Louise de la Valliere

“La Grande Saloniere,” One of History’s Most Fascinating Ladies
AKA
Françoise Louise de La Baume Le Blanc
Born
1644
Died
1710
Portrait Year
1664
Portrait Age
20

Ninon established a salon in Paris that became a center of social life and literary discussion for the elite of the 17th century. Well known for her wit and beauty, Ninon had many lovers and was a patron to Voltaire, among others. She has been the subject of a poem by Dorothy Parker and a comic opera by Charles Lecocq.

Louise was the young King Louis XIV’s first official mistress. Her first child by Louis was born just before he married the Spanish enfanta Maria Theresa, and she would bear Louis five children in all. She was used by Louis to cover his other affairs, and the strain of the scandals caused her health to suffer. After several attempts, she was finally allowed to leave court, and became a Carmelite nun in 1675. She died in 1710 having spent the last half of her life counseling others.