18 April 2015

Today's Princess: Louise de Kerouialle

By Studio of Sir Peter Lely (scan by User:Manfred Heyde)
via Wikimedia Commons
Born into a relatively impoverished French noble family, Louise de Kérouaille (1649-1734) never really imagined that she would grow up to be a royal mistress but, there weren't many options for a woman. Louise's parents secured a position for her as a lady-in-waiting to Henrietta Anne Stuart, the Duchess of Orleans, who just happened to be the beloved kid sister of the notorious royal lover King Charles II. Charles loved everything about women, and who loved just about every kind of woman he encountered. When King Louis XIV sent his sister-in-law Henrietta Anne to use her influence on Charles, the British king got his first look at the baby-faced beauty Louise.

A year later, when Henrietta Anne died, Louis thought it would be a great idea to send Louise to be a lady-in-waiting for Charles' queen. Charles and Louise both mourned deeply for the dead princess, and had an undeniable attraction for each other, but Louise at first resisted the king. She had no ambition to be a "whore." She soon realized, however, that the position of royal mistress could be a good one. Royal mistress who also receives financial support from a French king who needs someone in a foreign court? Well, that's even better.

Within no time, poor little Louise became one of the richest mistresses in the English court. She was also the most refined and tasteful. Charles used her gracious apartments for many unofficial meetings with foreign representatives, particularly the French and Catholic ones. Beloved by Charles, she was the least popular with the British people, who were suspicious of Catholics. Her close and loving relationship with Charles protected her, even during the Popish Plot.

Unlike his more prolific mistresses, Nell Gwynne and Barbara Castlemaine, Louise presented Charles with only one son, Charles Lennox, and earned the lucrative title Duchess of Portsmouth for herself. When he was three, baby Charles was created Duke of Richmond and Duke of Lennox. One child was enough for Louise to have a permanent impact on the English aristocracy. Among literally hundreds of well-born descendants are three daughters-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II: Diana Princess of Wales, Sarah Duchess of the York and Camilla The Duchess of Cornwall are all descended from Louise thanks to her son.

Louise and King Charles had a solid relationship, but his early death after 14 years together, left her fairly insecure in England. She hired some ships to help haul all that she had acquired while in England. King Louis continued rewarding for her service, especially by having her debts cancelled, because despite all of her wealth she enjoyed high living a bit too much. When King Louis died, there was no one left to provide her with that kind of security. She descended back into the genteel poverty of her child, but lived until the ripe old age of 85.

For more about Louise:
De Louise de Kéroualle à Lady Di...

Copy and WIN : http://ow.ly/KNICZ
De Louise de Keroualle a Lady Di on Le Monde de Titus (French)
Historical Profile: Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth on Examiner
Louise de Keroualle on Cierto Sabor a Veneno (Spanish)

Louise de Kéroualle, Charles II's French mistress: a discussion with Susan Holloway Scott on Versailles and More
Louise de Keroualle, duchesse de Portsmouth et d'Aubigny on Carnet d'Aubigny-sur-Nere (French)
Louise de Keroualle and Nell Gwynne on The Stuarts
Louise de Kérouialle, Duchess of Portsmouth on English Monarchs
Louise de Keroualle de Penancoet, grande favorite de Charles II on Les Favorites Royales (French)
Mistress to the King on Royal Splendour
Scandalous Women Welcome Susan Holloway Scott on Scandalous Women
Women's History Month; Women, Astronomy on Greenwich on Royal Museums Greenwich

Books about Louise:

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