The Poet's Princess

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High treason

La Rochefoucauld’s perfidy is mentioned in every important Memoir of the XVIIth century. Anne de Longueville is understood and championed as by Madame de Motteville, that paragon of virtue, as by Madame de Nemours whose adored husband, in a painful error of judgement, had become the lover of Anne de Longueville.

This is how Madame de Motteville’s analyses the event :

“Her overly indulgent mind accepted the advice of an extremely smart and charming man. (La Rochefoucauld’s). His excessive ambition caused him to attach himself to her not with the passion any other man would have felt, but in order to avenge himself on the Queen, drive away her minister (Mazarin) and, consequently, obtain all that he desired.”

Madame de Nemours comments:

“It was Monsieur La Rochefoucauld who insidiously instilled into the Princess so many shallow and false feelings. Because of his great power over her and, as he did not take her well-being into consideration, he involved her in any of his intrigues in which she was willing to participate.”

La Rochefoucauld, quite astonishingly, sees the situation similarly:

“In my time I was very gallant. I, who know all there is to know of the delicacy and the might of love, if I should ever fall in love it will be certainly in this manner. Well aware of how I really am, however, I don’t think this knowledge might ever pass from my mind to my heart.”

Nobody could have revealed his character more clearly. For La Rochefoucauld love is just another word, an abstraction that should be explored thoroughly. Without doubt he was right stating that he knew all about love. Rarely had a man been adored more than he was. Nevertheless, as for him the essential things dwell in his mind his heart is just a dumping place for superfluous items. All he is capable of is a certain “knowledge”. He uses Anne’s love and betrays her blind trust. He discards her when she ceases to be useful. With all his cunning he calculates the end of “the affair”. He plans to get out of it with his reputation unharmed. Thus he urges Anne de Longueville to replace him with another lover, the Duke de Nemours.

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