the Cardinal de Luynes being often in attendance. The son and daughter-in-law of the Duc and Duchesse de Luynes - the Duc de Chevreuse and his wife - were equally welcome at the Queen's table. As it happens the Duc de Chevreuse was deeply in love with the Queen which resulted in many jokes on his behalf within their private little circle.

Marie Leszczynska

Another close friend was Françoise de Mailly, Duchesse de Mazarin who surprised the court when she took the Queen's side during the King's affair with her cousin, Louise Julie de Mailly. Undoubtedly, Marie Leszczynska valued the loyalty shown by the Duchesse.
The Président Hénault was another friend of the Queen's but few held as much confidence with Marie as the Comte d'Argenson.

The Comte d'Argenson enjoyed an extraordinary intimacy with the otherwise reserved Marie Leszczynska. He was even requested not to address the Queen with her august title - a major breach of etiquette which Marie Leszczynska otherwise strictly upheld. Also, it was him she would go to if she wished to procure a pension or position for a favourite; she knew well enough that the King as good as never listened to her.

The Comte d'Argenson

The Queen was generally perceived as belonging to the Dévots whose religious morals and charitable way of living was seen as dull by the rest of the court. Indeed, the Queen's private circle was often referred to as dull; the card parties which etiquette demanded she hosted was said to be frequented only by old courtiers and a few older officers - with the exception of the Duc and Duchesse de Chevreuse no one in her circle was under 60 years of age. Her own father, the ex-King Stanislaus of Poland, claimed that the most boring Queens in Europe must be his wife and daughter.

However, the Queen's private circle of friends were very much in disagreement with that particular notion. They all agreed that Marie was very amusing and would often leave them all in a roar of laughter. It was even hinted that although Marie was a good-natured woman she could have an eye that would miss nothing.

The Queen would dine with these friends almost every night when etiquette allowed. Their evenings were not very eventful and certainly far too dull to attract the melancholy Louis XV and his pleasure-seeking courtiers. Most nights would consist of a little chatter by the fireplace until someone dozed off.