La Montespan's weird life in Oiron castle
Do you know Françoise-Athénaïs de Rochechouart de Mortemart? Behind this double-barrelled name is the famous marquise de Montespan! King of France Louis XIV’s mistress…
She owned Oiron in 1700 after her fall in grace and her base action in the famous Affaire des Poisons (“Poisons case”).
Oiron was pretty expensive (340 000 livres), but her ex-lover Louis gave her a part of the sum, 100 000 livres… She was 59 years old.
In Oiron, she attended to her business, between her castle and the religious foundation she created in the village, the “hospital of the Holy-Family”.
She had always been pretty pious, even in Versailles: she attended to every Mass, made fast. She was scared of death, also, so that’s why she made lots of pious foundations…
When evening came, in the castle, young ladies (her “night-lights”) took care of her while she was sleeping, because she was afraid of the dark. So candles stayed light all the night!
The French chronicler Saint-Simon described her last years in Oiron, in the part 5 of his Memories: “She gave all he possessions to the poor. She worked for them several hours per day, making shirts for them. She used to eat a lot, now she had frugal diner and lots of fasting… Her shirts and her sheets were made of rude yellow canvas. She always wore a belt with iron points, which caused her wounds…”
She left Oiron for a treatment at the Bourbon spa, in May 1707. One night, she fell ill: few hours later, it was the end… Françoise gave her castle to her only child: the duke d’Antin.
This one spent his fortune, in Oiron! “His table, his carriages, all his spending was huge” said Saint-Simon. Fortunately, he was an incorrigible gambler and he won more than he lose!