"Her function in that office frequently brought her into the society of the king. Simple and lively, she conceived an attachment the consequences of which she did not calculate, as she beheld in him a handsome and interesting young man whom in his exaltedpositionshe might freely admire. Her manners were modest andeven timid; she spoke little, reach much. Her face is so well known, that a description of it is almost unnecessary; it has been described as that ofthe Christian Venus of France. Her eyes, blue as the virgin martyr's, and fringedwithlight silken lids, were seldom seen; her smile was gracious and closed;although her mouth was large, those who loved her admired it---but her rivals, and Bussy, the echo of all jealousy, attribute it to the irregularity of her teeth; her form was slight, but elegant and flexible; and hercountenanceexpressed all thatwas amiable, notwithstanding her natural reserve: but she was marked with the small pox. The defect in her gait was scarcely perceptible; a modern author, in remarking this imperfection, likens her to 'a beautiful swan wounded.' Madame de Sevigne calls Mademoiselle de la Valliere 'l'humble violette, si touchante, si interesante, et si honteuse de l'etre.'" (Memoirs of the Queens of France: 154)
"The beauty of Mademoiselle de la Valliere rendered the arrangement he had made with his sister-in-law to affect a passion for her maid of honour no difficult task for the monarch; but other qualities than mere form or complexion soon rendered that real which had been at first assumed. 'She was not,' says the Abbe de Choisy, who knew her well, and had been her companion in infancy,---'She was not one of those perfect beauties that one often admires without loving. She was very lovable, and the words of La Fontaine, 'Et la Grace plus belle encore que la Beaute,' seemed made for her. She had a beautiful complexion, fair hair, a sweet smile, her eyes were blue, with an expression so tendere, but at the same time so modest, that it gained our heart and our esteem at the same moment. Farther, she had but little wit,---but that she did not fail to cultivate continually by reading: no ambition, no interested views, more taken up in dreaming of him she loved than attentive to please him, totally shut up in herself, and in her passion, which was the only one of her whole life.'" (The Life and Times of Louis XIV: 216)
No women actuallyrivaledher as queen of beauty.
" . . . Her beauty was so striking, of such an exquisitely tender type, that no women actuallyrivaledher as queen of beauty. Distinguished byblond hair, dark blue eyes, a most sympathetic voice, and a complexion of rare whiteness mingled with red, she was guileless, animated, gentle, modest, graceful, unaffected, and ingenuous; although slightly lame, she was...considered charming." (Women of Modern France: 75)
" . . . Her silvery, fair hair, her brown eyes, full cherry lips, lovely complexion, and slender figure gave her a delicate loveliness, which the modesty of her bearing and the real virtue of her heart served to accentuate. She was timid, unassuming, discreet, and sensitive, and prided herself not a little upon the sagacity of her mind and her conduct. . . ." (Every Woman's Encyclopedia)
The loveliness became a nature and quality so exquisite and tender.
"Louise Francoise de la Baume Le Blanc de la Valliere was born in 1644, in the centre of the garden of France, near the gates of Tours, of a noble stem, originally from the Bourbonnais and established in Touraine. Having lost her father in childhood, she had been brought up in the old chateau of Blois, the residence of the king's uncle, Gaston. The mother of Louise had remarried with the duke's chief maitre d'hotel, Jacques de Courtravel, Marquis de Saint-Remy. At fifteen, when the English princess Henrietta formed her court, on her marriage with Philip d'Orleans, the king's brother, Mademoiselle de la Valliere was enrolled amongst the duchess's maids-of-honour. She was then a childish-looking girl, with only slightly regular features, but whose features bore an expression of ineffable sweetness. An air of languor, probably arising from physical delicacy, gave a somewhat peculiar charm to her slender figure, though she was slightly lame with one foot. It was upon her the well-known bitter line was penned---'Soyez boiteuse, ayez quinze ans.' Added to this, all her companions praised her graceful, witty, animated, and at the same time amiable conversation; full, also, as it was of those pungent sallies which frequently constitute the best feature of high-bred social intercourse. Somewhat later, the loveliness of Mademoiselle de la Valliere became a nature and quality so exquisite and tender that all contemporary writers are unanimous on the subject. The engravings or even painted portraits of her will hardly now convey a just idea of that species of beauty which was entirely her own. Freshness and delicate brilliancy of complexion, a vivacious yet soft and subdued manner, constituted an essential part of her fascination. 'She was very amiable, writes Madame de Motteville, 'and her beauty had great fascination through the dazzling pink and white of her complexion, through the gentle glance of her blue eyes, and by the radiance of her glossy hair, which strikingly enhanced the lustre of her expressive countenance. Her soft gaze was accompanied by a touching tone of voice that went straight to the heart.'. . . ." (Royal Favourites, Vol 2: 376)
Louise de La Vallière – The pious mistress.
"Louise had not been at French court for long when she became the mistress of King Louis. It is not known how this union came about, but it is likely that Louise was plucked by the king from Henriette’s ‘flower garden’; her staff of beautiful young women. Louise was not the typical mistress type, she was shy, quiet, and virtuous and she did not seek the king’s favour to advance herself at court. Louise fell in love with Louis as a normal man and not as the king of France; she was overheard saying to another lady at court that ‘the crown adds nothing to the charm of his person’. The king had countless mistresses during his reign but Louise was the only one to show him love in this way. Louise kept her distance from Louis for a while as she did not want to enter a sexual relationship; unlike Barbara Villiers, mistress to Charles II in England, Louise was not a mistress to be put on show; she wanted to keep her privacy and her dignity." (History of Royal Women)
Louise de La Valliere
Mademoiselle de La Valliere at age seventeen.
"At this period she had just attained her seventeenth year; and while eclipsed in beauty by many of those about her, the charm of her unaffected modesty, the retiring timidity of her manner, the extreme purity of her complexion, her large and languishing blue eyes, and the profusion of flaxen hair which shaded her brow and bosom, gave a singular loveliness to her appearance, of which she alone was unconscious. Her figure, which was not yet formed, and a slight lameness, occasioned by a fall during her girlhood, were the only defects which even her enemies could discern in her appearance; save, perhaps, a slight trace of smallpox, which had in some degree impaired the smoothness of her skin; and, meanwhile, her peculiarly unobtrusive habits exempted her on all sides from either jealousy or suspicion." (Louis the Fourteenth and the Court of France in the Seventeenth Century, Vol 2: 339)
Adored the man, but hated the king as the enemy of her happiness.
" . . .(H)e turned to easier game in the person of one of her Maids-of-Honour, Louise de La Valliere, who became his mistress in the summer of 1661. Few royal favourites have been as sympathetically regarded as Louise, 'the modest violet,' who adored Louis the man, hated Louis the king as the enemy of her happiness, and never did anyone a bad turn in her life. By the callousness with which Louis discarded her, and the selfish brutality with which he treated her after she had ceased to be his mistress, she retains our pity to this day. . . By the winter of 1666 it was plain that the star of Mme. de Montespan was rising." (The Sunset of the Splendid Century:18)
The personification of the ideal of a lover.
"First among the mistresses of Louis XIV was Mlle. de La Valliere, whom Sainte-Bauve mentions as the personification of the ideal of a lover, combining disinterestedness, fidelity, unique and delicate tenderness, with a touching and sincere kindness.When, at the age of seventeen, she was presented at court, the king immediately selected her as one of his victims. Her beauty was so striking, of such an exquisitely tender type, that no woman actually rivaled her as queen of beauty. Distinguished by blond hair, dark blue eyes, a most sympathetic voice, and a complexion of rare whiteness mingled with red, she was guileless, animated, gentle, modest, graceful, unaffected, and ingenuous; although slightly lame, she was, by everyone, considered charming."(Women of Modern France: 75)
"Louise saw Louis XIV for the first time amidst the gaieties of the little court of his sister-in-law, and her impression was as deep as it was instantaneous. It was never effaced, as will be seen, although she was at the time no older than fifteen. She was then in attendance on Henrietta of England at St. Cloud, where the Duchess d'Orleans was giving a series of fetes on occasion of the completion of large additions made to that palace, and when the waters of the fine cascade designed by the Chevalier de Lorraine were first seen descending in foaming torrents down a flight of marble stairs to join the calm course of the Seine." (Royal Favourites, Vol 2: 379)
The true object of royal affection.
"Shortly after the royal marriage, rumors began to circulate at court that the king was much more interested in his brother's new bride, the English Princess Henriette, that his own bride. But before any definite proof of romantic interest could be established, it became apparent that the true object of royal affection was Henriette's lady-in-waiting, Louise-Françoise de La Baume-le Blanc de La Valliere. Lithe and athletic, the seventeen-year-old La Valliere was a striking contrast to Queen Maria-Theresa. Although not overly beautiful she was a skilled horsewoman who loved the out-of-doors and possessed little courtly grace. Instead, Louise de La Valliere exuded that vulnerable quality of adolescent femininity that excited a king bent of lustful pleasure. Without any pretense, in 1661 she eagerly placed herself at his disposal. Their adultery lasted a little more than seven years and resulted in six pregnancies and two royal children." (A Lust for Virtue: 85)
Introduced by Henrietta of England, the Duchess of Orleans
"It was Henrietta who gave the King the first of his more public mistresses. Born at Tours in 1644, Louise de La Valliere received with unquestioning faith the religious education given her by her mother and her priestly uncle, the future bishop of Nantes. She had barely reached the age of First Communion when her father died. Her mother remarried; the new husband, maitre d'hotel for Gaston, Duc d'Orleans, secured a place for Louise as lady in waiting to the daughters of the Duke; and when, after Gaston's death, his nephew and successor Philippe married, he took Louise with him as maid of honor to Henrietta (1661). In that capacity she frequently saw the King. She was dazzled by his splendor, power, and personal fascination. Like a hundred other women she fell in love with him, but hardly dreamed of speaking to him. . . Henrietta, to discourage gossip that she herself was the royal mistress, had the King's attention drawn to Louise. The scheme worked too well; Louis was attracted by this timid girl of seventeen, so different from the proud and aggressive ladies who surrounded him at the court. One day, finding her along in the gardens of Fontainbleau, he offered himself to her, with no very honorable intentions. She surprised him by confessing the she loved him, but she long resisted his importunities. She pleaded with him not to make her betray both Henrietta and the Queen. Nevertheless, by August 1661, she was his mistress. Everything seemed good if it was the King's will." (The Age of Louis XIV: The Story of Civilization)
The affair's benefits to Louise de la Valliere.
"The king, who was wearied with this surveillance, took great pleasure in conducting his beloved mistress, far from etiquette and jealousy, to Versailles, which was then an inelegant little chateau in the middle of a wood, with nothing in the neighbourhood but a small tavern and a mill. He afterwards ornamented and magnificently furnished her a residence (the Hotel Biron at Paris_, and in 1662 gave most brilliant carousals in her honour in the place which still bears that name. His crown was ornamented with a half-blown brown rose, the emblem of his modest favourite, and his devise was, 'Quanto si mostra men, tanto e piu bella.'" (Memoirs of the Kings of France: 158)