Marie Antoinette Online Forum

Louis XVI's Mistress
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Author:  jimcheval [ Tue Jul 28, 2009 12:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

Artois wrote:
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 presume this is April 1780?

Again, there is absolutely nothing of this in the correspondence of that time. Instead, everybody is worried about the appearance of favoritism for Polignac's lover and public rumors about the advantages to the Polignacs. Over and over, it's about P having influence over MA, and any cooperation from the king being in acquiescence to that.

Oh for the days of footnoted scholarship....

Author:  baron de batz [ Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

Jimcheval wrote:

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

None whatsoever. As you know Mercy and Marie-Thérèse's correspondence centres around their concerns with the behaviour of MA. The King doesn't get much direct flak apart from allusions to his lack of enthusiasm for sex. But then MT puts that down to a lack of persuasion/cajoling from her daughter. However behind all these concerns is the legitimate concern that if the Queen doesn't do a better job, the King could start listening to all those offering him an official mistress...and MA's goose would have been cooked.

Author:  jimcheval [ Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

I'm simply bemused that an accredited scholar could make such a large claim based on vague references to correspondence which does not, on the face of it, support that claim. It seems pretty clear that the claim is fairly revolutionary in terms of how the couple is viewed and so should be a bit more rigorously documented, yet it is offered as if a mere glance at the correspondence would confirm it, when it apparently does not.

Or is there a more recent collection of these letters somewhere that includes passages earlier editors might have been reluctant to include?

I also can't imagine what other gossip is being referred to - certainly Lescure's "Correspondance Secrete" only confirms the same concerns as in Mercy and MT"s letters: ... t&resnum=1

and in fact mention Polignac's likely lover Vaudreuil.

Nor can I find anything in Bachaumont.

It's fairly frustrating for those of us who are picky about sourcing. I do a lot of food history research and that is notorious for huge undocumented claims (that the croissant was invented at the siege of Vienna - it was not - or that the baguette displaced boules (spherical breads) - it appeared too late to do so; etc.) But seeing a similar approach taken to well-known history is maddening.

Author:  baron de batz [ Sat Aug 01, 2009 4:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

Yes when it comes to MA and Louis XVI, quite eminent people do really slip up quite often...its' incredible. We're still slandering them like the pamphlets did 220 or so years later!

Author:  grace [ Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress


I think this post is quite funny. Anyone who has read Marie Antoinette's secret letters will know that Mercy wrote to Maria Theresa quite often about how Louis had no time for Polignac.

When Marie Antoinette had measles, just after having her first baby, she went off to Petit Trianon with 4 male courtiers to keep her entertained during her convalescence, and left Louis behind because she was worried he might catch it from her. Mercy was furious because she wanted to keep the courtiers with her all night, as well as all day and all evening and he threw a little fit to insist that they would not be allowed to stay overnight. The whole of Versailles was buzzing with gossip about which four women would be chosen to keep Louis company if he got ill!

According to the secret letters, I think it was Besanval who then persuaded Marie Antoinette that her husband didn't really care for her if he was prepared to let her stay away for a week or two, with only men to keep her company, and Marie Antoinette then got in a huff with Louis and he heard about it. In fact Mercy even told Maria Theresa that Louis had said to someone who had questioned him about what was going on that "he didn't care what his wife did." Mercy then had to smooth things over between them.

When Marie Antoinette then came back to Versailles, she discovered that one of Louis' servants had tried to interest him in an affair, and was very upset and worried.

Mertcy then told her to keep Louis at her side as much as possible, and this is why she then began to take Louis with her when she went to Polignac's. Louis of course tolerated this as he tolerated just about everything his wife suggested.

Mercy talks a lot about Polignac's lover - Vaudreuil - he was the father of her child. I don't think Louis was capable of being a lover, in fact in the secret letters Marie Antoinette even tells Polignac that she wishes he would take a lover, so that he would become a better lover.

MacLeod's new translation of Marie Antoinette's letters which you can get on Amazon, has amazing detail about what went on at Versailles! (There were three of us in the relationship: the secret letters of Marie Antoinette)

Author:  jimcheval [ Sun Aug 16, 2009 6:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

grace wrote:
I think this post is quite funny. Anyone who has read Marie Antoinette's secret letters will know that Mercy wrote to Maria Theresa quite often about how Louis had no time for Polignac.

Or would be if this weren't an actual professor at a college of some reputation making a claim that seems to not only be unsubstantiated but actually contradicted by the source material she references.

I say that with due hesitation, since it's always possible there's a version of these letters I don't know.

But on the face of it, the whole claim is pretty dismaying, more for what it says about modern scholarship than what it says about MA or Louis.

Author:  baron de batz [ Sun Aug 16, 2009 7:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

Well Grace what a lot of gossip, heresay and assertive claims for one post! :wink: Does writing something in a confident manner make it true? :? So you are sure that the young third child of Yolande (Jules) was Vaudreuil's? Pray were you present at the conception? Court gossip has it so, but no-one can be sure of such things! MA never said anything about Louis becoming a better lover...she was far too prude for that. However she did say, no doubt in an off the cuff manner which smacked more of her desperation at that time than real sincerity, that maybe if he took a lover it might make him more inclined towards the "thing' and therefore more assiduous in his courting! No mention of technique!

So Louis said that 'he didn't care what his wife did!"! What secret letters are you reading Grace? I've read the entire correspondence in French, which is far from secret in as far as it was probably partially dictated and both Vermond and Mercy were aware of the contents of most of it , but its' true did follow diplomatic channels to avoid being opened in Versailles. I can't recall ever reading that! On the contrary Louis XVI cared very much about what his wife got up to...

So Louis had not time for Yolande. Interesting? How do you explain that her house in Passy was the only private house with the exception of that Sauce's place in Varennes that he ever visited? It was a singular mark of respect, unheard of, and did not go unnoticed at court. Likewise how do you explain the particular ease with which MA obtained favours for the Polignac clan? MA herself remarks that if she had known how easy it would have been, she would not have worried about it for days beforehand! She is surprized! And the King personally recalls Yolande from a kind of vacation (if one can call it that) in her home county in order to cheer up the Queen who is down. He used her influence over the Queen quite consciously. Everyone takes Louis for such a fool...he was far from it. On the contrary he suffered from the fact that he saw two sides to any question...including absolutism versus constitution.

The mistress incident is true...though I don't think it was Besenval, who was close to the Queen. I can find out who it was, and the proposition was for one of the Opéra dancers as is often the case. I wonder if it wasn't the old Duc de Richelieu. Mercy was evidently greatly panicked by this...Imagine an officially court declared favourite before MA had even borne him a child! Nightmare scenario! After all Louis grew up in the libertine shadow of this grandfather as an example, which was ironically maybe MA's great luck..he'd had enough of witnessing such debauchery.

Louis was not incapable of being a lover....but they were an awkward couple and unsuited in that way. He did give her four children after all..unless you think the Duc de Normandie was Fersen's!? :lol:

Author:  Monsieur Jacques [ Sun Feb 07, 2010 5:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

I read that Madame of Polignac was the only Marie Antoinette's friends who liked to Louis XVI, and I heard that while the Queen was at the Petit Trianon, they walk together in the gardens of versailles...

Author:  Drake Rlugia [ Mon Feb 08, 2010 6:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI's Mistress

The King liked the Duchess of Polignac as a friend, she helped soothe Marie-Antoinette's sometimes mercuial moods, and for that Louis XVI was grateful. I believe he even visited her home in Paris after she had given birth to one of her children, the only house in Paris he had stepped foot in since he had become King.

There was nothing between Polignac and Louis XVI, and certainly nothing between the king and anyone else. Louis XVI stated himself that, "Many people would like me to take a mistress but I have no desire to recreate the prior reigns," and when one aristocrat dangled his mistress in front of Louis XVI to take, the King coldly asked him to leave, and that "it is obvious whose son you are."

Louis XVI was nothing but devoted to Marie-Antoinette.

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