History’s ultimate ‘crazy ex girlfriend’: Caroline Lamb

Caroline Lamb has been remembered by history, thanks to her tenure as mistress to poet, Lord Byron.

Rather than the several books she published, it’s her love life that remains her legacy. With countless books and academic papers on Byron citing Caroline Lamb as the ultimate crazy ex; unhinged, obsessed, stalker-ish and prone to sending bloody locks of pubic hair as romantic favours.

But is this fair? Who actually was Caroline Lamb and does she really deserve the title of history’s ultimate ‘crazy ex’? Lets find out… 

Meet, Caroline Lamb, passionate writer and possible sender of bloody pubes

Caroline didn’t have a great childhood. Her parents were Henriette (Harriet) Spencer and Frederick Ponsonby, and believe me when I say, these two had a wildly unhappy marriage.

This had a huge impact on Caroline, namely because her parents were way to busy arguing and having affairs to actually parent her.

This led to Caroline developing some major behaviour issues, with her screaming fits and tantrums soon becoming part daily life.

When she was 9, Caroline’s parents shipped her off to live with Harriet’s sister, Georgiana Devonshire (her off of that Kiera Knightly film) and once more everyone failed to parent the by now irreparably out of control Caroline.

They tried medicating her with laudanum (a highly addictive pain killer), isolating her from the family and shipping her off to boarding school but nothing worked. Possibly because drugging kids up and ignoring them isn’t known to be a great parenting method.

By this point the family were sick of Caroline; something the now young teen was very aware of. Though she tried, she couldn’t make herself ‘better’ nor make her family love her, writing:

‘I’m mad
That’s bad
I’m sad
That’s bad
I’m bad
That’s mad’

Eventually, a doctor was bought in. He advised that Caroline was far to delicate to be stuck in a stressful school environment, and so Caroline’s formal education was stopped.

Caroline was now living every child’s dream: no school, no discipline and complete control over what she did.

There’s no doubt this was awesome… at least until she grew up to become an adult who was almost entirely illiterate in some areas and had no concept of boundaries or life experience!

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Yeah, it’s not the ideal start to life

But there was at least one thing in Carolines life setting some form of moral code: GOD

Left to her own devices, Caroline had become absolutely fanatical; she devoured the bible, turning to God and religion as her only source of sanctuary and wisdom, which is great when you have other outlets and relationships, but for Caroline it led to a really unhealthy dependency on her religious beliefs.

BUT bar the religious ferver, Caroline had grown up to be pretty cool – well, at least on the surface.

She was stunning, in an elf like way, rode horses bareback and despite her patchy education was super smart. She even started re-educating herself, studying Latin, Greek and discovering an unparalleled flare for literacy.

Naturally, as such a catch, Caroline was immediately married off and in 1805, at just 20 years old, she married family friend, William Lamb.

William Lamb by Sir Thomas Lamb, 1805
William Lamb: Bar the dodgy eyebrows, a pretty good guy

William and Caroline were good together. He was sweet, kind and patient. Finally after so many years lost and alone, it looked like Caroline was getting her happy ending.

Until the wedding night.

Sex left Caroline traumatised. She was overwhelmed by guilt, absolutely convinced that what she had done was a sin against god.

Caroline entered a constant battle with her sexual urges. Disgusted with herself and plagued with an ill placed religious guilt, she decided she never wanted to have sex again.

Still, 7 months after first sleeping with William, Caroline gave birth to a baby girl.

The baby was stillborn.

It was a tragedy that in no way helped Caroline’s fear that her sexual urges were inherently wrong. And so she sunk into a pit of despair.

In the midst of this, Caroline gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Augustus.

BUT Augustus was born with severe learning difficulties; though Caroline refused to have her son hidden away (as was the norm at the time) she struggled to raise him; his disability just adding to her depression and sense of guilt.

It’s pretty unsurprising that Caroline and Williams relationship was hitting the rocks during all of this.

They had frequent arguments, a desperate Caroline threatening to have an affair in a bid for happiness.

William found this a laughable notion; his wives crippling religious guilt was so much she couldn’t have sex with him, what were the chances with her doing it with someone else, outside of the godly ties of wedlock?

His reaction crushed Caroline, writing:

‘William cares nothing for my morals. I might flirt and go about with whom I pleased.’

Everything had become too much and Caroline broke, in what we might now see as a manic episode.

And so, she cut ties with the religious mania that had consumed her for so long. Deciding the only way she’d find happiness and solve her problems was to find a man and have an affair.

She couldn’t have picked a worse man to do this with…

(c) Newstead Abbey; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Meet Lord Byron, writer, poet, cad and categorically the worst romantic partner if you’re in any way emotionally vulnerable

Caroline had become obsessed with Lord Byron after reading his poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.

To say Byron had a reputation would be an understatement. He was one of the greatest poets and writers of his era BUT was perhaps more known for his excesses (and subsequent debts) drinking, partying and stacks of affairs.

After their first meeting, Caroline summed him up as:

‘Mad, Bad and Dangerous to know’

BUT this huge red flag didn’t deter Caroline, who immediately followed up with:

‘That beautiful pale face is my fate’

And so in 1812 the pair started what would become history’s most ill-advised affair.

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Seriously, nothing with this many red flags will ever end well

Though at first, Byron was less into the relationship than Caroline, the more time he spent with her the more fascinated he became, describing her as:

‘the cleverest most agreeable, absurd, amiable, perplexing, dangerous fascinating little being that lives now or ought to have lived 2000 years ago.’

And with that, the pair embarked on a whirlwind few months.

There was talk of running away together and as Caroline’s barriers started to drop, she even began dressing as a page boy, sneaking into Byron’s rooms for illicit and by all accounts, super X rated, afterhours rendavouxs.

It seemed that her crippling sexual guilt was loosening it’s grip, replaced with a new overwhelming obsession with her boyfriend. But this wasn’t good for her either, as everyday Caroline become more frenzied.

On one famous occasion, Caroline broke the glass she was holding in her hand when she saw Byron speaking to another woman.

Anouther infamous episode was when Caroline sent Byron a lock of her pubic hair, writing in the attached note:

‘I cut the hair too close and bled more than you need’

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Yeah bloody pubes may have crossed the line from cutesy to scary AF

Kinda understandably, the bloody public hair and accompanying unceasing attention was proving a bit too much for Byron. Not only that, but he’d already starting fancying a new woman anyway. A break up was imminent. 

BUT Instead of ending the relationship like a grown up by explaining why things just weren’t working; Byron did what any dickhat would – he made up a string of lies, bought in another women and then fled the scene.

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Losing any sympathy and proving his fuck boy status once more.

Caroline fell into a deep depression. Oddly it was her, until then, forgotten, husband who offered Caroline a shoulder to cry on.

William Lamb had seen ALL the red flags between Caroline and Byron and expected a nasty implosion, so he’d patiently waited to help his wife pick up the pieces when her affair ended.

This support couldn’t have been more needed, Caroline was in the throes if a full breakdown and it was agreed that she needed space and a break from her life at home. So she went to Ireland to recouperate.

Now when I say Caroline wasn’t doing well, I MEAN IT! The situation was dire. By the time Caroline reached Ireland she was swinging between devastating bouts of depression and wild manic episodes; her bones visibly jutting out from her refusal to eat.

Of course it was now that Byron decided to write to Caroline (I should add, Byron did this despite the small fact that he was already attempting to woo another women into engagement, whilst sleeping with an additional woman on the side-so a great move all round)

Byron wrote passionately with suggestions the pair may met again. This letter was then promptly followed by another that read:

‘I love another…I am no longer yr lover’

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Seriously, talk about emotional whiplash

Understandably Byron’s letters did a huge number on the already fragile Caroline and any hope of her re-cooperation ended.

She started to self harm and broke into ever more frequent manic episodes.

These episodes pushed Caroline further from reality. During one she even recruited little girls from the local village, dressed them all in white and had them perform whilst she burnt a Lord Byron effigy and threw gifts he had bought Caroline into the fire; all the while she chanted a self composed poem:

‘Burn, fire, burn, while wondering boys exclaim, And gold and trinkets glitter in the flame.
Ah, look not thus on me, so grave, so sad, Shake not your heads, nor say the lady’s mad.
London, farewell; vain world, vain life, adieu! Take the last tears I e’er shall shed for you.
Young tho’ I seem, I leave the world for ever, Never to enter it again; no, never, never!’

Once the embers died down, Caroline sent the girls home, before writing down the nights events in a letter to her former lover.

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Ok. Thats…a lot

Carolines love had become consumed by anger and she vowed to destroy Byron.

Interestingly it was this that actually allowed Caroline to give the world a chance to see her as more than Byron’s ex lover and as a talented writer in her own right.

In 1816 she published Glenarvon, which was a thinly veiled fictional account of Caroline and Byron’s relationship. This was followed by two critiques of Byron’s work and abuse of his talents AND two more works of fiction, Graham Hamilton (1822) and Ada Reiss (1823).

It’s Caroline’s latter novels that really stand out, not just because of all the transposed fictional Byron digs BUT because she looks at some pretty cool issues. Including (the now timely) topic of how power is achieved, with Caroline delving into whether being ‘well born’ and rich actually qualifies anyone to lead.

In fact, right now Caroline’s novels are enjoying a bit of a literary review, with current academics starting to revisit her work and voice.

However, when Caroline’s work was released, it didn’t get an amazing critical reaction. After all, Glenarvon was pretty much a tell all; an A-Listers ex getting one back and trying to make some cash in the process.

Her books were picked up for the scandalous details, nothing else.

It wasn’t just Caroline’s writing that was taking a nosedive. Her ever faithful husband, William Lamb, had been left devastated by the publication of Glenarvon.

Suddenly his wives fictionalised love affair was immortalised in print, on bookshelves across the country. Heartbroken, William was left alone to pick up the pieces this time; Caroline oblivious to the pain she’d caused.

Now, Believe it or not, things were about to get even worse.

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I know, I’m sorry, this whole thing is just one huge clusterfuck of sad

In 1824 Lord Byron died

Caroline was obviously devastated when she heard the news.

This was made worse when one of Byron’s close friends published: ‘Recollection of Lord Byron’ which revealed that her former lover hadn’t mentioned her in his final moments and thought of Caroline as nothing more than one more notch in his bedpost and a terrible wife.

This time Caroline couldn’t turn to William for support. Her husband had had enough; enforcing a legal separation.

Caroline wandered Europe, picking up a string of short lived lovers as she went. She published a book under a sudo-name but it bombed.

Truly, she was alone. By now, Caroline had alienated everyone who’d want to help her. There was no solid mental health system, so as Caroline got sicker, got thinner and fell deeper, there was nowhere to go.

Eventually William took Caroline back, not as his wife, but as a sick friend who desperately needed help.

On her return to London, Caroline was declared ‘insane’. Just like she had been as a child, she was medicated with laudanum. And though she’d been trying since she was a little girl, she didn’t ever ‘get better.’

Caroline Lamb died in 1828, at just 42.

But history, would remember Caroline and her the two loves of her life, long after they were gone.

William Lamb went on to become Prime minster of Britain. Lord Byron would be remembered as one of the greatest poets to ever live. And Caroline? Caroline became a cautionary tale to men, a punchline; history’s best example of the ‘crazy ex girlfriend’.

Caroline Lamb, Painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence
Portrait of Caroline by Thomas Lawrence

This was interesting where can I find out more? You can still get copies of Carolines book, personally I’d say Glenarvon is the weakest, but worth a read, with the others all must reads!

There are some great papers you can access on Caroline, including this one around her  ‘construction of madness’

Also, worth checking out is Paul Douglass’ biography on Caroline, which looks at why she is been so vilified by history.



Alice Keppel: The Last Royal Mistress

Alice Keppel grew up in obscurity, relative to the English nobility – meaning she spent her childhood frolicking in the grounds of her family home, a Scottish castle (naturally)

Born in 1868, Alice was one of nine children (because boy could those Victorians breed) the daughter of the 4th Baronet Edmonstone, she was pretty much at the bottom of the nobility pecking order.

But relative lack of status aside, Alice was an extraordinary young woman. Beautiful, with smarts and a wicked sense of humour to match, she was, to be blunt, a catch.

So unsurprisingly Alice was snapped up almost as soon as she entered the marriage market. Marrying soldier George Keppel, when she was just 23. 

Alice Keppel
I mean, Alice Keppel looks the dictionary definition of elegance

But sadly, Alice and George’s newlywed bubble was quickly burst, when they realised they were totally broke.

Well kind of. They had servants, just way less servants than their friends – which in Alice and George’s minds meant they were as good as broke.

Appearances had to be maintained though and after assessing their finances, Alice declared there was only one option: She would have to take a wealthy lover.

It might surprise you to know that George was totally on board! See, George and Alice essentially had an open relationship; they loved each deeply, but they also had lovers on the side. Now admittedly this side piece would be based on cash rather than lust, but it wasn’t such a huge step out of the norm for the couple.

So whilst Alice was out romancing rich men, George would be out courting his own side pieces, sure, it may not have been a fairytale, but it worked for them.

Soon enough, thanks to Alice’s hustling, the Keppels were far better off than they ever had been. Still though, they weren’t as rich as they’d like…

And then Alice met a Prince

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And you know the Keppels were diving straight for that rich AF D.

Edward Prince of Wales (Bertie to his friends) was heir to the English throne. BUT until that crown was on his head, he was intent on having some fun.

He was a heavy smoker, drinker and with a 48 inch waist you know he loved some good food. Bertie was also a serial womaniser and despite having a wife at home, he had so many notches in his bed that it was basically kindling.

Enter Alice Keppel.

Now 29, Alice immediately entranced Bertie. Over 25 years her senior, The Prince was immediately captivated with her beauty, wit and incomparable charisma. And in no time at all, Prince Bertie was following Alice around like a lost puppy.

Edward VII in Coronation Robes
Bertie in all his regal and corpulent glory

Now, if Bertie thought he was in control, he was wrong. Alice was determined that she wouldn’t be another notch on his bed post; picked up, used and immediately abandoned.

Nope! If Alice was going to be Bertie’s mistress, she was going to get her due.

So Alice and her husband worked together on both ensnaring the Prince AND creating a long term sustainable income from the relationship.

The plan paid off; with both Keppel’s working to get Alice the mistress spot, any competition was knocked back.

Alice mastered the tightrope line of Royal mistress-ing; working out how to manage Bertie’s many mood swings, all while appearing vivacious and deeply in love.

The Prince fell hard and (believing he had control) arranged a cushy and veeery well paid job for husband George, to ensure he remained out of the house and that Alice was free to be no1 mistress. 

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Seriously, lets take a moment to appreciate the cunning teamwork of Alice and George

Between the lavish gifts the Prince gave Alice and George’s new stupidly well paid job, the Keppel’s were now extremely rich.

Not only that, but Alice had also become the leading beacon in fine society. Hosting grand parties, she was renowned for her wit and kind nature; Alice’s daughter later comparing her mother to:

‘A Christmas tree laden with presents for everyone’

But Alice’s lights started to get a little dimmer when Bertie actually became King in 1910.

Unlike Royal Mistresses of the past, Bertie had been banned from giving his no1 mistress any form of pension or monetary gain – after all that was tax payers money and they probably didn’t want their hard earned cash splashed on the king’s lover!

With their income sources drying up, things weren’t looking so bright for the Keppel’s.

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Like, STILL shit tons of servants, but ya know, in the Keppel’s minds…

The other big issue was that Alice didn’t want to end her relationship with Bertie. She’d caught feelings.

Alice still loved her husband, BUT she also loved the new the King, there was no way she could let either man go.

So she maintained her Royal mistress position. Working out a way to get around the lack of income, by picking up shares and bonds from Bertie (in addition to husband George’s well paid job)

Alice then further cemented herself as Official Royal Mistress by making herself indispensable. It was often only she who could get around Bertie’s many, many moods and convince him to actually do his job as King; which he naturally did with Alice by his side.

This actually helped endear Alice to Bertie’s wife, Queen Alexandra; and though the two didn’t become friends (hey, Alice was sleeping with Alex’s husband!) , they did become something like allies.

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With the wife onside and her influence undeniable, Alice was officially immovable as Royal Mistress!

But then in 1910 it all came crashing down.

Bertie became ill – you know, because of the whole constantly smoking, drinking and eating thing…

As the King lay on his deathbed, Alice ran to be at his side.

This turned out not to be a great move on Alice’s part. The appearance of her husbands mistress at his deathbed pressed on Queen Alexandra’s now (understandably) fraught nerves. What made this all the worse, was when Bertie turned to his wife, and commended her to

‘Kiss Alice’

This proved to be the last straw for Alexandra and she immediately commended for Alice to leave. This didn’t go down well, with a hysterical Alice crying as she was dragged away from her lover:

‘I never did any harm, there was nothing wrong between us! What is to become of me?’

Bertie, died on 6 May 1910; on his death Alice was duly thrown out of court.

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No matter your feelings on the relationship, you have to admit, this is just heartbreaking!

Alice was allowed to the funeral, but only through a side exit.

Her royal love gone, Alice returned home to her husband George and the couple picked up where they left off.

Together they used their, now piles of cash, to travel the world, going on adventure after adventure with each other.

When Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry Wallis Simpson, Alice emerged out of a gorgeous French villa just long enough to roll her eyes and say:

‘It was done better in my day’ 

Oh you thought just because she’d been shamed and kicked outta court, Alice would be quiet? Pffft please

Alice died in 1947. But that’s not where the story ends…

You see Alice may have been the last Royal Mistress but her legacy of mistress-ing wasn’t quite over.

Alice’s granddaughter ALSO became involved with a Prince of Wales; this affair with the heir to the throne becoming both notorious and era changing; in fact you might have heard her name before…

Camilla Parker Bowles

BOOM! Mic drop.

This was interesting where can I find out more? I‘d suggest checking out, Alice Keppel and Agnes Keyser: Edward VII’s Last Loves by Raymond Lamont Brown; it looks at the life of Alice and another of Edwards mistresses, Agnes Keyser, because hey, equal mistress-ing opportunities for all.

The Batshit and Fantastical Life of Hortense Mancini

From bedding Kings to fleeing countries dressed as a pistol wielding man. Duelling her lovers, drinking, dancing and above all fighting for her independence; the life on Hortense Mancini was to be blunt, fucking insane…so lets get to it:

Born into nobility on the 6th June 1646 in Rome, Hortense Mancini was the fourth of five sisters.

Their Mother a great beauty, their Father an aristocrat who practiced black magic (specialising in necromancy) and their Uncle was Cardinal Mazarin; both Cardinal and Chief Minister to Louis XIV (the real power behind the French throne) – it’s safe to say the sisters had a somewhat eclectic background.

But things didn’t stay nattily rosey for long; in 1650 tragedy struck when Hortense’s Father died suddenly.

Fortunately the situation was far from as black as it could have been and Hortense’s Mother made the canny choice of leaning on Uncle Cardinal Mazarin in the families hour of need.

Uncle Cardinal had a soft spot for his nieces; in particular the wild and witty Hortense and he soon invited them to stay at French Court, where he would see what he could do for the girls.

Cardinal Mazarin

The Mancini sisters took the streets of Paris by storm; very much the 17th century Kardashians; they were olive skinned, beautiful and very scandalous. They even had their own name ‘The Mazarinettes’ (that’s some top 17th century branding there, Kris Jenner would be proud)

With the attention of French society gossip mills focused on The Mazarinettes, it’s hardly surprising that when Uncle Cardinal announced his plans to arrange fabulously powerful and rich marriages for his nieces; the Mazarinettes became hot property.

Now the most eligable prospects in the European marriage market, everyone wanted a piece of Laure, Olympe, Marie, Hortense and Marie Anne.

Marie, Olympe, Hortense
Marie, Olympe and Hortense

The Mazarinettes had their pick of European nobility; Marie even became the lover of Louis XIV! Then Charles ll, party lover extraordinaire and future King of England, rocked up at French court.

Currently in exile from England, Charles quickly fell for fun loving Hortense. The pair seemed like two halves of one hedonistic whole; Charles proposed and promised to make the teenage Hortense England’s Queen (should his exile end…)

But Uncle Cardinal was having none of it. He was not about to set up his favourite niece with a galavanting eccentric Englishman with no fortune and only a title to his name (a title, btw, that was both now worthless and liable to one day get him killed) so Charles was sent packing

Charles ll
When Charles did become King, Uncle Cardinal offered 5 million for Hortense’s hand. Charles declined

Soon the Mancini sisters started to be married off to Princes, Generals and Dukes but Uncle Cardinal wanted something extra special for his favourite niece.

In fact this would be his dying wish and on his deathbed Cardinal Mazarin left Hortense his fortune and finalised her marriage to the richest man in Europe.

At the age of 15 Hortense was now one of Europes wealthiest women.

-maybe not a totally historically accurate gif interpretation… –

This all sounds great. Until you realise that the richest man in Europe was the literal worst.

Armand-Charles de La Porte, Duc de La Meilleraye
Presenting the incredibly sexy Armand-Charles de la Prote

Hortense’s husband to be, Armand-Charles de La Porte, Duc de La Meilleraye (say that three times fast) was a religious nut, which is bad, but this guy took zealous dickery to a whole new level.

He worried that the sight of milkmaids milking cows would be so lustful and sinful to passing men that he ordered that any milkmaids in his service have thier teeth knocked out, so their smiles would no longer pose the threat of starting some kind of dairy based sexual riot.

what the dick?
Yup, don’t look for the logic here

Upon marrying Armand-Charles de La Porte, Duc de La Meilleraye –from now on just Armand, because I’m not typing that all out again- 15 year old Hortense quickly realised that he was a monumental bell end.

Aside from his zealous nature, he was jealous and prone to angry and violent outbursts. He covered any nude paintings of men in the house so Hortense wouldn’t be tempted by lustful thoughts, burst into her room at night to check for hidden lovers and forced her to spend days praying away her sins.

This wasn’t Hortenses’ style.

If her husband wouldn’t let her be around men then that was fine; she could be flexible.

And so, soon into her marriage Hortense starting seeing another young woman; Sidonie de Courcelles.

Unsurprisingly Armand wasn’t happy when he discovered the affair. And so he packed the two girls off to a Convent.

Yup…That’s right. He sent them away. Far away. Together. This man is a genius.

OBVIOUSLY the girls continued their affair and weren’t overly fussed about their punishment.

They spent their days at the Convent playing pranks on the nuns, pouring ink in the holy water and attempting escape by fleeing up the chimney.

It was basically St Trinians but with more sex and pissed off nuns (actually, how has this not been made into a film?) Soon the nuns had enough and sent the pair back to Armand and the affair fizzled out.

Fucking fun wrecking Armand

Somehow in their seven years of tumultuous marriage Hortense and Armand had 4 children (no I don’t know either) But the children weren’t enough to keep Hortense tied to Armand.

She decided to leave her husband, which in the 17th century meant that she would lose her children. The price of Hortenses freedom was high, but one she would be willing to pay if it meant escaping Armand for good.

After several foiled attempts (which led to Armand imprisoning her in the family home) Hortense left her husband on 13 June 1668. She rode out the gates on horseback, dressed as a man and quickly fled France for the safety of her sister Marie’s home in Rome.

Sadly Marie’s place wasn’t the safe house Hortense was hoping her; as Marie was deathly afraid her husband was trying to poison her (I’m not saying that Uncle Cardinal was shit at picking spouses but…) so the sisters fled to France where Marie’s former lover Louis XIV announced that both women were now under his protection.

Marie and Hortense

Things were looking up. Louis XIV gave Hortense a hefty pension, which allowed her the unusual freedom of becoming an independent woman. She set up house in France and transformed her new home into a haven for artists, philosophers and great minds of the time.

Hortense also picked up a lover, The Duke of Savoy , who helped Hortense fight of her husbands many demands for her return.

Sadly all good things must come to an end; the Duke died and Armand finally managed to get his hands on her assets; freezing all her finances (including her pension from Louis XIV) until she agreed to come back to him.

Fucking Armand! 

But Hortense wasn’t going to back down that easily.

She headed to England; agreeing to work with England’s ambassador to France, Ralph Montagu on his plan to de-seat one of the English Kings mistresses, Louise de Kerouaille.

Thats right, after turning down his proposal, Hortense was now travelling to England to become Charles ll’s new mistress. You can’t deny Hortense had moxy.

Hortense battled treacherous roads, icy weather and a near shipwreck on her journey from France to England. But she refused to give in and return to her husband, set on forging her own path and getting back the independence she had lost in France.

Hortense arrived at English Court in 1675 dressed as a pistol wielding man (naturally) and Charles ll fell for his old love once more; Hortense became a royal mistress.

You can tell because her boobs out

Her partying, drinking and general debauchery rivalled Charles. Luckily Hortense’s love of sword fighting and horse riding helped ensure this her lifestyle didn’t have too much of an effect on her appearances.

Naturally the other women in Charles life started to grow concerned about Hortense; she could be a real threat to their positions.

But Hortense didn’t want to be like his other mistresses, she wasn’t a Nell Gwynn; she couldn’t dedicate her whole life to Charles. She escaped one man that wanted to rule over her and she sure as shit wasn’t go back there.

Hortense wanted to live as she choose; to drink, dance and take as many lovers as she could!

And so she did.

She lived independently yet remained a mistress. Charles loved Hortense for who she was and so he turned a blind eye to her refusal to call him ‘your majesty’ and made an exception for her long list of lovers; that is until Hortense pushed things too far by sleeping with both Charles and his daughter…

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Not at the same time. But still. 

Anne, Countess of Sussex was Charles daughter with one of his first mistresses, Barbara Castlemaine.

Anne was 15 and unhappily married when she met Hortense (now in her early 30’s) the two became firm friends, which quickly progressed to much more (wink).

The women attempted to keep the affair relatively quiet, but the court rumour mills intrest peaked.

Then things really hit the front page when Hortense and Anne publicly duelled in St James Park, in their nightgowns, with a group of men looking on.

Anne’s husband was furious and she was sent away from court where desperate and lovelorn she took to her bed for days, a miniature of Hortense pressed close to her chest.

Charles ll wasn’t best pleased with Hortense, but with the affair over he cooled down.

…..Until Hortense took on another lover, this one the Prince de Monaco.

Sleeping with his daughter was one thing, but sleeping with another royal was a step too far for Charles. He put a stop to their affair and stripped Hortense of her royal pension for several days.

Thats right, days, I know, I don’t know how she coped either.


Charles and Hortense remained friends. And with her pension back in place Hortense lived more than comfortably in Chelsea, her home once more a salon for artist, poets and great minds.

Then in 1685 Charles ll died suddenly.

Hortense maintained her place at court, remaining good friends with England’s new King, James ll, but with her protector now gone there was nothing stopping Armand from forcing his errant wife home.

And so in 1689 Armand took his case to court. The law was on his side and demanded that Hortense return to Italy and Armand. But she refused.

This time though Hortense’s fighting spirit failed her. With the stress of Armand’s continued efforts to force her back, as well as her years of drinking and gambling starting to take effect, Hortense found herself in spiralling debt.

She maintained her refusal though, retiring to the English countryside, where she died in 1699.

But thats not the end of the Hortense’s story…

Because Armand was still alive. 

That’s right, Armand had plans for Hortense, even in death.

Yeah, Armand be crazy. 

Armand traveled to England, where he bought Hortense’s body from her creditors.

He then proceeded to take Hortense with him wherever he went, with her body propped up in his carriage.

Because Armand was (and will always be) the literal worst.

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