Marie Anne Mancini

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Marie Anne
Duchess of Bouillon
Marie-Anne Martinozzi (née Mancini), Duchess of Bouillon by Benedetto Gennari.jpg
Portrait by Benedetto Gennari, circa 1672–1673
Died20 June 1714
Clichy, France
SpouseGodefroy Maurice de La Tour d'Auvergne
Louis Charles, Prince of Turenne
Emmanuel Theodose, Duke of Bouillon
Frédéric Jules, Prince of Auvergne
Louis Henri, Count of Évreux
Louise Julie, Princess of Montbazon
Marie Anne Mancini
FatherLorenzo Mancini
MotherGeronima Mazzarini
Portrait of Madame La Duchesse De Bouillon, 1670s.

Marie Anne Mancini, Duchess of Bouillon (1649 – 20 June 1714), was an Italian-French aristocrat and cultural patron, the youngest of the five famous Mancini sisters, who along with two of their female Martinozzi cousins, were known at the court of Louis XIV, King of France as the Mazarinettes, because their uncle was the king's chief minister, Cardinal Mazarin. She is known for her involvement in the famous Affair of the Poisons, and as the patron of La Fontaine.


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

Her four famous sisters were:

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[edit]

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.

Marriage and culture patronage[edit]

Marie Anne by Nicolas de Largillière, c.1700

Her uncle died when she was thirteen, in 1661. 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 Godefroy Maurice de La Tour d'Auvergne, 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, the queen and the queen dowager.

Her husband was described as 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 is best remembered for her literary pursuits, and for her patronage of the young La Fontaine.

She and her spouse had a harmonious marriage. Her husband loved her and was tolerant of her love affairs, and refused to follow the wish of his family and have her incarcerated in a convent for adultery.[1] On one occasion, when she herself took refuge in a convent out of fear for his family after a particularly public love affair, her husband himself asked her to leave the convent and return to him.[1]

The Affaire des Poisons[edit]

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, duc de Vendôme. She was to have visited Adam Lesage and expressed this wish to him.[1]

Unlike her older sister, Olympe, comtesse de Soissons, who was forced to flee to Liège and later to Brussels, in order to escape arrest, Marie Anne was never formally convicted. The trial against her was conducted 29 January 1680, and she appeared escorted by her husband and her lover Vendôme holding each of her arms, and stated that she did not accept the authority of the court and had accepted to answer the court summon only out of respect for the king's rank.[1] She claimed that she and Vendôme had merely expressed a wish of frivolity, a joke, harmless and not honestly intended, to Lesage, and that if they believed that she had the wish to murder her husband, they could ask him if he thought so, as he had accompanied her to the trial.[1]

She was freed in lack of evidence, but was still exiled to the provinces by the king.[1] She spent some time in Nérac, and was able to return to Paris and the royal court in March 1681.[1] She was greatly admired within the aristocracy because of her wit and lack of fear during her trial, but she was never again well seen by the king, and in 1685, he banished her to the provinces once more, this time for a period of five years.[1] The king finally allowed her to return permanently in 1690, but after this, she preferred to avoid the royal court.[1]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide, and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV (St. Martin's Press (October 12, 2003) ISBN 0-312-33017-0)
  • Pierre Combescot, Les Petites Mazarines, 1999, Grasset/Livre de Poche. ISBN 2-253-14982-9