Françoise d’Aubigné (1635–1719) was possibly born in prison (where her father, was incarcerated for conspiring against Cardinal Richelieu); she was the daughter of a Huguenot brought up as a Catholic; she escaped childhood poverty by marrying a crippled writer twenty-five years older than herself; she survived to become a Marquise, the mistress and later the – undeclared – wife of King Louis IV. It’s really quite surprising she hasn’t featured in more movies.
On a visit to Paris she was introduced to Paul Scarron, a famous comic writer, who offered either to pay for her admission to a convent, or, though he was deformed and an invalid, to marry her himself. She accepted his offer of marriage, and became Mme Scarron in 1651. In 1669 she was employed by the king’s mistress, Madame de Montespan, to bring up king’s children in secrecy. By 1674 she had managed to buy the estate of Maintenon, and in 1678 King Louis XIV gave her the title of Marquise de Maintenon after the name of her estate; at court she was then known as Madame de Maintenon. By 1680 she had completely replaced Madame de Montespan in the king’s affection.
In 1683 Queen Maria Theresa died in her arms and two years later it is believed that Françoise was secretly married to the king. At that time upon her request Louis XIV created in Saint-Cyr a college for the filles pauvres de la noblesse (poor noble girls), to which she retired on his death in 1715. In 1692 Pope Innocent XII granted her the right of visitation over all the convents in France.