For those of you who are familiar with Doctor Who, you’ll recall an amazing episode called “The Girl in the Fireplace.” In this episode, David Tennant’s incarnation of the Doctor meets a young woman called Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, better known as Madame de Pompadour. I’m typically very interested with the history of France. Not only do they have some crazy events in their past, but they also had a culture completely different from what we know today. As the Doctor says in the episode, it’s a completely different world.
If you take a minute to look at Madame de Pompadour as a historical figure, you realize that she truly is a remarkable woman. Poisson was born as an illegitimate child and she was raised to become the mistress to the King of France. For her, that was Louis XV. At a young age, Poisson began to be educated, first at a convent and later through private tutors, eventually earning her way into an all-male think tank, showing her vast intelligence. Five years before she would even meet the king, Poisson was forced into marriage. However, this did not stop her from pursuing the king. In 1745, Poisson met the king at a ball and by July 1745, he announced her as his official mistress, and she was given the title “Madame de Pompadour.” At this time, it was well-acknowledged and accepted that the king had many mistresses in addition to his wife. In fact, it is believed that Poisson and the Queen of France were quite close friends themselves at this time. By 1750, Poisson’s role as mistress to the king had ended, but Poisson remained Louis XV’s close friend and political adviser until her death in 1764.
It is remarkable to think that this woman, who at the time would have been considered to be of ill breeding, could have such an immense influence on the king and could remain influential on him throughout her life. She truly was an incredible woman.