More Great Women - Sister Louise

Sister Louise

Louise De La Valliere was a woman of French nobility that is celebrated for her intimate relations with Louis XIV. She was born in Tours in August, 1644 and died in Paris, June 6, 1710.

Her mother and father were of the French aristocracy. After the death of her father, a French nobleman and superior officer, her mother married the Baron de St. Remy, who was attached to the household of the Duchess of Orleans, a very prominent woman in French society. Because of this relation, Louise was introduced at court and appointed maid of honor to Henrietta of England, sister-in-law of Louis XIV. Because of her personal loveliness and fine character Louise soon won the heart of several distinguished men. However, Louise discouraged their devotion because she had fallen in love with the king.

All who became aquatinted with the young Louise were impressed by her modesty, gentleness, and truthfulness, as well as with her personal charms and varied accomplishments; and the most eminent French writers, as Racine, La Fontaine, and Madame de Sevigne, bestowed the highest praises upon her virtues and graces.

Her love for Louis XIV was as enthusiastic as it was disinterested. Deep down she knew that becoming the king’s mistress went against her conscience. But, after having for some time resisted his advances, she became his mistress in 1661. Louise was never comfortable with this arrangement and on several occasions felt impelled by conscientious scruples to desert her lover. When she left the king, she took refuge in a convent, but the king succeeded in bringing her back from that very convent two times. In 1674, however, she left him definitely, and took the veil in the Carmelite convent of the Faubourg St. Jacques under the name of Sister Louise. She received the visits of the queen, the Duchess of Orleans, and other warm admirers, and, engaged in works of piety and charity, spent the rest of her life in the seclusion of that convent.

She bore four children to the king, two of whom were legitimatised, Mlle. de Blois, who married the Prince of Conti, and the Count of Vermandois. Louise wrote a book entitled “Reflections on the Mercy of God, by a Penitent Woman” in 1680. A collection of her letters was also published in 1767. Here life has been a very suggestive literary theme.