Femme of the Week: Madame Lucifer

Françoise-Marie de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Blois, duchesse d'Orleans, by François de Troy. 1692, oil on canvas. Salles les princesses royales, Salles du XVII, Aile du Nord- Chateau de Versailles.

Illegitimate daughter of famous mistress Françoise-Athénaïs de Rochechouart de Mortemart, marquise de Montespan and Louis XIV, Françoise-Marie de Bourbon was born May 4, 1677. She was raised away from 'home' - that is, not at Versailles with mom and dad. She was a beautiful little girl and her beauty only grew as she did.

Her mother's good standing with the king diminished when the affaire des poisons became big news, however Françoise-Marie was not affected. Louis XIV gave the four year old the title of Mademoiselle de Blois and had plans for her to marry. There are always special plans for marriage! In her case, she was arraigned to marry his nephew the duc de Chartres who would later become the duc d'Orleans. I suppose the 'second scandal' of her life could be considered here. The first being she was an illegitimate child of the king. tsk tsk. Now this illegitimate daughter was to marry a very legitimate grandson of Louis XIII. This did not settle well with the future mother-in-law. To persuade the future father-in-law, the duc d'Orleans, the king gave his brother bribes, and he consented without an issue.
Detail of Françoise-Marie de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Blois, duchesse d'Orleans, by François de Troy. 1692, oil on canvas. Salles les princesses royales, Salles du XVII, Aile du Nord- Chateau de Versailles. Photograph by Robert Polidori.

They had a splendid wedding in the chapel at Versailles in February, 1692. Françoise-Marie was 14 years at the time, and old enough to feel a bit pessimistic about the arrangement, reportedly saying, "I don't care if he loves me; just as long as he marries me." You can be as pessimistic as you want but it was not hard to see the benefit of this marriage.

She was a Granddaughter of France once a wife, making her the most important of the illegitimate kids. When she was 33 her husband became the duc d'Orleans, and the two lived well-well pampered. In 1715 her father died, and her 5 year old nephew Louis XV was king. Her husband took charge of the country for the boy king and thus throughout the la Régence Françoise-Marie was perhaps the most important lady at court.

She spent money. And why not! Her husband was no better. Together they had seven surviving children but they were not happy together. The duc had many other mistresses and even had his own handful of illegitimate children. His mother never accepted her daughter-in-law, as her memoirs mention, "all the femmes de chambre have made her believe that she did my son honour in marrying him; and she is so vain of her own birth and that of her brothers and sisters that she will not hear a word said against them; she will not see any difference between legitimate and illegitimate children"

So what makes this vibrant beauty, married to one of France's top men, bore him sons and was favoured by her father Madame Lucifer? Well, like all daughters of famous mistresses, Françoise-Marie had a little bit of a temper. She had the personality for it, proud and maybe a bit pompous - um..her dad was Louis XIV after all! Her darling husband once openly disapproved of her heated episodes and called her Madame Lucifer. Befitting for a hot-tempered beauty, no?


  1. How wickedly scandalous! I love it! Thanks for another beautiful post!

  2. Fabulous story. Who wouldn't have a temper, being told you are the black sheep of the family. I love this blog, the history is fantastic.

  3. yeah...i agree.

    tempers can come in quite handy when needed to prove an important or even not so important point! :)

  4. Interesting post. Funny, I've never considered what happened to Louis XIV's children by Madame de Montespan.

  5. What a wonderfully informing post. I love it!

  6. Glad you all enjoyed this one!

    She is quite interesting, really for a while she was the top lady around, and her life began wrapped in scandal!

    She was also a youngest daughter - I don't know if that tells us anything! ;o)

  7. Lauren, I have an award waiting for you on my blog.

  8. Anonymous10:13 PM

    Really excellent post on Madame Lucifer, only you got her age wrong. Francoise Marie de Bourbon was born on May 4 of 1677 and married Duc de Chartes on February 18 of 1692, meaning that she was 14, not 24 when she married Philippe. (Quite the little cynic, wasn't she?) If she really had been 24 when she married Phillipe, that would have made her 49, not 39 as she was, when she gave birth to her last child, Louise Diane, Princess of Conti.

  9. Ah yes that is some bad math on my part!

    What is your source for the date of the wedding? I am coming across Feb. 17, 1692 now!

  10. Great post. I read a wonderful bio pf her mother a few years ago.

  11. @Georgie Lee Could you share the book with us? Sounds great!

  12. DukedeLuynesmem7:19 AM

    What I like about "Madame Lucifer" was that she was very kind and was a good friend to the polish born Queen Marie Leczinska( neglected Wife of Louis XV who was beloved by the poor for her great philantrophy ). According to the memoirs of the Duke de Luynes available online ( which is in French and had to use a translating app), Queen Marie Leczinska frequently attended till morning (without Louis XV) the grand parties that the now Dowager Duchess of Orleans organized in her honor in Francoise's Parisian palaces in the years 1736 ( Chateau de Chaillot) , 1740 ( Chateaus de Bagnolet and St. Cloud ) , 1743 ( Chateau de Chaillot, and 1745 ( St. Cloud) till the Duchess's death in 1749. These parties paid by Madame Lucifer herself, are filled with good food such as ice cream, music, dancing, river jousting, illuminations, and cavagnole which lasts till dawn. In 1743, the Duke de Luynes whose wife is the bestfriend of the Queen, noted that Marie talk with the Dowager Duchess for an hour privately probably to listen to her advices since both experience the same thing with their unfaithful husbands.

    I think this is very sweet of ' Madame Lucifer'. Marie herself respected her and followed her advice on ettiquete.
    The other princesses of the blood were very mean to Queen Marie and and hated the love and attention that Louis XV and Marie had for each other then. Francoise's nieces 3rd Dowager Princess or Conti and Mademoiselle de Charolais (daughters of her rival sister Duchess of Bourbon) were the one's who hatch a plot to lure Louis XV into adultery which work well.

    In late 1732, According to the Barbier Memoirs who is valet of the King they led 22 year old Louis XV to a room in the Madrid Palace of Mademoiselle de Charolais in France telling him that their showing him some delicious objects but it was Madame de Mailly a married woman and lady in waiting to the Queen who was reclined in a sofa showing him her legs. For a long time this woman who later became obssesed with Louis XV was then seducing him but the King was still deeply in love with his Queen. Marie Leczinska in the year 1732 had just given birth to her 6th child Madame Adelaide, last May and quickly became pregnant with her 7th one the same year and was understandably tired and can't give in to Louis regular demands in bed they would do it for two straight days nonstop not seeing anyone ( she and Louis XV had 10 children in 10 years and not to mention a miscarriage in 1738). When Louis XV arrived in the room he didn't do anything to Madame de Mailly and just stood there till suddenly Barbier his valet raise him in the armpit and throw him in the arms of de Mailly and finally he cheated on his wife. The Queen on finding about the affair violently wept and was hysterical but became more determined on regularly refusing Louis XV his marital rights and want her own life it was noted that Louis XV spent 4 hours in her room but she wouldn't give in. Once freed from pregnancies she focused her time on charities there are many of them she financially supported and visited ( see memoirs of Duke de Richelieu), she also RESUMED Hunting side saddle in horse and regularly visited Madame Lucifer'