Note: This page will probably not be updated for quite some time. I have started work on a novel based on the life of la Maupin, and that effort is taking all of my attention.
Please visit us at LaMaupin.com, the home of "La Maupin—Mistress of the Sword". There you'll find the La Maupin blog, my latest sources, and eventually snippets from the novel.Jim Burrows
La Maupin, 17th century French swordswoman, adventuress and opera star, was like something out of a novel by Dumas or Sabatini, except for two things. First she was real, and second few authors would have attributed her exploits to a woman. Theophile Gautier borrowed her name and a few of her characteristics for the heroine of his novel Mademoiselle De Maupin, but in many ways his character was only a pale imitation of the original. The real Maupin was a complex creature. Well born and privileged, she knew how to use her influential friends and contacts to get what she wanted or to escape danger, but she was also proud and self-reliant. She seems to have craved the center stage, reveling in both fame and infamy. She had a fiery temperament and equally fiery passion, often the fool for love.
Mlle. Maupin was, excepting her sex, the very image of the swashbuckling romantic cavalier: tall, dark and handsome, one of the finest swordswomen or swordsmen of her day. She was athletically built, had very white skin and dark auburn curls with blonde highlights, blue eyes, an aquiline nose, a pretty mouth and, it is said, perfect breasts (or perhaps just a lovely throat).
She was also a star of one of the greatest theaters of her day -- the Paris Opera. She had a lovely contralto voice and a phenomenal memory. Although she was largely unschooled in music and is said by some to have had little talent for singing, her good looks, beautiful voice, love of attention, excellent memory and flamboyance seem to have suited her well for stardom on the stage of the Paris Opera.
She is said to have been "born with masculine inclinations" as well as having been educated in a very masculine way. Certainly, she often dressed as a man and when she did so could be mistaken for one. She also seemed to have at least as much an eye for members of her own sex as for men. Her skill with the sword, either in exhibition or duels fought in earnest, seems to have been exceptional.
To date I've found only a handful of sources (Sources) on her life and adventures, so this page is necessarily short. What follows is a retelling of what I found there. As I manage to find more I will expand it. There is no explicit sexual content, but she was bisexual and her affairs may be shocking to some.
[EarlyLife:] La Maupin was born Julie d'Aubigny(Julie) in 1670 and died in 1707. Her father was Gaston d'Aubigny(d'Aubigny), the secretary of the Comte d'Armagnac. The count, as Grand Squire(GrandSquire) of France (or Royal master of the Horse), was responsible for the education of the Sun King's pages and the training of his horses. M. d'Aubigny is said to have been a hard drinker and heavy gambler, frequenting the salles d'arms by day and the company of women by night.
If his vices were common for his day, his views on the proper education of women was not. He raised his daughter in much the ways that the royal pages were trained in the household of the Comte d'Armagnac. She was instructed in writing, dancing, grammar, and drawing, and d'Aubigny himself trained her in the art of the sword. He seems to have thought that training with rapier and foil was the only way that one could be safe upon the streets of Paris, and determined to see his child safe, regardless of her sex.
Surrounded as she had been all her life by men and boys, she had learned, it would seem, the art of seduction as well as arms. At the age of fourteen or fifteen, she turned her wiles on the one man her father could not refuse -- his employer, the Comte d'Armagnac. As seems to be ever the case with her, she was victorious and captured the count's heart, and through him found her introduction to the Court and the town.
In order to camouflage their affair, the Count arranged to marry her off to a M. Maupin from Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Shielded by the marriage, their affair continued for a while, no more than another year, before the eager young Julie became too much for the Count to handle. Eventually, the Count ended the affair. Soon her husband was offered an administrative position overseeing the taxes in the provinces. Some sources suggest that it was at her instigation, others the Count, perhaps in hopes of escaping her, and still others that it was M. Maupin's friends. The Count seems to have been of the impression that madame would accompany her husband out to the country, but she informed him that the position was too meager to support them both and stayed in Paris.
Marriage had freed her from the constraints that propriety placed on to marriageable young ladies, and now her husband's absence and the Count's loss of interest gave her more freedom. She proved herself her father's daughter by going wild. There are reports of her striking shop keepers and of provoking fights with young aristocrats.
While frequenting the salles d'arms, she met and became romantically involved with a man from the Midi named Sérannes. While one source calls him a clerk, all of the rest say that he was a fencing master and some say that he instructed her in sword, but that she soon surpassed him. That may be, but as her father is said to have engaged fencing masters such as de Liancourt, a famous weapons master and author of "Le maistre d'armes ou l'exercice de l'espée seule" (1686), it seems unlikely that Sérannes's main role in her life was fencing lessons.
The pair soon ran afoul of one of the most powerful men in Paris, the Lieutenant-General of Police, Nicolas-Gabriel de La Reynie. La Reynie, the man behind the investigation of the "Affair of the Poisons"(LaReynie), is often regarded as the first modern policeman, but in fact he was more. The police in his day were responsible for all facets of city life from regulating the price of food in the markets to lighting and cleaning the streets as well as investigating and preventing crime. He was a strict enforcer of the anti-dueling laws and the regulation of weapons.
Either on his own, or perhaps at the urging of the Comte d'Armagnac, La Reynie was on the trail of Sérannes, who was accused of being involved in a duel that led to the death of a man behind the church of the Carmelites, and had to flee the city. La Maupin ran away with him to Marseilles, where Sérannes claimed to have adequate prospects to support them both.
[Marseilles:] When Sérannes prospects turned out to be much thinner that he had claimed and the pair were forced to find a way to support themselves. Unwilling or unable to let Sérannes provide for them both, Julie found two occupations in Marseilles: the sword and the song. They gave exhibitions of dueling, sang and told stories in the tap-room of the inn where they we staying. By this point she had adopted her habit of dressing in men's clothing(CrossDress), which was certainly more suited to the fencing exhibitions that a woman's. Still, it would seem, she advertised rather than concealed her sex, using the fact of it to draw attention to herself and increase the interest in their exhibitions.
So proficient was she with the sword, so strong, graceful and skilled, that some doubted she could in fact be a woman, and one night a heckler called out that she was a boy, some Cavalier or fencing master's protégé, and not a woman at all. Enraged at this, La Maupin cast down her foil and ripped open her shirt so that the audience could judge for themselves whose claim had the greater merit. It is said that the receipts that evening were particularly good.
Soon after arriving in Marseilles, she auditioned at the music academy of Pierre Gaultier, a friend of Lully, and highly influential director in his own right. Her beautiful contralto voice, despite her lack of musical training or sophistication, had great affect on Gaultier and she was accepted into the academy. (This would seem to have occurred not long after he opened the school which was on June 28, 1685) She made her professional singing debut in Marseilles, under the name of Mlle. (or perhaps M.) d'Aubigny, and for a time she and Sérannes supported themselves by singing in the theatre.
[laMarseilles:] After a while she became bored with Sérannes, and she declared, with men in general. Having experienced the attentions of young ladies who at first mistook her for a man, she thought it would make a charming contrast for a virile woman such as herself to be seen around town with a young girl, and a blonde would show off her own dark coloring. Soon a beautiful young blonde, perhaps mistaking La Maupin for a man, demonstrated some infatuation for La Maupin, who reciprocated with ardor. The young lady's parents, not surprisingly, did not approve of the liaison, and quickly sent her into the Visitandines convent in Avignon in order to keep the two apart. Our heroine followed, entering the convent herself as a novitiate. Shortly thereafter, one of the nuns died. La Maupin disinterred the body of the deceased nun and, placing it in the bed of her beloved, set the room afire so that the two could flee in the ensuing confusion.
They disappeared for three months before La Maupin abandoned the young novice who returned in shame to her family and the convent. A tribunal of the Aix Parliament tried La Maupin in absentia and condemned her to death by fire for her crimes, which seem to have included kidnapping the novice, body snatching, setting fire to the convent, and failing to appear before the tribunal. The condemnation, interestingly, was of "sieur" d'Aubigny, perhaps to conceal what was considered one of the more delicate aspects of the whole affair, the homosexual nature of her relationship with the young lady. (See the footnote on cross-dressing(CrossDress) for another explanation of this.)
[OnTheRoad:] Upon her condemnation by the tribunal, La Maupin fled Marseilles for Paris, a journey that would take her several months. We find her next in Orleans, down on her luck. Returning to eking out a living singing in taverns and inns she makes her way along the Loire valley. She seems to have thrown herself into this occupation with the zeal that seems to be her most defining characteristic. She is quoted as saying of this time, "I tried even to compose the words and airs of some chansonettes, which were liked well enough by my rough audiences."
Eventually, she made her way south to Poitiers where she met an aging drunk named Marechal. Marechal was a talented musician and an actor and recognized a La Maupin as someone who belonged on the stage in Paris, and not living the life of a vagabond. "If you wanted, you could be the best singer in Paris within four or five years. I'll teach you," he offered and she accepted.
Marechal trained her for a time, but soon his drunkenness took its toll and he began to fall into incoherence. He taught her as long as he was able and according to La Maupin, "what he taught me was a true revelation". In the end, as drink overcame him, he sent her away, advising her to go to Paris and there to take whatever job she could find in the theatre. If she continued to apply herself fame and fortune would be hers.
La Maupin took Marechal's advice and worked her way north, retracing her route back to Paris. In Villeperdue, just south of Tours she had another encounter that would change her life.
[dAlbert:]She was once again singing for her supper at inns and taverns on her way towards Paris. In Villeperdue she came into the company of a number of young squires at an inn. There are two quite different versions of this encounter. Both agree that she was, as usual, dressed as a man. In the first, she had just finished singing when one of the young men accosted her. It would seem that he had seen through her masculine disguise. "Tell me, o pretty bird, I've listened to your chirping, but now tell me of your plumage?" he called out to her.
This angered La Maupin. She rebuffed him and reached for her sword. The young bravo responded in kind and soon the challenge was given and accepted and La Maupin found herself facing three of the squires over cold steel. They withdrew to the tavern's courtyard where she fought all three at once and won. The match ended when she ran the fellow who had offended her clean through the shoulder. Pinned by her blade, her foe twisted around until he could see her sword's point, red with his blood, emerging from his back. She sheathed her blade, turned her back upon the fallen man and withdrew to her room.
Her conscience bothered her that night and she couldn't sleep, nor in the morning did she continue on her way. Instead she went to the village barber who acted as the local surgeon and asked after the health of her opponent. The barber assured her that he would recover, and she inquired as to his identity. He was, she was told, Louis-Joseph d'Albert de Luynes, son of the Duke of Luynes and Anne de Rohan-Montbazon(dAlbert).
That evening, one of d'Albert's companions called upon La Maupin to convey his apologies for the insults that he had offered her while he was in his cups. He begged her forgiveness and she answered that she would deliver her reply in person. That night, dressed as a woman, she called upon d'Albert in his room, and so began a passionate love affair. She helped to nurse him back to health.
In the second version of the tale, d'Albert did not recognize her for a woman. When La Maupin arrived at the inn, there were a number of lackeys tending the horses of their masters in the yard. La Maupin strode in and took a place at one of the tables where she was joined by the leader of the band. She ordered Burgundy and greeted the young man with a barely stifled yawn. As the drink flowed, the fellow became loud and boisterous, gesturing expansively as he extolled the many virtues of his horse in great and boring detail.
For a time, La Maupin responded in kind, discoursing on the merits of her own steed, but eventually she became bored with the young man's argumentative ways. She stood to leave and her grasped her arm clumsily to restrain her, tearing the lace at her cuff. She rebuffed him, throwing off his grasp and spilling the wine. In a trice, swords were drawn all around. D'Albert, hot with anger, and backed by his followers faced La Maupin's cold steel and colder temper.
D'Albert, having studied under the finest tutors, fancied himself an excellent swordsman, but found his best attacks parried, and then with a lightning riposte, La Maupin drove her sword clear through his shoulder and six inches beyond. She held him, skewered on her blade long enough for him to look back over his shoulder and see his own blood on the blade behind him. She withdrew her sword and sheathing it, helped to carry him to one of the inn's rooms. There she was informed he was a gentleman of promise, Louis-Joseph d'Albert de Luynes, Comte D'Albert, son of the Duke of Luynes and Anne de Rohan Montbazon. She countered that she was a gentlewoman of some birth herself, and introduced herself as Mlle. d'Aubigny, known as La Maupin.
She thereupon withdrew, leaving d'Albert astounded and besotted. He insisted upon being nursed only by her, raving and tearing off his bandages until she agreed to tend him. Thus began their life-long love affair. Both had many lovers, over the years, but theirs was always a special relationship.
When he was recovered, d'Albert received orders from the King to rejoin his regiment. They parted and he returned to Paris and then on to Germany. Their farewells were tearful and they swore undying love and fealty and agreed to meet when they could, in Paris or Germany.
La Maupin still had the condemnation of the tribunal hanging over her and so could not return immediately to Paris. Instead, she continued north to Rouen. There she met another young singer, a few years her elder, Gabriel-Vincent Thévenard, the son of a caterer from Orleans. He had left his job in his father's kitchens to pursue a career as a singer. Like La Maupin he was on his way to Paris and was practicing in the provinces, and like her he was gifted with a remarkable singing voice. Not surprisingly, Thévenard soon fell under La Maupin's spell, consumed with passion for her.
Soon the two singers started on their way to Paris, but La Maupin was still a condemned woman, and she dared not enter the public eye in Paris. If she was to live up to Marechal's predictions, something would have to be done about the tribunal's death sentence. So far she had evaded it by keeping a low profile and due to the tribunal's reluctance to admit or publicize the delicate nature of the affair.
She went in disguise to the Comte d'Armagnac's country estate in Marais. The Comte proved to be just as susceptible to her charms as ever, and despite all the trouble she had put him through he was glad to see her. She explained her troubles to him and he agreed to look into the matter. He did, and three days later at his request the King, who is said to have been secretly amused by her impudence and daring, annulled the death sentence of the Parliament of Aix.
Finally, she was free to return to Paris. She seems to have done so in about 1690(Debut) when she was about 20. By then the Palais Royal theatre was being managed by Lully's son-in-law Jean Nicolas Francin, Master of the King's Household. Francin had taken over in 1688 after the death of Lully. Thévenard had arrived in Paris before La Maupin, and as he had dreamed, was hired by the Académie Royale de Musique (the Paris Opera) his first day in the city, making him one more influential friend.
While she went by the name of Mlle. d'Aubigny in Marseilles, in Paris she used the name of Mlle. Maupin. She was not accepted into the company of the Opera as quickly as Thévenard. For some reason, Francin was not initially impressed with her but the ever-resourceful Maupin didn't let that hold her back. She looked up the retired singer Bouvard, whom she persuaded to intercede with Francin, who soon warmed to her beauty and lovely voice. And thus she made her debut on the stage of the Opera as Pallas Athena in Cadmus & Hermione. The title roles were played by M. Ardouin and Mlle. Rochois.
Mlle. Rochois won La Maupin's heart just a quickly as La Maupin won the audience's. They applauded her appearance, whereupon the goddess rose from her machine, doffed her helmet and took a bow. Sources differ as to whether she had a great talent for singing or merely an extremely lovely voice. They agree though that she was a beautiful woman, perhaps the best looking in the company, and she is said to have been a good dancer and a fine actress. This last is not too surprising given her obvious flair for the dramatic.
One or two sources claim that she excelled in "trouser roles(PantsRoles)", that is in playing male roles, but the only roles explicitly named in any of the sources are female. She played the goddesses Minerva and Pallas Athena, queens Medea and Dido, founder of Carthage and the warrior woman Clorinda.
Scandal followed her to the Opera, where she both loved and fought the actors and actresses with whom she shared its stage. It is said that she fell in love first with the soprano Marthe Le Rochois, and then with Fanchon Moreau who shared with her and Mlle. Desmatins the leading roles after the retirement of Mlle. Rochois in 1698. When La Moreau failed to return her ardor, it is said that La Maupin tried to commit suicide.
Whether it was because her operatic career took a while to blossom or for the mere love of adventure, La Maupin had a second career in Paris, as a professional duelist. This was a time when a great many professional duelists lived in the Latin Quarter and Faubourg St. Germain. Having been trained at arms as a child and then honed her skills in Marseilles and on the road, La Maupin was highly successful as a duelist.
An encounter with another actor at the Opera shows that not only hecklers, but even personal acquaintances could mistake her for a man when she dressed the role. He was Duménil, an ex-cook elevated to a tenor with the Paris Opera due to his magnificent voice. He is said to have been a dull and stupid fellow with an enormous ego, the sort who strutted like a peacock and coarsely propositioned the women of the Opera, and to have made off with their worldly valuables as well as their virtue. On the night in question he angered La Maupin by first insulting and embarrassing Mlle Rochois and then Fanchon Moreau and her sister. He then turned his eye on La Maupin. She rebuffed him and he replied with a vulgar epithet. With quiet menace, La Maupin warned "it does not end here."
Later that night she donned the clothes of a nobleman and waited for him at the Place des Victoires. There she challenged him to a duel but he refused to cross swords with him so she paddled him severely with her cane and took his watch and snuff box. The next day Duménil told his friends at the Opera that he had been assaulted by a trio of robbers and though he fought back they overwhelmed him and stole the watch and snuff-box. This was just what La Maupin had hoped for, the opportunity to disgrace him publicly, which she did by declaring, "Duménil, you liar and base coward! It was I alone who defeated you. You were afraid to fight and so I gave you a sound thrashing. As proof, I return to you your miserable watch and snuff-box."
While her masculine dress and behavior caused Duménil not to recognize her and to mistake her for a man, there were times when they brought her fame and scandal rather than anonymity. One of the most dramatic was at a Court ball.
The ball was given either by King Louis XIV(Louis), or by Monsieur(Monsieur), his brother the duc d'Orléans. La Maupin attended in a cavalier's dress and played that role to the hilt, but without concealing her own identity or sex, it would seem. She centered her attentions on one beautiful young lady, whose time she monopolized. They had several dances together, and when the guests' conversation buzzed with speculation about them, La Maupin suggested a more private tryst and sealed the proposal with a passionate kiss out in the middle of the dance floor.
This was too much for three young gallants, themselves suitors of the young lady. They surrounded the couple on the dance floor, protesting La Maupin's disgraceful behavior.
"At your service, gentlemen." she answered them in the standard formula of the duel, and all four withdrew to the dark gardens without to settle the affair. La Maupin defeated all three at once, though whether she killed or merely disarmed and injured them, I cannot say.
In any event, she returned alone victorious to the ball, only to be confronted by the King. "You are the jade La Maupin?" ask Louis "I have heard of your handiwork! Need I remind you of my decree against duels in Paris?" She denied nothing, for how could she? She was well known and had clearly been the center of everyone's attention. It would seem however that she did present herself to Monsieur who interceded for her.
[BrusselsAndBeyond:] The next day she awaited word of her fate, but instead of being arrested, she received word that the King, who it seems was again amused by her panache, was speculating that his law governed only men, and that she was free to duel at will. His hesitation gave her time to flee to Brussels until the crisis had passed.
In Brussels, she became, for a time, the mistress of Maximilian Emanuel(Elector), the Elector of Bavaria (one of the German princes of the Holy Roman Empire and governor of the Spanish Netherlands). The Elector eventually tired of her and she was replaced by a countess. He tried to pay her off by sending the countess's own husband with 40,000 francs and orders to leave Brussels. She threw the money in the count's face declaring it to be a present worthy of a [cuckold] such as the count himself.
She did, however, leave Brussels returning to Paris. [ReturnToParis:] Perhaps(Reconciliation) it was at this point that she reunited with her husband. A bit of respectability would have served her well just then. All that I know is that at some point while she was in Paris, she had her husband recalled from the provinces and reconciled with him. It is said that they lived together in perfect accord for a number of years, until his death.
On her return to Paris, she resumed her career on the Opera's stage where in addition to her earlier debut role of Athena, it is recorded that she played such characters as Dido, the founder of Carthage, and the goddess Minerva. In 1702, she added a successful run as Medee in La Grange's opera Medus, a role so difficult that Mlle. Rochois had said that she would have refused it. In that same year, André Campra wrote the opera Tancrède for La Maupin. It was the first opera in Paris written for a female lead who was not a soprano.
She retired from the Opera in 1705 and died two years later.
- Currently, my sources are:
- The introduction to Jessica Amanda Salmonson's anthology Amazons II
- The Encyclopedia of Amazons by Jessica Amanda Salmonson.
- Fétis's Biographie Universelle des Musiciens, as translated by my net-correspondent François Velde.
- Gallant Ladies by Rogers.
- Queens of Song by Ellen Creathorne Clayton.
- An article in the New Grove Dictionary of Opera by Julie Anne Sadie.
- A footnote in The Sword and Womankind by Beaumont.
- An extract from Emile Colombey's Histoire Anecdotique du Duel which appeared as an appendix to The Sword and Womankind.
- Personal communication with a fellow researcher who wishes to remain anonymous.
- A section in Women In Men's Guise by Oscar Paul Gilbert.
- A translation of Anne France Dautheville's novel Julie, Chevalier de Maupin by my net-corespondent "LaMaupin13".
- Most sources list La Maupin's given name unknown. Rogers, however, gives it variously as Julie or Julia. He quotes a letter from Thévenard that addresses her as "Julia", and Rogers himself calls her "Julie D'Aubigny, the incredible Maupin".
Also, a biographical novel by Anne France Dautheville entitled "Julie, Chevalier de Maupin" was published in Paris in 1995.
On the other hand, in an article in the Swiss magazine "l'Eveil culturel", Catherine Buser gives La Maupin's name as "Emilie d'Aubigny". The reference is a brief one. The passages translates as something like:
"Also [during the Baroque period], lived a professional singer Emilie d'Aubigny, better known as "La Maupin", notorious for her scandalous escapades, and Demoiselle Chantilly, wife of the comic opera director, with whom she undertook to explore all the facets of the occupation."
One also sees her referred to as Madeleine or Madeline, due presumably to a confusion between Gautier's Mlle. Madeleine de Maupin and the historical La Maupin. One interesting case of this is an article in Outlines, which refers to her as "Mlle. Madeleine Maupin d´Aubigny", combining the given name of Gautier's character with the real La Maupin's maiden name.
- Interestingly, the year that she is said to have been born to the Comte d'Armagnac's secretary, d'Aubigny, Louis XIV conferred the fief and title of the recently deceased seigneur d'Aubigny upon Louise-Renée de Kéroualle, the mistress of Charles II of England (who would himself have inherited the title from the Duke of Lennox, had Louis permitted it). In 1684, the fief of Aubigny was created a duchy-peerage, making Louise duchess of Portsmouth, Countess of Fareham, Baroness Petersfield, and Duchesse d'Aubigny.
Louis own mistress, the Marquise de Maintenon was also a d'Aubigny or d'Aubigné, being the granddaughter of Agrippa d'Aubigné, the Huguenot.
It is unlikely that Mlle. Maupin's father, M. d'Aubigny, was related either to Duchesse d'Aubigny, the Duke of Lennox, who had been the seigneur d'Aubigny until his death just before La Maupin's birth or Agrippa d'Aubigné. Aubigny is a village in the Berry. The name d'Aubigny may simply reflect the fact that her father (or an ancestor of his) was from that village, or perhaps another village by that name elsewhere in France.
Still, it is amusing to find three notorious women of the seventeenth century sharing the name.
The Comte d'Armagnac was the Grand Écuyer, one of the nine
Great Officers of France, appointed by the King and addressed by him as
"Cousin". "Grand Écuyer" means literally Grand Squire, and is
more usually translated as "Master of The Horse". He was in charge of the
Great Stable and those that worked there as well as the heralds, kings of
arms and other ceremonial officers.
See my Master of the Horse page for further
The Comte d'Armagnac at the time was Louis de Lorraine-Harcourt-Armagnac (1641-1718). His titles include Comte d'Armagnac, Comte de Charny, Comte de Brionne, and Vicomte de Marsan. He was a knight of the Order of the King, and as well as Master of the Horse, his offices included seneschal of Bourgogne and governor of Anjou. His wife was Catherine de Neufville, and he had 14 children, including Henry, the Count de Brionne; Prince Camille; Louis, the Baillif of Lorraine; and Prince Charles, who succeeded his father as Count d' Armagnac and Master of the Horse.
- Nicolas-Gabriel de La Reynie (1625-1709) served as Lieutenant of Police from 1667 to 1697 (the title was changed from Lieutenant to Lieutenant-General in 1674).
His office oversaw what would today be the police, courts, department of public works, department of sanitation, fire department, zoning commission, department of public health, bureau of weights and measures, the coroner's office and more. His duties included responsibility for the hospitals and prisons, regulating publishers, printers and book sellers as well as the food supply and prices; inspection of markets, fairs, hotels, boarding houses, gambling houses and brothels; overseeing the elections of masters and wardens of the six merchant guilds. He was responsible for the construction of a bridge over the Seine, requiring the alignment of houses, and an extensive system of street lights. He could, when necessary call up and command the equivalent of a posse.
La Reynie is generally held responsible for turning Paris from a squalid medieval city into the bright modern metropolis that came to be known as "the City of Lights". His most famous case was the "Affair of the Poisons" a scandal of witchcraft and poisoning that spread all the way to the King's mistress.
There used to be a biographical page for La Reynie, but it has since disappeared. The best I can find now is in French at the French Wikipedia.
- There is some disagreement among the various sources as to whether she dressed so as to disguise her sex.
According to some, such as
Clayton, she arrived in Marseille disguised as a man, and went by the name M. Aubigny, fencing, singing, seducing and condemned in that guise. Others, for instance
Rogers, recount that while she dressed in a Cavalier's clothing, she did not keep her sex a secret, but instead announced it to make her mastery of the art of the sword seem that much more amazing. This fits somewhat better with her character and some of the stories told, for instance, the story of the heckler, which has been set in both Marseilles and later in Paris.
I suspect that the one piece of evidence in all of this is the condemnation of "M. d'Aubigny" by the Aix Parliament for the debauching of the novice. Rogers explains their use of the masculine as "a tactful and delicate denial of the more shocking circumstance of the proceeding", where in Clayton's version it is more due to the fact that she was passing for a man at the time. I've chosen the view that she was openly cross-dressing rather than passing as a man as it fits her audacious personality and later behavior, and perhaps most importantly because I have yet to see real evidence that she specialized in pants roles in the opera as Clayton recounts it.
To my eye, casting her as a woman passing for a man rather than a woman openly displaying a man's habits and tastes is part of a tendency to deny or be blind to her lesbian side by folk who condemn it. Clayton has the novice believe that La Maupin is a man, and says that her friends, "rightly disapproving of the acquaintance, placed her in a convent at Avignon". Later at the Royal Ball, she says La Maupin "insulted a lady of rank so grossly" that her friends demanded satisfaction where others recount that she kissed the lady and arranged an assignation while dressed in men's clothing but known to be a woman. Describing the incident of the snuff box, Clayton speaks of "poor Dumenil" and suggest that La Maupin fancied she been insulted, generally making her the bully.
Perhaps it is my own biases, but I tend to see la Maupin as more brazenly open in her behavior. While at times mistaken for a man due to her dress and manner, she seems to have little wish to actually hide her identity. The King knew her for "the Jade La Maupin" at the ball, and it was the fact that she was a woman that makes her seduction of the lady there and the novice in Marseilles so objectionable. If she was truly passing, there would far less to object to and thus less motive for the events in general.
Gilbert, interestingly enough, claims that "No one therefore saw anything strange in the masculine clothes and conduct of our heroine", due to the fact that "a good number of women did as she did." I find this, too, a bit surprising. I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in the middle between Clayton and Gilbert's versions of things.
D'Albert was another in la Maupin's series of famous lovers.
Louis Joseph d'Albert de Luynes, born April 1, 1672, died November 8, 1758, married Charlotte de Berghes de Montigny on March 17, 1715, and through her became the Prince of Grimberghen. He served both Maximilian II of Bavaria and his son Charles VII, and became an imperial field-marshal.
From The Biographical Dictionary of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge-- By Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (Great Britain) Published by Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1842:
ALBERT, LOUIS JOSEPH D', son of Louis Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes, by his second wife Anne de Rohan, was born on the 1st of April, 1672. His tutor, the Abbe Jean du Pic, a voluminous but little-known author of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, appears to have cultivated in him his father's taste for letters, but not his father's turn for ascetic religion.
Count Albert, as he was generally called, made his first essay of arms at the battle of Fleurus (1st July, 1690), where he was dangerously wounded. In 1695, having been ordered by the king to throw himself into Namur, he remained several days disguised in the camp of the besiegers, and ultimately swam across the Meuse, and entered the town with their army looking on. He was there again wounded, while defending a fort in which his regiment had been stationed.
About the year 1703, Count Albert entered the service of the Elector of Bavaria, who gave him the command of his guards. In 1714 the elector sent him as envoy extraordinary to Madrid, where the King of Spain received him honourably. On the 17th of March, 1715, he married a daughter of the Prince of Berghes, who at that time was commandant of Brussels; on this occasion the Elector of Cologne, brother of the Elector of Bavaria, appointed the bridegroom grand bailly of Liege, an office in which he was installed on the 2d of April following.
Count Albert adhered faithfully to the court of Bavaria for the twenty-seven years which ensued, but his story during this period offers no event of sufficient mark to require notice here. In 1742 the Elector of Bavaria, son of his first patron, was elected emperor by the title of Charles VII. Immediately upon ascending the throne he nominated Count Albert his ambassador extraordinary to the French court, and in the same year created him prince of Orini-berghen, a title derived from the territories he held in Brabant in right of his wife. The Prince of Grimberghen died on the 10th of November, 1758.
Two works have been attributed to him ; but they are both juvenile performances, and there is room to doubt whether they might not more properly be called the works of his tutor Abbé Pic. They are described by Quérard, "Le Songe d'Alcibiade, traduit du Grec (composé par l'Abbé Pic, publié par le Prince de Grimberghen). Paris, Didot, 1735," in 12mo. "Timandre instruit par son Général, traduit du Grec par le P. de G. (le Prince de Grimberghen, ou plutôt par l'Abbé Pic son Précepteur). Paris, 1702," in 12mo. (Père Anselme, Histoire Généalogique et Chronologique de la Maison Royale de la France, §-c. Paris, 1728; J. M. Quérard, La France Litéraire, 1835.) W. W.
- Fétis cites her debut as 1695. Campardon and Sadie give 1690. Campardon lists the roles that she played in 1690 and 1693 as well as all the years from 1698 to 1704. Gilbert indicates that she met Thévenard in 1691 and that they made their debuts shortly thereafter. Letainturier-Fradin gives a full list of her roles. The earliest listing is Pallas in 1690.
- I believe the source of the notion that La Maupin played pants roles is Clayton, who
wrote "She was excellent both in comic and serious parts, but it was in male characters that she shone more especially: for these her appearance and manners were well suited." I think this claim can further be traced to a misreading of
Le Cerf, who according to Sadie, "remarked on her success in roles in which she abandoned her hairdo and fan for a helmet and lance, noting however that her lively and cavalier manner and her unusually strong voice offended neither decency nor verisimilitude". Le Cerf was, of course, referring to her roles as warrior women and goddesses, but Clayton may have assumed that warrior roles are male.
- The Web has a great many pages on The Sun King.
I recommend searching Google,
or just going straight to their Top Rated site, which is currently the
Château de Versailles
The Nord Pas-de-Calais web sight has an overview
on Louis XIV and his times.
- The King's eldest brother is customarily designated by the by-name of "Monsieur". Similarly, his wife
was Madame, his eldest daughter was Mademoiselle. Monsieur, in La Maupin's day was Philippe, duc d'Orleans. His second wife, Elizabeth-Charlotte, duchesse d'Orleans, wrote a great many letters, a number of which were collected as "Memoirs of Louis XIV and His Court and of the Regency".
That the Elector of Bavaria was in Brussels, and ordered La Maupin to leave the city, would seem to indicate that this episode occurred sometime between 1692 and about 1699 or 1700. Maximilian Emanuel, the Elector of Bavaria for most of La Maupin's life, was appointed governor of the Spanish Netherlands in 1692. The deaths of his son, Joseph Ferdinand, in 1699 and of Charles II of Spain in 1700, ended his control of the area.
If she debuted in 1690, then the Brussels episode could happen between 1692 and 1698. If her debut was in 1695, then the range would seem to be constrained to 1696-1698. Jean-Philippe van Aelbrouck(JPhVA) says, on www.cesar.org.uk:
La présence de Mlle Maupin à Bruxelles est attestée de novembre 1697 à juillet 1698. Sous le nom de Mlle d'Aubigny, elle figure en effet parmi les artistes appointés de l'Opéra du Quai au Foin et apparaît notamment dans le Thésée de Lylly, et probablement aussi dans Amadis et Armide (Archives de la Ville de Bruxelles, Fonds ancien 3458).which translates to something like:
The presence of Mlle. Maupin in Brussels is attested from November 1697 to July 1698. She appears under the name of Mlle. d'Aubigny among the salaried artists of l'Opéra du Quai au Foin and appears in particular in Lully's Thésée, and probably also in Amadis and Armide.
Letainurier-Fradin's list of roles shows a large gap from October 1695 to November 1698, when it shows her as appearing in as Minerva in Thésée, crediting Quinault as author and Lully as the composer.
- Jean-Philippe van Aelbrouck is the author of the Dictionnaire des danseurs à Bruxelles de 1600 à 1830 (Liège, Mardaga, 1993) and of a doctoral thesis on itinerant actors in 18th century Brussels, and contributing to the CESAR (Calendrier Electronique des Spectacles sous l'Ancien Régime) database.
He has been entering the results of his research, including information on some six hundred actors who performed during the eighteenth century in what was to become Belgium.
- I have two different accounts of the reconciliation of Mme. and M. Maupin. Fétis records that she had him recalled and lived "in perfect accord" with her husband in Paris for some time before his death in 1701. Campardon says that they reconciled shortly after her retirement in 1705. By either account, it would seem that it would have to be after her return from Brussels.
- We have several clues as to chronology. Many of them can be found in the
One of the best is the Répertoire Chronologique from Letainurier-Fradin.
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