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Louise de Keroualle, the pretty schemer

Charles and Louise | Lisby / Public domain
Castle Love story Louise de Keroualle John Stuart of Darnley La Verrerie castle

All against the English!

King Charles VII’s accession to the throne of France, after his dad’s death, was compromised by king of England, Henri V.

But he had the Scots' support, England’s enemies! Among the Scottish lords who came waging war in France, we found Jean Stuart de Darnley (we already met him in Aubigny-sur-Nère).

He get lands of Aubigny-sur-Nère and La Verrerie, in 1423, for all his good services...

The Stuart: Scottish and French

Jean’s son, Bérault Stuart, inherited La Verrerie. And he raised a castle here, at the end of the 15th century!

Robert Stuart, lord Lennox and marshal of Aubigny, added a wing to the first main building, in 1530, with a lower gallery and an upper one with mullioned windows.

In 1672, the 11th lord of Aubigny died: he was Henry Stuart, lord Darnley. So the castle of la Verrerie fell to the English king Charles II: a Stuart descendant! Damned…

Then La Verrerie fell to Louise-Renée de Penancouët de Keroualle, duchess of Porthsmouth, in 1673... king of England Charles II’s favourite.

Louise de Kéroualle

A Breton lady

Louise was born in 1649 near Brest (Brittany, Western France) in a noble family. In fact, she was lucky: in her little manor house, she had the visit of king Henri IV’s illegitimate son, François de Vendôme.

Under the spell, he swore to do something for Louise, and to get her a nice job at the Court!

In the English king’s bed?

Louise was penniless, too bad! And yet she became the lady-in-waiting for the duchess d’Orléans. And she arrived in Versailles!

Gossip soon said: was she Louis XIV’s new mistress? No she was not! At that time, Louis tried to block the alliance concluded by Charles II with the United Provinces.

What should we do? The solution was simple, he found it when he saw Louise: she could seduce the English king!

In May 1670, the king of England’s sister, Henriette, duke d’Orléans' wife, brought Louise with them in England to convince the king to cancel his alliance

And to sign the treaty of Douvres… A treaty saying Louis XIV would obtain England’s support against the United Provinces.

Nice silk ribbon!

The pretty Louise, advised by ambassador in London Colbert de Croissy, started to seduce Charles II, so the English politic could turn in her favour… in the favour of France!

The king fell in love, of course, and when his sister Henriette came back in France, he begged her to let him Louise.

Saint-Evremond wrote about this situation: ″The silk ribbon which ties Miss de Keroualle’s waist links France to England.″ Louise soon asked Colbert to be naturalized English, but Louis XIV wasn’t agree at all...

So, Louise played his diplomatic role during 15 years. In 1673, she became duchess of Portsmouth with this lovely blazon ″In the rose I blossom″, baroness of Petersfield and countess of Farnham.

But people hated her in France, but in England too!

You punk!

English hated her: see those verses written by Andrew Marvell :

"That Kéroualle, that incestuous punk Made our most sacred sovereign drunk And drunk she let him give the buss Which still the kingdom's bound to curse."

In France, she became duchess of Aubigny when she received this land in Central France.

King Charles II died in 1685, so Louise decided to come back in France. First she went in Brittany, and then in Aubigny, where she ended her life, at the age of 85.

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!