Harem of King Louis XV: the best traditions of the East in the heart of enlightened Europe

Harem of King Louis XV: the best traditions of the East in the heart of enlightened Europe

Categories: Europe | History

We are all used to the fact that harems and concubines belong to the oriental flavor. Is such a thing possible in Europe, given the religious and cultural traditions that have been developing there for centuries? It turns out even how! Moreover, it was not in the remote early Middle Ages, on the outskirts of civilization, but in the enlightened XVIII century, in Paris, which was considered the center of sciences and arts.

Harem of King Louis XV: the best traditions of the East in the heart of enlightened Europe

French King Louis XV of the Bourbon dynasty, ruled France from 1715 to 1774. The monarch came to the throne very young, at the age of five, and at first all the worries concerning the management of the kingdom rested on the shoulders of the regent, Philip of Orleans. But even after he had to take control of the country himself, Louis did not show much zeal, being interested more in entertainment than in state affairs.

Harem of King Louis XV: the best traditions of the East in the heart of enlightened Europe

Louis XV Beloved

Unlike politics, Louis XV had a great interest in matters of the heart. During his long reign, many favorites changed at court, who had more influence on the king than his lawful spouse, and without the slightest doubt interfered in the most serious state affairs. For his love, the king received the nickname Beloved, with which he went down in history.

An important moment in the life of the frivolous king was the acquaintance in 1745 with Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson. This woman, known in history as the Marquise de Pompadour, quickly turned from an ordinary mistress into the most influential lady of the kingdom, a constant adviser to the king and an assistant in his many love adventures.

The king himself compared the favorite with an ice statue completely devoid of temperament, but the Marquise de Pompadour studied Louis well and skillfully manipulated him, taking advantage of his weakness for women. In fact, this woman turned into a royal pimp.

Harem of King Louis XV: the best traditions of the East in the heart of enlightened Europe

Francois Boucher. A blonde odalisque. It is believed that the painting depicts Louison Morphy – one of the young mistresses of the king

Unable to keep the monarch near her with her feminine charm, she actively supplied him with mistresses. The Marquise sensed the situation subtly and skillfully wove court intrigues – only the next passion became dangerously close to the king, the woman immediately found an opportunity to remove her from Louis' entourage.

Harem of King Louis XV: the best traditions of the East in the heart of enlightened Europe

Francois Boucher. Marquise de Pompadour

The French king combined an uncontrollable love for the weaker sex with a panic fear of catching "bad diseases". Therefore, very young, innocent girls were selected for the king, who were isolated at the age of 12-14 and carefully prepared for the fulfillment of a high mission. Young ladies got into the net to the sensualist in the crown in different ways – some were bought from poor families or exchanged from impoverished nobles for various privileges, others were simply taken to court with the consent of relatives, which was considered a great honor.

Such lines were in one of the letters with which one of the French nobles offered his daughter to his dissolute king.

Harem of King Louis XV: the best traditions of the East in the heart of enlightened Europe

Pupils of the "Deer Park"

The girls got into the so-called "Deer Park" – a special quarter of the vast Versailles Park, where only the king and his confidants had access. This place got its name even under Louis XIII, since there was a forest in this place, where the king and his retinue hunted deer.

In a small palace specially built in the park, the girls did not just live waiting for the king to summon them to his chambers. They were given an excellent education at that time, teaching etiquette, foreign languages, the basics of religion, as well as teaching them to dress with taste, use cosmetics and seduce a sophisticated king in love affairs. The king personally monitored the lives of his wards, selected their outfits and even bathed them.

The age of such mistresses at court was short-lived – already at the age of 17-18, Louis lost interest in them and married them off. It can be said that the king acted nobly – he himself chose a husband for the girl and personally provided her with an impressive dowry. That is why such a fate tempted so many.

Harem of King Louis XV: the best traditions of the East in the heart of enlightened Europe

Jeanne Dubarry

The older Louis XV got, the younger his mistresses were. The aging monarch was increasingly afraid of getting sick and it got to the point that 10-12-year-old girls began to be accepted into the harem. However, all precautions were in vain, because if something is destined by fate, then it cannot be avoided. After the death of the Marquise de Pompadour in 1764, another favorite, Marie Jeanne Becu, Countess of Dubarry, took the place of the procuress at court. It was she who accidentally or intentionally sent the old king a young mistress, sick with smallpox, who infected Louis.

The favorite was imprisoned in a monastery after the death of the king, but stayed there for a little more than a year. Pardoned, she was able to regain the estate donated by Louis XV in which she spent the rest of her life. During the revolution, Dubarry was executed by guillotine in Paris for her association with the Girondists.

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