Hommes de la cour

Better and lesser known gentlemen of Louis XIV’s court

  • Gabriel-Nicolas de la Reynie, Lieutenant General of the Parisian Police

    If you are a fan of Canal +’s Versailles, you are probably quite impressed by Fabien Marchal, Louis XIV’s ruthless head of security. Monsieur Marchal is an invention of Versailles’ writers, but like with many fictional characters, there is a historical one who served as inspiration. In case of Monsieur Marchal, it is Gabriel-Nicolas de la Reynie.   Born in…

  • Philippe-Charles de France & Louis-François de France

    After the births of Louis le Grand Dauphin, Anne-Élisabeth, Marie-Anne and Marie-Thérèse, Louis XIV and his wife Marie-Thérèse were blessed with two sons. Unfortunately, just like their sisters, both did not survive infancy.   Philippe-Charles, born on August 5 in 1668 at Saint-Germain, received the title Duc d’Anjou upon his birth. Said title was until this point carried by his…

  • François-Timoléon de Choisy

    One of my favourite people of Louis le Grand’s court is the Abbé de Choisy. A 17th century transvestite who lived a rather adventurous life.   Born in 1644 in Paris, he came from a not too wealthy family, which managed to enter the ranks of noblesse. Francois was the last born son of Jean III de Choisy, seigneur de…

  • Jean-Baptiste Lully, surintendant de la musique de Louis XIV

    For Louis XIV, music was not just something nice to listen to. It was a tool to create his Sun King persona and the person who understood this the best, was not French but Italian-born.   Giovanni Battista Lulli was born on 28 November 1632 in Florence, capital of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. His father Lorenzo Lulli was a miller,…

  • Louis de Rouvroy, Duc de Saint-Simon

    Saint-Simon. You probably heard that name once or twice before and most likely in combination with quotes. Louis de Rouvroy, commonly called Saint-Simon, managed to write himself into the history books of the world by writing his memoirs. If he had not written those, hardly anyone would know he existed.   Louis de Rouvroy was born on 16 January 1675 in…

  • Louis de France, le Grand Dauphin

    Heir of a King, but never King himself, yet father of a King. Louis de France, born on 1 November in 1661, was the first-born son of Louis XIV and Marie-Thérèse d’Autriche and the only of their children to reach adulthood. To celebrate the birth of his heir, the Sun King hosted a lavish party called the Le Grand Carrousel. He…

  • Philippe de France, frère unique du roi

    When Louis XIV was born in 1638, it was regarded as a miracle. No-one really thought Louis XIII and Anne d’Autriche, a old woman by the standards of the time, were capable of producing a healthy heir. To everyone’s surprise, both also managed to produce a spare. Philippe de France was born on September 21 in 1640 at the old…

  • François Michel Le Tellier de Louvois

    Born in Paris on 18 January in 1641, François Michel Le Tellier de Louvois was the son of Michel Le Tellier. A man from a Parisian magistrate family, who became maître des requêtes under Louis XIII and, thanks to a friendship with Cardinal de Mazarin, Secretary of State for Military Affairs for the young Louis XIV.   His son, who we…

  • Jules Raymond Mazarin, Cardinal de Mazarin

    Born on 14 July 1602 in the Kingdom of Naples as Giulio Raimondo Mazzarini, sometimes also spelled Mazzarino, the First Minister of France comes from a rather modest background.   His grandfather, Giulio Mazzarini, was a craftsman from Genoa who settled in the Sicilian town Mazzarino. This Giulio ensured that his sons were provided with a good education. One of them…

  • Philippe de Courcillon, Marquis de Dangeau

    Philippe de Courcillon was born on September 21 in 1638, only a couple of days after Louis XIV, whose death Philippe de Courcillon would record almost a century later.   Born at the Château de Dangeau to Louis de Courcillon and Charlotte des Nouhes, and into a Calvinist family, Philippe converted to Catholicism early. After a youth not much is known…

  • Jean-Baptiste Colbert

    Born in Reims on 29 August 1619 into a family of wealthy merchants, Jean-Baptiste Colbert’s family claimed to descend from ancient Scottish nobility, something that could never be proved. His father Nicolas Colbert, Sieur de Vandières, acted as merchant and financier and married his cousin Marie Pussort, daughter of a merchant, in 1614. Some years later, in 1629, the couple settled in Paris, where…

  • Guy-Armand de Gramont, Comte de Guiche

    Guy-Armand de Gramont, mostly just called by his second name Armand, was born on November 25 in 1637. He achieved fame due to his bravery on the battlefield, his libertine lifestyle and his scandalous affair with Philippe de France, brother to the great Sun King.   Armand was the first-born child of Antoine III de Gramont, Peer-Duc de Gramont and Marshal…

  • Nicolas Fouquet

    Born in Paris into a wealthy family on January 27, 1615, Nicolas Fouquet made it to the heights of political power and fell very deep. His father, François Fouquet, was a member of the noblesse de robe and as such was a Maître des requêtes, a high-level judicial officer of administrative law, as well as Counsellor to the Parliament of Paris and…

  • Antoine Coëffier de Ruzé d’Effiat, Marquis d’Effiat

    Antoine Coëffier de Ruzé d’Effiat comes from family with a prominent status at court. One of his ancestors, Martin Ruzé de Beaulieu, served as Secretary of State of the Maison du Roi, or King’s Secretary, under three Kings of France. Henry III, the last Valois King, Henry IV, the first Bourbon King, and his son Louis XIII.   As he…

  • Alexandre Bontemps, Valet and Special Agent

    Born on 9 June in 1626 in Paris, Alexandre Bontemps rose to be one of the most powerful men at the court of Louis XIV. His father, Jean-Baptiste Bontemps, was originally from Marseille and was made first surgeon to Louis XIII in 1633 and in 1643, he became premier valet de chambre ordinaire by lettres patentes. Louis XIII died a…

  • Alexandre bâtard de Lorraine, Chevalier de Beauvernois

    Alexandre de Lorraine was born to Philippe de Lorraine and a certain Claude de Souches or possibly Mademoiselle de Fiennes, both are mentioned as his mother. His year of birth was between 1668 and 1674, 1670 being the most common year mentioned.   Alexandre was one of several children fathered by the Chevalier de Lorraine, the infamous paramour of Louis XIV’s brother, which according…

  • Philippe-Jules Mancini, Duc de Nevers

    Filippo Giulio Mancini was born on May 26, 1641 in Rome as second son of Girolama Mazzarini, sister of Cardinal de Mazarin, and the Italian aristocrat Lorenzo Mancini. Just like his sisters, he adopted the French version of his name upon being brought to France.   Cardinal de Mazarin had not only just great plans for his nieces, but also…

  • Philippe de Lorraine-Armagnac, dit le Chevalier de Lorraine

    Born in 1643 (day and month unknown), Philippe was the second born son of Monsieur le Grand, Henri de Lorraine, pair de France, Comte d’Harcourt, d’Armagnac, de Brionne, and de Charny, Vicomte de Marsan and de Pagny, Grand écuyer de France, Vice-Roi de Catalogne in 1645, grand Sénéchal de Bourgogne, Gouverneur d’Anjou, and Marguerite-Philippe du Cambout. Philippe’s father, Henri, did his first…

  • Louis de Bourbon, Comte de Vermandois

    Louis de Bourbon was born at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye on 2 October 1667 as youngest of five illegitimate children of Louis XIV and Louise de La Vallière. His three older brothers already died before his birth, Charles de La Baume Le Blanc in 1665, and Louis and Philippe de La Baume Le Blanc in 1666. Louis, named after his…

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