Thursday, 30 November 2017

The House of Gontaut-Biron

The family was founded in 1147 when Gaston de Gontaut married the daughter of the seigneur de Biron - hence Gontaut-Biron. The house continued until 1798 when the main line died out; however,  a cadet line survives.

From the reign of Louis XIV to the revolution these are the family-members:

I. François I de Gontaut-Biron and Élisabeth de Cossé-Brissac

François was the Marquis de Biron and Lieutenant General in the king's army. In 1651 he was awarded a knighthood by the king for his efforts in Italy.

Élisabeth was the daughter of the Duc de Brissac.

The couple had five children:
  • Louis de Gontaut-Biron - died in childhood
  • Henriette Marie de Gontaut-Biron - died unmarried
  • Agnès de Gontaut-Biron - later Marquise de Nogaret
  • Charles Armand de Gontaut-Biron - later Duc de Biron
  • Louise de Gontaut-Biron - later Marquise d'Urzé

II. Charles Armand de Gontaut-Biron and Marie Antonine de Bautru de Nogent

Charles was made peer of France when he was elevated to the rank of Duc de Biron; in the army he excelled and made Marèchal de France.

Marie Antonine was the daughter of the Comte de Nogent. Her marriage to Charles Armand was arranged and the contract was signed on 12 August 1686.

The couple had no less than 26 children of which 12 died in childhood. Amongst those who survived were:
  • François Armand de Gontaut-Biron, Duc de Biron
  • Jean-Louis de Gontaut-Biron, Abbot of Biron
  • Louis-Antoine de Gontaut-Biron, Comte de Biron
  • Charles-Armand de Gontaut-Biron, Abbot of Gontaut
  • Marguerite de Gontaut-Biron - became a nun
  • Françoise-Madeleine de Gontaut-Biron, Marquise de Bonnac
  • Judith-Charlotte de Gontaut-Biron - Comtesse de Bonneval
  • Geneviève de Gontaut-Biron, Comtesse de Gramont
  • Marie-Antonine-Victoire, Marquise de Roure
  • Marie-Renée de Gontaut-Biron, Comtesse de Seignelay
  • Charlotte-Antonine de Gontaut-Biron, Mademoiselle de Gontaut

Charles Armand

III. François Armand de Gontaut-Biron and Marie Adélaïde de Gramont

François Armand inherited his father's peerage and became maître de camp to a regiment named after himself. At court he was lieutenant of the 100 gentlemen employed in the king's civilian household.

Marie Adélaïde was a dame du palais to Marie Leszczynska.

The couple had 2 children:
  • Antoine-Charles de Gontaut-Biron, Duc de Biron (he took the title of Duc de Lauzun)
    • He died childless
  • Louise Antonine de Gontaut-Biron, Marquise de Courtanvaux

Billedresultat for gontaut-biron

IV. Jean Louis de Gontaut-Biron 

Upon the death of François Armand, the title of Duc de Biron went to his uncle, Jean Louis, However, Jean Louis was an abbot and thus could not marry. Therefore, the title was quickly passed on to his brother, Louis Antoine.

V. Louis Antoine de Gontaut-Biron and Françoise Pauline de La Rochefoucauld

Louis Antoine was a soldier for most of his life; he served in the War of the Austrian Succession. When he retired he had reached the rank of Marèchal de France.

Françoise Pauline was Marquise de Severac in her own right. She was guillotined at the age of 71.

The couple had no children and the heir was Louis Antoine's brother, Charles-Antoine.

Louis Antoine de Gontaut-Biron, VI Duc de Biron, Pair de France, Maréchal de France (1700 - 1788), Chevalier des Ordres du Roi.
Françoise Pauline de La Rochefoucauld

VI. Charles-Antoine de Gontaut-Biron and Antoinette-Eustachie Crozat du Châtel

Charles-Antoine was, like his brother, a soldier. He had been a musketeer since 1728 and twenty years later found himself promoted to Lieutenant General. He was further awarded the governorship of Viverais, Velay and Cévennes. He was given his own peerage in 1758 when he was made Duc de Gontaut.

Antoinette-Eustachie died giving birth to the couple's only child: Armand-Louis de Gontaut-Biron.

VII. Armand-Louis de Gontaut-Biron and Marie-Amélie de Boufflers

Armand-Louis inherited his father's title of Duc de Biron in 1788 but before that he received his own peerage in the style of Duc de Lauzun by Louis XV in honour of his marriage. He became a great favourite with Marie-Antoinette but did not get on well with his wife. As was custom in his family, he joined the military which he served almost until the outbreak of revolution.

Marie-Amélie was the daughter of the last Duc de Boufflers. Once she met Jean-Jacques Rousseau while traveling.

The couple had no children.


Interesting facts and anecdotes:

  • The revolution took its toll on the de Gontaut-Biron-line. Armand-Louis de Gontaut-Biron and his wife, Marie-Amelié de Boufflers, were both executed in 1793
  • Louis-Antoine was extremely popular amongst his troops. He was present when the firework display following the wedding of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette descended into disaster. He was actually caught and would likely have died in the stampede that followed if his troops had not recognized him and ran back to carry him out
  • Charles-Armand lived to the ripe old age of 92 - he died just before his 93rd birthday. He had seen the births of 14 children, 32 grandchildren and 47 great-grandchildren. Of these he had also seen the death of 10 of his children, 12 of his grandchildren and 8 of his great-grandchildren. 

Other portraits:

Genevieve de Gontaut Biron, 1696-1756
Geneviève de Gontaut-Biron
Françoise Madeleine de Preissac, Comtesse de
Madeleine de Gontaut-Biron, 2e. Marquise de Bonnac (1692 - 1739). / By Rigaud.
Madeleine de Gontaut-Biron, Marquise de Bonnac

Relateret billede
...and a pamphlet of Louis-Antoine as a peacock

Monday, 27 November 2017

Mistresses of Louis XIV

A chronological list of the mistresses of Louis XIV - including the maîtresses-en-titres, petites maîtresses and liaisons. However, it should be noted that one-night stands might have slipped the otherwise ever-cautious courtiers by, so some may be excluded. Included are approximate years of relationship, children from the relationship or little notes or anecdotes about the relationship.

Towards the end of his life, Louis became a lot less interested in having what we would term as one-night stands. This is primarily due to the sombre influence of Madame de Maintenon who had allied herself with the church in order to get the king on a more virtuous path.

NOTE: maîtresses-en-titre are marked with a star

Catherine Bellier, Baronne de Beauvais
Year: 1653

Catherine had been approached by Anne of Austria who wanted to make sure that her son was prepared for marriage - in every sense of the word. As a reward for having deflowered the king she received an estate and a pension

Olympe Mancini, Comtesse de Soissons
Years: 1654-1657 and again from 1660-1661
Children: most likely a son. Their affair ended in 1657 and she married the Comte de Soissons. However, just six months after the marriage she gave birth to a son.

Olympe was deeply upset about being displaced in the king's affections. She was caught up in the Affair of the Poisons where she was alleged to have even threatened the king that if he did not take her back "he would be sorry".

Olympe as Athena

Anne-Madeleine de Lisle Marivault, Marquise de Calvisson
Year: 1657

The couple met at a masked ball hosted by Madame d'Argencourt where Louis XIV was immediately intrigued by her lively conversation. He continued to show up wherever she went for the next couple of weeks until Anne of Austria got a hint of the would-be affair. The queen mother promptly dispatched her son to Vincennes and that was the end of that.

Marie Mancini, Princesse de Colonna
Years: 1658-1660

Marie Mancini is often described as Louis XIV's first love. There is no doubt that Louis XIV fell deeply in love with the young Italian woman - so much so that people began to wonder if he would marry her. This greatly upset Anne of Austria who had set her eyes on marrying her son to her niece, the Infanta of Spain. Thus, Cardinal Mazarin (Marie's uncle) sent her off to Italy to marry the Prince of Colonna; meanwhile Louis was quickly married to Marie Thérèse of Spain.

Marie Mancini

Daughter of a gardener 
Year: 1658
Children: a daughter

This affair appears to have been one of mystery. Her name did not survive to history which may be attributed to her origins. 

Bonne de Pons, Madame d'Heudicourt
Year: 1661

A cousin to Madame de Montespan, her family had a far different attitude towards the prospect of seeing her a royal mistress than most noble families. Horrified, they removed her from court in 1665 and quickly married her off to 

Bonne de Pons

Françoise-Louise de La Baume Le Blanc, Duchesse de La Vallière*
Years: 1661-1667 
Children: Charles de La Baume Le Blanc, Philippe de La Baume Le Blanc, Louis de La Baume Le Blanc, Marie Anne de Bourbon and Louis de Bourbon.

The first maîtresse-en-titre, her relationship with the king actually happened by chance. To avoid the increasing rumour of an improper relationship between Louis XIV and Henriette-Anne d'Orléans (wife to Monsieur) the two arranged to use Louise as a decoy. However, the plot backfired when Louis became genuinely attached to her. Throughout their relationship Louise was plagued by her conscious since she considered their affair to be deeply in odds with her devout beliefs. After having fled several times to a convent - only to be brought back again - she was finally allowed to leave for good.

Louise de La Vallière

Anne-Lucie de La Mothe-Houdancourt, Duchesse de Vieuville
Year: 1662

It is possible that their relationship may never have been physical. Anne-Lucie was a close friend of the Comtesse de Soissons who blatantly used her to win the king back. Naturally, Anne of Austria was not pleased at having a mistress present who would only humiliate her daughter-in-law but she understood how the court worked. The queen mother by far preferred Louise de La Vallière who treated the queen with respect. Anne-Lucie herself seems to have been more of a pawn than actually involved on her own behalf. She apparently did not wish to consummate her relationship with the king until he ended his affair with La Vallière - which he refused. The affair quickly ended after that.

Billedresultat for Anne-Lucie de La Mothe-Houdancourt

Anne de Conty d'Argencourt 
Year: 1662

Anne was a maid of honour to Anne of Austria where she caught the eye of the king. However, their affair was disrupted when she chose to take another lover in the form of the Duc de Richelieu which greatly angered Louis XIV. Rather than being publicly abandoned she chose to retire to a convent.

Bonne de Pons, Marquise d'Heudicourt
Year: 1665

A cousin to Madame de Montespan, her family had a far different attitude towards the prospect of seeing her a royal mistress than most noble families. Horrified, they removed her from court and quickly married her off to Michel Sublet, Marquis d'Heudicourt. Later she would find herself on the wrong side of her cousin and former love interest when she revealed the existence of several of the illegitimate children of La Montespan and Louis XIV. They had her exiled in 1672 until Madame de Maintenon intervened.

Bonne de Pons

Charlotte-Catherine de Gramont, Princesse de Monaco
Year: 1665

The affair between Louis and Charlotte-Catherine is widely regarded as having been orchestrated by Henrietta-Anne d'Orléans. Madame had become jealous that Louise de La Vallière occupied so much of the king's time that she attempted to lure him away. In a sense it worked since the Princesse de Monaco did become the king's mistress - but only for a short while. However, the Princesse was known to have an insatiable appetite for love and was eventually exiled due to inappropriate affairs.

Billedresultat for Charlotte-Catherine de Gramont
Charlotte-Catherine de Gramont

Françoise-Athénaïs de Rochechouart de Mortemart, Marquise de Montespan*
Years: 1667-1681 
Children: Louise Françoise de Bourbon, Louis Auguste de Bourbon, Louis César de Bourbon, Louise Françoise de Bourbon, Louise Marie Anne de Bourbon, Françoise Marie de Bourbon and Louis Alexandre de Bourbon.

Madame de Montespan is without a doubt the most celebrated mistress of Louis XIV. She embodied the glory of his reign with her sharp wit, sensual appearance and overall magnificence. She succeeded in supplanting Louise de La Vallière and from then on held a firm grip on the king's affections. Eventually, the church attempted to intervene and the couple was forced apart for a short while. However, both were too much infatuated with each other to be kept apart and soon resumed their relationship. It was not until the Affair of the Poisons erupted that the king was forced to officially break from La Montespan.
Although she was found guilty in the eyes of the public - and the court - the king does not seem to have believed that she tried to use dark magic to ensure his continued attention. Even after they had officially ended their relationship Louis continued to visit her in her chambers although their relationship would never be the same again.

Billedresultat for montespan
Madame de Montespan with some of her children by Louis

Anne de Rohan-Chabot, Princesse de Soubise
Years: 1669 and then 1673-1675
Children: possibly two sons, Hercule Mériadec de Rohan and Armand Gaston Maximillian de Rohan

Anne first caught Louis' attentions in 1669 when the court was staying at Chambord - it is pretty fair to say that she was never meant to be more than a brief liaison since the king already had his hands full with both La Vallière and La Montespan. Some time after their first encounter she gave birth to her first son, Hercule. In 1674 Anne was made lady-in-waiting to Marie Thérèse and once again found her way to the king - and again a son was born not long after.
However, Anne had been married since the age of 15 and the Prince de Soubise acknowledged both sons as his own although the court definitely thought otherwise. Their relationship continued on and off for a few years until it finally ended at roughly the same time as Madame de Montespan's reign.

Anne de Rohan-Chabot, Princess of Soubise.jpg

Lydie de Rochefort-Théobon, Comtesse de Beuvron 
Year: 1670-1672

Here is another affair which began at the Château de Chambord. Lydie and Louis became lovers shortly before Molière's play "le Bourgeois Gentilhomme" premiered. Although their relationship was so well known as to be related to the king of Prussia by his envoy it does not appear to have been one of great passion. When it was coming to an end the king was said to occasionally "amuse himself with Mademoiselle de Théobon". She was eventually removed by Madame de Montespan who had her transferred to the service of Madame and Monsieur.

Françoise d'Aubigné, Marquise de Maintenon*
Years: 1680-1715

Madame de Maintenon began her career at court as the governess of Louis XIV's children by Madame de Montespan. Unsurprisingly, it came as a shock to the reigning favourite that her trusted governess would someday conspire to replace her. However, after the Affair of the Poisons Françoise stood as a stark contrast to the glorious Montespan. She was a firm ally of the church - although her piety tended to vary depending on her interests. Historians widely believe that Louis XIV eventually married her as she provided a stable and solemn companion for his later years. If such a marriage took place it was morganatic since she was so far beneath him in rank - consequently, she would never be acknowledged as queen nor his wife.

Billedresultat for madame de maintenon
Madame de Maintenon in her later years

Claude de Vin des Oeillets
Years: around 1670-1676
Children: Louise de Maisonblanche

Claude was a member of Madame de Montespan's entourage and often stepped in whenever the maîtresse-en-titre's pregnancies prevented her from "amusing" the king. Surprisingly enough, Madame de Montespan encouraged this since she knew that she was less likely to lose the king if he stayed within her household. Claude was eventually caught up in the Affair of the Poisons after which the king completely abandoned her. This was said to have caused her so much heartbreak that she died from it.

Billedresultat for claude de vin des œillets

Marie-Élisabeth de Ludres (called Isabelle), Marquise de Ludres
Years: 1675-1677

Isabelle was a renowned beauty who captured the king while his affair with Madame de Montespan was fading. It was very much expected that she would succeed La Montespan as maîtresse-en-titre but Isabelle's own pride ruined her prospects. While Louis was away at war with Spain she boasted to everyone that she had replaced La Montespan and that she had full control of the king. The king had wanted to keep their relations a bit more discreet and was so angered by her behaviour that he cast her off completely.

Portrait de Madame Marie-Elisabeth de Ludres, chanoinesse de Poussay , maîtresse de Louis XIV, représentée en Marie-Madeleine.jpg

Marie-Charlotte de Castelnau, Comtesse de Louvigny
Years: 1676-1677

Louis had once again gotten Madame de Montespan pregnant which accounted for his wandering eye in the period 1676 when he noticed the then Comtesse de Louvigny. However, he very quickly tired of her and returned to La Montespan once the child was born.


Elizabeth Hamilton, Comtesse de Gramont
Year: 1678

Her affair with the king appears to be somewhat disputed but it is likely that they did have a brief liaison. Elizabeth's quick wit and amusing presence was a continued source of irritation to Madame de Maintenon - perhaps she reminded the up-coming favourite of La Montespan?

Lely (1670) - Elizabeth Hamilton (1640-1708).jpg

Marie-Angélique de Scorailles de Roussille, Duchesse de Fontanges
Years: 1679-1681

Marie-Angélique was one of the greatest threats to Madame de Montespan's reign as favourite. Louis XIV was very much intrigued by the young beauty when she arrived at court in 1679 and quickly made her his mistress. At first they managed to keep it a secret but then the king himself revealed it by wearing matching ribbons at Mass - right before both the queen and Madame de Montespan. Naturally, the favourite went into a rage and the king did everything he could to calm her down. Marie-Angélique was made the laughing-stock of the court when Madame de Montespan apparently had two bears - gifts from the king - let into her apartment where they caused a mess. Understandably, the would-be mistress fled in terror to the glee of the courtiers.

Louis eventually began to grow tired of her and Madame de Montespan attempted to make use of her confidante, Madame de Maintenon, in order to make Marie-Angélique retire. However, Marie-Angélique refused but died not long after due to an illness.


Diane-Gabrielle Damas de Thianges, Duchesse de Nevers
Year: 1680

Diane-Gabrielle was well-known to Louis XIV long before they had a brief liaison: she was Madame de Montespan's older sister. She never achieved the influence of her sister; her affair with the king was on and off - primarily when Madame de Montespan was pregnant or ill.


Marie Madeleine Agnès de Gontaut Biron, Marquise de Nogaret
Years: 1680-1683

Although Marie and Louis' affair lasted on and off for three years very little is known about their time together. She never managed - or wanted for that matter - to attempt to take the position of the king's declared mistress.

Louise-Élisabeth Rouxel, Mademoiselle de Grancey
Year: somewhat uncertain

According to Madame de Sévigné an uncle of Louise-Élisabeth's made it very clear to Louis XIV that she was available to the king if he wished it which the king refused. Louise-Élisabeth was said to have been furious at her uncle's boldness indicating that she did not instigate the advance. She had previously been the mistress of the Chevalier de Lorraine which Madame de Montespan used as a weapon to make sure that the king would never go near her.

Billedresultat for louise elisabeth de rouxel

Jeanne de Rouvroy, Marquise de Chevrières
Year: 1681

Jeanne's affair with Louis was very brief - she was even described as a "passing mistress" of the king's in 1681. The king had personally signed her marriage contract so they had at least been acquainted since 1675. She died just eight years later.

Marie-Anne de Wurtemberg, Princesse de Wurtemberg 
Year: 1681

Marie-Anne attracted the king in 1681 which angered Madame de Montespan. Although her relationship with Louis XIV was coming to its end she still had considerable influence and convinced the king that Marie-Anne had been the mistress of a monk who claimed to have found the philosopher's stone. Following the Affair of the Poisons Louis XIV was wary of anything of the kind and never went near her again.

Françoise Thérèse de Voyer de Dorée, Mademoiselle d'Oré
Year: 1681

This was another brief affair which was ended by a third party. However, this time it was both Mesdames de Montespan and de Maintenon who intervened - the former from jealousy, the latter from hypocrisy. Also, it was said that she had failed to "please the king" which was a sure way of ending such a fling.

Marie-Antoinette de Rouvroy, Comtesse d'Oisy
Year:  1681

Once again it was beauty and wit that attracted the king - but Marie-Antoinette was not capable of maintaining the king's interest for long. Thus, she became one in a remarkably busy year for the king. Nevertheless, the king did give her a pension of 6000 livres on the occasion of her marriage.

Marie-Rosalie de Piennes, Marquise de Châtillon
Year: 1682

Marie-Rosalie is one of the more obscure, passing mistresses of the Sun King. She was seventeen when she was wooed by the king - in his forties - and did not make a lasting impression.

Madame de Saint-Martin
Year: about 1682

Madame de Saint-Martin rivals the daughter of the gardener in being the least known mistress to the king. Quite frankly it is more likely that the king had a one-time affair with her since not much is known about Madame de Saint-Martin other than that she was the wife of a minor official in the queen's household.

Marie-Louise de Montmorency-Laval, Duchesse de Roquelaure
Year: 1683
Children: a daughter

Marie-Louise had a quick liaison with the king which resulted in a pregnancy. However, the king was well passed the phase of legitimizing his illegitimate children - and especially those by women whom he most likely did not care very much about. To dampen the scandal he married her off to the Duc de Roquelaure and offered the bridegroom a pension in addition.


Julie de Guenami, Mademoiselle de Châteaubriant
Year: 1683

Julie was just 15 years old when her family pushed her in the king's way - her family had fallen from grace and saw the beautiful girl as a chance to regain ground. However, their hopes came to nothing since Madame de Maintenon's grip on the king was tightening. She was the last woman whom the king was said to have had a brief affair with.


Thursday, 23 November 2017

The House of de Neufville de Villeroy

The family's origins are somewhat obscure; the founding member was Nicolas Neufville but it is not known when he was either born nor died. The same can be said for his son and heir, Richard.
What is known is that the fourth generation served Philippe III de Bourgogne which in turn led to new positions of power including ambassadorships. 

Nicolas IV de Neufville de Villeroy was granted the title of Marquis de Villeroy by Louis XIII; his son was further given the marquisate of d'Alincourt.
The family was finally entered in the peerage in 1663 when Nicolas V was made Duc de Villeroy; he was also given the prestigious post of governor to the newly born Louis XIV. Governorship of a future king would be bestowed upon the family again when Louis XV turned seven years old.

The Neufville de Villeroy-family's generations as they were from the time of Louis XIV:

1) Nicolas V de Neufville de Villeroy married Madeleine de Blanchefort de Crèquy
Nicolas was under the protection of Cardinal Jules Mazarin who ensured him the title of Marèchal de France. The favour of the powerful Cardinal further led to the appointment of governorship of Louis XIV as well as the granting of a knighthood of the Saint-Esprit. Louis XIV would later make him head of the royal council of finances. Most importantly he was made a peer of France by the elevation to Duc de Villeroy.

Madeleine de Blanchefort de Crèquy was the daughter of the Prince de Poix

The couple had four children: 
  • Charles de Neufville de Villeroy - later Marquis d'Alincourt
  • François de Neufville de Villeroy - later Duc de Villeroy
  • Françoise de Neufville de Villeray - became first the Comtesse de Tournon, then Duchesse de Chaulnes and finally Marquise d'Hauterive
  • Catherine de Neufville de Villeroy - became Comtesse d'Armagnac 
2) François de Neufville de Villeroy married Marguerite-Marie de Cossé-Brissac
François was a playmate of Louis XIV and Philippe d'Orléans due to his father's governorship. When he reached adulthood he joined the military where he served as colonel of the infantry before being made Marèchal de France. He suffered a humiliating defeat to Prince Eugene who took him as a prisoner of war - eventually he was exchanged for the Count of Wallenstein. When he returned to court he was made head of the council of finance like his father - a position he would maintain during the regency. Louis XIV left him the governorship of Louis XV which the regent agreed to.

The couple had seven children:
  • Louis Nicolas de Neufville de Villeroy - Duc de Villeroy
  • Camille de Neufville de Villeroy - died young
  • François Paul de Neufville de Villeroy - Archbishop of Lyon
  • François-Catherine de Neufville de Villeroy - died young
  • Madeleine Thérèse de Neufville de Villeroy - became a nun
  • Françoise Madeleine de Neufville de Villeroy - Comtesse de Prado
  • Catherine Anne de Neufville de Villeroy - became a nun

3) Louis Nicolas de Neufville de Villeroy and Marguerite Le Tellier de Louvois
Like his father he entered the army where he became a Lieutenant General in 1702; later he was granted the knighthood of Saint-Esprit. By 1716 he inherited the title of Duc de Retz upon the death of his cousin who died without an heir.

Marguerite was the daughter of the king's minister, Louvois.

The couple had four children:
  • Louis François Anne de Neufville de Villeroy - became Duc de Villeroy
  • François Camille de Neufville de Villeroy - became Duc d'Alincourt
  • Marguerite Louise Sophie de Neufville de Villeroy - became Duchesse d'Harcourt
  • Madeleine Angélique de Neufville de Villeroy - became Duchesse de Boufflers
4) Louis François Anne de Neufville de Villeroy and Marie Renée de Montmorency
Louis became a Marèchal de camp in 1738 and later a Lieutenant General. It was under his patronage that the famous Villeroy-porcelain manufacturer was established in 1748.

Marie Renée was the daughter of the Duc de Piney-Luxembourg.

The couple had no children and the Dukedom of Villeroy went to the son of François Camille

4) Gabriel Louis François de Neufville de Villeroy and Jeanne Louise Constance d'Aumont
Gabriel was captain of the king's guards as well as a knight of the Order of Saint-Esprit in 1773. In 1778 he bought the title of Duc de Retz. Gabriel was guillotined on 28 April 1794.

Jeanne Louise Constance d'Aumont was the daughter of the Duc d'Aumont. She survived the revolution and tried in vain to regain her vast collection of books which had been confiscated.

The couple had no children but Gabriel had daughter by Étiennette Marie Périne Le Marquis.

Interesting facts and notes:

  • The family was granted the governorship of Lyonnais 
  • Marie-Josèphe de Boufflers (wife of François Camille) was a dame du palais to Marie Leszczynska
  • Their family's hôtel was built in 1650 by Nicolas IV and still stands 
  • François de Neufville was ambassador to Venice

Portrait Gallery:

Le maréchal-duc Nicolas V de Neufville de Villeroy (musée de la Révolution française).
Nicolas V de Neufville de Villeroy, 1st Duc de Villeroy

Marguerite-Marie, Duchesse de Villeroy
Le maréchal de Villeroy, Alexandre-François Caminade, 1834
François de Neufville de Villeroy, 2nd Duc de
Image illustrative de l'article François Paul de Neufville de Villeroy
Paul de Neufville de Villeroy, Archbishop of Lyon
François Anne de Neufville de Villeroy, 4th Duc de Villeroy
Catherine de Neufville de Villeroy
Billedresultat for de Neufville de Villeroy
Françoise de Neufville de Villeroy, married three times


The Duc and Duchesse du Châtelet

Diane Adélaide de Rochechouart had married Louis Marie Florent du Châtelet on 24 April 1752 in the presence of Louis XV and the royal family at Versailles. 

By 1788 the Duc du Châtelet had taken command of the French guards garrisoned in Paris. As it happens, the new colonel was an avid follower of the strict Prussian military discipline which he immediately attempted to impose on his troops. The Prussian army of the time was most likely the most disciplined in Europe; but it came a cost. Harsh physical punishment were commonplace for even minor infractions.

Naturally, his men were less than pleased at this new regime. Unfortunately, the Duc made it even worse for himself by not carrying the discipline thoroughly through. Officers of the 18th century were usually aristocrats (or at least wealthy) and this was the case in this regiment as well. However, these young men thought very little of their duties to their regiment and often neglected them - if they showed up at all. Louis failed to impose the same level of discipline and order amongst the officers which let to a clear difference in treatment.

Unsurprisingly, the Duc du Châtelet soon became an unpopular figure. In the summer of 1789 Paris was boiling with tension which would later erupt into the revolution. The morale in the regiment was low and ultimately failed to handle the scattered uprisings. Furthermore, the Duc became more and more a target of the people's anger.
On 12th July 1789 he was to experience exactly how deep the popular hatred for him went. He was basically kidnapped by an angry mob; it was only at the last moment that a detachment of his French guards came to his rescue.

Louis-Marie-Florent du Châtelet

Sadly for him, he was not to remain safe. On 14th July he lost all control of his soldiers when the majority deserted and joined the revolution. In the upheaval he was again arrested and imprisoned. 
By September 1793 the Duchesse du Châtelet was also arrested in Paris under charges of having attempted to emigrate without permission. She, too, underwent interrogation which particularly aimed at locating her son, the Comte du Châtelet. 

According to author Daniel Gerould Louis attempted to commit suicide by cutting his veins with a shard of glass while imprisoned. Another account also states that he allegedly attempted to smash his head against the wall. Exactly how he attempted to take his own life is unclear; what is clear, though, is that he became truly desperate during his imprisonment.

On 13th December 1793 the Duc du Châtelet was guillotined on the newly christened Place de la Revolution; the Duchesse was likewise executed on 22 April 1794.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

First Gentlemen of the King's Bedchamber

Considering that some of the tenure ships overlap I have chosen to arrange it alphabetically rather than chronologically. Note that some of these were listed as Premier Gentilhomme de la Chambre du Roi while others are merely mentioned as Premier Gentilhomme de la Chambre - this is how they were originally listed and not a distinction made by me.

Amédée-Bretagne-Malo de Durfort, Duc de Duras 
Tenure: 1789 and 1815
Served: Louis XVI
Other titles: none

Assisted in the marriage of Madame Royale after the execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in 1799. During the Reign of Terror he emigrated and accompanied Louis XVIII back into France in 1801. He died at Versailles in 1838.

Married to (I) Claire-Louise-Rose-Bonne-Guy de Coëtnempren de Kersaint in England (during his exile) and (II) Marie-Émilie Knusli 

Image illustrative de l'article Amédée-Bretagne-Malo de Durfort

André-Hercule de Rosset de Rocozel, Duc de Fleury
Tenure: 1741-1788
Served: Louis XV and Louis XVI
Other titles: none

Married to Anne-Madeleine-Françoise d'Auxy de Montceaux. He spent the majority of his court life as an officer in the army.

André-Hercule-Marie-Louis de Rosse de Rocozel, Duc de Fleury
Tenure: 1788-1792
Served: Louis XVI
Other titles: none

Married to Anne-Françoise-Aimée de Franquetot de Coigny but their marriage was dissolved in 1793. He accompanied the Comte de Provence to Rome during the Reign of Terror.

Charles de Créquy-Blanchefort, Duc de Créquy
Tenure: 1643-1687
Served: Louis XIV
Other titles: Prince de Poix, Duc de Poix, Marquis de Créquy

He initially served as a soldier until his grandfather purchased the position for him. He was a trusted member of Louis XIV's household being sent with gifts both to the then Infanta Marie Thérèse and later to Bavaria for the Grande Dauphine.

Billedresultat for Charles iii de Créquy-Blanchefort

Charles-Armand-Réne de La Trémoille, Duc de La Trémoille
Tenure: 1719-1741
Served: Louis XV
Other titles: Prince de Tarente, Comte de Laval, Comte de Montfort, Duc de Thouars

Married to Marie-Hortense-Victoire de La Tour d'Auvergne

Charles-Auguste de Rochechouart, Duc de Rochechouart
Tenure: 1732-1743
Served: Louis XV
Other titles: Grandee of Spain

Married to (I) Augustine de Coëtquen and (II) Marie-Charlotte-Élisabeth de Nicolaï

He died following the battle of Dettingen on 27 June 1743 where he served as a colonel for an infantry regiment

Charles-Belgique-Hollande de La Trémoille, Duc de La Trémoille
Tenure: 1687-1709
Served: Louis XIV
Other titles: Prince de Tarente, Comte de Laval, Baron de Vitré

Married to (I) Madeleine de Créquy and (II) Anne-Armande de Saint-Gelais de Lansac

Charles-Louis-Bretagne de La Trémoille, Duc de La Trémoille
Tenure: 1709-1719
Served: Louis XIV and Louis XV
Other titles: Prince de Tarente, Comte de Montfort, Baron de Vitré, Duc de Thouars

Married to Marie-Madeleine Motier, Marquise de La Fayette
Billedresultat for Charles-Armand-Réne de la Trémoille

Emmanuel-Céleste-Augustin de Durfort, Duc de Duras
Tenure: 1789-1791
Served: Louis XVI
Other titles: none

Married Louise-Charlotte-Henriette-Philippine de Noailles (daughter of Madame Etiquette)

He emigrated during the revolution; first, he joined the French princes who had been exiled to Germany but then travelled on to London where he died

Billedresultat for Emmanuel-Céleste-Augustin de Durfort

Emmanuel-Félicité de Durfort, Duc de Dufort
Tenure: 1757-1789
Served: Louis XV and Louis XVI

Married to (I) Charlotte-Antoinette de La Porte-Mazarini and (II) Louise-Françoise-Maclovie-Céleste de Coëtquen

Luckily for him, he died in his own apartment at Versailles in September 1789 - just before the palace was stormed


François de Beauvillier, Duc de Saint-Aignan
Tenure: 1649-1687
Served: Louis XIV
Other titles: none

Prior to being elevated to the rank of Duc he held the position of Captain of Monsieur's Guards and would later make a part of the king's private council.

Married to (I) Antoinette Servien de Montigny and (II) Françoise Géré de Rancé

François de Beauvillier

François de Beauvillier de Saint-Aignan, Comte de Séry
Tenure: 1657
Served: Louis XIV 

He died at the age of 29 which is why he did not serve in this capacity for long.

François-Bernard Potier de Luxembourg, Duc de Tresmes
Served: Louis XV 
Other titles: Duc de Gesvres, Marquis d'Annebaut, Marquis de Gandelu, Marquis de Fontenay-Mareuil

He was married to Marie-Madeleine-Genviève-Louise de Seiglière

François-Joachim-Bernard Potier de Luxembourg, Duc de Gesvres 
Tenure: 1739-1757
Served: Louis XV

He was appointed governor of Paris and later he was made knight of the Order of Saint-Esprit.

He married Marie-Madeleine-Emilie Mascranni 


Gabriel de Rochechouart, Duc de Mortemart
Tenure: 1630-1669
Served: Louis XIV
Other titles: Prince de Tonnay-Charente

Like the Duc de Gesvres, he was made Governor of Paris in 1669. He was elevated from Marquis to Duc de Mortemart in 1663. During the Fronde he remained with the royal family and enjoyed a close relationship with Anne of Austria as well as Louis XIV - the latter rewarded his loyalty with a peerage.

He married Diane de Grandeseigne


Henri de Daillon, Duc du Lude 
Tenure: 1653-1669
Served: Louis XIV

He was made governor of the château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye where Louis XIV was born. Originally, he was a Comte until Louis XIV raised him to a peerage.

He married (I) Renée Élénore de Bouillé and (II) Marguerite-Louise-Suzanne de Béthune

Billedresultat for Henri de Daillon
Henri de Daillon

Léon Potier de Luxembourg, Marquis de Gesvres 
Tenure: 1670-1704
Served: Louis XIV
Other titles: Comte de Sceaux, Duc de Tresmes

He was made Governor of Paris in 1687 and made good connections at court. However, he was also very adept at making enemies. Both the Duc de Saint-Simon and the Duc de Villeroy absolutely despised him.

Married to (I) Marie-Françoise-Angélique du Val and (II) Marie-Renée de Romillé

Louis d'Aumont de Rochebaron, Duc d'Aumont
Tenure: 1704-1723
Served: Louis XIV and Louis XV

When Louis XIV made his great-grandson King of Spain the Duc d'Aumont was charged to serve him. Once he returned to France he was first given the position of ambassador to England which he held from 1702-1723. As you might have noticed this overlapped with his time in this position. That is due to the fact that he was given the title after is father's death and shared the title with the governor of Boulogne.

Married to Olympe de Brouilly

Louis de Rochechouart, Duc de Mortemart 
Tenure: 1710-1729
Served: Louis XIV and Louis XV
Other titles: Grandee of Spain

In the army he was made general and participated in the siege of Barcelona in 1714. He was also a relative of Madame de Montespan.

Married to (I) Marie-Henriette de Beauvillier and (II) Marie-Charlotte-Elisabeth de Nicolai

Louis-Alexandre-Céleste d'Aumont de Rochebaron, Duc d'Aumont
Tenure: 1762-1782
Served: Louis XV and Louis XVI
Other titles: Duc de Villequier

He was made governor of bot Compiègne and Boulonnais while he held the rank of Lieutenant General in the king's army. In 1782 he was awarded with a knighthood of the Order of Saint-Esprit by   Louis XVI.

Married to (I) Félicité-Louise Le Tellier and (II) Antoinette-Marguerite-Henriette de Mazade

Louis-Antoine-Sophie du Plessis de Richelieu, Duc de Fronsac
Served: Louis XVI

In 1756 he was made both Premier Gentilhomme de la Chambre du Roi and a dragoon. His military career would later lead him to be both Marèchal de camp and Lieutenant General of the king's army. Madame de Pompadour had wanted to marry her daughter to the Duc de Fronsac but his father avoided the match by saying that he could not agree to marriage without the consent of the head of his house who was the Princesse de Lorraine.

Married to (I) Adélaïde-Gabrielle d'Hautefort and (II) Marie-Antoinette de Gallifret

Billedresultat for Louis-Antoine-Sophie du Plessis de Richelieu
Duc de Fronsac

Louis-François-Armand de Vignerot du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu
Tenure: 1744-1786
Served: Louis XV and Louis XVI

He was the godson of Louis XIV (having been born during that monarch's reign). By 1712 he became a musketeer but was gravely compromised in the scandalous Cellamare conspiracy which aimed to "dethrone" the regent in 1719. Apparently, he was forgiven since he later was entrusted with several important positions including envoy to Vienna, knight of the Saint-Esprit and Marèchal de France. Significantly, he was the one who was sent to Dresden to ask for the and of Marie Josèphe de Saxe.

Married to (I) Anne-Catherine de Noailles, (II) Marie-Élisabeth de Lorraine-Harcourt and (III) Jeanne-Catherine-Josèphe de Lavaulx

Jean-Marc Nattier (1685-1766) - Portret van maarschalk hertog Richelieu - Lissabon Museu Calouste Gulbenkian 21-10-2010 13-34-54.jpg
Duc de Richelieu

Louis-François-Charles-Augustin de Rochechouart, Duc de Rochechouart
Tenure: 1743
Served: Louis XV
Other titles: Duc de Mortemart and Grandee of Spain

He never actually fulfilled the duties of his title for a very good reason: he was three years old when he inherited it! Sadly, he also died in 1743.

Louis-Marie d'Aumont de Rochebaron, Duc d'Aumont
Tenure: April 1723 - November 1723
Served: Louis XV

He only got to serve in this position for seven months before dying in 1723. At the age of 15 he was made an infantry colonel.

Married to Catherine de Guiscard

Louis-Marie-Augustin d'Aumont de Rochebaron, Duc d'Aumont
Served: Louis XV and Louis XVI
Other titles: Marquis de Villequier

He inherited a vast fortune which enabled him to built a big art collection. In the army he quickly rose through the ranks being both awarded the ranks of Lieutenant General and Marèchal de camp.

Married Victoire-Félicité de Durfort

Louis-Marie-Céleste de Rochebaron de Villequier, Duc d'Aumont
Tenure: 1785 and again in 1815 
Served: Louis XVI
Other titles: Duc de Piennes

He emigrated during the revolution where he led a regiment of voluntary monarchist-soldiers in Spain; eventually, he would accompany Louis XVIII back to France in 1797

He married Mélanie Charlotte de la Rochechouart

Louis-Marie-Victor d'Aumont de Rochebaron, Duc d'Aumont
Tenure: 1669-1704
Served: Louis XIV
Other titles: Marquis de Chappes, Marquis de Villequier

He served as Captain of the king's guard before distinguishing himself in a military campaign in Flanders.

He married (I) Madeleine Fare Le Tellier and (II) Françoise-Angélique de La Mothe-Houdancourt

Billedresultat for Louis-Marie-Victor d'Aumont de Rochebaron

Louis-Victor de Rochechouart, Duc de Vivonne
Tenure: 1655-1669
Served: Louis XIV
Other titles: Viceroy of Sicily

Before being appointed he had primarily been in the king's military service where he was made Marèchal de camp and Lieutenant General.

Married to Antoinette-Louise de Mesmes

Image illustrative de l'article Louis Victor de Rochechouart de Mortemart

Paul de Beauvillier, Duc de Beauvillier
Tenure: 1666/1687-1710
Served: Louis XIV
Other titles: Duc de Saint-Aignan

He was made Chief of the Financial Council in 1685 and was later granted the title of First Gentleman of the Bedchamber to the Duc de Berry. Interestingly enough, he was also appointed as governor to the Duc de Bourgogne and his younger brother, the Duc d'Anjou.

He married Henriette-Louise Colbert de Seignelay

Billedresultat for Paul de Beauvillier
Paul de Beauvillier

Paul-Louis de Rochechouart, Duc de Rochechouart
Tenure: 1729-1731
Served: Louis XV
Other titles: Duc de Mortemart, Grandee of Spain

He only served for a brief while because he died at the age of 21 

He was married to Marie-Anne-Élisabeth de Beauvau

Réne Potier, Duc de Tresmes
Tenure: 1669-1670
Served: Louis XIV

Louis XIV sent him to England as his ambassador after having served for years either as a politician or as a soldier. Being born in 1579 he was already 80 years old when he was offered the position.

He married Marguerite de Luxembourg 

Réne Potier