Marie Anne Mancini, Duchesse de Bouillon

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About Marie Anne Mancini, Duchesse de Bouillon

Marie Anne Mancini, duchesse de Bouillon (1649 – 20 June 1714), was the youngest of the five famous Mancini sisters, who along with two of their female Martinozzi cousins, were known at the court of King Louis XIV of France as the Mazarinettes because their uncle was the king's chief minister, Cardinal Mazarin.


The parents of Marie Anne Mancini were Lorenzo Mancini, a Roman baron, necromancer and astrologer, and Geronima Mazzarini, sister of Cardinal Mazarin.

Her four famous sisters were:

Laure (1636–1657), the eldest, who married Louis de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, grandson of King Henri IV and his mistress, Gabrielle d'Estrées, and became the mother of the famous French general Louis Joseph, Duke of Vendôme,

Olympe (1638–1708), who married Eugene Maurice, Count of Soissons and became the mother of the famous Austrian general Prince Eugene of Savoy,

Marie (1639–1715), the third sister, was considered the least beautiful of the sisters but was the one who snagged the biggest prize of all: Louis XIV. The young king was so besotted with her that he wanted to marry her. In the end, he was made to give her up, and she married Prince Lorenzo Colonna who remarked that he was surprised to find her a virgin as one does not expect to find 'innocence among the loves of kings'. (from Antonia Fraser's book Love and Louis XIV)

Hortense (1646–1699), the beauty of the family, who escaped from her abusive husband, Armand-Charles de la Porte, duc de La Meilleraye, and went to London, where she became the mistress of King Charles II.

The Mancinis were not the only female family members that Cardinal Mazarin brought to the French court. The others were Marie Anne's first cousins, daughters of Mazarin's eldest sister. The elder, Laura Martinozzi, married Alfonso IV d'Este, duke of Modena and was the mother of Mary of Modena, second wife of James II of England. The younger, Anne Marie Martinozzi, married Armand, Prince de Conti.

The Mancini also had three brothers: Paul, Philippe, and Alphonse. Philippe Jules Mancini was a lover of Philippe de France, brother of Louis XIV.

Early life

Marie Anne reached Paris much later than her sisters, in 1655, when she was a mere child of six. The last Mazarinette became the "spoiled darling" of the French court and of her uncle, who was greatly amused by the literary six-year-old's verses and bon mots. She was considered a wit and a beauty. Even more than her older sister Hortense, Cardinal Mazarin's favorite niece, Marie Anne is often referred to as "the wittiest and most vivacious of the sisters." According to a contemporary, she was, "said to be quite divine, having infinite appeal." Self-possessed, she excelled at such courtly diversions as dancing and plays.

In 1657, her eldest sister, Laure, died in childbirth. Marie Anne, despite her young age, was given her sister's three sons to raise. Marie Anne was only a few years older than her nephews. The youngest child, Jules César, died three years later in 1660. The two older boys, Louis Joseph and Philippe, however, survived. Both young men became soldiers, with Louis Joseph eventually gaining fame as a general.

Husband and children

Her uncle died when she was thirteen. The night before the cardinal's death, the famous field marshal Turenne came to his bedside to ask for the hand of Marie Anne in the name of his nephew, the duc de Bouillon. About a year later, on 22 April 1662, Marie Anne wed the duke at the Hôtel de Soissons, in the presence of King Louis XIV, his mother and wife.

Her husband was a good soldier, but a bad courtier and even worse literary man. As a result, the intelligent and ambitious fifteen year old duchess was left on her own to pursue her political and literary interests. She established a small salon at her new residence, the Hôtel de Bouillon.

Marie Anne and her husband had seven children, including:

Louis Charles de La Tour d'Auvergne, Prince of Turenne (14 January 1665–4 August 1692) died at Enghien, married Anne Geneviève de Lévis, daughter of Madame de Ventadour, no issue;

Marie Élisabeth de La Tour d'Auvergne, Mademoiselle de Bouillon (8 July 1666–24 December 1725) never married;

Emmanuel Theodose de La Tour d'Auvergne, Duke of Bouillon (1668–17 April 1730) married first Marie Armande

Victoire de la Trémoïlle (1677–1717), daughter of Charles Belgique Hollande de La Trémoille, and had issue; married second Louise Françoise Angélique Le Tellier, granddaughter of Louvois, and had issue; married third Anne Marie Christiane de Simiane (d.1722) and had issue; married fourth Louise Henriette Françoise de Lorraine, the daughter of the Count of Harcourt, and had issue;

Eugene Maurice de La Tour d'Auvergne, Prince of Château-Thierry (29 March 1669–23 November 1672) never married;

Frédéric Jules de La Tour d'Auvergne, Prince of Auvergne (2 May 1672–1733) married Olive Catherine de Trantes and had issue;

Louis Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, Count of Évreux (2 August 1674–23 January 1753) married Marie Anne Crozat, daughter of Antoine Crozat, no issue;

Louise Julie de La Tour d'Auvergne, Mademoiselle de Château-Thierry (26 November 1679–21 November 1750) married François Armand de Rohan and had a child who died aged 3.

Later life

Marie Anne is best remembered for her literary pursuits and for her patronage of the young La Fontaine.

She was socially and politically compromised in the notorious Affaire des Poisons, allegedly for planning to poison her husband in order to marry her nephew Louis Joseph. Unlike her older sister, Olympe, comtesse de Soissons, however, who was forced to flee to Spain in order to escape arrest, Marie Anne was never punished by Louis XIV.