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 Louis XVI's Mistress 
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Post Louis XVI's Mistress
I'm currently reading, "Marie Therese-Child of Terror-The Fate Of Marie Antoinette's Daughter" by Susan Nagel (Bloomsbury, 2008) wherein Ms. Nagel alleges that Louis XVI had a mistress; not just any mistress. This woman was well known by Marie Antoinette who allegedly knew about the affair.

From page 29 of the above book:

"That summer, Marie Antoinette became pregnant again but suffered a miscarriage in the early stages of the pregnancy.She and the King wept together, but Louis then sought solace in the company of another woman: Gabrielle Yolande de Polignac was Marie Antoinette's closest friend at court. Louis started visiting Madame de Polignac without his wife, a development that disturbed Mercy and the Empress. When Madame de Polignac became pregnant in the second half of 1779 after not having a child after a good many years, Marie Antoinette feared her worst suspicions confirmed, but she said nothing to the King hoping that his 'infatuation' would subside."

Say it isn't so! I've read extensively on these topics and have never seen this allegation made before. One of the reasons I admire Louis XVI is his morality and his faithfulness to his Queen. His moral character was evident even as an adolescent; when just a boy he angered his grandfather, Louis XV, by writing an essay setting forth his views that kings and other heads of state should refrain from immoral activities because they interfere with one's duties and responsibilities.

Plus, Louis just doesn't seem the type to 'stray'; his painful shyness and discomfort around most women would preclude his daliances. He seemed to be grateful to Marie Anroinette for loving him and would do nothinh to jeopardize their relationship."

Comments?


Mon Mar 09, 2009 6:51 am
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Post Re: Louis XVI's Mistress
I read this book a while ago and found many things that were inaccurate. I do not believe for one second that Louis XVI had ANY affairs.


Mon Mar 09, 2009 12:56 pm
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Post Re: Louis XVI's Mistress
Ah! Finally! I knew I read that somewhere!!!

Well they were very close..... but if anything happened it probably would have been Polignac who was pushing for it...

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Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:11 am
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Post Re: Louis XVI's Mistress
First time I've read that! What does she base that on? What sources? Louis XVI liked Mme de Polignac, and no doubt used her friendship and influence on MA to channel the latter the way he wanted her channeling. But I have never seen this theory before. The only fling Louis XVI may have had was with Mme Lambriquet, who was in the service of the Comte de Provence. After all her daughter Ernestine figured on the official register of the children of France! And some say Ernestine was the result of that brief fling...and was substituted for her half sister at the time of the latter's release from the Temple prison. :wink:

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Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:47 pm
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Post Re: Louis XVI's Mistress
To me, this contention was one of the flaws of the Nagel book. It is a bizarre contention and contradicts so much that we know about Louis.

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Wed Mar 11, 2009 1:01 pm
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Post Re: Louis XVI's Mistress
Hear, hear, Therese! I wish Prof. Nagel had explained where she got that idea. If the King was having an affair, people would've surely found out.


Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:24 pm
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Post Re: Louis XVI's Mistress
Arietta wrote:
Hear, hear, Therese! I wish Prof. Nagel had explained where she got that idea. If the King was having an affair, people would've surely found out.


Yes. Count Mercy-Argenteau, the Austrian ambassador, had a fit when he once caught Louis playing blind man's bluff during Lent. If Louis had had a mistress, EVERYONE would have known, including Mercy, to whom it would have been a diplomatic disaster, and he surely would have recorded it in his many letters.

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Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:40 pm
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Post Re: Louis XVI's Mistress
I agree!


Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:51 pm
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Post Re: Louis XVI's Mistress
I was as surprised as you to read about the Louis/Polignac 'affair'. Ms. Nagel has a thorough bibliogrphy with the book, none of which can be pointed to specific passages. More from the book, page 30:

"In April, the Queen wrote to her mother that she was longing to give her daughter a sibling. She also admitted that although she was painfully aware that the King was enamoured of her best friend (Polignac), she would not ask him to give up his special friendship even though it was widely discussed that the King visited Mme. de Polignac at her townhouse and that hers was the only private home in Paris he visited since he had become King. Mercy reported to the Empress that Madame de Polignac was gaining more and more prestige and favor and was to be given a great deal of money and the tile Duchesse after the birth of her baby. The practical reason for the King bestowing this title on the Queen's friend was so that de Polignac could remain in the inner circle at Versailles as protocol demanded that she be of a certain rank. Mercy assured the Empress that her daughter as bearing the situation wih a dignity that Maria Theresa would be proud of."

I'm going to write to Ms. Nagel c/o her publisher to see where she got this information. Like I said, I've read countless books/articles about Louis and Antoinette; this is the first time that this situation has surfaced. It puts forth a critical shift in Louis' conduct and character that must be explained.


Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:19 pm
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Post Re: Louis XVI's Mistress
Artois wrote:
I was as surprised as you to read about the Louis/Polignac 'affair'. Ms. Nagel has a thorough bibliogrphy with the book, none of which can be pointed to specific passages. More from the book, page 30:

"In April, the Queen wrote to her mother that she was longing to give her daughter a sibling. She also admitted that although she was painfully aware that the King was enamoured of her best friend (Polignac), she would not ask him to give up his special friendship even though it was widely discussed that the King visited Mme. de Polignac at her townhouse and that hers was the only private home in Paris he visited since he had become King. Mercy reported to the Empress that Madame de Polignac was gaining more and more prestige and favor and was to be given a great deal of money and the tile Duchesse after the birth of her baby. The practical reason for the King bestowing this title on the Queen's friend was so that de Polignac could remain in the inner circle at Versailles as protocol demanded that she be of a certain rank. Mercy assured the Empress that her daughter as bearing the situation wih a dignity that Maria Theresa would be proud of."

I'm going to write to Ms. Nagel c/o her publisher to see where she got this information. Like I said, I've read countless books/articles about Louis and Antoinette; this is the first time that this situation has surfaced. It puts forth a critical shift in Louis' conduct and character that must be explained.


That is very true that Mercy was deeply concerned about the influence of the Madame de Polignac. From the moment she appeared he was practically hysterical about her, that she would have too much influence over the royal couple. I'm going to look at his letters again. Part of this is that people always like to see Louis as an impotent drone. At least Nagel is portraying him as a man. But the problem with the book it that there are not enough footnotes to back up some of Nagel's contentions.

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Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:31 pm
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Post Re: Louis XVI's Mistress
March 12, 2009



Professor Susan Nagel
c/o Bloomsbury USA
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10010



Dear Professor Nagel:

I am a member of a group with an intense interest in and an ongoing study of 18th century France concentrating on Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Your excellent book, “Marie Therese, Child of Terror: the Fate of Marie Antoinette’s Daughter,” has provided the group with many topics for discussion. Some of the little known facts we find fascinating.

You write on pages 29 and 30 that Louis XVI had a special relationship with Mme de. Polignac that Marie Antoinette was aware of, as was Mercy and the Empress Maria Theresa. This came as a surprise to the group members; despite extensive study, no one had ever heard of this ‘arrangement’ between the King and his wife’s best friend.

Would you be kind enough to share with me your source for this information? It will be most appreciated.

Thank you.


Sincerely,


Last edited by Artois on Sat Mar 14, 2009 11:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Mar 12, 2009 2:05 pm
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Post Re: Louis XVI's Mistress
Artois, I like you find Louis's "straying" not a very viable argument. It seems as though, even after he and Marie Anotinette consumated their marriage, "sex" was not an overwheming interest. They dutifully shared their bed and I believe continued to enjoy an intimacy and closeness that grew from their success of producing children(heirs). I don't know much but would liketo know more about the child that was supposed to have resulted from the affair-Ernestine.


Fri Mar 13, 2009 2:05 am
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Post Re: Louis XVI's Mistress
EM Vidal reviewed the biography on her blog. In the comments, she gives an explanation about Madame de Polignac's son Jules:
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2008/04/marie-thrse-child-of-terror.html
Hope this helps!


Tue Mar 17, 2009 5:23 pm
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Post Re: Louis XVI's Mistress
Arietta wrote:
EM Vidal reviewed the biography on her blog. In the comments, she gives an explanation about Madame de Polignac's son Jules:
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2008/04/marie-thrse-child-of-terror.html
Hope this helps!


That is helpful, Arietta. It appears that Madame Vidal heard directly from Dr. Nagel. To quote from the comments:
Quote:
I would also like to add that I received a kind note from Dr. Nagel, concerning her sources for certain matters in the biography. The hunch that Madame de Polignac's son Jules was fathered by Louis XVI is based upon information gleaned from letters among Maria-Theresa, Count Mercy and Marie Antoinette. Louis XVI's brothers also treated young Jules as a family member during the Bourbon Restoration with special appointments, etc...(see pages. 313-14 in the book). No other child of Polignac's was ennobled a prince nor treated as a member of the Bourbon family.

As for the story of Louis XVI's alleged daughter, "Ernestine," Montjoye, who was a contemporary of the murdered royal couple, referred to her in his account. Madame Campan referred to her as well as the "girl who is always with Madame Royale." The fact that she was mentioned at all is, according to some scholars, a signal that Ernestine's origins may have been unique.


I think that this should be seen as the opinion of Dr. Nagel and not necessarily the opinion of Madame Vidal who was just passing along the information.

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Tue Mar 17, 2009 5:38 pm
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Post Re: Louis XVI's Mistress
I think that it was quite possible that Louis liked Mme de Polignac a lot. Petitfils in his excellent biography on the King hints that he was very much behind the promotion of her friendship with the Queen, as he used Yolande to channel the Queen's activities in a safe apolitical direction. The De Coursac back this theory up as well. He even personally calls Yolande back from her estate to Versailles when the Queen is upset. And he never objects to the sizeable amounts of money that the Polignac clan manages to extract from the civil list as court favours and promotions. This even surprizes the Queen when she fears to ask him an umpteenth favour for her friend's intimate circle. But this does not mean he had an affair with her! After all Yolande already had Vaudreuil as a lover, and everyone knew that!

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Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:19 pm
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