Maintenon, Françoise d'Aubigné, marquise de

Maintenon, Françoise d'Aubigné, marquise de

(fräNswäz` dōbēnyā` märkēz` də măNtənôN`), 1635–1719, second wife of the French king Louis XIVLouis XIV,
1638–1715, king of France (1643–1715), son and successor of King Louis XIII. Early Reign

After his father's death his mother, Anne of Austria, was regent for Louis, but the real power was wielded by Anne's adviser, Cardinal Mazarin.
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. Her grandfather was Théodore Agrippa d'AubignéAubigné, Théodore Agrippa d'
, 1552–1630, French poet and Huguenot soldier. A devoted follower of Henry of Navarre (Henry IV) from 1568, he was later associated with Henri de Rohan in an abortive plot and fled France to live in Geneva (1620).
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, the Huguenot hero. He disinherited his disreputable son, Constant d'Aubigné, a criminal and Mme de Maintenon's father. Her mother was Jeanne de Cardilhac, the daughter of d'Aubigné's jailer. After a royal pardon (1643), the family spent some years in Martinique, but upon her father's death she and her poverty-stricken mother returned to France. Although baptized a Roman Catholic, the child was educated by a Protestant aunt. Later cared for by Catholic relatives, she became a very devout Catholic. At 16 she married the poet Paul ScarronScarron, Paul
, 1610–60, French writer. His picaresque novel Le Romant comique (1651) vividly portrays the lives of a company of strolling players. He also wrote short stories, collected as Les Nouvelles tragi-comiques
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 and, released from a life of poverty and social disgrace, became a figure in the literary and intellectual world of Paris.

After Scarron's death in 1660 the queen mother continued the poet's pension to his widow. Later Mme de Maintenon became a close friend of the king's favorite mistress, Mme de MontespanMontespan, Françoise Athénaïs, marquise de
, 1641–1707, mistress of King Louis XIV of France. She was maid of honor to Queen Marie Thérèse and replaced (c.1667) Mlle de La Vallière as the king's mistress.
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, who obtained a pension for her. Noted for her discretion, she became (1669) the governess for the children of Mme de Montespan and the king, and gradually she supplanted Mme de Montespan in the esteem and affections of Louis XIV, who made her a marquise. Mme de Maintenon became the king's confidante, exercising considerable influence over Louis and greatly lifting the moral tone of the notoriously dissolute court, although the ascription to her of Louis's mistakes (particularly the revocation of the Edict of Nantes) is an exaggeration. The queen, Marie Thérèse, was devoted to her and died in her arms. In 1684 she was morganatically married to the king. In her later years Mme de Maintenon gave much of her attention to the famous school of Saint-Cyr, which she had founded for the daughters of poor but noble families. She also wrote remarkable essays and letters dealing with education.


See biographies by C. C. Dyson (1910), C. Haldane (1970), and V. Buckley (2009).

References in classic literature ?
Bird was a timid, blushing little woman, of about four feet in height, and with mild blue eyes, and a peach-blow complexion, and the gentlest, sweetest voice in the world;--as for courage, a moderate-sized cock-turkey had been known to put her to rout at the very first gobble, and a stout house-dog, of moderate capacity, would bring her into subjection merely by a show of his teeth.
A moderate-sized safe stood in his bedroom, constructed so as to defy fire as well as burglars; but Passepartout found neither arms nor hunting weapons anywhere; everything betrayed the most tranquil and peaceable habits.
There are only three moderate-sized packages swinging overhead: there are only two layers of mats beneath; and the calabashes and trenchers are not so numerous, nor so tastefully stained and carved.