I’m presently reading Louis The Well Beloved and could not wait for the end of the book, or my review before bringing up one very influential woman of the court at the times (not in a good way though..)
Jeanne Agnès Berthelot de Pléneuf- better known as: Madame de Prie
by Jean-Baptiste Van Loo (1684-1745)
Madame de Prie (1698- 1727) was very present in the life of the young Louis XV. As mistress of his uncle Louis Henri, Duc of Bourbon, she had a say in everything. The latter was the grandson of Louis XIV (through his legitimized daughter... but that’s another story). Anyhow, the Duc of Bourbon was legally in charge of the country and of the young King Louis XV for awhile...but his guidance and ruling were all under the influence of the grand ruler herself- Madame de Prie.
She was only 21 when she actually set foot as a predominant figure in the French court. Nonetheless, this dame was experienced anD ruthless to the max. The whole country hated both her and the Duc for rising prices and all that was spent on lavish extravagances to benefit the two of them. Advancement is what it was all about for her. She wished to rule France this way forever- and the best way to do that was for her to choose a rather seemingless, harmless and totally banale bride for the King-This way she could go on her merry way of ruling with her lover along the sidelines and reaping the benefits as the true queen 'herself'.
Who better to suit the situation than Marie Leczinska, whose father was nothing more than an exiled king of Poland? You couldn’t get any lower. Plus, the queen-to-be was more than a few years older and, not that pretty at all. Yet- Lo and behold, when the 16 year-old Louis first set eyes on her, he became totally infatuated by her. Love, love, love. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in a baby carriage...
This could have been all fine and dandy, except that Queen Marie felt completely in debt to Madame de Prie and the Duc, so she of course was duped into believing and also being part of their scheming- a total naive. The main plot was to rid themselves of Fleury, the King’s beloved Tutor. The Duc and Company thought he was too close to ruling supreme because of his influence on the king...so, they needed to get rid of him.
Needless to say, the king caught on and that was the end of all of Madame de Prie’s scheming. Exiled to Courbepine, the grand lady sipped her own poison and committed suicide the following year.
Note: Throughout my read, I may be posting more villain laides- leading to my book review. Stay tuned. Louis VX’s life was filled with ladies and vixens it seems..