Françoise, Marquise de Maintenon

[Francoise, Marquise de Maintenon] Born Niort, France, 1635; died Saint Cyr, 1719. She was the granddaughter of Agrippa d' Aubigne, and was born in prison, where her father Constant d'Aubigne was incarcerated for conspiracy. She married the poet Scarron (1562), and later found an entrance to Court circles as tutor of Mme de Montespan's illegitimate royal children. She was ennobled by Louis XIV, who married her secretly (1684) after the death of Queen Marie-Therese. For the next thirty-one years she played an important part in French politics, her influence being felt particularly in religious matters, which earned her the hatred of the Protestants and Jansenists; she has been erroneously blamed for the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. It was largely due to her efforts that Louis XIV amended his conduct and that the licentiousness of his court was curbed. Her love of the poor was unbounded, but her greatest glory was her interest in the education of young girls, for whom she founded a celebrated school at Saint Cyr. Her writings give her a unique position among French literary women. Her tomb was desecrated by the French revolutionaries (1794), who mutilated her corpse and cast it into a hole in the cemetery.

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