Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Royal Mistresses

Madame de Pompadour
From History:
Diplomats who wanted to get to the King Louis XV in the mid-18th century had to go through Madame de Pompadour, who would meet with them while applying her makeup in public. Though Pompadour’s official title was as the French king’s mistress, she only slept with him for the first several years of their 20-year relationship. For the rest of it, she was the king’s closest political advisor and confidant.... 
“There’s not a real division between formal and informal political power in the early French court,” says Christine M. Adams, coauthor with Tracy Adams of the forthcoming book, The Creation of the Official French Royal Mistress. “If you were a friend”—or more than a friend—“that makes you politically influential. You can get favors for your friends. You can get land. You can get money.” 
It was pretty common for kings to have a mistress in those days, in part because marriages were arranged for political gain and not personal companionship. “They would often be paired with someone who they may not have known very well or they may not have liked,” says Danièle Cybulskie, author of the forthcoming book Life in Medieval Europe: Fact and Fictions. Adultery was still frowned upon, and kings could be deposed if they appeared to act too immorally, but people mostly tolerated a king having one mistress at a time. (Read more.)
Madame du Barry
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