Madame de Maintenon

Paris: Antoine Trouvain
ca. 1700

Françoise d’Aubigné, marquise de Maintenon (1635–1719), was the unofficial second wife of Louis XIV. The widow of the poet Paul Scarron, she was hired as governess to the children that Louis XIV had with his mistress Madame de Montespan and gradually grew closer to the king. Shortly after the death of Queen Maria Theresa in 1683, Louis XIV and Maintenon are believed to have married in a secret ceremony. The actual extent of her political and religious influence during the second part of the reign remains a matter of debate.

A pious and cultivated woman with a profound interest in pedagogy, Maintenon founded the boarding school of Saint-Cyr for girls from impoverished noble families. Situated on the southwestern edge of the park of Versailles, the school buildings now house a military academy created by Napoleon.

Private collection.