La Cour

Prominent and lesser known individuals of the Sun King's court. From Ministers and Princesses to traitors and sorceresses.

  • Claire-Clémence de Maillé, Princesse de Condé

    Claire was born on 25 February in 1628 to Urbain de Maillé, Marquis de Brézé, and Nicole du Plessis, sister of Cardinal Richelieu. The Brézés were an old noble family from Anjou and among their members was Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henri II, who was married to Louis de Brézé.   The Marquis de Brézé was a Marshal of…

  • 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…

  • Louise-Marie-Anne de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Tours

    Louise-Marie, born at Saint-Germain on 18 November in 1674, was the third daughter and fifth child of Louis XIV and his mistress Madame de Montespan.   Like her siblings, the little girl was given into care of the widow Scarron, who dotingly cared for her, and legitimised by her father in 1676. Louise-Marie thus became known at court under the…

  • Anne de Gonzague de Clèves, Princesse Palatine

    An Italian-French noblewoman married to a penniless Palatine Prince, whose ancestors could have sat on the English throne if they had not converted to Catholicism.   Born in Paris in 1616, Anne-Marie de Gonzague was the daughter of Charles de Mantoue, brother of the famous Henri de Guise, and Catherine de Lorraine. Anne was the youngest of their six children.…

  • 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…

  • Lydie de Rochefort-Théobon, Comtesse de Beuvron

    Born in the same year as Louis XIV, Lydie, although in favour of the Sun King for quite a while, is one of his lesser known mistresses.   She was the daughter of Jean de Rochefort-Theobon and his wife Anne de Chaussade de La Mothe. The couple also had a son, Charles Bordeaux de Rochefort, as well as two more…

  • 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…

  • The daughter of a gardener & Madame de Saint-Martin

    According to the Duc de Saint-Simon, the young Louis XIV amused himself briefly with the daughter of a gardener in around 1658.   The name of the girl is not known, but according to Saint-Simon she became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter in 1659. Said daughter was, of course, not recognised as child of Louis XIV and the…

  • 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…

  • Anne-Marie-Louise d’Orléans, Duchesse de Montpensier

    She was a grand-daughter of Henri IV, niece to Louis XIII, first cousin to Louis XIV, a woman determined to control her own life and fortune. An amazon in a world of delicate women, commonly known as La Grande Mademoiselle.   Anne-Marie was born at the Palais du Louvre in Paris on 29 May in 1627 as first child of…

  • Louis César de Bourbon, Comte de Vexin

    Born on 20 June in 1672, at the château du Génitoy, Louis-César, named after no-one less than Julius Caesar, was the second born son of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan.   Just like with his older brother, Louis-Auguste, the birth of Louis-César was kept as secret as possible in order to avoid Monsieur de Montespan claiming the child as…

  • 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…

  • Jeanne de Rouvroy de Chevrièvres, Comtesse de Saint-Vallier

    Born in 1650, Jeanne was the daughter of Pierre de Rouvroy, Seigneur du Puy (Also called Marquis de Rouvroy, although he didn’t actually held that title.) and Marie Ursule de Gonteri.   The name Rouvroy hints a connection to the Duc de Saint-Simon, but this Rouvroy was not part of the Rouvroy de Saint-Simon family. Jeanne, said to be very…

  • 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…

  • Marie-Charlotte de Castelnau, Duchesse de Gramont

    Marie-Charlotte was the last born child of Jacques de Castelnau-Mauvissiere, who became a Maréchal de France, and his wife Marie de Girard.   In 1667, during a ball at court, Mare-Charlotte spotted the very dashing Antoine-Charles de Gramont and was at once taken with him. He was a very gallant young gentleman and rather handsome to behold, someone whose vices…

  • Elizabeth Hamilton, Comtesse de Gramont

    Elizabeth Hamilton, one of Peter Lely’s Windsor Beauties, was born in 1640 in the Irish town Strabane. Her father Sir George Hamilton upheld the Royalist cause in Ireland as ally of the Stuarts and married Mary Butler, with whom he had nine children. Elizabeth being the third child and first daughter of the couple.   To escape the political tension…

  • Marie-Rosalie de Brouilly de Piennes, Marquise de Châtillon

    Born around 1665 to Antoine de Brouilly, Marquis de Piennes, and Françoise Godet, Marie-Rosalie was known as Mademoiselle de Brouilly before her marriage.   Not too much is known about the time before her marriage, but it appears that Mademoiselle de Brouilly became a short-time mistress of Louis XIV in 1682. He was in his early forties, she probably around…

  • 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…

  • Julie de Guenani, Marquise de Lassay

    Julie, born between 1665 and 1668, was the natural daughter of Henri-Jules de Bourbon, at that time Duc d’Enghien, and Françoise-Charlotte de Montalais, Comtesse de Marans. She is known under various names: Julie de Bourbon, Julie de Gheneni, an anagram of Enghien, or in a slightly different spelling as Julie de Guenani. At court, as Mademoiselle de Châteaubriant.   Her…

  • Anne-Lucie de la Mothe-Houdancourt, Marquise de La Vieuville

    Born in 1647 to Antoine de La Mothe, Marquis d’Houdancourt, and Catherine de Beaujeu, Anne-Lucie lost her mother shortly after her birth.   In care of her father, she grew up well-educated. Aged fifteen, Madame de Créquy called her a blonde beauty, sharp, bold, a bit cheeky and an expert in coquetry. At the beginning on 1662, as Louis XIV was…

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