Friday, 14 July 2017

The Anti-Pompadour Faction

Madame de Pompadour's rise to power angered a great deal of people at court. Some disliked her due to her bourgeoisie background while others had hoped that Louis XV would return his affections to Marie Leszczynska. 

Those included in the anti-Pompadour faction counted the Marquis de Maurepas and the Prince de Conti. The latter was Louis XV's own cousin who supported the Jansenist movement. The Marquis de Maurepas served as Minister for the Navy but fell afoul of Louis XV due to his blatantly obvious disdain for the royal mistress. In 1749 that dislike led to Maurepas being exiled from court; he was not the only one to suffer this fate.

Prince de Conti

While pacing his estates, Maurepas' opinions on Madame de Pompadour had definitely not changed. He continued to attack her reputation from afar which can hardly have helped his case.

It is quite likely that Maurepas had contributed to spreading lewd and degrading songs about Madame de Pompadour in Paris. One of the more popular ones became all the rage in his year of exile. It ran as follows:

Qu'une bâtarde de catin 
A la cour se voit avancée,
Que dans l'amour ou dans le vin
Louis cherche une gloire aisée;
Ah! Le voilà, ah! Ce voici
Celui qui n'en a nul souci

The translation:
That a bastard strumpet
Should advance at court,
That in love or wine,
Louis should seek easy glory,
Ah! There he is, ah! Here he is,
He without a care

This little verse is but one of countless examples of the literature used against the Marquise. In fact the category grew so big it earned its own name: Poissonades. Caricatures and pamphlets were equally popular in the faction.

As a faction the anti-Pompadour circle often overlapped with that of the Dévot faction. Louis XV's children were decidedly against their father's mistress, although their opposition lay more in his having an official mistress at all. Ironically, it does not appear that Marie Leszczynska was a part of the faction. She would later say that Madame de Pompadour was her favourite of her husband's mistresses because she never tried to humiliate her.

Those whose dislike were bound in Reinette's person attempted to replace her in the king's affection. Thus, the faction pushed the Comtesse de Lawner on the king but in vain. 

Marquis de Maurepas

Naturally, the faction also attempted to counteract Madame de Pompadour's political influence. Following the death of the Dauphin Louis Ferdinand, Madame Adelaide attempted to influence her father's choice of ministers. She presented him with a list of men chosen by the late Dauphin as candidates for positions of note. All were anti-Pompadour and included the Marquis de Maurepas and Mauchault. 

Another of her most fierce opponents was the Comte d'Argenson. However, where she was powerless against the songs and vicious caricatures, this was a battle she could win. She managed to get d'Argenson exiled as well on the grounds that he had failed his duties which included keeping Paris in order - there had been riots and a rise in crime lately.
Also Mauchault were dismissed allegedly on the order of the Marquise. So, in this sense the king's mistress was quite succesful. It could be argued that she had the last laugh since she remained in power until her death; the efforts of the anti-Pompadour clan effectively proved futile. 

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