marrying well – mazarinette style

Hortense Mancini, duchesse Mazarin (1646 – 1699), was the favourite niece of Cardinal Mazarin, chief minister of France, and a mistress of Charles II, King of England, Scotland and Ireland. She was the fourth of the five famously beautiful 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.

Hortense found here

In 1661, fifteen-year-old Hortense was married to one of the richest men in Europe, Armand-Charles de la Porte, duc de La Meilleraye. Upon marriage to Hortense, he was granted the title of duc Mazarin. On the death of Cardinal Mazarin soon after, he gained access to his wife’s huge inheritance, which included the Palais Mazarin in Paris, home to many pieces of fine art.

floral replica of the Palais Mazarin found here

The marriage was not a success. Hortense was young, bright, and popular; Armand-Charles was miserly and extremely jealous, not to mention mentally unstable. His strange behaviour included preventing milkmaids from going about their job (to his mind, the cows’ udders had strong sexual connotations), having all of his female servants’ front teeth knocked out to prevent them from attracting male attention, and chipping off and painting over all the “dirty bits” in his fantastic art collection. He forbade his wife to keep company with other men, made midnight searches for hidden lovers, insisted she spend a quarter of her day at prayer, and forced her to leave Paris and move with him to the country.

“Milkmaid” by Ava Seymour found here

It was at this point that Hortense began a lesbian love affair with the sixteen-year-old Sidonie de Courcelles. In an attempt to remedy his wife’s ‘immorality’, her husband sent both girls to a convent. This tactic failed, as the two plagued the nuns with pranks: they added ink to the holy water, flooded the nuns’ beds, and headed for freedom up the chimney.

image found here

Despite their differences, Hortense and her husband had four children though she had to leave them behind when she escaped from her hellish marriage in 1668. The French King Louis XIV declared himself her protector and granted an annual pension of 24 thousand livres. A former suitor, the Duke of Savoy, also declared himself her protector.

King Louis XIV as a child found here

The English ambassador to France, Ralph Montagu, enlisted her help in increasing his own standing with Charles II by replacing the king’s current mistress, Louise de Kerouaille. Hortense was willing to try. In 1675, she travelled to London dressed as a man; her penchant for cross-dressing is thought to be an outward expression of her bisexuality.

Louise found here

By mid-1676, Hortense had fulfilled her ambition; she had taken the place of Louise de Kerouaille in Charles’s affections. This might have continued had it not been for Hortense’s promiscuity.

Firstly, there was her lesbian relationship with Anne, Countess of Sussex, the king’s illegitimate daughter. This culminated in a very public, friendly fencing match in St. James’s Park, with the women clad in nightgowns, after which Anne’s husband ordered his wife to the country. There she refused to do anything but lie in bed, repeatedly kissing a miniature of Hortense.

image found here

Secondly, she began an affair with Louis I de Grimaldi, Prince de Monaco. Charles remonstrated with her and cut off her pension, although within a couple of days he repented and restarted the payments. However, this signified the end of Hortense’s position as the king’s favourite.

Hortense’s death was recorded in 1699: “She was born in Rome, educated in France, and was an extraordinary beauty and wit, but dissolute, and impatient of matrimonial restraint; when she came to England for shelter, lived on a pension given her here, and is reported to have hastened her death by intemperate drinking strong spirits.”

Hortense may have committed suicide, keeping her life dramatic until the very end. When she died, her creditors seized her corpse and forced her husband to ransom it before they would send it to France. Once her husband had Hortense back under his control, so to speak, he refused to bury her for almost a year, carrying her coffin with him from place to place before finally allowing it to be interred by the tomb of her uncle, Cardinal Mazarin.

tomb of Cardinal Mazarin found here

Her sister, Olympia, Countess of Soissons, was also famous for her infidelities. Fascinated by astrology, she was implicated in the Affair of the Poisons and fled from France. Her son Eugene was a transvestite, and there were rumors that Louis XIV was his real father. Other notable relatives of Hortense included four great granddaughters (all sisters from the same family); each in turn became a mistress of Louis XV.

Madame de Pompadour doll found here

gangsters are romantics too

Phyllis McGuire was one of the famous singing trio, the McGuire Sisters.

image found here

She was also well known for her affair with Sam Giancana, whom she met in Las Vegas in 1960. Giancana, the notorious crime figure who shared one of his mistresses, Judith Exner, with President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Chicago in 1975.

Judith Exner found here

“Phyllis had taken a liking to the gaming tables and had run up a hefty marker. Sam spotted her and liked what he saw, so he asked Moe Dalitz, who ran the Desert Inn, how much she owed. Moe told him “$10,000” to which Sam is alleged to have replied “Eat it”, meaning erase the debt, a gesture not without charm and romantic appeal, especially since Sam followed it up with a suiteful of flowers.

image found here

In 2005, Dominick Dunne visited Phyllis at her extraordinary residence in the swankiest part of Las Vegas.

From the outside, the place looked like a suburban ranch style house, but all resemblance to ranch style living stopped at the front door, which was opened by a man wearing a gun in a holster under his open suit jacket. There is a 44-foot-tall replica of the Eiffel Tower in her living room, as well as 55 Bergère chairs. She has a lake with black swans in it, five gardeners, a putting green, and waterfalls that you can turn on and off. She also possesses one of the world’s great collections of serious jewels and once told me that maybe a few Saudis were better customers of Harry Winston’s than she was.

image found here

Downstairs she has a nightclub with a neon sign. The carpet rolls up and there’s a dance floor in the shape of a piano underneath. There is a beauty salon in the house, next door to a health club with three massage tables and three masseuses on call. 

image found here

Although Phyllis did not mention him in her list of suitors, there has been another romantic involvement since Sam, a larger-than-life character named Mike Davis, the owner of Tiger Oil. “Tiger Mike” was once the chauffeur of Phyllis’s great friend Helen Bonfils, and married Bonfils upon the death of her husband in 1956. Helen Bonfils was reportedly in her late sixties at the time and Davis was in his late twenties. 

Perhaps she has a weakness for chauffeurs. They’ve certainly played a significant part in her life

Singer Phyllis McGuire, 68, performed 40 hours of charity work at the Nathan Adelson Hospice in Las Vegas, and made a donation of $5,000 to the Injured Police Officers Fund. With proof presented to the Las Vegas Justice of the Peace, a misdemeanor criminal charge of obstructing an officer was dismissed.

image found here

The lead singer for the McGuire Sisters did not attend the court hearing. Her lawyer had struck a deal for McGuire, who was arrested on March 24 after she screamed, cursed, hit and head butted a police officer. She was riding in her limo when the vehicle was stopped by police who wanted to speak to the driver. The driver had been seen conferring with an individual, who was under police surveillance……

Published in: on August 8, 2011 at 9:58 pm  Comments (38)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

two of Boney’s babes

Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (1808 – 1873), as Napoleon III, was the ruler of the Second French Empire. Dissolute and muddleheaded, he clashed constantly with his frigid wife, Empress Eugenie, who combined a vast ignorance of the world with decided opinions on every facet of foreign policy.

He has a historical reputation as a womanizer, yet he referred to his behaviour in the following manner: “It is usually the man who attacks. As for me, I defend myself, and I often capitulate.”

Among his numerous love affairs and mistresses were:

Mathilde Bonaparte found here

his cousin Mathilde Bonaparte, Maria Anna Schiess, Alexandrine Éléonore Vergeot, laundress at the prison at Ham, mother of two of his sonsElisa Rachel Felix, the “most famous actress in Europe“, Harriet Howard, wealthy and a major financial backer, Virginia Oldoini, Countess di Castiglione – spy, artist and famous beauty, sent by Camillo Cavour to influence the Emperor’s politics, Marie-Anne Waleska, Justine Marie Le Boeuf, also known as Marguerite Bellanger, actress and acrobatic dancer. Bellanger was falsely rumoured to be the illegitimate daughter of a hangman, and was the most universally loathed of the mistresses (though perhaps his favorite) and Countess Louise de Mercy-Argenteau, likely a platonic relationship, author of The Last Love of an Emperor, her reminiscences of her association with the emperor.

Marguerite Bellanger found here

Harriet Howard was his mistress and financial backer for many years. Born Elizabeth Ann Haryett, at the age of fifteen she ran off with Jem Mason, a well-known jockey, to live with him in London. As his red-headed mistress and an aspiring actress she renamed herself Harriet Howard.

Harriet Howard found here

Into Lady Blessington’s London salon one evening in 1846 marched “a little man, four and a half feet high . . . with huge moustaches and pigs’ eyes.” He was Prince Louis Napoleon, pretender to the French throne and newly escaped from the French fortress of Ham, where he had been dumped  for trying to nab the throne. Exiled Louis was in search of a treasure chest from which to subsidize a fresh coup. One of Lady Blessington’s guests, a beautiful “tenth rate” Shakespearean actress known as Miss Howard, had just the chest Louis was after.

Napoleon found here

The destined pair exchanged confidences. Blushing Miss Howard confessed that her life was not free from stain: an evil man had taken advantage of her sweet nature—with the result that, though only 23, she had an illegitimate son in the fashionable London district of St. John’s Wood and at least £1,000,000 in the kitty. His eyes sparkling, Prince Louis forgave Miss Howard. He himself, he confessed, was not without sin. While incarcerated at Ham, he had fathered two sons of the jailer’s daughter—”the fruits of captivity,” he murmured. Then he threw himself at Miss Howard’s feet and knocked her off her bank balance.

more money origami here

For two idyllic years Miss Howard sheltered Louis in her London house, financed his exile’s finaglings and plottings. When Louis Philippe was deposed and France became a republic again, Miss Howard followed her lover to Paris and backed his successful campaign to make himself President. In 1852 her Louis was proclaimed Emperor.

Miss Howard waited patiently for fulfillment of the imperial promises. Instead, one day the Emperor begged his “dear and faithful Harriet” to undertake a special embassy to England. She got as far as Le Havre where, stormbound overnight, she opened a newspaper and read an official announcement of Louis’ betrothal to Spain’s Eugénie de Montijo, Countess of Teba. Bounding furiously back to Paris, poor Miss Howard got a second blow. All the locks in her boudoir had been smashed, the contents of her wardrobe thrown on the floor, her desk’s drawers torn out. The secret police had done such a thorough job that she “no longer possessed a single letter from Emperor Napoleon III.”

Empress Eugenie found here

Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione (1837 – 1899), was an Italian courtesan who achieved notoriety as another of  Napoleon’s mistresses. She was also a significant figure in the early history of photography.

The Countess was known for her beauty and her flamboyant entrances in elaborate dress at the imperial court. One of her most infamous outfits was a “Queen of Hearts” costume. George Frederic Watts painted her portrait in 1857. She was described as having long, wavy blonde hair, pale skin, a delicate oval face, and eyes that constantly changed colour from green to an extraordinary blue-violet.

Virginia Oldoini found here

n 1856 she began sitting for Pierre-Louis Pierson who helped her create 700 different photographs in which she relived the signature moments of her life for the camera. Most of the photographs depict the Countess in her theatrical outfits though a number depict her in poses risqué for the era — notably, images that expose her bare legs and feet. In these photos, her head is cropped out.

Virginia’s legs found here

Virginia spent her declining years in an apartment in the Place Vendôme, where she had the rooms decorated in funereal black, the blinds kept drawn, and mirrors banished—apparently so she would not have to confront her advancing age and loss of beauty. The Countess’s life was depicted in a 1942 Italian film La contessa Castiglione and a 1954 Italian-French film La Contessa di Castiglione that starred Yvonne de Carlo.