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.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Princess Mary's Best Friend

Amber Petty, Princess Mary's pretty, blonde best friend, recently held a huge party to celebrate her fortieth birthday. Princess Mary was the special guest and one of Petty's 'life' maids.

The radio announcer and journalist decided to make her special friends, 'life' maids because she's never been married and she wants them to share her journey through life. This was a lovely idea.

Although Petty is probably best known as Princess Mary's best friend, she has had an impressive career. Recently made the Communications Director for the agency, Fnuky, she has interviewed many famous people and appeared on the TV programme, Sunrise. She also wrote columns for the magazine, New Idea.

She wrote about kissing a 'toyboy' at a New Year's party and stripped off for a campaign about 'women's body issues'. As many women were photographed for the radio campaign, she thought that it was only fair that she joined them!

Petty has had a few boyfriends but I don't think that she has one at the moment. Perhaps Prince Frederick has a handsome, wealthy, aristocratic friend? He has to be nice too, of course!

Party Outfits

Petty wore a long, fairy tale gown with a scalloped hem to her party in Adelaide. It was a gorgeous dress, but I haven't found out who the designer was.

I preferred her outfit to Princess Mary's. The Princess wore a dark, strapless jumpsuit. It was quite stylish but I just like pretty dresses.

Amber Petty has an interesting blog at

Amber Petty and she also has a cool Facebook page. You can see photos there.

I hope to write a historical post soon.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Princess's Fight For Her Life

"I already told you. I don't know," Princess Elizabeth exclaimed.

She laid her head in her hands, then she quickly lifted it again and straightened her shoulders. She must not let these interrogators get the better of her!

The harassed Princess knew that her governess, Kat Ashley, and her servant, Mr.Parry, had told what they knew about her relationship with the handsome, ebullient Admiral, Thomas Seymour. They had told Tyrwhit about the Admiral's visiting her in her bedroom in the mornings and annoying her while his wife was asleep. She hadn't wanted the much older man's attentions and ran away. However, she was only a young teenager attracted to a very handsome man and she had let him hug her in the garden at one stage. His wife, Katherine Parr, sent her away after that.

Did her interrogators also know that? She prayed not. She had been suspicious that Seymour wanted her because he had his eye on her throne, but she'd been very careful not to let herself get too involved with him. She was also very fond of Katherine Parr, her late father's wife, and she felt very guilty about upsetting her.

The interrogators told the Lord Protector that there wasn't enough evidence to convict the young Princess of treason. He was angry but understood that they 'could not get anything out of her'. She had convinced the Council that she would never have considered marriage without their approval.

When Thomas Seymour was beheaded Princess Elizabeth is supposed to have remarked: "There dies a man of much wit and very little judgement." The young Princess was not to have a peaceful existence after this, however. It was one of the first of her many struggles before she attained her throne.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sisi's Masquerade

The Empress Elisabeth paced the long room restlessly. The Emperor was away and she felt tired of the stuffy, old palace! She longed to go out and dance. It was carnival season in Vienna. 'Sisi' imagined the shimmering lights and the romance of the balls. She persuaded her lady-in-waiting, Ida von Ferenczy, to go with her to a masquerade.

"Don't look so worried, Ida," Sisi exclaimed, as Ida wondered what would happen if anyone found out.

"It will be fun."

Sisi donned a bright yellow mantle and hood while Ida wore a crimson raincoat. Sisi thought that they were adequately disguised in their black satin and lace masks. She took Ida to the mirror and said, "No one will recognise us!"

They felt very alone at first, surrounded by crowds in masks enjoying themselves. Sisi thought of going home but a tall, fair, young man suddenly greeted them. He escorted them into the ball. The young man, a minor government official, wondered if the strange woman with the lovely voice was an aristocrat. He became suspicious when she asked him many questions about the Emperor and Empress.

When Sisi asked him her age, he replied: "Thirty-six." This frightened the Empress who wondered if he recognized her. When she started to leave, he persuaded her to stay and gave her his card. He told the young grandmother that she could contact him.

The young man was Herr Friedrich List Pacher von Theinburg, who remembered this night all his life. The Empress did write, using the pen-name, 'Gabrielle'. They kept up a long correspondence and von Theinburg eventually found out that the letters were indeed from the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Married with a family, he eventually stopped the correspondence, although it was perfectly innocent. The Empress sent him this poem:

The Song of the Yellow Domino

Do you think of that night still in the glowing ballroom?
Long, long ago, long ago,
where two souls once met,
long, long ago, long ago,
where our odd friendship began.
Do you, my friend, still think of it at times?
Do you think of the words, so intimately trusting,
that we exchanged by the loud dance music?
Oh, only too fast our time dwindled away,
a press of the hand yet, and I had to fly.
I did not dare unveil my face to you,
but I did show my soul to the light.
Friend, that was more, that was more!
Years have gone and drawn away,
but they will never unite us two again.
Questioning at night I look at the stars,
none gave me back help or answer.
Soon I came near to you, soon again far away.
Are you already lingering on another star?
If you live, then give me a sign by day,
that I may scarcely hope, but can await.
So long ago, so long ago!
Let me wait no more,
wait no more!
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