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Henri M. 08-04-2007 06:22 AM

Influential Aristocrats Of The Past
Role models: aristocratic ladies who had so much influence on society that what they did, or wore, or purchased immediately became fashion. Or aristocratic ladies who became immensely influential, thanks to a relationship or thanks to having a salon which was frequented by politicians, artists, authors, etc.

Famous mistresses who became a role model also for society were for an example Diane de Poitiers, Duchesse de Valentinois (1499-1566) or Françoise-Athénaïs de Rochechouart de Mortemart, Marquise de Montespan (1641-1707).

Or for an example salons led by aristocratic ladies who became immensely influential. It even became rivalling salons between ladies who could claim to have the best and brightest as their guest. Everytheing they wore became fashion. Some late 19th and early 20th-Century Paris salons were major centres of music, including those of the Princesse de Polignac and Comtesse Greffulhe. In Spain, the Duchess of Alba had a salon which was renowned.

Elspeth 08-11-2007 04:41 PM

I've split the above post out of another thread on a different topic because it seemed like a good topic of discussion.

In Britain there was the obvious example of Sarah Duchess of Marlborough, who not only had great influence in society but also dominated Queen Anne for a significant part of her reign until she overstepped the mark and was banished in favour of a replacement, Abigail Hill, who she herself had introduced to the Queen. Later in her life, Sarah also tried to arrange a wedding between her granddaughter, Lady Diana Spencer (yes, really!), and the Prince of Wales, Frederick, son of George II; her plans were upset by the King and the government of the day, but the Duchess sounded like someone as wily as Lord Mountbatten when it came to advancement of herself and her family.

BeatrixFan 08-11-2007 04:54 PM

My favourite will always be Margaret, Duchess of Argyll. She was really fantastic and in the 80s would pop up on "An Audience with". I remember her appearing in the "Another Audience with Dame Edna" show in which Edna said, "The adorable Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, in a gorgeous frock. You were very lucky the person who lent it to you was your size darling". Margaret roared with laughter and was quite jolly. She married a Sweeny and her daughter Frances went onto become the Duchess of Rutland (now the Dowager, complete with Mama's hairstyle). She slept with pretty much everyone including Prince George, Duke of Kent and Prince Aly Khan. Then she married the Duke of Argyll but it ended in spectacular divorce case with the Duke producing the famous "headless man" photographs. They depicted the Duchess performing certain acts on a man who's face couldn't be seen but she was identifiable by her three-stranded pearl necklace and hairstyle. It was said to be either the Minister of Defence or Douglas Fairbanks Jr and for years it was unsolved until Margaret said before her death, "The only Polaroid camera in the country at that time belonged to the Ministry of Defence".

Anyway, she eventually lost all of her money in casinos and at Claridge's Dining Room and ended up in a nursing home where she died in a sad, drab single room. Someone wrote a musical about her I believe and she's buried in Brookwood Cemetery. I often saw her grave as it was nearby a friend's and it was always extremely well kept. I adored her theory on life's essentials; "A poodle. Only a poodle! That and three strands of pearls". Fabulous.

Marengo 08-11-2007 05:26 PM

The most hated ones are probably the Lorraine´s in France, with their eternal plotting for the Catholic cause and against Catherine de Medici and sons.

As most statesmen in the past were nobles the list will be endless. My personal favourite is Germaine de Stael, nee Necker. Daughter of Louis XVI minister of Finance, Jaques Necker. She married a Swedish nobleman who was instantly made Swedish embassador to Paris. She had a famous salon in Paris, where all the influential people of Europe gathered and which resulted in several confilcts with the Corsican crook who ecame the first emporor of the French.

More can be found here.

Avalon 08-11-2007 05:57 PM

The Lorraines (or Guises) were quite popular among the people though. Duke Henri de Guise (the one, who participated in the 'War of Three Henrys'') was said to be an extremely gifted person himself. Henry IV is one of my favourite Monarchs ever, but I often do wonder what would happen if the Guises won the Crown.

Perhaps the most hated influential aristocrats in England have to be Despensers (father and son, who were Edward II's favourites). In the end, it was largely because of them, that Edward had to abdicate.
Mortimer, the lover and ally of Queen Isabella (Edward II's wife), wasn't exactly popular either. He practically reigned during Edward III's infancy.

Marengo 08-11-2007 06:06 PM

Most popular among the catholics, which was the majority of the French indeed. I projected my Dutch version on them, in the old-fashioned protestant version of the story the Lorraine´s are almost considered as the helpers of the devil, esp. after St. Bartholmy night.

tan_berry 03-09-2008 07:51 PM

b31b2a49.jpg - Image - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This woman was a very influential aristocrat in France in the XVI century, as the mistress of king Henri II, Catherine of Medici´s husband. She was married very young to an older husband, did not have children, and near 30 she was already a widow, the Duchess of Valentinois. Her beauty is legendary, as well as her eternal youth. She was 20 years the senior of the king and he was very much in love with her. It seems she was, too, a very intelligent woman, because she was in advance of her time in the relation health-beauty. She used to take long walks and ridings as exercise and eat very hygienically, too. Henri II was a king because his older brother, the one with whom the Medici wanted to marry Catherine, died being still the crown prince. So he succeeded her father Francois I and Catherine was queen of France. Henri II gave to Diane one of the most beautiful castles of the Loire, Chenonceaux, and she administered it so well that made a lot of money growing different things. When Henry died sudden and accidentally, still very young, in a just, Diane lost all her privileges and the castle, too, since her rival of so many years, the queen, always pregnant as an advice of Diane to Henry, had now all the power in her hands. Diane could live quietly far from Paris and the persons who visited her said that at 70 she had the body and the skin of a woman of 40 years.

I almost forgot. Princess Michael of Kent wrote a book about this love relationship between the king Henri II and Diane the Poitiers called "The serpent and the moon". No, I have not read it.

I come from Wikipedia and I wrote yesterday some inaccurate facts. Diane died at 67, had two daughters with her husband, who was the grandson of a king and 39 years her senior. Catherine de Medici and her husband Henri II had 10 children, the eldest of them the first husband of Mary Stuart, married when they were still children. When Henri II died, Mary became queen of France as the consort of king Francois II, who died mysteriously, like many of Catherine de Medici´s children, a year and a half later. So, Mary became the daughter-in-law of dreadful Catherine, who went from queen to queen mother, and Mary, niece of the Lorraine´s brothers by her mother, had precedence over her. But that is another story and very dark, indeed.

Ithil 03-23-2008 03:23 PM

I've noticed that so far the people you all have mentioned are mistresses/lovers. Well there was one very influential aristocrat in Medieval England that no has said anything about. He is the Richard, 16th Earl of Warwick and 6th Earl of Salisbury. This was the man who is known as the 'Kingmaker' and placed Edward IV on the English throne. If it wasn't for him, Edward, Duke of York, would probably have never been King of England.

tan_berry 03-24-2008 07:33 PM

John and Robert Dudley
These two, Ithill, were father and son, and very influential aristocrats the two of them. The father, Earl of Warwick and later Duke of Northumberland, managed to influence the young Edward VI so that the two uncles of this unfortunate boy were executed, one of them the Duke of Somerset. When he could not avoid the death of the young king, he married one of his sons, Guilford, to Jane Grey, in a desperate intent to retain power.

His son Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, very handsome, was for a long time the lover of Queen Elizabeth I, when she was very young, at the beginning of her reign.

Ithil 03-25-2008 07:05 PM

I have heard of them too. They were the ones who persuaded Edward VI to name Lady Jane Grey as his successor bypassing his half-sisters: the future "bloody" Mary I and Elizabeth I.

MDS 07-27-2008 06:36 AM

In Denmark we had a princess named Leonora Christine. She was king Christian IV (probably on of the most influental danish kings)'s favourite daughter and was very much admired for her beauty, wit and sense of fashion among the people. When her father died however her half brother became king Frederick III and married Sophia Amalie who hated Leonora Christine, while Leonora Christine married a man named Corfitz Uldtfeldt, who is said to have been quite ambitious. Those two families were rivals to the throne, so Leonora and her husband were thrown out of the country and when they asked the swedish royals and other foreign royals to lead war against Denmark, they were condemned as traitors in Denmark. Corfitz Ulfeldt was killed while on the run and Leonora Christina was arrested and spent 21 years imprisonated in an extremely small, dank and cold room in a famous tower in Copenhagen, close to where her brother and his wife lived at the royal castle. While she was in there she wrote a famous book of her life and imprisonment called Jammersminde, which was not known in the public untill approximately 200 years later where it caused great interest and was seen as a unexpected gift from the past. Today it is considered a great littary work and a valuable historical source. To this day authors and historians also still cannot agree on whether to portray her as an ambitious and cold princess who betrayed her country or just a woman in love who followed her husband blindly. Most seem to settle for something in between though.

CyrilVladisla 11-19-2014 08:15 PM

The House of Guise, a branch of the ducal family of Lorraine, was influential.
The Guise family upheld firmly Catholic interests in France and in Scotland.

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