WCW: Louise de La Vallière

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Louise de La Vallière (1644-1710) was a young, unmarried lady-in-waiting to Louis XIV‘s sister-in-law (Princess Henriette of England, married to Louis’s brother) when she became Louis XIV’s mistress. She was known for her piety and her sincere love for the French king. They had five children; the only one to make it very long was daughter Marie Anne de Bourbon, who was legitimized as a Princess of the Blood and married the Prince de Conti. Louise later became the Duchess of La Vallière and Duchess of Vaujours in her own right. When Louis’s affections shifted to Madame de Montespan, Louise was forced to live with her (as a shield to their affair) and serve Montespan. In order to escape that situation, and because of her piety, she joined a Carmelite convent and spent the final decades of her life as a nun.

Louise de la Vallière, 1667, via Wikimedia Commons.

Louise de la Vallière, 1667, via Wikimedia Commons.

Let’s take a look at Louise on screen!

Count of Bragelonne (1954)

A sequel to The Three Musketeers story. Louise is played by Florence Arnaud.

1954 Count of Bragelonne

I’m not sure which one is Arnaud! I’m thinking the blond, because Louise was, but I’m not positive.

Royal Affairs in Versailles (1954)

French director Sacha Guitry’s episodic look at key events in the history of Versailles. Gisèle Pascal plays Louise; she’s listed pretty far down in the credits, and it was hard to find this image, so I don’t think she plays much of a role.

1954 Royal Affairs in Versailles

Hey! Those bangs ARE period — for once!

The Taking of Power by Louis XIV (1966)

A French TV film about Louis XIV’s rise to power. Françoise Ponty plays Louise.

1966 La Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV

That’s Louise on the left, in dire need of some boning. As in the metal/whalebone kind.

La quête du bonheur: De Voltaire à Paul Claudel (1969)

A filmed French theater production, but I can’t really tell what it’s about. Bérangère Dautun plays Louise.

1969 La quête du bonheur - De Voltaire à Paul Claudel

I THINK this is Dautun, but I have no idea about those daisies.

Molière pour rire et pour pleurer: L’Affaire Tartuffe (1973)

A French mini-series about playwright Molière. This episode focuses on his play Tartuffe, with Laurence de Monaghan as Louise.

1973 L'Affaire Tartuffe

All I can see are curls!

Le Chateau perdu (1973)

Based on the story of Louise XIV’s punishment of a rebel, the baron de Fargues. Louise is played by Claude Jade.

1973 Le chateau perdu

I like the cut, in general! Always hard to judge quality on crappy video stills.

1973 Le chateau perdu

They did a good job with the hair!

The Man in the Iron Mask (1977)

English actress Jenny Agutter plays Louise to Richard Chamberlain’s Louis XIV in this adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas story.

1977 The Man in the Iron Mask

I feel like this is more English than French, and the hair is quasi-Victorian (and – ball fringe!) but it’s not hideous.

1977 The Man in the Iron Mask

We really need an MCM on Richard Chamberlain…

The Fifth Musketeer (1979)

A sequel to Dumas’s The Man in the Iron Mask. It’s clearly meant to be swashbuckling fun, as Ursula Andress plays Louise.

1979 The Fifth Musketeer

They really captured her piety, doncha think?

1979 The Fifth Musketeer

I’m sure Louise would be THRILLED.

The Face of Alexandre Dumas: The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)

This appears to be a low budget version that came out the same year as the Leonardo di Caprio feature film. Dana Barron plays Louise.

1998 The Face of Alexandre Dumas- The Man in the Iron Mask

Crappy video still is crappy!

Vatel (2000)

Although Uma Thurman plays the main, fictionalized mistress in this film about a chef at Versailles, Louise de la Vallière is there in the background — played by Emilie Ohana.

2000 Vatel

I’m PRETTY SURE this is Louise… but not 100%.

2000 Vatel

If it is, she seems a bit too long in the tooth for the role.

2000 Vatel

Real Housewives of Versailles? (Ok I would totally watch that.)

Versailles: The Dream of a King (2008)

A docudrama about Louis XIV and Versailles. Laura Weissbecker plays Louise.

2008 Versailles le rêve d'un roi

Lovely!

The King, the Squirrel and the Grass Snake (2010)

A French miniseries about Nicolas Fouquet, who was Louis XIV’s Superintendant of Finances … and imprisoned for the final decades of his life.

2010 The King, the Squirrel and the Grass Snake

Louise is sitting on the ground in blue.

2010 The King, the Squirrel and the Grass Snake

No idea on the squirrel/grass snake!

Versailles (2016-18)

The recent big budget TV series included Louise in season one, where she was played by Sarah Winter.

Versailles (2016)

I like this a lot, although I would have gone blonde.

Versailles (2016)

*rrrrRRRRrrrr*!

 

Who’s your favorite Louise de la Vallière?

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

19 Responses

  1. Hooley

    Agreed, Jenny Agutter for the win. And a big yes to a MCM for Richard Chamberlain (Aramis, Louis XIV, Philippe, Lord Byron,Tchaikovsky, Edmond Dantes, Alan Quatermain, Blackthorne, Ralph de Brisscart, and if you can find it, Thomas Mendip in the Ladies Not for Burning). Please also consider Patrick McGoohan for MCM, who was Fouquet in several Musketeers films, as well as in Jamaica Inn, Dr. Syn, James Stuart in Mary Queen of Scots, and, alas, Edward I in Braveheart.

    Reply
  2. Coco

    For Vatel, I think the pictures you’ve selected show the wife of the host (the man in the 2nd picture). Louise de la Valliere probably wouldn’t be lounging against any man not the king (and even then not in public).
    ‘une lavalliere’ is a word for a bow or ascot in French, because she was known for wearing many bows and frills at her neckline to cover the fact that she wasn’t well-endowed.

    Reply
    • Laura

      In fact, the actress we see on those pictures is Arielle Dombasle and she plays “la Princesse de Condé”.

      Reply
      • anon

        Yes and considering her very… modern, housewivey looks, she has a surprisingly huge number of frock flicks under her belt.

        Reply
        • anon

          Oh and: Although you hate that kind of pointing out, gonna go there anyway, because it’s not the smallest of small parts and the series is pretty well worth checking out: She was played by Fabienne Tricottet in the 1995 french TV series “L’Allee du roi”. Sarah even did a big FrockFlicks-post on it already. There are two 2019 reissue French DVDs (edition montparnasse) available by now. A version integrale (miniseries length: 240′) and a version courte (feature film length: 105′) – it’s a euro thing. Don’t know if the double marketing actually pays off.

          https://www.editionsmontparnasse.fr/p1912/L-Allee-du-Roi-L-Integrale-de-la-serie-DVD

          Reply
  3. Nzie

    man court life must’ve been so strange—institutionalized adultery. but I guess there must’ve been something to her faith to go leave it all behind for a cloister and contemplative life. interesting lady!

    Reply
  4. picasso Manu

    Vatel would have had problems being a chef at Versailles, since he killed himself before Versailles was really a thing.
    Also, the squirrel and snake thing is about armorials: Fouquet had a squirrel on his, with the motto “quo non ascendet?” aka “how high can I climb?” (which may not have not been the smartest thing to trot in front of a young monarch that had been quite traumatized by rebellion and civil war in his early years, just sayin’). The grass snake is for Colbert, who really did all he could to fan fires, and became one architect of the sun king politics… And also one that launched one of the greatest period in French history.
    And yes, that’s Arielle Dombasle in those pics.

    Reply
  5. NuitsdeYoung

    Squirrel – a meaning of Fouquet name.
    Snake in the Grass, rather than Grass-snake.

    Reply
  6. mmcquown

    Haven’t seen most of these. I first learned about Louise, probably the most unhappy of all Louis’ mistresses from a book called “Old Court Life In France.” many years ago.

    Reply
  7. Lexy

    My favorite mistress of Louis XIV! A few anecdotes about her:
    -she had a limp after falling from her horse as a child, but rode and danced perfectly
    -she initially was a “chandelier”, a false lead to hide the King courting his sister in law, Henriette of England
    -when she became pregnant for the first time, she had to hide her pregnancy because of Henriette’s jealousy; when she gave birth, she had to wear a mask, the doctor was all but kidnapped and she had to be at mass later, then dance at the ball following. It was decided that she’d be delivered by a doctor since a midwife may gossip, and since he refused the usual position of the woman kneeling or squatting and the one dealing with the birth on his knees on the ground, he created the current childbirth position, which is now criticized for not being physiologically ideal
    -When her son died ( he had a sad life, since not only did he died before being totally legitimized, he was raped as a teen and despised by his father for that) she sadly said “it’s his birth I should cry for”
    -when she became a Carmelite, Montespan visited her and proposed to cook for her; knowing she was a poisoner, Louise asked for the scratches only and cooked herself a dish and its sauce. Montespan asked her if she was happy now, and she answered “No, but I am content.”
    -since Montespan was married, she considered pressuring Louise into pretending to be her children’s mother to have them legitimized
    -when she died, Louis said “she died for me on the day she became a Carmelite”. When their love was young and powerful, he gave up all her duties to search for her when she left her apartments for a convent when Henriette threatened to fire her because she believed she had revealed that Henriette had another lover.
    -Once, Montespan asked a dressmaker if she knew who she was to get her delivery, and the dressmaker answered “Of course! You bought Mademoiselle de la Vallières’s charge!”

    Reply
    • M.E. Lawrence

      Oh, yeah! My ex was a historian, and we devised a soap opera starring popular crowned heads of mid-19th-century Europe: V&A, Napoleon III and Eugenie, Franz Josef and Sissi, Max and Carlotta over in the Mexico, etc.; everybody’s related, everybody’s dysfunctional. I still think “Masterpiece” could have fun with it.

      Reply
  8. M.E. Lawrence

    Agutter, de Monaghan and Jade look the most Louise-ish: less made-up, more like the sweet young thing she apparently was. (Although the shots of Ursula Andress as a sweet young thing are hilarious.)

    Reply
  9. C

    The latest Versailles series S01 should have expanded the role of La Valiere instead of focusing so much on Henrietta “Minette” Stuart… The actress, Sarah Winter, wore appropriate gowns & the hair looked 17th century (not like most of her “friend” Montespan’s hairstyles). Winter in 17th c. dress gave me some Nell Gwynn vibes, not because of “Versailles”‘s Louise’s personality, but because this is how I imagine Nell (pretty, smiling, redhead)

    Reply
  10. Roxana

    Girl had a sad life. The last years as a nun may have been her calmest and happiest time.

    Reply

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