Marie Madeleine Agnès de Gontaut Biron, Marquise de Nogaret

Born in 1653, and known as Mademoiselle de Biron before her marriage, Marie Madeleine managed to wake the interest of Louis XIV in the 1680’s.

Her father, François de Gontaut, Marquis de Biron et Baron de Saint Blancard, served as lieutenant-general of the King’s armies. Her mother Elisabeth de Cossé-Brissac, a daughter of the Duc de Brissac, Grand Panetier of France. (The Grand Panetier of France is one of the Great Offices of the Masion Royal, responsible for the royal bread and such things, and was held by the family from the 16th century to 1782.)

Marie-Anne de Bavière, Dauphine de France from 1680 to her death in 1690

Marie Madeleine had four younger siblings, Louise de Gontaut Biron, born around 1662, and called Mademoiselle de Gontaut before her marriage, afterwards Marquise d’Urfé, served as fille d’honneur to the Dauphine and then as dame d’honneur to the Princesse de Conti. Charles-Armand de Gontaut, born in 1663, inherited the title Marquis de Biron and was later made Duc de Biron, he served first squire of the Regent and became marshal of France and governor of Landau. Henriette-Marie de Gontaut, died unmarried, and Louis de Gontaut, died young in 1662.

Around 1679, Mademoiselle de Biron was named fille d’honneur to the Dauphine and as such also gained Louis XIV’s attention for a brief time. Marie Madeleine never managed to challenge the previous mistresses in matters of beauty or wit, but shared the King’s bed between 1680 and 1683. She was no particular beauty, it is said, and since she could not take advantage of her looks, she dived deep into gossip and intrigue. Mademoiselle de Biron, apparently naturally inclined towards intrigue according to Madame de Caylus, made it her mission to acquire all sorts of secrets from her friends and make herself indispensable that way. She attached herself to the Dauphin by those means and, again according to Madame de Caylus, managed to get a marriage out of it after the King’s interest had left her.

This marriage took place in July 1688. Her husband was a prominent figure at court and people usually referred to him as Son Impertinence – His Impertinence. As the nickname hints, Louis de Louet de Calvisson de Nogaret had earned it due to his not always decent behaviour. According to Saint-Simon, Marie Madeleine was not treated too well by her husband and as he died only two years after their wedding, she was left a widow without much money at her disposal.

Six years later, in 1696, Marie Madeleine, now known as Madame de Nogaret, was appointed dame du palais of the Duchesse de Bourgogne and remained in her service until the death of the Duchesse in 1711. The Duchesse de Bourgogne was rather fond of her and the two of them became close friends.

Madame de Nogaret retired to the convent of Saint Jacques after the death of her mistress and remained there for the rest of her life. She died aged seventy-one on August 14 in 1724.

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