The Memoirs of Louis XIV
Madame De Montespan
The King at first could not bear Madame de Montespan,--[Daughter of Gabriel de Roche
Chouart, first Duc de Mortemart.]--and blamed Monsieur and even the Queen for
associating with her; yet, eventually, he fell deeply in love with her himself.
She was more of an ambitious than a libertine woman, but as wicked as the devil himself.
Nothing could stand between her and the gratification of her ambition, to which she
would have made any sacrifice. Her figure was ugly and clumsy, but her eyes bespoke
great intelligence, though they were somewhat too bright. Her mouth was very pretty and
her smile uncommonly agreeable. Her complexion was fairer than La Valliere's, her look
was more bold, and her general appearance denoted her intriguing temper. She had very
beautiful light hair, fine arms, and pretty hands, which La Valliere had not. But the latter
was always very neat, and Montespan was filthy to the last degree. She was very amusing
in conversation, and it was impossible to be tired in talking with her.
The King did not regret Montespan more than he did La Fontange. The Duc d'Antin, her
only legitimate child, was also the only one who wept at her death. When the King had
the others legitimated, the mother's name was not mentioned, so that it might appear
Madame de Montespan was not their mother.
[Madame de Montespan had eight children by Louis XIV. The Duc du Maine; Comte
Vegin; Mademoiselle de Nantes, married to the Duc de Bourbon; Mademoiselle de
Tours, married to the Regent Duc d'Orleans; the Comte de Toulouse, and two other sons
who died young.]
She was once present at a review, and as she passed before the German soldiers they
"Konigs Hure! Hure!" When the King asked her in the evening how she liked the review,
she said: "Very well, but only those German soldiers are so simple as not to call things by
their proper names, for I had their shouts explained to me."
Madame de Montespan and her eldest daughter could drink a large quantity of wine
without being affected by it. I have seen them drink six bumpers of the strong Turin Rosa
Solis, besides the wine which they had taken before. I expected to see them fall under the
table, but, on the contrary, it affected them no more than a draught of water.
It was Madame de Montespan who invented the 'robes battantes' for the purpose of
concealing her pregnancy, because it was impossible to discover the shape in those robes.
But when she wore them, it was precisely as if she had publicly announced that which
she affected to conceal, for everybody at the Court used to say, "Madame de Montespan
has put on her robe battante, therefore she must be pregnant." I believe she did it on
purpose, hoping that it commanded more attention for her at Court, as it really did.