Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Marie Angelique de Fontanges

Marie Angelique de Fontanges was the last mistress of Louis XIV, who was by that time around forty while the lovely young Angelique was just eighteen or nineteen years old . She came from an ancient family and her father Comte de Roussile was the Kings Lieutenant. Seeing the potential in Angelique's beauty her parents got her a place in court as a maid-of-honour to Liselotte Duchess of Orleans. It was their hope that she would capture the eye  (and  undoubtedly the heart) of the king. Indeed she was very beautiful some courtiers even said that she was the most beautiful woman ever to appear in Versailles, she was like a statue who's features were always perfect like that of a goddess. She had golden red hair and classically perfect features and grey-blue eyes yet according to Liselotte she was not very clever. Still the King fell deeply in love with her and so did Angelique she became his mistess and the king was charmed by her even though it was noted that whenever she spoke in the presence of the third party the king seemed ashamed. Well this could be the naiveness of Angelique youth talking, after all at this time she was living a dream of luxury with the King who was in love with her so it does not necessarily mean she was stupid as it is often said. She was after all a deep romantic who liked to wear clothes who's colours matched those of the king. 

Angelique was living in full splendour now her carriage was driven by eight horses, she had her own set of servants. Soon Angelique fell pregnant, she had a very difficult birth in which her baby boy was born dead and if this was not bad enough the king seem to have lost interest in her as well a good example of this is that fact that she was made a duchess which was Louis usual farewell present. Angelique was of course heartbroken by the lack of interest the King was now showing her in one episode Madame de Maintenon spoke with Angelique telling her to abandon completely her relationship with the King and move while Angelique argued saying "you speak of throwing off a passion as if it was as easy as changing a chemise". The poor girl now only twenty got more ill and retired to a convent of  Port-Royal (which still exists only its a hospital now) where she died not long after. 

However before she did Louis did visit her knowing that she was very ill and would die soon and since he never visited any of his other mistresses once they left Versailles such as Louise de la Valliere this marks Angelique out. On the occasion the King had tears in his eyes was he still a bit in love with her, was he felling guilty  maybe both but Angelique is reported to have said that "I die happy since I have seen my King weep". He also paid for a annual service in Angelique's memory which was something he did not do for any other of his mistresses. After her death there was some gossip and accusations that Angelique was perhaps poisoned by Athenais de Montespan  supposedly she sent her a pair of gloves that were covered in poison, or sent some milk which was poisonous Angelique herself believed she was poisoned but most probably she died of lung disease as her symptoms seem to indicate. Further more it was the enemies of Athenais who accused her of poisoning such as Liselotte Duchess of Orleans who was known for her deep dislike of Athenais.

Angelique is best known now for the famous hairstyle she invented in her golden days it seems that while she was hunting one day with the king her hair got untied and she arranged it in a style of which the king approved and it became a smashing hit got popular all over France and abroad, the hairstyle was named after her "Fontange hairstyle".

1 comment:

  1. My grandfather (whose family name was du Fayet de la Tour) was from Marie-Angélique's family. The Scorailles family is linked to several branches in Cantal (chateau de la Vigne, Chateau de la Borie, in the Seihols area), such as du Fayet de la Tour and therefore my mother told me about her when I was a young teenager at the time the movie/Picture Angélique et le Roi was issued. I was then terribly ashamed of being related to her at that time and could not understand how these awful dramas were possible. I then decided to hide everything and got a terrible disgust for history due to that. Now I am in my sixties and I understand life differently. Thank you for faithfully reporting about her life. I hope to meet her in heaven with her two children, where she is already probably chatting with my mum!