Friday, 27 April 2018

Louise d'Esparbès de Lussan, Comtesse de Polastron

Born on 19 October 1764, Louise was the daughter of Louis-François d'Esparbès and Marie Catherine Julie Rougeot. Unfortunately, she never got to know her mother; Marie Catherine died soon after giving birth to Louise. Neither did she remain in her father's house for long. In 1776 she was placed in the Pentemont Abbey where she was to receive her education. Here she would not be completely alone since many daughters of the aristocracy were sent here to receive their basic education.

Once she was old enough to marry, Louise was removed from her cloistered life and wed to Adhémar de Polastron on 5 June 1780 at Versailles. As she was now a married woman she could be officially presented at court. However, Louise was taken suddenly and seriously ill which caused her family to fear for her life. She recovered, however, and was presented later than anticipated in December. On the occasion she wore diamonds lent to her by the queen herself.


Billedresultat for louise d'esparbès de lussan
Identified as Louise

Her new husband had paved the way for the young Comtesse de Polastron to a life in the inner circles of Marie Antoinette; Adhémar was the half-brother of Yolanda de Polastron, Duchesse de Polignac. It did not take long before her good connections resulted in an official position at court. Louise was made dame du palais to Marie Antoinette; after five years of marriage Louise found herself to be pregnant. As it happens this would be her only child by her husband. The child - Louis de Polastron - was born in 1785. This could possibly be due to the fact that the delivery was very difficult - at some point her life was despaired of.
Louise appears to have had genuine friendship with the queen. She is a frequent guest at Petit Trianon and can often be found in the queen's apartment or in her company. 

While at Versailles Louise attracted a quite prominent lover. Charles de Bourbon, Comte d'Artois (brother of Louis XVI) was immediately intrigued by her reportedly good looks. However, the otherwise notorious womanizer was not initially successful. Louise refused his first advances and suggested friendship instead. That was not to last long and a close relationship developed between them. Charles became so attached to her that he made her his own "maîtresse-en-titre". Despite their close relationship Louise never had any children by him.
At this point Louis and Adhémar's relationship was not good. They had little in common and Adhémar was not interested in court life. Consequently, they were rarely together.


Louise d'Esparbès


Louise's life at court is abruptly interrupted by the political unrest stirring in France in the end of the 1780's. Once the threat to the queen's inner circle becomes too imminent most are ordered by the queen to go into exile. Louise takes her son and follow her parents into exile. She is at first settled in Bern but later removes herself to Rome.
While in exile Louise and the Comte d'Artois miss each other terribly. Finally, when Charles has settled in Coblentz Louise joins him there with her son. Louise remained a firm loyalist to the throne. Knowing that the crown's finances are in dire need of assistance, Louise offers what is left of her own fortune. Louise would eventually become the hostess of the increasing number of émigrés; she offered her protection as far as she could.

One thing that separated her from other influential mistresses was that she was never interested in achieving political power. Nevertheless, she was constantly applied to for favours but the applicants were sorely disappointed.

The couple eventually went to Scotland and from there on to London. Here, Louise settled in a house splendidly decorated. Her relationship with the Comte d'Artois was stronger than ever - despite the Comtesse d'Artois being still very much present.
Louise's health was never robust and was deteriorating rapidly. After a few years in England she contracted what is believed to have been tuberculosis. It was not until late in her illness that people began to truly worry. On her deathbed Louise is concerned about the eternal soul of her lover; after all, his life has not been particularly exemplary. She makes him promise to devote himself to god which he does willingly. Louise died on 27 March 1804 in London.  

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