Biography

Athénaïs: The Life of Louis XIV's Mistress, the Real Queen of France

By Lisa Hilton

In her very good new biography, Hilton chronicles the lifetime of this striking girl, often called "the genuine Queen of France," who reigned as reputable mistress to Louis XIV through the so much excellent interval of "the greatest century."

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Athénaïs used to be annoyed on the method the governess used her courting with the little Duc du Maine to make calls for on Louis’s consciousness. All Athénaïs’s childrens through Louis have been relatively fragile (unlike her valid young ones, that is one other indication of the weak point of the overbred Bourbon bloodline), yet Du Maine gave reason for specific drawback. elderly 3, because the final of his milk the teeth built, he had suffered a debilitating fever that left him with one leg shorter than the opposite and a so much pathetic limp. After quite a few treatments had failed, Mme. de Main-tenon, less than the pseudonym of Mme. de Surgères, took him for a remedy at Anvers after which to Barèges within the Pyrenees, the place a fistula which had built at the little boy’s thigh was once taken care of, and he back in greater health and wellbeing. even if in later lifestyles he proved, to his father’s nice misery, to be a coward at the battlefield, he bore a number of the terrible remedies to which he used to be subjected, comparable to being stretched on a rack, with admirable braveness. In 1676, the medication was once effectively repeated, to the pride of his mom and aunts, Mme. de Thianges and the Abbesse de Fontrevault, who went to satisfy him at the street. regardless of her excitement in Du Maine’s restoration, Athénaïs used to be jealous and pissed off that she had now not been accredited to accompany her son in this and next visits. Du Maine was once Louis’s favourite baby, way more beautiful and beautiful than the lumpen Grand Dauphin, who had inherited all his mother’s allure, and l. a. Maintenon was once wise adequate to take advantage of her proximity to the boy to enhance her status along with his father. Athénaïs used to be under no circumstances a neglectful or disinterested mom, yet as we've seen, her courtroom tasks left her little time for childcare, and Louis was once egocentric adequate to insist that he consistently come first. It should have appeared very unfair that he was once then so happy to debate Du Maine with l. a. Maintenon. She turns out to have enjoyed the kid for his personal sake, and was once a painstaking and inspiring show, bettering Du Maine’s self assurance in order that he was once effortless and humorous with adults, not like his valid half-brother, who had had any typical vivacity he can have possessed whacked out of him via Bossuet. Louis used to be happy with Du Maine, and los angeles Maintenon misplaced no chance to lavish gentle flatteries in this small extension of the King’s individual. of those, some of the most potent was once the little publication of Du Maine’s letters provided to Athénaïs as a brand new yr present. it really is tough to think that such an clever guy as Louis used to be fooled via the sort of crass try at manipulation, yet then, literary feedback was once by no means his forte. Mme. de Maintenon had schooled her scholar good in damning his mom with faint compliment, whereas even as emphasizing her personal stable impact. The little boy used to be forbidden to deal with the King as “Papa,” even supposing on one social gathering at a boating celebration he used to be given an excessive amount of purple wine, and had his gondolier row as much as Louis, whereupon he shouted: “Long reside the King my father! ” ahead of collapsing in giggles into his governess’s fingers.

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