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In bed with the Sun King…. – Party like 1660

In bed with the Sun King….

Looking at what is searched for on my blog, this one topic seems to be the one with the most appeal. Not a week passes without countless searches involving the words sex and Louis XIV. The Sun King is famous for having an army of long and short-time mistresses, but this shan’t be our focus here. All of them will, eventually, get their own posts, and this post serves the purpose to look at how, where, and how often Louis enjoyed bed-sports.

Louis XIV painted by Charles Le Brun in 1661.

Louis XIV had his first experiences in that department as he was a tender fifteen years old. The lady who introduced him to how to do it, was not a beauty at all. She was nearly forty years old and went by the charming nickname One-Eyed Catherine. Although she was no beauty, and Louis probably a little shocked as he found her waiting in a state of undress in his bedroom as he returned from the bathing room, the whole thing was a true success. After this first encounter, Louis engaged with her regularly and even after his mojo got him to ogle the young girls present at court.

Before Louis XIV moved to the young noble girls, he collected some more experience points with various maids and one of his first celebrated successes was him getting a gardener-girl with child. The court was quite pleased by that, for it proved Louis was able to father children. A thing of utmost important for France.

In matters of sex, the Sun King seems more like his grand-father Henri IV, whose mistresses played a significant role during his reign. In contrary to that, there is not really a hint that Louis XIV’s father, Louis XIII, ever had a mistress.

Olympe Mancini, one of the famous Mazarinettes, seems to be one of the first noble ladies whose bed the Sun King visited. Olympe is described of being of quite a temperament, which might hint that this period of time was one for experiments in the life of the young King. Louis was also getting really into flirting around during this time and charmed everyone around him. Olympe’s sister Marie was one of those who had been charmed and soon became Louis’ favourite thing to ogle and his first big love. Surprisingly for everyone involved in the matter, Marie was reportedly still a virgin as she was married off later. Louis seemed, at least for a while, to have continued to visit Olympe for pleasure, at the same time as he courted Marie. Whether he did not want to go that far with Marie, or Marie did not want him to got that far, will probably never be known.

With whom he went that far, undeniably so, was his next love interest Françoise Louise de La Baume Le Blanc, better known as Louise de La Vallière. Louise, in her nature somehow similar to Marie Mancini before she got married off, gave birth to five children fathered by Louis XIV. At the start of their affair, Louise feigned an illness to receive Louis alone in her chambers. Louis had quite some practice in horizontal bed gymnastics by then and he was very aware that he really really loved it. Something he shared with his next mistress, Françoise Athénaïs de Rochechouart de Mortemart, the Marquise de Montespan.

From this time in Louis XIV’s life, there are some small mentions regarding his sex life, which paint an interesting picture of him. Louis de La Vallière was still his official mistress as Louis got involved with Madame de Montespan and he visited both of them for a while to satisfy his desires. Louise pretty much acted as cover for la Montespan and both shared an apartment for a while. Louis had to pass through the bedroom of Louise to reach that of Athénaïs, something he seemed not to have minded much. The same applies to Louise and Athénaïs riding in the same carriage as his wife. It seems that for Louis the satisfaction of his needs was the more important thing, which is also hinted by the reports of Louis amusing himself with the maids of his love-interests while those were still getting dressed. The Sun King always had more than one woman who he payed visits to and it appears he cared more for his own pleasure than for theirs. Louis was not at all picky as to the location of his tête-à-têtes. A bed, a chaise-lounge, a door-frame. Every location was good enough as long as the goal was reached…. from what is reported in various writings of the time, it did not take too long until that goal was reached.

Madame de Montespan was very aware that she was not the only one who Louis visited and even placed her own maids and friends in Louis general direction. Claude de Vin des Œillets was one of those and apparently Madame de Montespan also planned to place her own niece, the Duchesse de Nevers, into the King’s bed… or rather the King in her bed. Whenever Louis had the urge, he would go to the lady in question and sometimes stay there most of the night, but always return to his own bed in time for his getting-up-ceremony.

Louis XIV seemed to have quite the wild appetite during those years. Along with Madame de Montespan and Claude de Vin des Œillets, he also amused himself with Anne de Rohan-Chabot, Marie-Élisabeth de Ludres, Gabrielle de Rochechouart de Mortemart, Marie Angélique de ScoraillesCatherine Charlotte de Gramont, and Bonne de Pons d’Heudicourt, along with several maids that are not named but mentioned and probably just as much that are not mentioned….. and quite a few other noble ladies too. Most of Louis XIV’s affairs were only short flings, sometimes lasting a few weeks, sometimes just a few days.

While Madame de Montespan shared Louis love for the naughty business, her successor did not. Madame de Maintenon did not care for it at all according to herself and tried to avoid it as best as she could, or would not have done it at all if the King did not have certain needs. In her youth that looked a little different and she had lovers herself, but now, being of an age, she tried to end Louis’ lifestyle of having various partners. Where sexual desire reigned, Madame de Maintenon placed piousness. No more messing around for Louis.


  • Mary

    I was wondering if you ever are going to write a page about Louis himself or his mother Anne. That would be really cool!

      • Dr Emmalina Bradbury.

        A must read for me, with a fascination for the French history of that time. Also the Court of Louis XV, a most interesting book on the Sun King.

  • Dawn Martinez-Byrne

    I do not, for one moment, believe la Maintenon when she speaks of sex with her husband. She was writing to religious people, who were, at best, ambiguous about sex. She had to sound contrite. The other letters were for the girls and women of her school/convent St Cyr, and she needed to disabuse them of any desire for the world.

    She was Louis’ mistress long before she married him. And she must have picked up some tips from her friend de Lenclos, because she managed to keep Louis from straying. I doubt that would have happened if she hated doing her marital duty.

  • Reader

    The first two sentences are pretty sad and show how sex-obsessed society is as a whole. There’s such a wealth of historical information on your blog but the fact that that’s kind of bypassed is sad.

  • Peder Halvorsen

    Sorry @reader, couldnt disagree more. And it not about sex or loose morals its about power, how to gain it, how to keep it, and for many of these women it was all about survival. Feel this statement not only misses the mark but is almost insulting to the author and those of fascinated by the subject matter.