Tuesday, 26 December 2017

The First Ladies-of-Honour to the Queen

The First Lady-of-Honour to the queen held the second-highest position in the queen's household. She was only surpassed by the superintendent whom she would act on behalf of in the latter's absence. Consequently, she received her own wages and had right to an apartment at court - she was also frequently in the presence of the queen.

Marie Thérèse

Susanne de Baudéan de Neuillant de Parabere, Duchesse de Navailles
Tenure: 1660-1664
Husband: Philippe de Montaut-Bénac de Navailles

She was immensely loyal to her queen and deeply resented the king's habit of using the maids-of-honour for his liaisons. She even went so far as to lock their chamber doors at night leaving the king to leave unsatisfied. It was finally enough when she confronted the king on religious grounds. This eventually irritated the king so much that he got rid of her. Both her and her husband were exiled to their country estates but were called back in 1666 due to the interference of Anne of Austria. 

Duchesse de Navailles

Julie d'Argennes, Duchesse de Montausier
Tenure: 1664-1671
Husband: Charles de Saint-Maure

She was also made governess to the Children of France and was a very good friend of Madame de Montespan. The two would often share chambers while traveling with the king and that was very much the case when the court followed the king on the campaigned that began his relationship with La Montespan. Julie was later accused of having acted as a go-between in an anonymous letter to the queen; however, she managed to convince Her Majesty that no such thing was happening.

Duchesse de Montausier

Anne Poussard de Fors du Vigean, Duchesse de Richelieu
Tenure: 1671-1679
Husband: Armand Jean de Vignerot du Plessis

She also acted in this capacity to the Grande Dauphine. Anne was also a friend of Madame de Montespan and it was thanks to her that La Montespan was reconciled with the queen during the separation between her and Louis XIV. Naturally, this earned her the gratitude of both the king and Madame de Montespan especially when their affair was resumed.
Apparently, she had a knack for befriending women close to the queen because she also managed to become close to Madame de Maintenon. During the Affair of the Poisons her husband's mistress was accused of attempting to poison her.

Anne-Armande de Saint-Gelais de Lansac, Duchesse de Crèquy
Tenure: 1679-1680
Husband: Charles III de Crèquy

She was the last appointee to this post before the queen's death and she did not serve until then. Anne-Armande was widowed in 1680 and she left court thereafter. 

Marie Leszczynska

Catherine-Charlotte de Gramont, Duchesse de Boufflers
Tenure: 1725-1735
Husband: Louis François de Boufflers

She was known for her very strict morals which may have suited the religious queen.

OBS: not to be confused with the Princesse de Monaco

Marie Brûlart, Duchesse de Luynes
Husband: Charles Philippe de Luynes

When Marie Leszczynska abolished the office of superintendent in 1741, she became the most powerful woman in the queen's household. Both her and her husband were initially suspicious of Madame de Pompadour but eventually came to like her.

Anne Claude Louise d'Arpajon, Comtesse de Noailles
Tenure: 1763
Husband: Philippe de Noailles

She never got to remain long in her position since she was appointed in the same year as the queen died. This meant that she was simply transferred to the household of Marie Antoinette seven years later.

Louis Surugue - Charlotte Gaucher de Mouchy.jpg
Comtesse de Noailles

Marie Antoinette

Anne Claude Louise d'Arpajon, Comtesse de Noailles
Husband: Philippe de Noailles

Nicknamed "Madame Etiquette" by the newly arrived Dauphine; she would end her life on the guillotine like her mistress. Before that, in 1774, she was fired from this post by Marie Antoinette which drove the Comtesse to join the new queen's critics.

Laure-Auguste de Fitzjames, Princesse de Chimay
Tenure: 1775-1789
Husband: Philippe-Gabriel-Maurice d'Alsace-Hénin-Liétard

She was appointed as a companion to Marie Antoinette when she arrived as Dauphine. Marie Antoinette reinstated the office of superintendent for the Princesse de Lamballe in 1775 which meant that Laure-Auguste was demoted to second ranking. She accompanied the royal family in 1789 but eventually fled due to her extreme unpopularity in Paris. 

Princesse of Chimay by Van Loo.jpg
Princesse de Chimay

Geneviève de Gramont, Comtesse d'Ossun
Tenure: 1791-1792
Husband: Charles d'Ossun

She remained with the royal family when they were imprisoned in Paris. This would prove to be her own downfall. She was arrested and guillotined for not having informed the authorities of the impending flight to Varennes.

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