Intriguing Facts About Madame De Maintenon, France’s Uncrowned Queen

Intriguing Facts About Madame De Maintenon, France’s Uncrowned Queen

Few may have predicted the rise of Françoise d’Aubigné, higher often called Madame de Maintenon. Born right into a fallen household, her tumultuous beginnings meant her prospects for a shiny future had been bleak. But, she defied all the odds when she stepped out of the shadows and have become essentially the most highly effective lady in France.

1. Her Beginning Was Scandalous

Françoise d’Aubigné was born on November 27, 1635, to Fixed d’Aubigné and Jeanne de Cardilhac in Niort, France—and the circumstances surrounding her start had been scandalous. Some recommend she was born in the native jail, the place her father was serving time and the place her grandfather was the jail director. In a twisted means, prisons turned out to play an important disturbing position in Françoise’s life, even earlier than her start.

2. She Had A Surprising Backstory

Françoise’s mother and father’ relationship had a sordid backstory. Her father possible seduced her mom whereas in jail. Three months after he arrived on the jail, he married Françoise’s mom. To make issues worse, they’d completely different religions: Fixed was a Huguenot, whereas Jeanne was a staunch Catholic. However when it got here to drama throughout the d’Aubigné household, this was solely the tip of the iceberg.

3. She Had A Horrible Father

Though Françoise hailed from a distinguished Huguenot household, her father’s unruly conduct had a chilling impact on her personal life. Fixed was ruthlessly disinherited for his quite a few betrayals and roguish methods. This unrest trickled drown and contaminated Françoise’s relationship along with her mother and father. However even better horrors lay in wait.

4. She Had A Dysfunctional Household

In 1643, Françoise’s father obtained a pardon, however the long-awaited reunion wasn’t a cheerful one. Years of separation had broken the familial bonds past restore. Her father continued along with his previous, dangerous habits, whereas she and her mom clashed over faith. Nonetheless, life appeared to take an optimistic flip when her household was given the prospect to begin anew.

It didn’t take lengthy, nevertheless, for his or her hopes to be dashed upon the rocks.

5. She Began A New Life

Françoise’s father seized upon a dangerous, but profitable alternative. After studying of fortunes constructed within the Caribbean, Fixed acquired some land from the Compagnie des îles d’Amérique, which aimed to colonize the area. In 1644, Françoise and her household left France in hopes of constructing a brand new life on that land by cultivating indigo or bananas.

Nonetheless, their journey was removed from clean crusing.

6. She Was A Fighter

The journey to the Caribbean was a dangerous one. On board, Françoise caught a fever so extreme—her mother and father thought she wouldn’t make it. However that wasn’t essentially the most horrifying half. Simply as they had been about to solid her physique into the ocean, her mom realized she was nonetheless alive. Fortunately, after being rubbed with alcohol, Françoise made a full restoration.

However this was solely the start of the nightmare.

7. She Was No Island Woman

For Françoise, life within the Caribbean was no fairy story. Her father’s plans to begin a plantation didn’t come to fruition. Whereas he chased his ventures, the household handled hostile Irish settlers, a housefire, and lots of strikes. Ultimately, Fixed returned to France, leaving his household behind. After receiving no phrase of him for a yr, in addition they determined to return to France…however this journey was even extra harmful than the final.

8. She Confronted Hazard In The Excessive Seas

It appears the ocean was a harmful place for Françoise. Through the return journey, she confronted a formidable risk—pirates, a typical menace in these occasions. To arrange Françoise to confront the worst with dignity, her mom dressed her in her greatest garments and gave her a wood rosary for cover. In opposition to all odds, nevertheless, Françoise got here out unscathed and completed the journey.

Nonetheless, she wasn’t out of the woods but.

9. She Misplaced Him

Françoise and her household made it to France safely, however there was to be no second household reunion. Her father vanished, and nobody knew of his whereabouts. Unbeknownst to the household, Fixed was already lengthy gone and buried within the city of Orange. There was a lot hypothesis about his demise, and Françoise’s mom solely discovered about it two and a half years later.

With out the safety of her father, Françoise’s scenario turned fairly determined.

10. She Had A Laborious-Knock Life

Françoise bore the crushing penalties of her mother and father’ sins. Her paternal Protestant family members feared taking her household in because of Fixed’s wrongs and popularity. Her mom had been estranged from her facet of the household for years. To outlive, Françoise and her older brother, Charles, went to drastic lengths. They took to the streets to beg for meals and cash.

Happily, there was a silver lining on the horizon.

11. She Acquired A Christmas Reward

Françoise’s household obtained much-needed salvation. Her beloved Aunt Louise and Uncle Benjamin, Louise’s husband, lastly accepted them into their properties. A lot to her happiness, Françoise spent Christmas of their dwelling in Mursay and discovered that she was to stay with them once more. Though her life was lastly secure, Françoise’s household quickly suffered one other heartbreak.

12. A Tragedy Rocked Her Household

Françoise’s eldest brother, additionally named Fixed, felt the reverberations of his household’s dysfunction deeply. Not like his youthful siblings, the youthful Fixed suffered from melancholy, which grew worse through the years. Lastly, within the early days of 1648, Fixed drowned within the moat of Louise’s chateau, apparently by his personal palms.

Françoise, then again, solid onward, via the ache.

13. Her Dangerous Luck Took A Flip

Regardless of the tragic passing of her brother, Françoise carried on along with her fabulous new life. She even had a maid, whom she taught to learn and write. Satirically, Françoise helped her aunt with charitable duties, resembling giving out meals to the poor—a well-recognized scenario she’d escaped not lengthy earlier than. But it surely was by no means meant to final. Françoise’s glad life in Niort was about to be horribly disrupted.

14. Her Faith Endangered Her

Françoise didn’t stay untouched by non secular and political undercurrents. The de Neuillants, the staunchly Catholic household of her godmother, Suzanne, discovered about her new heretic dwelling and obtained permission from the Queen Mom to take away her from there. In November 1648, probably with the blessing of Françoise’s mom, Madame de Neuillant arrived at Louise’s dwelling and whisked the younger lady away.

15. She Served A Objective

Life with the de Neuillant Household was torture for the now-teenage Françoise. It turned out the household had an ulterior motive for taking her in. Madame de Neuillant, who was additionally Jeanne’s good friend, used Françoise’s rescue to mission herself as a Catholic savior. It additionally gave Françoise’s godmother, Suzanne, the prospect to marry a French duke.

Now not of use, Françoise discovered herself in a precarious scenario.

16. She Was A Insurgent

Françoise’s defiance turned a supply of rivalry. Whereas dwelling with the de Neuillants, she refused to take part in any Catholic ceremonies or rituals. However, kicking her out would have been a declaration of failure in reforming her. So, they did the following neatest thing. They unceremoniously dumped her at a handy place for poor, younger Catholic women—the convent.

17. She Hated The Convent

Françoise struggled to adapt to the convent’s structured setting. She additionally needed to dodge the nuns and a priest, who tried to influence her to obtain her first Communion. Throughout these discussions, Françoise’s data of the biblical scriptures allowed her to problem them. Depressing in her new dwelling, she may have by no means foreseen the shock in retailer for her.

18. She Met A Kindred Spirit

Her time within the convent had a rocky begin, however quickly, her life took a surprising flip. After a couple of weeks, Françoise fell in poor health. A sort nun named Sister Celeste, who turned a mom determine to the lonely lady, nursed her again to well being. Françoise lastly obtained the tender love she’d yearned for. This present of kindness modified her, warming her as much as convent life and Catholic ideas.

However as soon as once more, historical past repeated itself.

19. She Was Too Costly

Three months after Françoise arrived on the convent, the expense of her schooling turned a difficulty. As a substitute of footing the invoice, Madame de Neuillant handed it onto Françoise’s Aunt Louise. A religious Protestant, Louise refused to pay for it. After making nice makes an attempt to discover a sponsor for her, the nuns failed to seek out one. Sadly, Françoise had no alternative however to return to Niort to stay with de Neuillants.

It appeared like each time she captured a sliver of happiness, destiny pulled the rug out from underneath her.

20. She Went Again To Sq. One

Françoise reluctantly returned to the house of de Neuillants. Because the poor relation, she needed to do many family chores, resembling placing hay within the stables. She additionally seemed the half, carrying shabby garments and footwear. However that was all about to vary. Regardless of her hardship, over a interval of 18 months, Françoise developed into a reasonably, younger lady.

After all, her gorgeous transformation didn’t go unnoticed.

21. She Wasn’t A Catch

Madame de Neuillant turned conscious of Françoise’s rising magnificence. Now of marriageable age however with no dowry, her probabilities of marrying properly had been subsequent to nothing. Because of this, Madame de Neuillant betrayed Françoise once more—and despatched her to a Parisian convent. Betrayed and helpless, Françoise confirmed resistance however quickly admitted defeat.

That’s when she got here up with an unpredictable technique.

22. She Was A Burden

Françoise submitted herself to the nuns—and her tactic labored. Lower than one month after she obtained her first Communion, she moved into the Parisian dwelling of the Baron de Saint-Hermant, Madame de Neuillant’s brother. Seeking to rid herself of {the teenager} as rapidly as attainable, Madame de Neuillant introduced Françoise to a salon, the place France’s excessive society and main personalities met.

She hoped Françoise would catch the attention of a suitor and ultimately marry and depart her cost. There, Françoise met the person who would change the course of her life eternally.

23. Her Life Modified

In her first go to to the salon, Françoise met the proprietor—crippled author Paul Scarron. Though she got here in an previous, ill-fitted gown, Françoise made sufficient of an impression on Scarron, who was a whopping 25 years older than her. The 2 shared a letter correspondence for months earlier than Scarron lastly proposed marriage. He might not have been the Prince Charming of her desires, however Françoise didn’t actually have a alternative.

With few choices favoring her future, she accepted. Little did she know, this was her stepping stone to a complete new world.

24. Her Marriage Opened Doorways

Sixteen-year-old Françoise’s new place because the spouse of Scarron allowed her to enter a world that usually excluded ladies of her background. By means of him, she mingled with France’s elite, from writers to authorities officers. With little formal schooling, Francoise quietly immersed herself within the discussions that passed off within the salon. She additionally constructed vital connections.

Within the years to come back, her publicity to France’s literary society would draw her farther away from her impoverished previous.

25. Her Marriage Invited Gossip

Scarron’s bodily situation and Françoise’s youth had folks speaking. Individuals speculated about their marriage, significantly their bedchamber relations. They puzzled if the sickly Scarron may even hope to fulfill his stunning, younger spouse—or extra importantly—father an inheritor. Scarron and his mates joked about having a particular association for Françoise.

However this was the darkish fact: Many had been prepared to supply their “companies”.

26. She Attracted Consideration

Françoise’s coy demeanor and wonder attracted many admirers and rumors of potential lovers. Regardless of the gossip, Françoise maintained a public picture of quiet piety and modesty, with no affirmation of an extramarital affair. However no quantity of fine conduct may save her from her subsequent chapter—one in all heartache and uncertainty.

27. She Was Susceptible

After eight years of marriage, Françoise turned a widow, however she was, as soon as once more, in a foul scenario. Scarron left behind many money owed. Additionally, with no son, she couldn’t obtain Scarron’s pension. She moved right into a modest room in a convent. Nonetheless, that’s when her guardian angels got here to her rescue. Her influential mates from the salon approached the Queen Mom, who agreed to assist.

She elevated the annual cost to 2,000 livres, permitting Françoise to take care of her social standing…in the intervening time.

28. Her Good Instances Didn’t Final

In 1666, the Queen Mom left this world, and Françoise’s pension funds went along with her. King Louis XIV canceled it, leaving her with no earnings. Till then, she’d loved a cushty lifetime of social occasions and rented a Parisian home. After dwelling on the generosity of her mates, she determined to go to Lisbon to function a lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Portugal.

However destiny had different plans.

29. She Met Her Savior

Simply as Françoise was about to go away for Portugal, she made an vital social connection that may ultimately change her life. The lady was Madame de Montespan, the king’s mistress. Françoise impressed Montespan, who had the king restore Françoise’s pension. This generosity allowed her to stay in Paris—and that’s the place her position turned extra vital than ever earlier than.

30. She Held A number of Positions

In 1669, Françoise turned a confidante of Montespan when the latter gave start to her second youngster, a boy named Louis-Cesar, with the king. Attributable to Montespan’s married standing and the king’s want to keep away from a scandal, Françoise turned the kid’s governess and the trusted overseer of the house the place he lived. She additionally ensured the privateness of the house by concealing the id of her cost.

Her very important position led to a gathering with essentially the most highly effective man in France.

31. She Made A Poor Impression

In February 1671, Françoise lastly met King Louis XIV, the King of France who’d initially eliminated her pension only some years earlier than. The king summoned her to testify in opposition to good friend of hers who unfold gossip about Montespan and him. Of their first assembly, Françoise didn’t make impression. The decadent king discovered her robust will, intelligence, and non secular piety to be main turn-offs.

However he wouldn’t at all times really feel this fashion in regards to the fairly governess.

32. She Modified His Thoughts

Françoise took a while to construct rapport with the king. After Montespan bore the king a 3rd youngster, he paid extra consideration to his youngsters along with her. By means of his observations of Françoise’s affectionate interactions along with his youngsters, his emotions about her modified. He mentioned, “It could be one thing to be liked by a lady like that”.

And identical to that, Françoise’s romantic life opened up as soon as extra.

33. She Reaped The Advantages

In recognition of Françoise’s devotion to his youngsters, Louis XIV rewarded her generously. After she and the youngsters moved to Château de Saint-Germain, she turned the royal governess. She additionally obtained 200,000 livres, which she used to buy a property in Maintenon. The subsequent yr, the king went a step additional and gave her the title of Marquise de Maintenon.

After all, the king’s fondness for Françoise had its dangers.

34. Her Standing Stirred Up Bother

Though Montespan didn’t care a lot for her youngsters with the king, she cared sufficient in regards to the king’s admiration for Françoise. The king’s favoritism in the direction of the stunning governess drew the ire of Montespan, who started to argue along with her over the care of the youngsters. Quickly, their relationship deteriorated. The king seen and proceeded to stir the pot.

He made the marquise the second lady-in-waiting to the dauphin’s spouse in order that she may keep away from being in Montespan’s presence.

35. She Had Her Second In The Solar

Ultimately, Françoise’s rise got here with Montespan’s downfall. The latter turned implicated in a scandal referred to as the Affair of the Poisons, throughout which others accused her of utilizing witchcraft to take care of her place because the king’s mistress. Within the scandal’s aftermath, the king dismissed Montespan, and Françoise rose to the very prime.

She turned an influential particular person, utilizing her new energy for good.

36. Her Affect Rubbed Off

For the reason that starting of his marriage to Queen Marie Thérèse, Louise XIV handled his spouse poorly till Françoise intervened. Not like her former good friend, Montespan, the Marquise de Maintenon shocked the queen: She confirmed her respect. Her conduct influenced the king to vary his demeanor in the direction of his homely queen, who publicly proclaimed she had beforehand by no means obtained such excessive regard.

Over time, the king’s emotions in the direction of Maintenon solely grew stronger.

37. She Grew Shut To The King

It appears Maintenon might have put the proverbial spell over Louise XIV. The king might have requested her to change into his mistress, however she asserted that she by no means caved into his advances. Regardless of the nature of their relationship, the king apparently spent a whole lot of his leisure time along with her, conversing about politics, economics, and faith. It was solely a matter of time earlier than this intimacy reached a head.

38. She Reached The Biggest Heights

Inside months queen’s passing, Françoise turned the king’s new spouse. By October 1683, she married Louis in a non-public ceremony within the presence of the king’s confessor and valet, and the Archbishop of Paris, who performed the marriage. Nonetheless, it wasn’t precisely a fortunately ever after. Sadly, the wedding didn’t translate right into a social promotion for Maintenon.

Louis might have put a hoop on it, nevertheless it didn’t imply issues had been official.

39. Her Marriage Invited Hypothesis

Françoise’s marriage to the King of France made her queen in all methods however in identify. Because of the variations of their social standing, the legislation barred Louis from publicly acknowledging the wedding and disallowed Françoise from changing into queen. The truth is, there isn’t any official file of the wedding, regardless of the witnesses. However this marital nightmare wasn’t the one downside.

Regardless of Louis’ affection for her, others had completely different opinions of his new “spouse”.

40. She Turned A Scapegoat

Not everybody appreciated Françoise. Her enemies dubbed her “la Scarron”, in reference to her first marriage. Many blamed her for the errors made throughout the reign of Louis XIV. As Françoise was the unofficial queen, many thought-about her to have nice affect over him. Nonetheless, she probably didn’t become involved in any political issues earlier than 1700.

41. Her Blended Parentage Haunted Her

Françoise’s twin non secular background created inside conflicts. Attributable to her popularity as a pious Catholic lady, others blamed her for the withdrawal of the Edict of Nantes, which protected the rights of Protestants in France. Nonetheless, the reality was that she was in opposition to the assaults. She confessed that she feared her Huguenot heritage would have been used in opposition to her if she pleaded for tolerance.

42. She Helped Others

Françoise didn’t misuse her place. The truth is, she usually used it for the advantage of others. A faithful sister, she usually bailed out her never-do-well brother, Charles, in his occasions of want. She additionally ensured that the king elevated his youngsters by Madame de Montespan to the excessive ranges of place at court docket. However her generosity unfold past her private relationships.

43. She By no means Forgot

Françoise by no means forgot about her humble beginnings. In 1684, she established a faculty named the Maison royale de Saint-Louis. The college supplied schooling for ladies from poor noble backgrounds. It additionally performed an important position within the improvement of schooling for ladies underneath the Ancien Regime. Françoise’s concepts relating to schooling had a wider influence on French society.

44. Her Faculty Impressed Others

Françoise’s philosophy on schooling impressed others to observe her instance. Native officers and philanthropists based native main colleges for younger, impoverished females. Her legacy included an everlasting affect on the primary French feminist motion, which aspired to shut the academic hole between women and men as a method of empowering lower-class ladies and enriching French society.

However that’s not all.

45. She Made Exceptions

Every now and then, Françoise took liberties along with her energy. Through the Quietism affair, an incident through which famous French residents turned accused of believing in concepts condemned by the Catholic Church, she and Jacques-Bénigne Lignel Bossuet labored collectively to go after Françoise Fénelon, who was the tutor of the king’s grandson.

Due to her efforts, Fenelon misplaced his put up because the royal tutor.

46. She Fell Ailing

In 1715, the grim reaper separated Françoise and King Louis XIV eternally. She turned a widow as soon as once more, however this time she had the riches to indicate for it. Françoise went to stay in Saint-Cyr and obtained a pension of 48,000 livres. However she wouldn’t get to get pleasure from her luxuries for lengthy. Sadly, quickly after Louis’ passing, she fell sick herself.

47. She Had A Particular Visitor

At her residence, vital folks, resembling Peter the Nice, visited Françoise, even when she fell in poor health. The phrases that he spoke to her on her deathbed completely illustrate how vital the king’s mistress actually was. As she lay there ailing, the tsar checked out her and mentioned, “I got here to see every little thing worthy of word that France incorporates”.

48. She Didn’t Make It

Françoise solely outlived Louis XIV by 4 years. Aged 83, she succumbed to her sickness on April 15, 1719. In her will, she requested her physique be laid to relaxation within the choir at Saint-Cyr. Afterward, her solely niece inherited her property at Maintenon. In tribute to her, the French named an island near Canada after her. Nonetheless, Françoise’s influence didn’t finish along with her life.

49. She Left A Blended Legacy

Even years after her passing, Madame de Maintenon nonetheless intrigues folks. Many individuals have had polarized views of her, starting from absolute adoration to finish hatred. Even now, textbooks painting her as money-grubbing and depraved. Regardless of the combination of feelings her identify summons, each side can agree that Françoise rose up from the darkish to go away an indelible mark upon the world.

Supply: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Initially Revealed by – Claire Ng

Authentic Supply –

What do you think?


Written by Harry Rosen

Harry Rosen is an accomplished explorer, photographer, creative director, speaker, and author.

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