At the moment I am watching the television series “Versailles”, in which I find many of my ancestors portrayed in a rather unorthodox manner. There is however a story the scriptwriters have omitted.
Louis XIV had many children from his mistress the marquise de Montespan, both boys and girls.
He had showered them with donations, titles, honours and privileges, and above all, he wanted to incorporate them into the legitimate royal family, them, his bastards. One way to achieve that would be to have them marry into the legitimate royal family. Hence, he conceived the project of uniting his illegitimate daughter, Françoise de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Blois, to the son of his brother Philippe of Orleans, duke of Chartres, future duke of Orleans and Regent of France. However, the least we can say is that the rest of the royal family did not look kindly upon these bastards.
Louis XIV started by flattering his youngest brother Monsieur. He could not do him a greater honour than giving Monsieur’s son his very own daughter. Monsieur winced. Daughter or not, she was a bastard. Louis XIV understood that this honour would not suffice.
“My brother, I give you the Palais Royal”.
The Palais Royal had been built by Richelieu, bequeathed to the Crown, Louis XIV and Monsieur had resided there as children. It was a magnificent gift.
Monsieur winced again. That was not enough.
“My brother, I recall from exile the Chevalier de Lorraine”.
As depicted in the series “Versailles”, Monsieur, brother to the king, had a lover he cherished above all others, the Chevalier de Lorraine. Handsome as a god but a true devil inside, he had committed so many horrors that Louis XIV, exasperated, had had him exiled and, since, Monsieur wept endlessly and begged for his return.
Faced with this proposition, Monsieur conceded. The bastard girl would marry his son. He also accepted the Palais Royal, which would become the residence of the Maison d’Orléans until the 1848 Revolution.
Louis XIV had much more difficulties with the second wife of Monsieur, the mother of the groom, the princess Palatine. German by birth and from a great house, she was very strict in questions of rank, titles, origins, and genealogies and considered bastards to be abominations. What! Her son was to be married to a bastard! It was out of the question. Louis XIV begged her, showered her with all the smiles and graces he could muster. The Palatine’s only response was to turn her back to him.
Monsieur, father of the groom, having given his approval, it was decided that the mother’s opinion could be discarded. On that day, the Hall of Mirrors was full to the brink. The Palatine walked up and down, mad with anger at the thought of that union, unable to simmer down. Her son, Philippe, the groom, waddled over to her, extremely intimidated and fearful of her reaction. Trembling, he announced his engagement. The Palatine’s only response, with the whole court watching, was to strike her son across the face.