Hommes de la cour

Better and lesser known gentlemen of Louis XIV’s court

  • Louis XIII

    Louis XIII succeeded to the French throne shortly before his ninth birthday and his reign lasted 33 years. It was full of intrigues, wars and seemingly endless worries about not being able to produce an heir.   The future Louis XIII was born on 27 September 1601 as the first child and son of le bon roi Henri IV and…

  • Charles Le Brun, premier peintre du roi

    Charles Le Brun, also written as Lebrun or LeBrun, was born on 24 February 1619 into a family of artists. He was the third of five children born to the sculptor Nicolas Le Brun and Julienne Le Bé, who came from a family of writers. Nicolas Le Brun trained his sons, Nicolas II, Charles and Gabriel, in the art of…

  • Jules Hardouin-Mansart, premier architecte du roi

    Born on 16 April 1646 in Paris, Jules Hardouin-Mansart rose to be one of the most famous French architects, whose style was often copied and can still be found in many places all over the world.   Hardouin-Mansart was a great-nephew of the today slightly less famous Nicolas-François Mansart, who had been named architecte du roi in 1625 and was…

  • Henri IV, Roi de France et de Navarre

    Henri IV aka Henri Quatre aka Henri de Navarre aka le Bon Roi Henri, the grandfather of Louis XIV, was the first Bourbon King of France. Before the crown was placed on Henri’s head, France was ruled by the Valois for many generations, but they ran out of male heirs…   This future King of France was born on the night…

  • Henri de la Tour d’Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne

    “A General who has never been defeated can’t have been at his business very long.” Henri de la Tour d’Auvergne, or simply Turenne, is one of the most celebrated war heroes of France and already was one during his lifetime.   Henri comes from a prominent family with Huguenot roots that gained political influence. Henri IV arranged for Turenne’s father to…

  • Roger de Bussy-Rabutin, Comte de Bussy

    If you read about 17th century France, you will often encounter quotes from a certain Monsieur de Bussy-Rabutin. The most famous quote is probably “Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it inflames the great.”   Roger was born on 13 April in 1618 as third son of Léonor de Rabutin and Diane de…

  • Louis de France, Duc de Bourgogne et Dauphin de France

    Louis de France was born on 6 August in 1682 at Versailles as the first child and son of Louis, le Grand Dauphin, and his wife Marie-Anne de Bavière. As son of the Dauphin, and thus after him next in line of succession to the throne, Louis was a fils de France and received the title Duc de Bourgogne upon…

  • Alexandre-Louis d’Orléans, Duc de Valois

    Born on 2 June in 1673 at Saint-Cloud, Alexandre-Louis was the first-born son of Philippe de France and his second wife Élisabeth-Charlotte du Palatinat aka Liselotte von der Pfalz.   In autumn of 1672, as hints of pregnancy became visible, Liselotte was ordered to go a bit easier by the doctors. No more riding, no long strolls, not even carriage rides. She…

  • François-Louis de Bourbon, Prince de Conti

    Born on 30 April in 1664 at the Hôtel de Conti in Paris, François-Louis was the youngest of three sons of Armand de Bourbon, Prince de Conti, and Anne-Marie Martinozzi, a niece of Cardinal Mazarin.   François-Louis was baptised at Saint-Sulpice on the day of his birth, with his uncle le Grand Condé and his aunt Anne-Geneviève de Bourbon acting as godparents. François-Louis…

  • Philippe-Charles d’Orléans, Duc de Valois

    Born on 16 July in 1664, Philippe-Charles was the second child and first-born son of Philippe de France and his first wife Henriette d’Angleterre.   The little boy, a grandchild of France, received the title Duc de Valois from his father upon his birth at the Château de Fontainebleau and was emergency baptised in presence of the King and Queen. Upon…

  • Gaston de France, Duc d’Orléans

    Gaston de France was the fifth of six children born to Henri IV and his second wife Marie de Médicis. Henri IV was married to Marguerite de France aka la Reine Margot, but no children were born to them. They settled for separation and Henri married the Italian Marie de Médicis in October 1600.   Their first child was born pretty much nine months…

  • Henri-Jules de Bourbon, Prince de Condé

    Henri-Jules was the oldest child of Louis de Bourbon, aka le Grand Condé, and his wife Claire-Clémence de Maillé-Brézé, and born on 29 July in 1643. While his father was a famous man of the military, Henri-Jules was best known for his insanity.   From the day of his birth, on which he was also baptised at Saint-Sulpice, Henri-Jules was known…

  • Louis-Armand de Bourbon, Prince de Conti

    Louis-Armand was born in Paris on 4 April in 1661 to Armand de Bourbon and his wife Anne-Marie Martinozzi, and thus a Prince du Sang.   His papa, Armand de Bourbon, was the brother of the famous Grand Condé and both brothers mingled in the Fronde. The regain his favour with the King, Armand married Anne-Marie Martinozzi, a niece of Cardinal…

  • Armand de Bourbon, Prince de Conti

    Born in Paris on October 11 in 1629, to Henri II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, and his wife Charlotte-Marguerite de Montmorency, Armand was a Prince du Sang and destined to become a man of the church.   His father Henri married Charlotte-Marguerite de Montmorency, daughter of Henri I de Montmorency, in 1609 and the couple had three children: Anne-Geneviève…

  • Louis-Alexandre de Bourbon, Comte de Toulouse

    Born on 6 June in 1678, Louis-Alexandre was the youngest of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan, and named after his papa and Alexander the Great.   At the time of this last pregnancy, Madame de Montespan was already declining in favour, while her former friend the widow Scarron, who in the meanwhile entered the ranks of nobility as Marquise…

  • Louis-Henri de Pardaillan de Gondrin, Marquis de Montespan

    Born in 1640, to Roger-Hector de Pardaillan de Gondrin, Marquis d’Antin, and Marie-Christine de Zamet de Murat, Louis-Henri enjoyed a pleasant childhood and grew up to be a dashing, handsome and gallant gentleman.   Charming and with good manners, Louis-Henri was a favourite of the ladies and managed to win the most beautiful woman of France for himself, as he…

  • Atto Melani, the Sun King’s spying opera singer

    Louis XIV’s court was full with interesting people. One of them was Atto Melani and he wasn’t just a fabulous singer, he used his visits to the courts of Europe in order to spy for the Sun King.   Born on March 30 in 1626, as the third of seven sons of a Pistoia bell-ringer, Atto was castrated at a…

  • Antonin Nompar de Caumont, Duc de Lauzun

    Sometimes the life of someone is so adventurous that one questions if fact or fiction. This is certainly the case with the infamous Duc de Lauzun and let me assure you, that fact can be as strange as fiction at times.   The man who became famous as Lauzun was born in 1632 to Gabriel Nompar de Caumont, Comte de…

  • Charles de Batz de Castelmore, the real d’Artagnan

    If you have read the Musketeer fiction of Dumas, you are very well acquainted with the character of d’Artagnan, his bravery and his struggles. Dumas based his The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After and The Vicomte de Bragelonne on a novel by Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras called Les mémoires de M. d’Artagnan. A sort of semi-fictionalised memoir…. but Monsieur…

  • Louis-Auguste de Bourbon, Duc du Maine

    Louis XIV’s favourite son was not his heir, the Dauphin, but one born in secrecy. It was the first son he had with his probably most famous mistress Madame de Montespan.   Fearing the wrath of a horned hubby, la Montespan’s pregnancy was kept as secret as possible. It was the result of double-adultery and since there was the possibility…

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