These days at the Big Trianon you can see this portrait of Athenais de Montespan. Courtiers would avoid to be anywhere near the widows of her apartment when the king was there with her, for she was renown for her sharp tongue. Athenais conquered the King’s mind before she got to his heart. Then as the King’s favorite Marquise gave Louis XIV seven children — her husband thought there were eight; but who is counting! She made the basket dress popular because she was always pregnant; when Marquis de Montespan discovered his wife’s liaison with the King, the fellow went on a berserk brothel spree, trying to catch a venereal disease to give it to his wife so that she would give it to His Majesty. The plan back-fired; denied all access to the conjugal bed, Monsieur Montespan attempted first a divorce, then a burial to his living wife; finally, everything else failing, he attached giant elk antlers to his carriage and called himself the First Cuckold of France! Athenais Montespan was a true spirit of the XVII century Versailles.
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