Marie Antoinette Online Forum

Louis XVI's Mistress
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Author:  Therese [ Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

baron de batz wrote:
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!

That is so true, Louis was quite devoted to Madame de Polignac and encouraged MA to be friends with her.

Author:  jimcheval [ Sat Apr 18, 2009 5:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

The idea certainly seems like a minority one - the general "buzz" on Mme de Polignac is that she got all she could from the Queen and on Louis that he was a bit of a prig. Not to mention less than interested in sex (Louis XV, in contrast, was very enamored of his not very attractive wife until he began expending his energy elsewhere.)

I'm guessing one can find every kind of rumor on the royals somewhere, but this is one that seems to have very short legs.

Author:  Rosalie [ Sat Apr 18, 2009 8:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

jimcheval wrote:
Louis XV, in contrast, was very enamored of his not very attractive wife until he began expending his energy elsewhere.)

Really? I didn't kow this! I read Maria Leczynska was deeply in love with him, but I had never heard about Louis' attitude to her. Thanks for the information!

Anyway, I agree about the rumour about Louis and Polignac being ill-founded

Author:  Anouk [ Sun Apr 19, 2009 9:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

I read somewhere that Louis XV did not love much his Polish wife, but maybe I am wrong.

Author:  marieantoine [ Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

hello im new to this site and love to study about Marie Antoinette

i have also read this book and though this information was somewhat disturbing....

so if someone could clear thiss up that would be great! :biggrin:

Author:  jimcheval [ Sun Apr 26, 2009 3:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

Marie Leczinska's own father said that his wife and daughter were the most boring queens he'd ever known:,M1

Despite which, at the start, Louis - perhaps new to sex? - was very happy, as the Duke de Bourbon wrote to her father after the first night of marriage:
The King spent all yesterday at the Queen's, where he did me the honor of telling me she pleased him infinitely...the Queen pleases the King infinitely. The proof is then, that the King enjoyed some amusements such as theater and fireworks, then went to bed at the Queen's, and gave her that night seven proofs of his tenderness ["'TMI!", the modern reader wants to scream]. It is the King himself who, once risen, sent a man trusted by himself and me to tell me, and who, as soon as I went to his place, repeated it to me himself, expanding infinitely on how satisfied he was with the Queen.,M1

I don't have the reference at hand, but as I understand it was the courtiers who, horrified at the thought that the King's fidelity would impose similar behavior on them, schemed to find him his first mistresses (all sisters, as I recall). If so, they must have been only too happy with their handiwork.

The Goncourts, on the other hand, (who quote the passage above) say that it was political infighting in the Court that drove Louis away from his wife (whom he still loved a year after their marriage):,M1
(in French).

So yes, he did ultimately avoid her. But it didn't start out that way.

UPDATE: OK. So I've read the details a bit more carefully, and by the Goncourts' account at least two different elements come into play: 1-The Queen, manipulated herself, tried to manipulate the young King. 2-The Queen got weary of being - as the Goncourts delicately put it - "an egg-laying mother" and by extension of any sexual activity.

The Duke de Bourbon, who had arranged the marriage and used the fact as leverage with the Queen, tried to displace Louis' respected tutor, Frejus, and got her to trick the King into coming to meet with him. Bad move. This is not the only tale of Louis the Beloved instantly turning ice-cold when he was displeased (years later one of his lesser mistresses would make a leading comment about the aging Madame de Pompadour, hoping to give her that last nudge out the door, and instead found herself married off and exiled to the provinces.) Not only was the Duke soon exiled, but Marie found herself under the crushing rule of Frejus.

After several births in rapid succession, she supposedly complained "What! Always in bed, always pregnant and always giving birth!" and was correspondingly unreceptive to the activity responsible.,M1

One could almost guess where things went from there.

Author:  Rosalie [ Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

Thank you for your information, as usual so rich, Jim!
Well, I think it's not so surprising: they married young, so, if the king was quite fond of women, as he was, and the queen was generally pretty, it's normal that he became fond of her at the beginning...Then he probably turn elsewhere for that kind of "amusement". Anyway, 7 "proofs of affection" are quite a good average! :lol:

Author:  annies sis [ Tue Jun 23, 2009 6:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

Oh my! This seems very very out of character for the King and a doubt it is true. It seems like the auther uses her own conclusions to support her own theroys. I have seen this many a time in a book on Marie Antoinette and truely doubt it is true.

Author:  Artois [ Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

The author replies.

Several months ago when we were discussing the allegation by Professor Nagel in her book "Marie Therese" that Louis XVI and Mme. de Polignac were more than just friends, I contacted the Professor:

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.

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

On July 7, 2009, I received the following from Professor Nagel:

Dear Mr. Davenport:

My editor was kind enough to forward your letter and I am so pleased to hear of your interest in "Marie-Therese". In answer to your question, the information was most explicitly notated in the letters between Mercy and Maria Theresa. Others at the court of Versailles acknowledged the tryst among them, but as Mercy was Maria Theresa's eyes and ears he dutifully reported the information to his boss nd shhe, in turn, made use of it.

Thank you for taking the time to write.

All best,

Susan Nagel

I still have a problem with this. My comments will fllow.

Author:  jimcheval [ Sat Jul 25, 2009 10:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

It certainly would help if Professor Nagel had said WHICH letters supposedly stated this. As it is, a search on Mercy's letters: ... y+Polignac

Seems to show that Louis did indeed spend time with La Polignac, but in order to please his wife.

Marie-Therese herself was "shocked" by the choice of Polignac as the royal children's governess, but held her tongue (except to Mercy): ... lignac&lr=

It's not impossible, of course, that some in the Court being "mauvaises langues" thought it fun to misinterpret Louis' attempts to please his wife. But that hardly qualifies as evidence, any more than hints of MA's "lesbian" relationship with Polignac need be taken very seriously.

At any rate, many of the letters are on Google Print. For anyone who would like to look through the (not text searchable but probably more complete) versions on Gallica, here's the index entry for the relevant volume: ... 563.langEN

No mention, as there almost certainly would be if present, of any breath of scandal with the king. I doubt there's much in the other two volumes either.

Author:  jimcheval [ Mon Jul 27, 2009 5:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

Artois wrote:
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."

Honestly, I'm at a complete loss to know what she's talking about, unless there's a problem with the dates somewhere here.

Having just browsed the correspondence (vol III), I find no mention of a pregnancy (except the hope of one for MA, who had just had a child in December; no mention of a miscarriage) and to the contrary several references to MA's fears for Polignac's health, and Mercy's discontent with the favoritism shown to Polignac. As for the relations between the spouses, Mercy and MT seem only too happy (if frustrated by the lack of a pregnancy):

"June 17, 1779 Although the king, by his physical and moral aspect, seems very far from giving himself over to the disorders of gallantry, I have nonetheless never lost sight of the dangers of such an inconvenience." He goes on to talk about counseling MA to be, well, sexier.

"June 30... If ever my daughter found herself in unfortunate enough circumstances to have to fear a rival...." (Clearly, as of this date, that has not happened.)

p. 328 July 14.. MA misses Polignac, greatly prefers her. P went to Spa with "la marquise de Chalons, who, according to very poorly founded public rumors, attracted the looks and attentions of the king."
p. 331 "The tenderness of the king for his august spouse and his kindnesses towards her seem to increase each day..."

p. 360 "October 16... The most satisfying point and the one on which there is really nothing left to wish for is that of the perfect union which exists between the two august spouses."

p. 379 December 17 MA concerned for P's health

Etc. All one finds in this correspondence is constant remarks about MA's devotion to the Polignacs (and their resulting intrigues) and the devotion between the spouses.

As for Louis' private visits to P, here are two notes from 1780:
p. 410 "March 18 The king only goes to countess Jules de Polignac's house. The queen, who had him take this habit, had not sought the same advantage for the princess de Lamballe."

p. 437 "June 18 The king has been to see the Countess of Polignac [who had just had a child]; it is the only private house in Paris where the monarch has gone since he has reigned, and so marked a distinction has almost caused more of a stir in the public than all the useful favors granted to the favorite.
Presuming that the date is as transcribed, none of this supports Professor Nagel's position at all."

It is beyond me how anyone could interpret this as a sign of an affair.

Author:  baron de batz [ Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

Yes this is the first time that I had heard such a blatant accusation about the King and Yolande. However the Girault de Coursac in their exhaustive if biased book on the royal couple do point out the closeness of the friendship between the King and the Governess. It seems the King may have used Yolande to channel the Queen in the right direction, away from party going and gambling and towards quieter calmer pleasures. He was so delighted with Yolande's influence on MA that he actually calls her back from her "vacation" in her home county to comfort the Queen who is depressed! And MA herself is astounded how easily her requests for favours for Yolande and her dreadful clan are accepted by the King, even to a point where she tells herself she needn't have worried so much before making these requests to him! As for miscarriages the GDC point out fairly good if not conclusive evidence that the Queen may well have had more than one....and that they were kept pretty quiet for political reasons. They calculate the Queen's entire menstrual cycle, everything! Its' quite a book!

Author:  jimcheval [ Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

I can easily believe the queen had miscarriages. But my only concern here is trying to verify the textual evidence offered - however vaguely - by Professor Nagel.

Personally, I can't. But perhaps if one were to read ALL the correspondence, one might find something more suggestive? I think at any rate that those with a serious interest in MA would find it rewarding to read the full three volumes (in French on Gallica).

Author:  baron de batz [ Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

I have read all the correspondence in French.

Author:  jimcheval [ Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

I'm presuming you found no evidence of worry by Mercy and/or Marie-Therese that Louis was having an affair?

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