Madame de Pompadour, Mistress of Louis XV

Madame de Pompadour, by François Boucher (source)

Madame de Pompadour, by François Boucher (source)

Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour (1721 – 1764) also known as Madame de Pompadour was the official chief mistress of Louis XV from 1745 to her death on April 15, 1764. As a child she was educated at the Ursuline convent in Poissy, but later her mother took charge of her education hiring the best tutors who taught her to recite plays, dance, sing, paint, engrave, and to play the clavichord. She claimed that her mother believed a prophecy of a fortune teller that said Jeanne would one day “reign over the heart of a king.” Her mother then gave her the nickname “Reinette” meaning “little queen.”

At nineteen, she married Charles-Guillaume Le Normant d’Étiolles. She was considered beautiful and, celebrated in Paris society, she started her own salon at Étiolles which attracted many notable people such as Voltaire. Jeanne had two children a boy who died within a year of his birth and a daughter, Alexandrine-Jeanne (“Fanfan”) who died in 1754 two months before her tenth birthday. Her father died soon after Fanfan leaving her devastated.

In February of 1745, Jeanne was invited to a royal masked ball at Versailles where she met Louis XV. Within a few weeks she was living in an apartment directly below the King’s. Her official separation from her husband was announced on May 7. Louis purchased the marquisate of Pompadour and gave it to her making her the Marquise of Pompadour.

Jeanne established a cordial relationship with the queen, Marie Leszczyńska, and helped add fun and interest to the King’s life. She had two miscarriages, but no children with Louis. It is said that she arranged for mistresses of her choosing for the king as she aged. Jeanne died on April 15, 1764 at the age of 42 of tuberculosis.

Find out what else happened on April 15 in Women’s History.

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