Marquise de Pompadour (Jeanne Antionette)
French Political Ruler
1721 – 1764 A.D.
Jeanne Antoinette, Marquise de Pompadour, a French political ruler, favorite of Louis XV, born of obscure parents, bearing the name of Poisson. She was supposed to be the natural daughter of a wealthy farmer-general of the revenues, named de Tournehem, who at any rate took upon himself the charge of her education. Early noted for her dignity, beauty, intelligence, and wit, she seemed to be born for some uncommon destiny and this idea was confirmed in her childish mind by the prophecy of an old woman, whom in after days she pensioned for the correctness of her prediction.
In 1741 she was married to a nephew of her protector and guardian, Le Normant de Étoiles, who was very much in love with her, and she soon became a queen of fashion.
It was not until three years later that she first met the king at a masked ball, but the year after that she was already established at court, and Louis XV bought her the estate of Pompadour, from which she took her title of Marquise. La Pompadour as she became to be called soon took her place as the centre of a brilliant intellectual and artistic circle, and the king, a mere puppet, gave her tremendous power. She made and unmade ministers, diplomatists, and generals, and for nearly twenty years her influence was predominant in all important affairs of state.
The continuous policy of France since the days of Richelieu had been to weaken the house of Austria by alliances in Germany; but Madame de Pompadour changed this hereditary policy because Frederick the Great wrote scandalous verses on her; and because Maria Theresa wrote her a friendly letter in which she addressed her as ma cousine, she entered into alliance with Austria. This brought on the Seven Years’ War, with all its disasters, and the loss of Canada.
A bitter enemy of the Jesuits, she was largely responsible for their expulsion from France. She deserves praise for her patronage of literary men and artists.
When she had lost the heart of her lover, she had a difficult task before her; to maintain her influence she had not only to save the king as much trouble as possible, but to find him fresh pleasures.
“My life is a battle,” she said, and so it was. With business and pleasure she gradually grew weaker and weaker, and when told that death was at hand she dressed herself in full court costume, and met it bravely on April 15, 1764, at the age of forty-two. Her breath fld on the wings of a powerful sally – “Stay, Monsieur Cure,” she said to the priest who was leaving her room, “wait a little; we shall go out together.”
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.