We take a closer look at Francoise D’Aubigné, Marquise de Maintenon, the second wife of King Louis XIV, the legendary ‘untitled Queen of France’.

When it comes to royalty and nobility, France has a long history of noblemen and women who each have led incredible lives that still pique the interests of history buffs to this very day.

Francoise D’Aubigne, for example, formerly a French noblewoman who, incredibly secretly married King Louis XIV! Moreover, you’d think that, as she was married to the King of France, she herself would be titled as the Queen of France, but that isn’t quite the case.

She was, however, one of his very closest advisors and was renowned for her charity work, particularly with regards to the Maison Royale de Saint-Louis, which was a school she founded for poorer girls from noble families.

Francoise D'Aubigné, Marquise de Maintenon - The Secret Wife of Louis XIV
Madame de Maintenon

Early Life

Francoise D’Aubigné, Marquise de Maintenon was born on the 27th of November, 1635 in Niort.

She was raised by a fiercely catholic mother Jeanne de Cardilhac, who had her baptised as a catholic. Ironically, dispite this, she gave her children a Protestant education.

She is believed to have been born in a prison, the same one in which her father was later imprisoned for failing to pay off his debts.

Her father, Constant d’Aubigné, was freed from prison in 1645 and the family set off to the Guadeloupe where her father, wrongly we may add, believed he had been made governor of an island located there known as Marie-Galante, despite the fact that the post was not vacant.

The family lived there for two years before returning to France before her father died in 1647, whereby she was entrusted into the care of an aunt, who she had never met before.

At 16, Francoise’s mother died, and her aunt, who no longer wanted the child, arranged for her to live with an author and poet named Paul Scarron, who was 25 years her senior.

The two married in 1652, with Francoise acting more as a nurse than a wife during their marriage. The union did however prove to be advantageous to the young bride as she managed to reach the height of Parisian society which would not have been possible due to her impoverished background.

By 25, she was widowed and is said to have ‘mastered the art of flirtation’. The young widow had men falling over themselves to get to her.

Already in great favour, by 1675, Louis XIV presented her with the title of Marquise de Maintenon, given to her after the name of her estate.

Becoming The Uncrowned Queen Of France

After marrying King Louis XIV, due to the differences in their social standings, the marriage was classed as morganatic, which basically meant that she wasn’t acknowledged as the King’s wife and therefore she wasn’t classed as queen. This also meant that should they have any children, they could not have a rightful claim to the throne or succession.

Her Charity Work And Death

Francoise D’Aubigné, Marquise de Maintenon had a reputation for being extremely generous. Most believed that this was driven by the experiences of her early childhood. One of her largest legacies is a rather unique school. She founded the Maison Royale de Saint-Louis, which was a school for girls from poor noble families.

Despite a turbulent life of major ups and equally large downs, Francoise D’Aubigné had a very long life. She passed away on the 15th of April, 1719 aged 83.

In her honour, a small island just off the coast in Nova Scotia, Canada, was named after her, named Isle Madame.

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