Sunday, December 4, 2011

More on favourite characters of the French Court

While looking at blogs in my spare time I have noted
that there is a blog of “I wish I were living in France”
and “I wish I was living at Versailles.” I have not clicked
on to this later blog yet as I am often pressed for time on
the internet.

However, this question, I have often asked myself: “Would I
be happy to live at Versailles?” I believe that the answer to this
all empowering question is “No.” Life could not be the same
living there without the enduring presence of the king. Perhaps
if Louis XIV was to be there life would be different. The reign of
the Sun King is believed to have been the best of times. I love
wandering through the magnificent chateau and viewing the places
where Louis XIV lived with his court. The atmosphere of warmth
can be felt in the king's bedroom and it must have been a beautiful
place at one time in which to live. The galleries and paintings,
furnishings, art works and chapel can easily take a day's viewing
leaving little time to view the beautiful gardens.

Versailles and the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna can also be remembered
as happy places for the last queen, Marie Antoinette.

It is interesting that recently a new hotel is being established to
overlook the Orangerie. It is difficult to contemplate thelP reaction
of Louis XIV to this concept as the mass tourist market would
not have existed during his time. However, people always did travel,
but most likely in those times, they may have been diplomats,
pilgrims or members
of the aristocracy and later in the century perhaps people involved in trade.

Of my favourite characters of the seventeenth century court of France, Louis XIV
comes first, closely followed by the beautiful and elegant Louise
de la Valliere, a popular favourite of the court.

The wife of the Duc de Saint-Simon was also noted as being very nice,
friendly and popular and was often invited by the king to attend Trianon or
Marly with a few select friends.

The Palatinate Princess, Liselotte, as mentioned in a previous post, called a spade
a spade, but at the same time there was a special quality about Liselotte, which
brought people to her and she was admired and was popular at court.

She was the second Duchess of Orleans, after the misfortune of the first Duchess
d'Orleans, Princess Henriette
of England, dying at a young age. She seemed to be more in control in her marriage
to the King's brother. This had not been the case with Princess Henriette's marriage
to the Duc d'Orleans. This may have been as Liselotte was older by this time. Her son
became the Regent following the demise of the king, Louis XIV in 1715. This would
have been a source of pride for Liselotte.

Princess Henriette was beautiful, waif-like, sister of Charles II of England. She had
been sent with her servant to the court of France at a young age. Her mother, Queen
Maria of England may have wished for a marriage for Princess Henriette with
Louis XIV. As Henriette was young at the time she arrived at the court, Louis XIV never noticed her until
after she was married to his brother, Philippe d'Orleans. Princess Henriette would have danced
in many of the ballets in the earlier years at the court.

At the time of her marriage
Princess Henriette was sister to a king of England without a throne and who was living
his life in dire poverty travelling in Europe. Princess Henriette may not have been seen
as a suitable candidate for the prospective bride of Louis XIV. For reasons beyond the control of Louis XIV
at the time, as he was still young and Cardinal Mazarin and his mother, Anne of Austria, were in control, Charles II found that his time at the French Court was limited and he had to move on.
He eventually made his way to
The Netherlands and fathered a child with Lucy Walters, the Duke of Monmouth. In the book “Mad Madge: The extrordinary life of Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle: The First Woman to live by her Pen” ( a story of the second Duchess
of Newcastle) by Katie Whitaker, it is
mentioned that the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle requested a loan from Charles II while in exile. They had
followed the king into exile along with many of his royalist supporters. However the king
said that they were probably better off than he was but that he hoped that one day he might be
able to help them. Even though Charles II did not have children to succeed him on the throne
of England, from his mistress Louise de la Kerouaille, (who had been in the retinue of Princess Henriette of England) Princess Diana is a descendant from the son with Louise de la Keroualle, the Duke of Richmond.

A favourable account has been given of the Duke de Gramont who was a friend of Louis XIV.
This account is given in the book “Louis XIV” by historian, Vincent Cronin. He was very upset and retired to his room in tears when it was believed that the king would not survive his last illness.

Louis XIV also made friends with creative and talented people and his court would have been very lively at times with the flourishing arts, music and literature.

The Grande Mademoiselle, Duchess of Montpensier, was also likeable and popular at the court. Unfortunately,
she may have been vulnerable at times, falling in love with the
Duc de Lauzun, whom she subsequently married after many disappointments and let -downs
by people she believed she could trust. The Duc de Lauzun, who had spent many years in
prison until the Duchess de Montpensier eventually bought him his freedom.

More favourite characters of the court to follow at a later stage.

My best wishes


  1. A fantastic post, Sandra. I bookmarked it - thank you for this remarkable lineage.

    We walked the grounds of the palace in Vienna this summer and once again I thought of Marie Antoinette, how she used to ride her horse, and felt a pang at how it all ended. As for living inside the Palace, er, no, thank you. We toured her quarters once, a huge and gorgeous compartment that stretched forever - but there really wasn't any life outside of her narrow world.

  2. Hi Kitty,

    Thanks for your message.

    Marie Antoinette would have loved her music and dancing and the camaraderie of her sisters when she was younger. It was very sad about her life. The little hameau at Versailles would have been as an escape from the formality of the palace life. Pre 1789 there must have been some happy occasions in her life. She cared about her children and they were a constant concern for her once the royal family was held in captivity. Looking back on history it would have been better if Marie Antoinette and the children could have been sent to her home of Vienna. My Best wishes