duchess of Portsmouth, Louise de Kéroualle

(1649—1734) royal mistress

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Of Breton lineage, Louise de Kéroualle accompanied Henrietta Anne, sister of Charles II, to England in 1670; Charles's despair at Henrietta's sudden death and obvious infatuation with Louise encouraged Louis XIV to send her back to England. She rapidly rose to become ‘the most absolute of the king's mistresses’. Her son by Charles (1672) was created duke of Richmond and she herself made duchess of Portsmouth in 1673. Universally unpopular as Frenchwoman and catholic, she was mercenary, recklessly extravagant, and haughty to inferiors.

Subjects: British History.