period makeups: Louise de La Vallière

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The Fifth Musketeer
The Man in the Iron Mask
The Man in the Iron Mask

Period makeups: Louise de La Vallière

Louise de La Vallière (Françoise Louise de La Baume Le Blanc, 1644–1710) was a mistress of King Louis XIV of France from 1661 to 1667. She later became the Duchess of La Vallière and Duchess of Vaujours in her own right. Unlike her rival, Madame de Montespan, she has no surviving descendants. Louise was also very religious and she led a religious penance for herself near the end of her life.

She joined the court joined the court at Fontainebleau in 1661 as Maid of honour to Princess Henrietta Anne of England and was described by the Abbé de Choise as having ‘an exquisite complexion, blond hair, blue eyes, a sweet smile …[and] an expression [at] once tender and modest.’ One of her legs was shorter than the other, so Louise wore specially made heels. She became the king’s mistress within two months of her arrival.

In 1666 La Vallière appeared at Mass beside Queen Maria Theresa. Ashamed of her conduct, Louise treated the Queen with humility and respect. In return, the queen was reportedly venomous towards her during the five-year affair, continuing even after the affair really ended – unaware that the King had taken another mistress.

By the end of 1667 the King’s affections had been usurped by Madame de Montespan, whom both Louise and the Queen (both pregnant when the affair began) had considered a trusted friend. Louise de La Vallière was pensioned off as a Duchess but was forced to become a decoy for her own successor, as Louis made her share Madame de Montespan’s apartments at the Tuileries.

She frequently begged and wept to be allowed to join a convent and took to wearing a hair shirt. In 1674 she was finally permitted to enter the Carmelite convent in the Faubourg Saint-Jacques in Paris under the name of Sister Louise of Mercy.