Historical story

Intrigues, poisons and black masses. The macabre story of the Marquise de Montespan

In 1676, Madame de Brinvilliers was sentenced to be beheaded for murdering her father and two brothers. During the torture, she confessed that she was not the only one who was poisoning in Paris. King Louis XIV ordered an investigation in order to clarify the matter. It contributed to the discovery of the poisoning scandal, reaching with its tentacles people very close to the ruler - including his favorite, the Marquis de Montespan.

Francesco-Athena de Rochechouart was known not only for her beauty, but also for wit and intelligence. At 22, she married Louis-Henri de Pardaillan de Gondrin, Marquis de Montespan, and bore him two children. Four years after her wedding, in 1667, she caught the attention of King Louis XIV, who, bored with his current favorite, Louise de La Valliere, began to look for a new companion.

Franciszka delighted him with her appearance, but also with her intellect - she was the perfect companion for bed games and conversations. Thanks to this, she managed to build a position for herself at court that was surpassed even by Ludwik's wife, Maria Teresa of Austria.

The Marquise shone like a star in the world's most dazzling court . Her suites at Versailles had twenty rooms, while the Queen had only eleven at her disposal. Garnished with jewels, she relished the royal love and power it gave her.

Beautiful as an angel, stupid as a shoe

She was the royal favorite for twelve years, until 1679. During this time, she bore the king seven children. Unfortunately, after her last pregnancy, she gained significantly weight and did not regain her figure. This caused her to be removed by Ludwik in favor of the young and beautiful Marie-Angélique de Scorailles (who, however, did not sin with intellect).

Someone from the court even described the new favorite as beautiful as an angel and silly as a shoe. One of the nobles who lived at the court, Marthe-Marguerite de Caylus, wrote:“The king really liked only her face, nothing else. He felt embarrassed listening to her silly chatter. You get used to a beautiful one, to stupidity - never ”.

This did not prevent Louis from turning Marie into Duchess de Fontanges, which enraged the Marquis de Montespan. She was also hoping for a higher title. However, she did not receive it, because her husband would then be appointed prince, and the king did not like de Gondrin. And de Fontanges was unmarried.

Marie-Angélique de Scorailles took the place of the Marquise de Montespan alongside Louis XIV

She also had a problem with giving Ludwik offspring. She became pregnant for the first time in the same year, when she took the place of the royal favorite, but soon she had a miscarriage. She never recovered from this incident.

She suffered from persistent and highly uncomfortable bleeding which took away the pleasure of sex. After a while, her face swelled and her entire body was slightly swollen. Since was unable to offer the king neither sex nor a pleasant conversation, she became useless for a man who expected his women to do at least one of these things, preferably both.

Abandoned by the king, she was soon chained to bed by her mysterious ailments. It was then that she began to suspect that she had been poisoned by one of her jealous competitors. She had no idea that for some time there had been information about a conspiracy to eliminate not only the royal favorites, but also Louis XIV himself, among the high-ranking people at the court. At its center was the Marquis de Montespan.

Love potions and black masses

The investigation into the poisoning scandal began in 1677 and exposed the scale of the Parisian underground. The investigation of, inter alia, indicated that many city fortune tellers and midwives prepared poisons and performed abortions for many wealthy residents . But not only. These circles were also responsible for conducting black masses in which French aristocrats willingly participated. During them, "infant sacrifices were made, summoning devils to obey clients' orders."

Among the main accused of these practices was Catherine Montvoisin, better known as La Voisin. According to the testimony of her and her daughter Marie, the soothsayer hosted women who were looking for potions to help them get rid of the favorite Louise de La Valliere from the court. Ultimately, it failed and the king's mistress herself lived to a ripe old age.

La Voisin has killed over 2,500 newborns

Then La Voisin began visiting the Marquis de Montespan in search of magic means that would make her fall in love with King Louis. During private dinners, " she added love potions to his wine and food - disgusting potions made of the blood, bones and intestines of dead babies, connected to the body fragments of toads and bats ”.

Franciszka also took part in black masses, during which newborns were killed and magic potions were prepared from their blood and entrails. However, when the king's interest in her faded and the ruler turned to Miss de Fontanges, the marquis was not only to wish for the death of the new favorite, but also for the king. And La Voisin was supposed to help her with that.

It is true that these accusations were no longer spoken by the fortune teller, but by her daughters. She even claimed that de Montespan had offered 100,000 thalers for help in the plot, and that the murder was to be carried out by a poisoned letter. The crime did not take place because of too weak La Voisin connections, but all this information pushed Ludwik to act, though not as expected.

Sweeping under the rug

Louis XIV was dismayed when he learned of the Marquise de Montespan's involvement in the poisoning scandal. If the news that she was serving him love potions based on baby blood and guts reached the public, he would become the laughing stock of all of Europe. He immediately ordered the investigation to be terminated, and all those who cited his former favorite's participation in the plot in their testimony were either sentenced to death or imprisoned with a ban on speaking for the rest of his life.

Louis XIV was dismayed when he learned of the Marquise de Montespan's involvement in the poisoning scandal.

The marquis herself was finally removed from the king. The process was gradual so as not to raise too many rumors. The king "treated her with forced respect, (...), however, he visited her only in the company of his brother and never ate or drank anything in her presence." The woman died forgotten in May 1707.

Interestingly, the police investigation only confirmed that Francis "ordered love potions for the king, but her involvement in the plot to murder Louis and Miss de Fontanges is less obvious." The latter testimony was questioned as it was only from La Voisin's daughter, and not from the fortune teller herself. Today, researchers and historians cite complications following a miscarriage as the reason for the death of de Montespan's rival.