Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Mailly Sisters---Louis XV of France's Mistresses

The Mailly Sisters
Lovers of Louis XV de France.
The Three Graces
represented by Louis XV's mistresses
Comtesse de Mailly
Marquise de Vintimille
& Duchesse de Chateauroux

Royal roving eyes turned to three sisters.
"Louis XV was indeed a highly desirable prize. In his prime, thirty-five years old, handsome, and known to have a roving eye, Louis was the object of intense feminine speculation that night. Having fathered seven daughters and one son with his Polish queen, Marie Lecszinska, the king had turned to mistresses, and in particular to three sisters from the Nesle family, Louise de Mailly, Pauline de Vintimille, and Marie-Anne de Chateauroux. At the end of 1744 Madame de Chateauroux had died a sudden and agonizing death, leaving Louis distraught. Everyone knew that he would soon take a new mistress; his temperament demanded it. For this vacant situation, an honored and traditional one at the court of France, every presentable woman was eager to apply." (Madame de Pompadour: Mistress of France: xii)

Is it faithlessness or constancy to choose an entire family?.
"At one point during the king's priapic career, he went through five sisters in succession---most of them already married. 'Is it faithlessness or constancy to choose an entire family?' went a popular verse of the time. the first of the sisters, Madame de Mailly, was Louis XV's very first mistress. After she had initiated the king to the pleasures of adultery, she made the mistake of inviting her sister to court. 'You bore me,' Louis sniffed as he unceremoniously dismissed Madame de Mailly and replaced her with her sister, Madame de Vintimille. This one only had a brief tenure with Madame de Vintimille dying less than a year later while giving birth to the king's bastard. She was replaced by yet another sister, Madame de la Tournelle, who was somewhat wiser than her siblings. She demanded the title of duchess, a large apartment in Versailles, an unlimited allowance, public pregnancies, legitimized bastards, and the exile of her already discarded sister, Madame de Mailly. She got everything she requested, but perhaps forgot to ask for protection from two more sisters waiting in the wings. They had their turn, too." (A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History's Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors)

Taking five mistresses from the same family, all of them sisters. " . . . The King's peccadilloes became the talk of Versailles, not for the sheer quantity of secxual activity he enjoyed, but because of whom he was doing it with. Remarkably, he took five of his mistresses from the same family, all of them sisters. His first official mistress of 'land-handed queen' was a twenty-seven-year-old married woman, the Comtesse de Mailly, one of five daughters of the Marquis de Nesle. A contemporary court diarist described her as 'well built, ugly, stupid looking but with good teeth.' Her plainness surprised many foreign vistors to Versailles, who naturally expected a flamboyant Bourbon king to keep a glamorous mistress. As the Comtesse's mother was one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting, her four sisters were all attached to the French court. To the Comtesse's everlasting horror, the King slept with all of them. The first sister to be seduced was Madame de Vintimille, a huge woman described as having 'the face of a grenadier, the neck of a stork and the smell of a monkey.' She died in childbirth while giving him an illegitimate son who bore such an obvious resemblance to the King that he was to known as demi-Louis for the rest of his life. Louis then transferred his affections to her obese and even more repulsive sister Adelaide, who held his attention briefly before it strayed to the next sister, Hortense. By this time the King's soft spot for the incredibly ugly Mailly sisters en masse had become the inspiration for a number of lewd popular songs figured he might as well go for the full set. The last member of the family to be visited upon by the King was Marie-Anne. She was more attractive and considerably more ambitious than her sisters. She ruthlessly evicted the rest of her family from the court, and considered her position so unassailable that she dared to be openly abusive to the Queen. Unfortunately, this mistress was struck down with peritonitis and died in her twenty-eighth year." (Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty: 106)

From high birth but small fortune sisters to royal mistresses: " . . . Four sisters of the name of Nesle, of high birth but small fortune, had been protected by the bounty of the queen. The eldest, Madame de Mailly, placed herself so often in his way, that he became the victim of her seduction. She had neither beauty nor talents, but was humble and disinterested, qualities most convenient for the ministry. Fleury, therefore, connived at his pupil's errors. A sister of Madame de Mailly, whose education at a convent was not yet finished, formed the plan of supplanting her, and gaining the the affections of the king. She obtained an invitation from her sister, and although she was neither handsome nor graceful, completely succeeded in her plan. The king married his new mistress to a nephew of the Archbishop of Paris, who gave the nuptial benediction. Madame de Mailly lamented the event, but soon consented to share with her sister the monarch's love. Madame de Vintimille, her husband, her father-in-law, and her sister, formed the select society of Lewis, and were honoured with gracious favour. A third sister, the Duchess of Lauraguais, is believed to have partaken in the shame and the sin. The queen wept, but the measure of scandal was not yet completed. Madame de Vintimille died immediately after giving birth to a child. By a singular fatality, the confessor who went to announce the event to Madame de Mailly dropped dead as he reached her door. The king was deeply affected; and the courtiers feared that he would fall into a state of melancholy devotion. The expedient they devised to avert this misfortune was, to present before his eyes a fourth sister, Madame de Tournelle, whose real charms were heightened when she first appeared in his presence by the mourning she wore for her departed sister. Lewis was captivated and offered terms; the skillful beauty drew back, and made extravagant demands. When Lewis hesitated to comply, she said she was attached to another person, and was perfectly satisfied with her present condition. Her terms were: 1st, that her sister should quit the palace before she entered it; 2d, that she should be declared, in form, the king's mistress; 3d, that she should be allowed to form her own parties to supper. Lewis was too much in love not to comply. The new favourite was made Duchess of Chateauroux, and had her sister's place in the queen's household: this event had a material influence on the state of Europe. . . [A] fifth sister, Madame de Flavacourt, who, like Madame de Tournelle, had personal beauty, preserved her virtue and her fame unstained in the midst of this scene of profligacy. As for Madame de Mailly, her course was easy. She betook herself to devotion, and was happy enough to feel what she professed. One day that she was kneeling in church, a man near her addressed her by a term the most gross and insulting that can be used to a woman: she mildly rejoined, 'Since you know me, pray for me.' While such was the resource of the fallen favourite, the Duchess de Chateauroux enjoyed the fulness (sic) of power. She assumed in great part the direction of the war; and when Fleury died, her influence named the ministry. The Count d'Argenson, second son of the late minister of police, received the war department: he was a man of talents, and had a considerable knowledge of the world. . . ." (Memoirs of the Affairs of Europe from the Peace of Utrecht: 171)

The honour of being a royal concubine.
"One f the first act (sic) of Louis XV was a master-stoke of profligacy. He had not long seduced the Countess de Mailly---or the Countess de Mailly him, for that is still a question---when her sister, Mademoiselle de Nesle, formed, in the seclusion of a convent, the project of supplanting her, or, at least, of sharing her splendid infamy. Louis became enamoured of her, gave her in marriage, pro forma, to the Marquis de Vintimille, nephew of the Archbishop of Paris, and then declared her as publicly his mistress as Madame de Mailly had been, and continued to be. A third sister, the Duchess of Lauraguais, courted and obtained a similar favor; and a forth sister, out of five, was still more notoriously admitted to the honor of being royal concubine. This lady, Madame de la Tournelle, pined in despair at the success of her three sisters; and while she was solacing the sorrows of widowhood in the arms of an accomplished lover, the Duke d'Aginois (sic), the Duke de Richelieu a;ready treated her with the respect due to her expectations. Madame de Vintimille died in childbed, and left a vacancy. The king was afflicted, and his courtiers were alarmed lest his sorrow should be followed by remorse. Richelieu, the Cardinal de Tencin, his sister, who was supposed to be living in incest with him, and others, conspired to promote the intrigue. Madame de la Tournelle was ambitious of honors; and when the king refused them, she declared her resolution of remaining faithful to the Duke d'Aginois (sic). She stipulated, too, the dismissal of her rival, whom the queen and Cardinal Fleury protected. She triumphed at length over every obstacle; and her sister, dismissed from the places she held near the queen's, as well as nearer the king's person, betook herself to the usual expiations of her office, as practised by the mistresses of the late monarch, and retired to a convent. The fourth sister, now created Duchess de Chateauroux, enjoyed her situation until a dangerous illness threatened her lover's life. His almoner and confessor, when he called in to administer spiritual succour, exacted from the royal sufferer a promise of repentance, and the dismissal of his mistress. The king consented, but on his recovery he took her back again. In her disgrace, she had been pursued by the curses of a fickle court; she had all the satisfaction of seeing the same persons grovelling at her feet before she died." (An Essay Upon National Character, Vol 2: 587)

Queen's refusal of intimacy opens door to Mailly sisters.
" . . . They next sought to profit by his vices, and decided on attempting to bring him under the control of mistresses.  Three individuals especially conspired to effect this work of corruption---the duke de Richelieu, madame de Tencin, and mademoiselle de Charolais; and they were assisted by the King's two valets-de-chambre Bachelier and Lebel, who had remarked the increasing coldness between the king and the queen, and given them the information of it. The fault lay in a great degree with the queen, who avoided her husband's society, expressed too often and too plainly her disgust at the state bordering upon inebriety in which he came to her chamber at night, and contrived as frequently as she could to be too much engaged with her devotions to receive him. One night the three intriguers just mentioned having heard that the queen had resolved that evening not to receive the king, employed themselves successfully in inciting the king to the contrary resolution of paying her a visit.  the queen persisted in her refusal. and after a third message had met with a repulse, Louis, in his anger, made a vow that all intimacy between them should cease; and he is understood to have kept it during the rest of her life.  Richelieu and his two female colleagues, encouraged by this success, occupied themselves the next day in finding a mistress to supply the place of the queen; and two days afterwards, madame de Mailly, a daughter of the marquis of Nesle, with whom some time previously the young king had been almost forced into an intrigue, was publicly acknowledged as the favourite, and established at court in that quality.  This occurred in the year 1735; and four years afterwards, a young sister of madame de Mailly, mademoiselle de Nesle, succeeded in captivating the young monarch, who publicly entertained the two sisters at the same time and on the same footing.  All honourable feelings appear at this time to have disappeared among the nobility of France; and when mademoiselle de Nesle discovered that she was with child, a marquis de Vintimille, grand-nephew of the archbishop of Paris, was induced, in consideration of a sum of money, to give her his name, in order to prevent the scandal of the exposure, and the marriage ceremony was performed by the archbishop himself.  On the 5th of October, 1739, madame de Vintimille was presented to the queen, accompanied by madame de Mailly, and two other sisters, madame de Flavacourt, and madame de la Tournelle.  A fifth sister, the duchess of Lauraguais, was soon added to the number, and Louis set at defiance what there still existed of public opinion by living with all the sisters at the same time." (The History of France from the Earliest Period to the Present Time: 296)

Sisters as supplementary mistresses.
"While Fleury compliantly worked within the gaps left by Louis XV's hunting schedule, he also showed indulgence towards the young king's extra-marital sexual activities.  It was only in 1736 that the royal court became aware of a fact known to Fleury and the queen since 1733, namely that Louis was conducting a sexual liaison with the comtesse de Mailly, the eldest of the five daughters of the marquis de Nesle. From the cardinal's point of view, if Louis was to have a mistress, it was preferable that she should be someone like the plain but perky Mailly, who was devoted to Louis, solicitous for his welfare, and willing to keep clear of involvement in policy issues.  This appears to have been less true, however, of Mailly' sister, Mademoiselle de Nesle, whom the king secretly took as his supplementary mistress in 1738, before she married the marquis de Vintimille the following year.  The marquise de Vintimille was more interfering than her sister, but she died in 1741 after giving birth to a baby whom her husband renounced and who was widely believed to be the king's.  This drove the king temporarily back into the consoling arms of Mailly -- 'highly loveable', it was later recalled, when she had 'a glass in her hand'.  But it was not long before Louis's roving eye had included in its compass Mailly's two younger sisters, the prematurely widowed marquise de La Tournelle (soon to be made duchesse de Chateauroux) and Mademoiselle de Lauraguais.  In satires which Louis is known to have seen, Parisian wags disingenuously wondered whether this studied devotion to a single family was the king's ingenious attempt to avoid promiscuity." (The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon)

Mother of the Mailly Sisters.
Armande-Félice de La Porte Mazarin
Marquise de Nesle

Armande-Félice de La Porte Mazarin (
Marquise de Nesle
Lady of the Palace to Queen Marie Leszczynska.

Daughter ofPaul-Jules de La Porte, Duc de Mazarin & Charlotte-Felicite de Durfort.

"Paul-Jules, Duc Mazarin and duc de La Meilleraye (1666-1731), who married Charlotte-Felicite de Durfort (1672-1730) in 1685. Their son, Guy-Paul-Jules, Duc Mazarin and duc de La Meilleraye (1701-1738), was the last in the male line of this family.  Their daughter, Armande-Felicite de La Porte-Mazarin (1691-1729), was the mother of the four of Louis XV's mistresses." (Memoirs: 44)

Wife ofLouis III de Mailly (1689-1767), Marquis de Nesle, mar 1709.

Scandalous Reputation.
"The disgrace he [her husband] had brought upon his name was enhanced by the scandalous reputation of his wife, from whom he had long been separated. The Marquise de Nesle, nee Mazarin, had inherited all the characteristics which had rendered her race so conspicuous in the reign of Louis XIV.  She had been one of the most notorious of the femmes galantes of the Regency. The most audacious of her gallantries and adventures, of which the least said the better, was the duel she fought in the Blois de Boulogne with a Madame de Polignac, over the lover of both, the Marechal de Richelieu. . . ." (Trowbridge: 5)

Her lovers were:
Lover in 1718.

Natural offspring:
a. Henriette de Bourbon-Conde (1725-1789) mar Jean-Roger de Laguiche (1719-1770), Comte de Laguiche.

3) Prince de Soubise.

4) Marquis d'Alincourt.

The Mailly Sisters.
Duchesse de Lauraguais
French courtier

Daughter ofLouis de MaillyMarquis de Nesle et de Mailly, Prince of Orange & Armande Felice de la Porte Mazarin.

Wife ofLouis de Brancas (1714-1793), Duc de Lauraguais, Duc et Pair de Villars, mar 1742

Her lovers were:
Armand de Vignerot du Plessis
3rd Duc de Richelieu
Louis XV of France
2) Louis XV de France (1710-1774)
Lover in 1742-1745

"In 1726, Diane Adélaïde's oldest sister, Louise Julie, wed her cousin, Louis Alexandre de Mailly, comte de Mailly. Shortly thereafter she caught the attention of King Louis XV, and was permitted by her husband to become a royal mistress. Although she became the king's mistress in 1732, Madame de Mailly was not officially recognized as his maîtresse en titre until 1738. Louise Julie did not use her new position at court to enrich herself or to interfere in politics." (Wikipedia) [Bio2:Examiner]

"Diane Adelaide watched as her sisters argued and fought over the King Louis XV. Somehow she was brought into the mix and began having menage a trois sexual escapades with King Louis and her sister, Marie Anne. The king was not particularly enamored with Diane Adelaide, but she was a nice distraction from the more difficult Marie Anne. After Marie Anne died, Diane officially became mistress, but her reign was short. King Louis was already smitten with Madame du Pompadour whom he officially made his mistress."  (Examiner)

Affair's end & aftermath:  "The private and public life of Louis were so mixed up together that it is impossible to view them apart, for the events and intrigues of the bed-chamber governed the march of armies and directed the discharge of their artillery.  Madame de Vintimille, who admitted even a third sister, Madame de Laraguais (sic), to a participation in the family fortune, died of a military fever in the full height of her favor and in the midst of her dreams political empire, leaving a son who grew up the precise image of his father.  The King showed more sensibility on this occasion than on any other of his life, and remained for some days in complete privacy; the effect of the sudden death of his mistress not only affected him with passionate grief, but renewed in him the dread of hell torment which tortured him to the end of his days on similar occasions.  The share which Madame de Mailly took in the King's affliction brought back some semblance of his former affection. (: 140-141)
Louise-Julie de Nesle
Countess of Mailly
Lover in 1733-1729; 1741-1742.

1st Daughter ofLouis de Mailly, Marquis de Nesle.

Wife ofLouis-Alexandre de Mailly, Comte de Mailly, her cousin, mar 1726.

"Louise-Julie de Mailly-Nesle, the eldest of the five sisters all of whom played leading parts at court, was of about the king's age, having been born in the same year, 1710. Married in 1726 to her cousin-german, Comte Louis-Alexandre de Mailly, she was but poorly supplied with this world's goods, and it was said that her fatal errors were largely due to her need of money. The huntsman Le Roy, that lieutenant des chasses who carried such a shrewdly observant head upon his shoulders, and whom Sainte-Beuve has called 'La Bruyere in the saddle,' has sketched the comtesse's portrait thus: 'This lady was very far from being pretty, but her figure was graceful and her manners very pleasing. She had great delicacy of feeling, and an obliging, kindly disposition, which led her to dispense with unnecessary formality. This last quality was essential to enable her to overcome the bashfulness of a prince who was still so unsophisticated that the slightest reserve would have frightened him off. There was no doubt of her disinterestedness, or of her entire freedom from ambitious schemes. It was a difficult matter to bring about a satisfactory understanding between an excessively shy young man and a woman upon whom her rank imposed some little regard to propriety.' Madame de Mailly was one of the queen's ladies-in-waiting, and that simplified matters somewhat. At first the intrigue was carried on with the utmost secrecy. 'I have just learned, ' says the Duc de Luynes in his 'Memoires,' 'that the king's liaison with Madame de Mailly dates back to 1733. I know from a perfectly trustworthy source, and yet no one has had a suspicion of it in all this time.' The connection was not publicly known until four years after that, when the advocate Barbier declared 'that there was nothing to be said, as the name of Nesle was one of the first in the kingdom.'. . . ." (The Women of the Court of Louis XV: 48)

"The Belle Inconnue, whom the King had toasted, was Madame de Mailly.  She came of a noble family of the Nesles, who dated from the eleventh century. Her father, a cynical witty roue, had dissipated his vast fortune in the orgies of the Regency, and trailed in the dust the honor of one of the noblest families in France. His creditors had seized everything, and it was said he was reduced to cook his own pot au feu in an earthen vessel. His eldest daughter had married her cousin, the Comte de Mailly, and they were spoken off as keeping house on hunger and thirst. Madame de Mailly was a lean brune, of thirty years of age. Though by no means a beauty, her large dark June-like eyes, over-arched by thick eyebrows, were capable of lighting up wildly with passion, and the meagre oval of her face grew brilliant with excitement. Her bold bearing, her superb and reckless graces, her loose yet exquisite style of dress, partaking of all the freedom of the Regency, gave her a Bacchanalian air full of seduction. Yet it was not her charms alone or her frailty, which induced the conspirators to select her as their instrument; her thoughtless and unselfish spirit, her incapacity for intrigue, and her ignorance of all serious matters, were apparent enough to satisfy the courtiers that she would be sufficiently docile in the hands ot those who might give her a royal lover." (Eclectic Magazine: Foreign Literature, Vol 6: 137)

The first Mailly mistress.
"The first of the de Mailly sisters to catch the eye of Louis XV was Louis Julie de Mailly. She was the eldest sister and was born in 1710. Louise Julie had married her cousin Louis Alexandre de Mailly and attended court when the King began to notice her - Louis Alexandre gave his permission for her to become the King's mistress. But even though Louise Julie actually was the mistress of Louis XV from 1732 it was not until 1738 that the King finally recognized her as his official maitresse-en-titre. Louise Julie was a more passive mistress - she never interfered in politics (is should be said that she never tried to enrich her own position further)." (This is Versailles)

"While Fleury compliantly worked within the gaps left by Louis XV's hunting schedule, he also showed indulgence towards the young kin's extra-marital sexual activities. It was only in 1736 that the royal court became aware of a fact known to Fleury and the queen since 1733, namely that Louis was conducting a sexual liaison with the comtesse de Mailly, the eldest of the five daughters of the marquis de Nesle. From the cardinal's point of view, if Louis was to have a mistress, it was preferable that she should be someone like the plain but perky Mailly, who was devoted to Louis, solicitous of his welfare, and willing to keep clear of involvement in policy issues. . . ." (The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon)

As influential on royal patronage & culturally ambitious as the Madame Pompadour.
"Someone as influential on royal patronage and as culturally ambitious as Pompadour was bound to be attacked by the envious and disgruntled. On the death of the king's ex-mistress, Madame de Mailly in 1751, the Parisian chronicler Barbier note: 'People praise her for having loved the king and having asked for nothing nor thought about her own fortune,' adding somberly 'which is quite a contrast with put her self-promotion down to her insufferably 'bourgeois' origins: the Nesle clan had been irreproachably aristocratic and though Pompadour's family was probably wealthier, its non-noble status and its orientation around the much-hated world of high finance made it the object of aristocratic disdain.  She was thus a soft target, who was accordingly aimed at. . . ." (The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon)

Brief Profile: "French courtier and mistress to Louis XV. Louise de Mailly-Nesle was born in Paris, the daughter of Louis de Mailly, Marquis de Nesle, being the eldest of the three Mailly sisters who would ultimately succeed each other as mistress and favourite to the king. She married (1726) her cousin, Louis Alexandre, Comte de Mailly.  the comtesse was famous for her kindly disposition. Though she refrained from using her position and influence to enrich herself or her family, the comtesse did have some influence in politics, being the patron of Charles Fouquet, Duc de Belle-Isle. Eventually she was supplanted by her sister, the duchesse de Chateauroux, and was forced to reside away from the court at Versailles. The comtesse retired to a house in Paris, where she lived quietly for the remainder of her life. She was beloved by the poor of the city because of her charitable contributions, especially as she was known to be only modestly provided for. Two pastel portraits of the comtesse have survived, one by Maurice Quentin de La Tour (1704–1788) and Jean Marc Nattier (1685–1766). Madame de Mailly was mentioned in the correspondence of the British antiquarian Horace Walpole." (Women of History)

Comtesse de Mailly's physical appearance & personal qualities.
" . . . (T)he king had started an affair with a lady of the court, Louise-Julie de Mailly-Nesle, comtesse de Mailly. Madame de Mailly was 'well-made, young, but ugly, with a large mouth with big teeth, but amusing nonetheless.  She has little intelligence and no opinions; and so the cardinal has consented with good grace to this arrangement, seeing that the king needs a mistress.'  The king enjoyed the excitement of their secret meetings, and he liked the fact that she made him laugh.  There were many practical jokes and boisterous parties. It was all rather adolescent." (Madame de Pompadour: Mistress of France: 26)

" . . . Having known her all his life, that shy and reserved king felt comfortable with Louise-Julie de Mailly.  She was neither pretty nor clever, but she was vivacious, amusing and kind, and she genuinely loved the king.  Wholesome and hearty, she avoided her greedy family and posed no threat to anyone."  (Cupid and the King: 68)

Personal & family background.
" . . . Madame de Mailly (she had married her father's first cousin) was the eldest of five daughters of Louis de Mailly, Marquis de Nesle, a gambler from an ancient noble family, who had only succeeded in ruining his own.  Her mother was a lady-in-waiting to the queen, and her sisters were all attached to her majesty's household. . . ."  (Cupid and the King: 68)

Affair's end & aftermath.
"The intimacy of the King with Madame de Mailly was not however calculated to last long.  Her comparative plainness among the beauties of Versailles, and her mature age, were fruitful subjects of raillery among the courtiers.  Madame de Mailly herself, with a restless spirit of taquinerie and jealousy, failed not to increase the monarch's weariness.  Her undivided reign lasted six years, when she was supplanted in the King's affections by her next sister, Felicite de Nesle, whose wild and ambitious spirit had formed in the solitude of a convent the heartless and deliberate scheme which she carried into effect. . . ." (Eclectic Magazine: Foreign Literature, Volume 6: 137)
Marie-Anne de Mailly-Nesle
Duchess of Chateauroux

Her lovers were:
French aristocrat, soldier & statesman.

Son ofArmand-Louis de Vignerot du Plessis & Anne-Charlotte de Crussol de Florensac.

Husband ofLouise-Felicite de Brehan (1726-1796), mar 1740.

"As a rising star at the infamous court of France it was only appropriate to take on a mistress. So, Emmanuel-Armand did and in style. He began an affair with the beautiful Marie-Anne, Marquise de La Tournelle. However, something got in the way. None else than Emmanuel-Armand's uncle, the Duc de Richelieu, who had set his mind on presenting Marie-Anne as the new mistress of Louis XV. As it turned out Marie-Anne was loyal to Emmanuel-Armand and rejected the King. Unsurprisingly, Louis XV did not take kindly to this rejection and took a rather drastic measure. Together with the Duc de Richelieu the King took advantage of Emmanuel-Armand's military experience and dispatched him to Italy where he was to fight in the War of Austrian Succession." (This is Versailles)
Louis XV de France

Madame de La Tournelle's personal & family background.  "Marie Anne was the youngest daughter and had been born in 1717. She was a widow of the Marquis de La Tournelle when she was brought to court. The Duc de Richelieu introduced her to the King himself at a mask ball in 1742 but had not foreseen the Marquise's reaction. She was not interested in becoming the King's mistress - besides she already had a lover in the Duc d'Agenois who was later made the Duc d'Aiguillon. The King thought differently. He was very interested in Marie Anne and worked with the Duc de Richelieu - who happened to be the uncle of Marie Anne's lover - towards having the young man removed. It ended with the Duc d'Agenois being sent to war where he was wounded and returned a here." (This is Versailles)

Search for a replacement of a dearly departed sister.
" . . . But that consummate tempter the Duc de Richelieu was on the look-out for another liaison for his sovereign. That which existed between Madame de Mailly and the King had never been congenial to his own tastes, since Madame de Mailly had adopted the counsels and the resentments of her friend the Princesse de Charolais, who herself had too intimate an acquaintance with the unprincipled nature of the heartless libertine. The Duke consequently determined to give his sovereign a new mistress who should owe everything to himself, and be more capable of exercising political influence over the King. He took Madame de Tencin, an ancient favorite of the Regent, into his confidence, and the two together discussed the whole range of Court beauties, weighed the character and docility of each, and calculated the probable duration of her reign. Their choice, after much hesitation, fixed itself upon another Nesle, the youngest of all the sisters of Madame de Mailly, superior to all the rest in beauty, possessing an abundant portion of family brilliance, with intelligence and ambition, and prepared by the unselfishness of her  heart and the unscrupulousness of her conscience to make a pitiless use of her advantages." (Eclectic Magazine: Foreign Literature, Vol 6: 141)

The fifth and youngest Mailly sister.
" . . . But it was the fifth sister, Madame de Chateauroux, who besotted him. She was the object of his unswerving love. He endowed her with great wealth, plundered from the public treasury. He organised numerous parties and receptions at Versailles, the Louvre and La Muette for his mistress. When she died in the early 1740s, the king was inconsolable. He closed himself in at La Muette with friends of Madame de Chateauroux for weeks on end." (OECD: 68)

A widow this time.
" . . . (T)o general disbelief and consternation, he turned to yet another sister, the youngest of them, Marie-Anne, marquise de La Tournelle, very pretty and recently widowed. People found it rather disturbing that the king's attention should be uniquely directed to members of one family. It seemed somehow incestuous. But Louis XV was a very lonely man, uneasy with new faces, comfortable only with familiar ones. Timid by nature, he sought out people with whom he could be at ease. The sisters afforded him the comfort of habit." Madame de Pompadour: Mistress of France: 27)

Marie-Anne's physical appearance & personal qualities.
"'She was not one of your ordinary beauties,' wrote Richelieu; 'with her nymph-like form and her regal carriage, with her blue eyes full of genius and her enchantress's voice, with her mouth made for kisses and commands, and with her superb blond hair, waving on brow of ivory like the hair of the Antiope of Correggio or the Venus of Titian, she was a morsel for a king. But she was far more beautiful that these masterpieces of art, for she was a masterpiece of Nature. She had speech, movement, life; her eyes called for homage, her lips for pleasure, her heart for love.  Such a woman was born to reign." (Trowbridge: 39)

My God, she's so beautiful!.
"The name of the lady was Madame de la Tournelle, now better known in history as the Duchess of Chateauroux. Her charms had already made a great impression on the King, who had seen her on a visit to the Duc d'Antin, and exclaimed, 'Mon Dieu! que'lle est belle!  Her beauty was of a different character from that of her sisters.  Her skin was of a dazzling whiteness, and her large blue eyes had a magic and fascinating brilliance; her form was not spare but graceful, and her lips fine and full; her smile was bright at once with infantile freshness and coquettish malice, while her bearing had all the lightness, and her manners all the dash, which distinguished the rest of the Nesles. But her temper was widely different from that of her sisters, and the Duc de Richelieu had considerable difficulty in getting the King to play the lover in such fashion as would suit the pride of the imperious Madame de la Tournelle. The lady was willing enough to accept the position, but she was not willing to be a humble partner in the royal amours or to make such advances as Madame de Maille had made before her. She required to be courted, to have the advances made to her in a manner satisfactory to her pride and her ambition, and to reign absolutely. . . ." (Eclectic Magazine: Foreign Literature, Vol 6: 141)

And she reigned absolutely!.
" . . . She required to be courted, to have the advances made to her in a manner satisfactory to her pride and her ambition, and to reign absolutely. . . Her first condition was the dismissal of her Madame de Mailly. The anguish, the tears, the supplications of her sister availed nothing, and she succeeded in her purpose with stipulations of inflexible severity. After this she consented to receive a first declaration in her apartment of lady-in-waiting to the Queen at Versailles at dead of night; the King and Richelieu betook themselves to the rendezvous disguised in the large perruques of doctors of the time. The King came away from the interview more impassioned than before, and the reign of Madame de la Tournelle, soon after created Duchess of Chateauroux, commenced. Madame de Mailly, even after departure from Versailles, made one more effort to recover her position. She asked and obtained a last interview with the monarch she loved; and the courtiers saw the discarded mistress come from the royal closet with heaving bosom, with eyes full of tears, and in a state of desolation which made her insensible to all about her. Behind her came the King, affecting a few parting words of heartless consolation, and speaking the last words she was destined to hear from him; the cruel dissimulation which was so characteristic of his nature never found a more striking utterance---' A lundi, aChoisy, madame la comtesse . . . . a lundi j'espère que vous ne me ferez pas attendre,' At Choisy, on Monday, the unhappy woman knew the sister who supplanted her was to take possession of the doubtful honors of reigning mistress." (Eclectic Magazine: Foreign Literature, Vol 6141)

Triumph over all her opponents!.
"But the arts of coquetry and indifference of Madame de la Tournelle were not yet exhausted.  Before she yielded she irritated the King's passion almost to fury.  She had many enemies in the palace, the chief of whom, Maurepas, used every intrigue to oppose the rise of the new favorite---a favorite with whom he saw he should have to reckon with as with a new power.  With consummate skill, and with the aid of Richelieu as prime minister, who was called the president of Madame de la Tournelle, she triumphed over all her opponents, and exacted for the journey to the King's new chateau of Choisy, in the vicinity of Marly, an unprecedented display of power of a mistress.  She stipulated that her retinue should consist of the most noble names of France.  One princess of the blood royal, Mademoiselle de la Roche-sur-Yon, formed part in her train, and the presence of the virtuous Duchess de Luynes was requested by Louis in person of the Duke of Luynes.  the Duke made a profound inclination, but immediately after addressed himself to one of the gentlemen of the chamber and begged him to ask the King to accept his regrets and his excuses." (Eclectic Magazine: Foreign Literature, Vol 6142)

A woman of talent, spirit & ambition.
" . . . The influence which really predominated in the state was that of the king's mistress, the Duchess of Chateauroux, the youngest of four sisters of the family of Nesle who had successively yielded to his licentious passion.  Madame de Chateauroux was a woman of talent, spirit and ambition, and did her utmost to rouse Louis from his constitutional indolence and torpor to a bold, energetic policy, better befitting the ruler of a great and gallant nation." (The Student's France: 489)