Louise de Budos, Duchess of Montmorency

According to Saint-Simon, Louise de Budos died a victim of the Evil One.  As for Connetable de Montmorency’s re-marriage with Laurence de Dizimieu, it was due to another spell.

On the evening of the drama, pain caused by her niece’s death had thrown Laurence onto her lifeless body.  After having spent a long time kissing her remains, she had taken the beggar-woman’s ring off Louise’s finger.  She then immediately slipped it onto her own finger, like a pious relic…

The Connetable, lost in the pain of his suffering, returned straight to his castle, where all of the witnesses are able to see the sincerity of his despair.  And then, as soon as he starts to recover, he shows Laurence – whom he had never been able to stand before – a thousand marks of friendship.  She was pleased about these new dispositions and thought that they were because of his mourning.  But when she was preparing to leave for good, he asks her straight out to marry him.

Why?  Laurence is not rich and, on top of that, her face is quite ugly.  As for keeping her just to give a mother to his children, the Duke could have found closer relatives in his family and certainly less detested ones…  The first moment of astonishment over, Louise’s aunt, who is only 28, does not even consider refusing the dazzling offer made to her by the kingdom’s most eminent lord.  Who, at 65, still finds the most gallant letters in his mail from women offering themselves to him…

The Connetable is in such a hurry that he doesn’t even wait for Rome’s dispensation to fix his wedding date.  It is only some time after its celebration, that he thinks about turning to the Pope.  This mission is entrusted to Jean des Porcellets, Lord of Maillan, an important man in France’s South.  Rome scolds the Duke’s emissary, but accords its pardon.  On condition that a new marriage be held as soon as possible, this time according to the rules.

Meanwhile, during all this time, Laurence is not enjoying her happiness as she should.  She is continually asking herself questions.  How did love suddenly descend upon her prince?  One day, she comes to the conclusion that it is certainly her defunct niece’s ring that is at the origin of the miracle.  The friends in whom she confides laugh at her.  But as she is more and more tormented, they suggest that she simply get rid of it.  So, one day while she is walking in the gardens of Ecouen Castle, she throws the ring into a pond…

Almost at the same moment, Jean de Maillan returns from his Roman embassy.  The Connetable immediately receives him telling him that, not only is he not going to get married, but that he is even thinking of separating from Laurence as fast as possible.  The Pope, indignant at such extraordinary behaviour, then orders the Connetable to christianly marry immediately.  Long haggling begins.

Montmorency swears that if he can get rid of Laurence, who is despite everything his wife, he would never again marry, and would never again have children.  The Pope is inflexible and his power is so strong at this time that, on 18 April 1601, the marriage has to be publicly celebrated by the Bishop of Arles, at Beaucaire.

Laurence has hardly taken off her wedding-gown than her spouse demands an immediate separation…  With interdiction to ever set foot again in Chantilly…  To avoid being sued, Montmorency gives her an honourable revenue, but obliges her, as if in prey to an eternal resentment, to flee from castle to castle until his own death in 1614.

The Duke of Saint-Simon reports the Duchess' story in his "Memoires".

Half-mad and ignored at Court and in town, Laurence de Dizimieu lived another forty years.  As for Louise de Budos, who had known some extraordinary adventures while alive, she had some strange activity after her death, if we are to believe Saint-Simon.

“A tradition constantly believed in the House of Conde, says that Connetable Louise appears in the age that she had and with the clothes of her time, at the window of the Chantilly armoury, shortly before the death of the head of the House of Conde.  What is very certain is that, very few days before the smallpox of Madame the Duchess, a bastard of Louis XIV …[Louise-Francoise, known as Mademoiselle de Nantes, the daughter of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan, who married Louis, Duke of Bourbon, the grandson of the Great Conde, in 1685]… the Great Conde being at Chantilly which he seldom left, Vervillon, his equerry, coming back from shooting and arriving at the castle at sunset, saw at the open window of the armoury, opposite the Connetable’s statue, a woman dressed singularly, leaning and very advanced on this window, and who was looking so far down, that he was only able to see her face a little and imperfectly.  Vervillon, who knew all about the House’s tradition and who knew that this room was always locked and its windows too, was so struck by this that he stopped.  Turning to the groom who was following him, he asked him if he didn’t see something at the window and what it was.  The groom told him that he saw the same form.  Vervillon, sure that he wasn’t imagining it, advances, still looking at it until, being very close to the door, he could no longer see it.  Instead of going to his bedchamber, he dismounts at the Concierge’s place and asks him why the armoury is open.  The Concierge replies that it isn’t, denies it, presents his keys, goes up straight away with Vervillon, shows him the locked door of the armoury, and unlocks it:  they all enter, find doors and windows all closed and no-one inside.  Vervillon, very astonished, goes to his bedchamber, taking the Concierge with him, telling him what he had seen, then to Monsieur the Prince de Conti, then exiled at Chantilly, and has the groom speak before them.  By word of mouth, the thing comes to the principal people of the household and frightens them.  Vervillon had been for years with Monsieur the Prince, [and was] a good man, greatly estimed, [and had] greatly mingled with men and women of the world.  He has lived more than thirty years since this and still has a lot of considerable friends…

“Two days later, Monsieur the Prince de Conde learned that Madame the Duchess had smallpox at Fontainebleau, from whence the Court had left because of it.  He went to join her, fell ill straight away and very promptly died there on 11 December 1686…”

The apparitions of Louise de Budos’ ghost are also related by Madame de Sevigne.


To be continued.