The marquis reacted like the madman which he was commonly thought to be. He ranted and raved to anyone who would listen about the immorality of the king’s affair with his wife—though many thought this newfound piety odd in a man known to have stormed convents to deflower girls
Madame du Barry was ecstatic. After suffering constant humiliation at court, she saw herself as queen of France before whom all her enemies would have to scrape and bow. But then it was remembered that she had a husband of sorts, drinking somewhere, who about that time sent word to the king that he would make an embarrassing appearance at Versailles unless sufficiently reimbursed. He was speedily paid off with several thousand livres and made a knight of the Order of St. Louis—a medal given for outstanding merit, though in this case outstanding blackmail.
Typically, the royal mistress did not scold, browbeat, or throw jealous tantrums. Sitting on her perch of dignified serenity, she selected her battles carefully, only rarely flapping down with talons bared
Along with literacy came a new appreciation of women’s valuable civilizing influence on society. The French court of the sixteenth century began accepting the idea that women were just as intelligent and capable as men, but infinitely more attractive. Almost overnight, royal mistresses became admired, imitated, and lauded.
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