The Memoirs of Louis XIV
The Younger Duchess
The Duke's wife is not an ill-looking person: she has good eyes, and would be very well
if she had not a, habit of stretching and poking out her neck. Her shape is horrible; she is
quite crooked; her back is curved into the form of an S. I observed her one day, through
curiosity, when the Dauphine was helping her to dress.
She is a wicked devil; treacherous in every way, and of a very dangerous temper. Upon
the whole, she is not good for much. Her falsehood was the means of preventing the
Duke from marrying one of my granddaughters. Being the intimate friend of Madame de
Berri, who was very desirous that one of her sisters should marry the Duke and the other
the Prince de Conti, she promised to bring about the marriage, provided Madame de Berri
would say nothing of it to the King or to me. After having imposed this condition, she
told the King that Madame de Berri and my son were planning a marriage without his
sanction; in order to punish them she begged the King to marry the Duke to herself,
which was actually done.
Thanks to her good sense, she lives upon tolerable terms with her husband, although he
has not much affection for her. They follow each their own inclinations; they are not at
all jealous of each other, and it is said they have separate beds.
She causes a great many troubles and embarrassments to her relation, the young Princesse
de Conti, and perfectly understands tormenting folks.
The young Duchess died yesterday evening (22nd March, 1720). The Duke's joy at the
death of his wife will be greatly diminished when he learns that she has bequeathed to her
sister, Mademoiselle de la Roche-sur-Yon, all her property; and as the husband and wife
lived according to the custom of Paris, 'en communaute', the Duke will be obliged to
refund the half of all he gained by Law's bank.
After the death of the younger Duchess, the Princesse de Conti, her mother, wrote to a
Chevalier named Du Challar, who was the lover of the deceased, to beg him to come and
see her, as he was the only object left connected with her daughter, and assuring him that
he might reckon upon her services in everything that depended upon her. It was the
younger Duchess who was so fond of Lasse, and who had been so familiar with him at a
I recognized only two good qualities in her: her respect and affection for her
grandmother, the Princess, and the skill with which she concealed her faults. Beside this,
she was good for nothing, in whatever way her character is regarded. That she was
treacherous is quite certain; and she shortened her life by her improper conduct. She
neither loved nor hated her husband, and they lived together more like brother and sister
than husband and wife.