Author photo. Françoise d'Aubigné, marquise de Maintenon, représentée en Sainte Françoise Romaine Mignard Pierre (1812-1695)

Françoise d'Aubigné, marquise de Maintenon, représentée en Sainte Françoise Romaine Mignard Pierre (1812-1695)

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Françoise d'Aubigné, marquise de Maintenon, was the secret second wife of Louis XIV of France. She was born in unpromising circumstances near the prison of Niort, where her father was being held and where she was raised by her financially harassed mother. She was the granddaughter of a famous Protestant Huguenot poet, Agrippa d’Aubigné. When Françoise's father died, she was converted to Roman Catholicism by other members of her family. She married as her first husband the poet Paul Scarron. After his death, she was appointed governess to the children of Françoise-Athénaïs, marquise de Montespan, and the king, who took special notice of her. Eventually, she supplanted Athenais in the king's affections. He made Françoise a marquise in her own right and married her in the winter of 1685-1686 -- however, their marriage was never officially acknowledged. Accused of wielding great influence over Louis XIV, she was blamed for the persecution of the Protestants after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Madame de Maintenon founded a home for impoverished noblewomen, the Maison Royal de Saint-Louis, at Saint-Cyr, and wrote Conversations et proverbs, which was intended as an instructional dialogue for the students.
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