Thursday, 16 March 2017

Louis de Mornay, Marquis de Villarceaux

Louis de Mornay was born in 1619 in Paris to Pierre de Mornay and Anne Olivier de Leuville. His father was in possession of several small "seigneuries" which were basically areas which he was governing.

Military careers were very common in the young Louis' family and naturally he was to go that way as well. By virtue of his noble birth he quickly managed to get the position of captain-lieutenant in the Grand Dauphin's service. Later, he was made captain of the guards to the Dauphin which meant that he spent a lot of time with the royal heir. Naturally, it was a huge advantage that he spent so much time with the future Louis XIV.
Quickly, Louis de Mornay became a well-known name at court - so well-known that even Saint-Simon bothered to mention him in his memoirs. However, Saint-Simon does not paint the most flattering of portraits of Louis; he considered him to be a seducer who made "a lot of noise with women". 

Presumed to be Louis de Mornay, marquis de Villarceaux (1607-1691), 17th century by Jean Petitot le Vieux. Villarceaux was the lover of  Francoise d'Augbigne (the future Madame de Maintenon) from 1660-1663, after the death of her first husband.:
Presumed to be Louis de Mornay

There seem to be something about this charge of being somewhat of a libertine since Saint-Simon is not the only one who noted it. Another memoir-writer, Gédéon Tallement de Réaux, had a more gallant way of describing the young nobleman's behaviour but agreed that his reputation with women was infamous. Louis' love of women eventually got him into trouble when he was sentenced to a spell in the Bastille for allegedly "seducing a young maiden".

It was decided that he was to marry and the choice fell on one of Anne of Austria's ladies-of-honour: Denise de La Fontaine d'Esche. The couple were married on 8 May 1643. Denise was older than Louis but also ranked above him at court which meant that the marriage was not without its advantages. Louis XIV decided to make his name-sake captain of the royal hounds which gave Louis responsibility for no less than 70 hunting dogs. Considering the Sun King's fervent pleasure in hunting it was certainly a sign of favour.

Being now a married man did not deter Louis from having affairs. He again drew attention to himself with an affair with Anne de L'Enclos - better known as Ninon de Lenclos. The scandal soon became the talk of the Parisian salons and was made even greater when he suddenly moved to his country estate of Villarceaux and took his mistress with him. Here she gave birth to a son whom Louis recognized in 1657. This baby boy would later be given a position in the King's Navy as an officer.

Billedresultat for villarceaux
View of Louis' estate of Villarceaux

Eventually, his relationship with Anne came to an end and he embarked on another with a woman who would become infamous in France. Her name was Francoise Scarron but is better known as Madame de Maintenon. Francoise Scarron was actually a friend of Louis' wife with whom she exchanged several letters. When she became a widow the two began a love affair which lasted three years. During this period Louis had his mistress painted completely in the nude. Their relationship ended when Madame de Maintenon realised that she would get further in her career with a stern religious attitude. 
Louis would become a favourite companion of the ageing Sun King who probably appreciated that the Marquis relinquished his mistress without a fight. Given the struggle the King had had with Madame de Montespan's husband he was surely relieved.

Louis de Mornay died on 21 February 1691 without a mistress and in debt. His tomb was destroyed during the revolution.

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