February 13, 2009

Femme of the Week: Comtesse de Seran

"...as beautiful as the goddess of Love..."

Adelaide Bulioud was born to a rather humble family of no fortune. She grew up into a very pretty thing but her charms were more captivating that her beauty.

Her marriage was arranged to the Comte de Seran, a man whose family was of an ancient line. When the Comte was presented to Adelaide for the first time, she "turned pale with horror, and her heart revolted against him with disgust and repugnance."

The comte was "ill formed" and had unflattering red hair. He only had one eye, and as if things couldn't get worse, that eye had a cataract. He sensed her disgust instantly and speaking to her in confidence explained that if she could get past ugliness, she would have a most honorable marriage. This assertive angle caught her off guard and after sleeping on it she realized she could not turn him down. She, being a kind-of-a duchesse de Choiseul, saw his kindness and good nature and agreed to the match. Happiness? No. But dignity I suppose.

To make matters for the Comtesse de Seran worse, the family she married into, although ancient, had no fortune left! Her friends persuaded her that gaining some titles will make her life more enjoyable, and of course having such goals gives one a reason to keep moving forward. It can also be assumed that her friends, may have pushed her in this direction for their own benefits.

The new wife made it her goal then, to become a lady in waiting to the Duchess of Chartres. Unfortunately her pedigree was questioned (the job required your linage to trace back 400 years. The matter could only be approved by the King, and Louis XV heard enough about her beauty to give the 'OK'.

So she earned the position by hand of Louis XV, on the condition that she came to personally thank him. Success! All her friends knew she would soon be a favorite! = benefits, favors and money for them!

So she went to meet with him, in private, and he was of course taken by her beauty. Where many women would bat their eyes and hold their hands out for jewels and love from Louis, she spoke kindly and maturely to him. She expressed that she would like, at some point, to have the title of Princesse d'Armagnac. He said that he would need to know and trust her for that major title, and she offered to him her time and friendship. Yes, Friendship!

The Comtesse de Seran became very good friends with the king, and they wrote letters often. He was OK with the arrangement because sometimes having a good friend is really important!

She never let the friendship move past just what it was. But it did appear suspicious to gossip loving courtiers! Rumors started that she was a mistress, and this did not sit well with the Duc de Choiseul, who could not accept anyone who was not a fan of his. When word reached Adelaide that the duc was out to ruin her, she immediately pulled strings to meet with him face to face. She then presented all her letters from the king saying he was wrong to have thought ill of her and only an innocent friendship was retained.

In fact the only favor she had accepted from the king was a small house! She remained good friends with Louis XV until his death. She then sold her only gift from Louis to make due with what fortune she had.

5 comments :

  1. A lady way ahead of her time; befriending a man (a King for that matter) and keeping it at that. Such integrity, I'm impressed. Great post!

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  2. Ms. Lucy - Yes she was a rarity of her kind! Very devoted to her friends and husband!

    YSLGuy - Merci! Happy Valentine's Day!

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  3. Silly Adelaide, doesn't she know that redheads are the hottest?

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  4. Integrity is a good word for it- it's nice to read about a true friendship- she definately could have let her disappointment in her arranged husband excuse infidelity later, but it seems that she didn't do that, even with a king as an admirer!

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