Femme of the Week: Madame Lucifer | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Femme of the Week: Madame Lucifer

November 13, 2008

Femme of the Week: Madame Lucifer

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?


  1. How wickedly scandalous! I love it! Thanks for another beautiful post!

  2. Fabulous story. Who wouldn't have a temper, being told you are the black sheep of the family. I love this blog, the history is fantastic.

  3. yeah...i agree.

    tempers can come in quite handy when needed to prove an important or even not so important point! :)

  4. Interesting post. Funny, I've never considered what happened to Louis XIV's children by Madame de Montespan.

  5. What a wonderfully informing post. I love it!

  6. Glad you all enjoyed this one!

    She is quite interesting, really for a while she was the top lady around, and her life began wrapped in scandal!

    She was also a youngest daughter - I don't know if that tells us anything! ;o)

  7. Lauren, I have an award waiting for you on my blog.

  8. Really excellent post on Madame Lucifer, only you got her age wrong. Francoise Marie de Bourbon was born on May 4 of 1677 and married Duc de Chartes on February 18 of 1692, meaning that she was 14, not 24 when she married Philippe. (Quite the little cynic, wasn't she?) If she really had been 24 when she married Phillipe, that would have made her 49, not 39 as she was, when she gave birth to her last child, Louise Diane, Princess of Conti.

  9. Ah yes that is some bad math on my part!

    What is your source for the date of the wedding? I am coming across Feb. 17, 1692 now!

  10. Great post. I read a wonderful bio pf her mother a few years ago.

  11. @Georgie Lee Could you share the book with us? Sounds great!