Femme of the Week: Duchesse de Lauzun | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Femme of the Week: Duchesse de Lauzun

February 20, 2009

Femme of the Week: Duchesse de Lauzun

"...the most perfect woman ever known."
Amélie de Boufflers, later the Duchesse de Lauzun and then Duchesse de Biron (in stripes) was born May 5, 1751. She was raised by her grandmother after her father passed away. She was the notorious Madeleine-Angélique, Maréchale Duchesse de Luxembourg.

Grandma was once one of the delicate beauties of the court of Louis XV, highly respected, with many friends and likewise many enemies. She was a model of good breeding, high birth and believed in etiquette. Amélie was noted as a "masterpiece," the result of her education. Perhaps no one of her generation had such a wise professor in the Charm Department!

She was a noted accomplished woman, who used wit wisely. "Young, wealthy, and high born, exquisitely beautiful, pious and pure as an angel." A fearsome thing to behold indeed! What did this get her? A slew of suitors, but not just "notch on the bedpost flings," rather, romantic intrigues, men who felt genuine passion for her! Men and women alike could not resist her charismatic personality.

What fortune for her, that when she was just 13 she was betrothed to Armand Gontaut-Biron, duc de Lauzun. He was smart, ambitious and very good looking. Well- at the time he was 16, but even at 16 his looks were getting him all the attention a boy could want! What more could a bride-to-be want!

Sadly, only one man resisted her virtues, her husband! The reason for this terrible truth was because, as boys can be very stubborn, he never forgot his first impression of her. It was a circumstance that was not in her favor yet out of her control!

They were married and she lived a separate life from him. At one point she decided to be receive an inoculation against small pox. This was still a dangerous procedure, and her husband immediately came to be with her through it. It was a great success, and when it was over he left again. She went out in the fashion of the time proudly wearing her hat á l'inoculation.

Fashion ended up being a favorite past time of this princess of grace, and after Louis XV passed she wore a fabulous mourning hat with black flowers knotted together with black crepe, balanced with fruits. One particular pouf she donned was a landscape scene, with a lake, and a hunter after ducks, up top was a naughty ábbe flirting with a millers wife, and by her ear was the poor miller working!

She eventually decided to move in with her grandmother as her husband and her never spoke except for matters of business. He refused to let her leave because he feared it would tarnish his public image. She ended up getting her way however, and promptly moved back in with the maréchale de Luxembourg, who was more than happy.

In 1790 she went to see a play in Paris. A song for Marie Antoinette was encored and she applauded by hitting her fan on her box. She was then pelted with apples, among the storm someone threw a pen knife which nearly hit her!

She fled to England when things got heated in Paris for about a year. She still had some business to take care of in Paris and decided to make a short unannounced trip to Paris. Traveling back to the city was a terrible mistake and she was arrested right away. Her husband pulled some strings to get her out, but it was only temporary and they were both soon in prison. She was guillotined June 27th 1794.


  1. I hope you can stand another Excessively Diverting Blog Award nomination. This one's from me!

  2. I didn't see that one coming...poor lady! It doesn't seem like she even did anything against the revolutionaries. And never having the love of her husband is very sad.

  3. Yikes! to the last paragraph. Like Sara said, I didn't see that coming! It's so sad how many innocent people were taken down by the Terror. The way you've surprised us (just as France was surprised) makes the tragedy even more apparent.

    But on a brighter note, I wish there was a painting of that headpiece with the landscape! One sees cartoons from the day making fun of poufs, and some of them probably aren't even exaggerating all that much, yet it's still really hard to believe that women wore them--not necessarily because they would've been ugly, since they were probably gorgeous--it's just hard to picture. How did they do it without hairspray?

  4. Well if you find a painting or drawing of the landscape pouf let me know. I mean, it was not a one time thing! Plenty of women who could were sporting them so I am sure there is a drawing or etching somewhere....