Sunday, August 29, 2010

Louis XIV's First Love

Marie was horrified and frightened. Her dying mother had threatened to put her in a convent because she lacked classical good lucks. Marie was religious, but she didn't want to go to a convent!

Luckily, the dark and slender teenager captured the attention of the nineteen year old King. This surprised everyone at the glittering French court because Marie was not pretty. Many people at the court thought that the younger girl had cast a spell on the King, including his pious mother, Queen Anne.

Louis, well-educated and interested in intelligent conversation and the arts, found a soul-mate in Marie. She was unusually well-educated and cultured for an upper-class French woman of the sixteenth century. She liked painting, music, and literature. She admired the plays of Corneille, especially Le Cid. Louis was happy to find a young woman who shared his love for the arts.

She also shared a love of riding with Louis. According to Antonia Fraser, Marie looked irresistible in 'black velvet edged with fur, including a matching hat above the huge dark eyes that were her best feature." Marie and Louis could finally be alone when they went riding together.

Marie's only claim to fame was that she was Cardinal Mazarin's niece. The imposing Cardinal was still one of the main 'powers behind the throne' at this time, and a good friend of Queen Anne. She and the Cardinal wanted a much better marriage for Louis. They had their eyes on the Spanish Infanta, a much more suitable prospect.

When Louis thought of marrying his 'Galatea', Queen Anne decided to put a stop to the romance once and for all. She spent an hour alone with the young man in her Appartment des Baines. Louis knew what was best for him and submitted fairly easily.
Queen Anne told Madame de Motteville: "One day Louis will thank me for the harm I have done him." 1.

Louis gave Marie two lovely farewell gifts: Henrietta Maria's pearls and a cute spaniel puppy. She made a grand marriage, but it was destined to be unhappy. Marie married the Italian Prince Colonna. He was surprised that she was still a virgin, because of the wild reputation of the French court. He said that he didn't expect to find 'innocence among the loves of kings.'2.

1. Fraser, Antonia, Love and Louis XIV, The Women in the Life of the Sun King, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2006, p.52.

2. Ibid.


MadMonarchist said...

Gosh those Mancini sisters looked alike. I did a post on my Monaco blog about her sister Hortense and from the portraits they could have been twins.

Kittie Howard said...

I've read Frasier's book and have much sympathy for Marie (and sometimes wonder how a marriage to her would have changed history.) I've never thought Marie unattractive. Strange, how others thought of her, save for the times then...

Matterhorn said...

She looks pretty enough, to me.

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