Marie de Rohan
|Duchess of Chevreuse|
Duchess of Luynes
Marie Aimée de Rohan
|Died||12 August 1679 (aged 78)|
(m. 1617; died 1621)
(m. 1622; died 1657)
|Father||Hercule de Rohan|
|Mother||Madeleine de Lenoncourt|
Marie Aimée de Rohan (December 1600 – 12 August 1679) was a French courtier and political activist, famed for being the center of many of the intrigues of the first half of the 17th century in France. In various sources, she is often known simply as Madame de Chevreuse.
Marie de Rohan, styled Mademoiselle de Montbazon, was the daughter of Hercule, Duke of Montbazon, who was governor of Paris and Île-de-France, pair de France, Grand Huntsman, and of princely rank at the French court of Henry IV. As head of the House of Rohan, he owned great estates in Brittany and Anjou. Her mother was Madeleine de Lenoncourt, who died two years after her daughter was born.
Her youngest half brother was François, Prince of Soubise, founder of the Soubise line of the House of Rohan. His wife was Anne de Rohan-Chabot, Madame de Soubise, who was one time mistress of Louis XIV.
On 13 September 1617, Marie de Rohan married Charles d'Albert, seigneur de Luynes, a favourite of King Louis XIII. He formed her taste for unscrupulous political intrigue, introducing her at court. In December 1618, Louis XIII named her to the newly created post of surintendante of the queen's household, prompting the première dame du palais, the much older and now outranked widow of the Connétable de Montmorency, to resign in protest. Initially the queen consort, Anne of Austria, was jealous and disliked Madame de Luynes, as the king paid her far too much attention, but eventually through assiduous efforts her influence with the queen became unrivaled.
On 26 January 1619, Marie de Rohan gave birth to a daughter, Anne Marie, named after the queen and her mother. In August Marie de Rohan's husband Charles was made governor of Picardy and Duke of Luynes and on 14 November was officially received as a duke and a Peer of France at a ceremony in the great hall of the Parlement of Paris. With their elevated status, the Duke and Duchess of Luynes were able to sign a contract on 22 January 1620 arranging a marriage between their one-year-old daughter and the one-year-old Charles Louis de Lorraine, Duke of Joyeuse, a son of Charles, Duke of Guise. They agreed to pay a dowry of 60,000 livres, to which the king added 100,000 livres. Since the children were so young, the marriage was to take place after they became adults. Subsequent events made this impossible, and Anne Marie died unmarried in 1646. A second daughter was born early in 1620, but she died about ten years later.
On Christmas night 1620, attended by the queen, Marie de Rohan gave birth to Luynes' son and heir, Louis Charles, named after the king and his father. Paris church bells were rung to celebrate the event, and cannon were fired at the medieval Château de Caen, where the king and the duke were staying. Their son was baptised in Paris with Louis XIII as godfather and the king's mother, Marie de Médicis, as godmother. The entire court attended, and it was said to have cost the king 80,000 livres. After Luynes died of scarlet fever in 1621, Louis Charles became the second Duke of Luynes and married his mother's sister, Anne de Rohan. His daughter Jeanne Baptiste, simultaneously Marie's granddaughter and niece, was the mistress of Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia and ancestress of the Savoy kings of Italy.
The now Dowager Duchess of Luynes inherited his Paris townhouse (hôtel particulier) on the rue Saint-Thomas-du-Louvre. She sold it to Claude of Lorraine, Duke of Chevreuse, shortly before her marriage to him on 21 April 1622. Her new husband had it extensively altered by the royal architect Clément Métezeau in 1622–1623, when it became the new Hôtel de Chevreuse. From this second marriage, she had three daughters. Two of them became nuns, Anne-Marie of Lorraine (1625–52), abbess of Pont-aux-Dames, and Henriette of Lorraine (1631–93), abbess of Jouarre and later at Port-Royal. The third daughter, Charlotte-Marie of Lorraine (1627–52), having failed to wed Armand de Bourbon, Prince of Conti, became the mistress of Cardinal de Retz and played a role in the Fronde, but never married.
Friend and confidante of the queen, she was banished from court after an incident in which she had encouraged the pregnant queen in boisterous games in the corridors of the Louvre, resulting in a miscarriage. The duc de Chevreuse used all his influence to have her restored to court.
In her attempts to regain her lost position, she provoked or encouraged the conspiracies of the court, such as the Buckingham affair (1623–24) that compromised the Queen, which she instigated with the connivance of her English lover, Henry Rich, later created Earl of Holland, and of the highest-ranking aristocrats against Richelieu, such as her complicity in the conspiracy of her lover, the comte de Chalais, that she set up in 1626, with the unlikely intention of replacing Louis XIII with his brother, Gaston d'Orléans. Chalais, deeply embroiled, lost his head on 19 August 1626, while the duchesse de Chevreuse fled to Lorraine, where she soon carried on an affair with Charles IV, Duke of Lorraine, who intervened on her behalf to have her allowed to return to France; once she was reestablished at Dampierre, her subversion of royal power continued.
She was at the center of all the intrigues that involved foreign powers against France: negotiations with the duchy of Lorraine and with Spain conducted by Charles de l'Aubespine, marquis de Châteauneuf, keeper of the seals, who ruined himself on her behalf, revealing to her the councils of the king (1633). Secret exchanges of correspondence with Spain carried out by Anne of Austria were unmasked in 1637, requiring the Duchesse de Chevreuse to flee to Spain, then to England and finally to Flanders. She was involved in the conspiracy of the comte de Soissons (1641) and at the death of the king, a clause in the testament of succession forbade the return to France of the duchesse; a decision of the Parlement of Paris was required to break the will.
After the death of Richelieu, once again in France, she conspired at the center of the cabale des Importantsled by Chateauneuf against Mazarin, in 1643; with the arrest and exile of César de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme, she fled once again. During the Fronde, she came closer to Mazarin for a time (1649–50), but then she switched back to the aristocratic party when the parliamentary Fronde and the aristocratic Fronde joined forces in 1651.
After the death of the Duke of Chevreuse in 1657, the now Dowager Duchess of Chevreuse sold her hôtel on the rue Saint-Thomas-du-Louvre to the Duc de Candale, who put it in the name of his father, Bernard de Nogaret, duc d'Épernon. In 1660 she had a new Hôtel de Chevreuse built on the rue Saint-Dominique to the designs of the architect Pierre Le Muet.
She died in retirement in the convent of Gagny (Seine-Saint-Denis département) in 1679.
Victor Cousin published a biography in 1856, which was published in an English translation by Mary L. Booth in 1871. H. Noel Williams' A Fair Conspirator: Marie de Rohan, Duchesse de Chevreuse was published in 1913. Modern biographies are by Denis Tillinac (L'Ange du désordre, (Paris: Robert Laffont) 1985, by Christian Bouyer, La Duchesse de Chevreuse : L'Indomptable et voluptueuse adversaire de Louis XIII (Paris: Pygmalion-Gérard Watelet) 2002, and by Georges Poisson (Paris:Librairie Académique Perrin) 1999.
Alexandre Dumas entangles her in the plots of The Three Musketeers, in which she is said to be the mistress of the musketeer Aramis, and Twenty Years After, in which Raoul, the hero of the third novel of Dumas' trilogy, is the secret son of the Duchesse de Chevreuse and the musketeer Athos.
Gaetano Donizetti's tragic opera Maria di Rohan, which debuted at the Kärntnertor theater in Vienna on 5 June 1843, followed by a success in Paris in November, was freely based on the conspiracy of Chalais.
In 2002, she was portrayed by Wendy Albiston in the Doctor Who audio drama The Church and the Crown.
Juliette Benzoni published two novels in French based on her life: Marie des intrigues (2004) and Marie des passions (2005).