|Françoise-Marie de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Blois, duchesse d'Orleans, by François de Troy. 1692, oil on canvas. Salles les princesses royales, Salles du XVII, Aile du Nord- Chateau de Versailles.|
Illegitimate daughter of famous mistress Françoise-Athénaïs de Rochechouart de Mortemart, marquise de Montespan and Louis XIV, Françoise-Marie de Bourbon was born May 4, 1677. She was raised away from 'home' - that is, not at Versailles with mom and dad. She was a beautiful little girl and her beauty only grew as she did.
Her mother's good standing with the king diminished when the affaire des poisons became big news, however Françoise-Marie was not affected. Louis XIV gave the four year old the title of Mademoiselle de Blois and had plans for her to marry. There are always special plans for marriage! In her case, she was arraigned to marry his nephew the duc de Chartres who would later become the duc d'Orleans. I suppose the 'second scandal' of her life could be considered here. The first being she was an illegitimate child of the king. tsk tsk. Now this illegitimate daughter was to marry a very legitimate grandson of Louis XIII. This did not settle well with the future mother-in-law. To persuade the future father-in-law, the duc d'Orleans, the king gave his brother bribes, and he consented without an issue.
|Detail of Françoise-Marie de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Blois, duchesse d'Orleans, by François de Troy. 1692, oil on canvas. Salles les princesses royales, Salles du XVII, Aile du Nord- Chateau de Versailles. Photograph by Robert Polidori.|
They had a splendid wedding in the chapel at Versailles in February, 1692. Françoise-Marie was 14 years at the time, and old enough to feel a bit pessimistic about the arrangement, reportedly saying, "I don't care if he loves me; just as long as he marries me." You can be as pessimistic as you want but it was not hard to see the benefit of this marriage.
She was a Granddaughter of France once a wife, making her the most important of the illegitimate kids. When she was 33 her husband became the duc d'Orleans, and the two lived well-well pampered. In 1715 her father died, and her 5 year old nephew Louis XV was king. Her husband took charge of the country for the boy king and thus throughout the la Régence Françoise-Marie was perhaps the most important lady at court.
She spent money. And why not! Her husband was no better. Together they had seven surviving children but they were not happy together. The duc had many other mistresses and even had his own handful of illegitimate children. His mother never accepted her daughter-in-law, as her memoirs mention, "all the femmes de chambre have made her believe that she did my son honour in marrying him; and she is so vain of her own birth and that of her brothers and sisters that she will not hear a word said against them; she will not see any difference between legitimate and illegitimate children"
So what makes this vibrant beauty, married to one of France's top men, bore him sons and was favoured by her father Madame Lucifer? Well, like all daughters of famous mistresses, Françoise-Marie had a little bit of a temper. She had the personality for it, proud and maybe a bit pompous - um..her dad was Louis XIV after all! Her darling husband once openly disapproved of her heated episodes and called her Madame Lucifer. Befitting for a hot-tempered beauty, no?