Royal mistress

Last updated

A royal mistress is the historical position and sometimes unofficial title of the extramarital lover of a monarch or an heir apparent, who was expected to provide certain services, such as sexual or romantic intimacy, [1] companionship, and advice in return for security, titles, money, honours, and an influential place at the royal court. Thus, some royal mistresses have had considerable power, being the power behind the throne. [2] The institution partly owes its prevalence to the fact that royal marriages used to be conducted solely on the basis of political and dynastic considerations, leaving little space for the monarch's personal preferences in the choice of a partner. [2] [3]


The title of royal mistress was never official, and most mistresses had an official reason to be at the court, such as being a lady-in-waiting or maid-of-honour to a female member of the royal family or a governess to the royal children. However, their real position was most often an open secret, [4] and there was no real division between formal and informal political power in the early French court. [3] From the 15th century onward and most importantly in France, chief mistresses gained a semi-official title (French: maîtresse-en-titre , literally "official mistress"), which came with its own assigned apartments in the palace. A chief mistress was also sometimes called a maîtresse déclarée, or "declared mistress". An unacknowledged, less important royal lover was known as a petite maîtresse ("little mistress"). [4]

In Europe, the children of mistresses were typically not included in the line of succession, except when secret marriages were alleged. They were however regularly given titles and high positions in the court or the army.[ citation needed ]

In Bavaria

In Belgium

In Bohemia

In Denmark

In England

In France

In Great Britain

In the Habsburg monarchy

In Italy

In Portugal

In Romania

In Russia

In Scotland

In Spain

In Sweden

In the Netherlands

See also


  1. "The king's mistress - a royal tradition". 27 April 2005. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  2. 1 2 "In His Majesty's, Ahem, Service (". Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  3. 1 2 Little, Becky. "The Royal Mistress: Often the Most Powerful Person in a King's Court". HISTORY. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  4. 1 2 Revolutions, Age of (7 June 2021). "The Rise and Fall of the French Royal Mistress". Age of Revolutions. Retrieved 20 May 2022.

Further reading

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Morganatic marriage</span> Type of marriage between people of unequal social rank

Morganatic marriage, sometimes called a left-handed marriage, is a marriage between people of unequal social rank, which in the context of royalty or other inherited title prevents the principal's position or privileges being passed to the spouse, or any children born of the marriage. The concept is most prevalent in German-speaking territories and countries most influenced by the customs of the German-speaking realms.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mary of Modena</span> Queen consort of England, Scotland and Ireland

Mary of Modena was Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland as the second wife of James II and VII. A devout Catholic, Mary married the widower James, who was then the younger brother and heir presumptive of Charles II. She was uninterested in politics and devoted to James and their children, two of whom survived to adulthood: the Jacobite claimant to the thrones, James Francis Edward, and Louisa Maria Teresa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth</span> English and French noble (1649–1734)

Louise Renée de Penancoët de Kéroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth was a mistress of Charles II of England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Francis II, Duke of Brittany</span> Duke of Brittany from 1458 to 1488

Francis II was Duke of Brittany from 1458 to his death. He was the grandson of John IV, Duke of Brittany. A recurring theme in Francis' life would be his quest to maintain the quasi-independence of Brittany from France. As such, his reign was characterized by conflicts with King Louis XI of France and with his daughter, Anne of France, who served as regent during the minority of her brother, King Charles VIII. The armed and unarmed conflicts from 1465 to 1477 and 1484–1488 have been called the "War of the Public Weal" and the Mad War, respectively.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">House of Capet</span> Rulers of the Kingdom of France from 987 to 1328

The House of Capet ruled the Kingdom of France from 987 to 1328. It was the most senior line of the Capetian dynasty – itself a derivative dynasty from the Robertians.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Louis IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt</span> Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt

Louis IX of Hesse-Darmstadt was the reigning Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt from 1768 to 1790.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">English and British royal mistress</span>

In the English or British court, a royal mistress is a woman who is the lover of a member of the royal family, specifically the king. She may be taken either before or after his accession to the throne. Although it generally is only used of females, by extrapolation, the relation can cover any lover of the monarch whether male or female. Queen Elizabeth I is said to have many male favorites although it is not known whether the relationships were sexual or not.

<i>Maîtresse-en-titre</i> Title used for the chief royal mistress of the King of France

The maîtresse-en-titre was the chief royal mistress of the King of France. The title came into use during the reign of Henry IV and continued through the reign of Louis XV. It was a semi-official position which came with its own apartments. The position could come with significant power, as some mistresses were known to advise the king, broker favors for clients, forge alliances, and negotiate with foreign diplomats. In contrast, the title petite maîtresse was the title of a mistress who was not officially acknowledged.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elizabeth Tilney, Countess of Surrey</span>

Elizabeth Tilney, Countess of Surrey was an English heiress who became the first wife of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. She served successively as a lady-in-waiting to two Queen consorts, namely Elizabeth Woodville, wife of King Edward IV, and later as Lady of the Bedchamber to that Queen's daughter, Elizabeth of York, the wife of King Henry VII. She stood as joint godmother to Princess Margaret Tudor at her baptism.

Honouring individuals with burials and memorials in Westminster Abbey has a long tradition.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle</span> Royal chapel in Windsor Castle, England

St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in England is a castle chapel built in the late-medieval Perpendicular Gothic style. It is both a Royal Peculiar and the Chapel of the Order of the Garter. St George's Chapel was founded in the 14th century by King Edward III and extensively enlarged in the late 15th century. It is located in the Lower Ward of the castle. The castle has belonged to the monarchy for almost 1,000 years and was a principal residence of Elizabeth II before her death. The chapel has been the scene of many royal services, weddings and burials – in the 19th century, St George's Chapel and the nearby Frogmore Gardens superseded Westminster Abbey as the chosen burial place for the British royal family. The running of the chapel is the responsibility of the dean and Canons of Windsor who make up the College of Saint George. They are assisted by a clerk, verger and other staff. The Society of the Friends of St George's and Descendants of the Knights of the Garter, a registered charity, was established in 1931 to assist the college in maintaining the chapel.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George S. Stuart</span> American sculptor

George Stuart is an American sculptor, raconteur and historian. He has traveled the United States presenting historical monologues about the last four centuries in the Americas, Europe, Russia and China. To help audiences visualize the personalities in his monologues, Stuart created over 400 historically accurate, quarter life-size sculptures of personages with political influence from the 16th to the 19th century. His works have been exhibited in The Smithsonian and Clinton Presidential Library as well as at other museums and libraries throughout the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Royal bastard</span>

A royal bastard was a common term for the child of a reigning monarch who was considered to have been born outside of marriage - either because the monarch had an extra-marital affair, or because the legitimacy of the monarch's marriage had been called into question.

Since William the Conqueror claimed the English throne, succession has been determined by bequest, battle, primogeniture, and parliament.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">House Order of the Wendish Crown</span>

The House Order of the Wendish Crown was an Order of the House of Mecklenburg, jointly instituted on 12 May 1864 by Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Grand Duke Friedrich Wilhelm of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.