La Maupin

Beautiful, valiant, generous and superbly unchaste…
- Cameron Rogers

She was born in 1670, in the gay and vicious France of the ancien regime, and her given name is not known. Her father, Monsieur d’Aubigny, secretary to the Comte d’Armagnae, was a dashing fellow, known to be “as brave as steel” – it was said he feared neither God, man, nor the devil, and was equally adept with cards, women, and the sword.

She was described as tall and athletic, with blue eyes, dark auburn hair, very white skin, and “perfect” breasts, and had a beautiful singing voice. At 14 or 15 she seduced her father’s employer, the count, and through him was introduced to Paris society and the royal court.

Later she ran off with a fencing master, Serranes, whose swordplay was more to her liking. She then became a professional contralto singer at the music academy of Pierre Gaultier.

At the Opera she noticed a pretty blonde and seduced her. When her parents shipped the girl off to a convert, La Maupin joined the convent herself to continue the relationship. After an older nun died, La Maupin set her room on fire and escaped with the girl. A few months later she sent the girl home. For this, the Parliament of Aix published an edict condemning her to be burnt at the stake. This was later commuted by the king, who said he could not see turning someone so talented, lovely and wanton to ashes.

Soon thereafter she had a duel with D’Albert, whom she stabbed through. She took a liking to him however, and they began a long-term, off-and-on relationship.

Next she took up with singer Gabriel-Vincent Thevenard. She debuted in the Paris Opera in 1691 as Pallas Athena in Cadmus et Hermione and was lauded as the most beautiful woman in the company.

La Maupin frequently dressed as a man (to better woo the ladies). While attended a ball at the Palais Royal hosted by the king’s brother, she took it upon herself to kiss and attractive marquise, whereupon the ladies 3 suitors demanded she leave. She agreed, as long as they all faced her on the street outside. She defeated them all easily.

Her affairs next too her to Brussels where she became the pampered mistress of Maximilian Emanuel, the Elector of Bavaria. After a year, he switched his affections to a countess and tried to pay Maupin off with 40,000 francs, which she threw in the count’s face. After travels in Spain, where she worked as a chambermaid, she returned to the Paris Opera in 1698 and was reunited with d’Albert.

There are different versions of the rest of her life. One is that she settled down with d’Albert and lived happily ever after. Another is that d’Albert went to prison for killing a man in a duel, got out and married the Mademoiselle de Montigny, leaving La Maupin to swear off men and enter a convent where she soon (presumably bored) died at 37.