The Duchess of Portsmouth

The Duchess of Portsmouth


Louise De keroualle




About This Exhibit


Malicah L. Carter


A Virtual Museum exploring the life of a French mistress of King Charles II. Louise de Keroualle is a French spy that was too clever as well as ambitious to ever get caught.

She was more of a confidante and of a close companion by far than any other woman whom Charles met after his brief poignant vision of that younger sister whom he adored.  (Belloc 184)


Creating a name for herself in history, Louise de Keroualle, a mistress, used her position to impact all of Europe.  Emerging from simple upbringing, Louise was a member of the Breton family. Struggling to find her way, Louise was sent to live in the household of Henrietta Anne Stuart. Henrietta was the younger sister of Charles II and Dutchess of Orleans. The two became quite close developing a bond that was unexplainable. However, upon Henrietta's untimely death, Charles II requested that Louise be placed under the care of his household as the maid of honor for his wife. Assuming her position as a mistress, Charles found more than a playmate in Louise, he found a friend. Among all the other women that had a part to play in his life, Louise was the one that he developed a true connection with. He was able to confide in her and also valued her opinion. It went beyond something physical, into something far more intimate. However, with this new found intimacy with Charles, Louise also found herself privy to valuable information. In the case of the Treaty of Dover, Louise had a front row seat in not only its planning, but also its execution.

Who is King Charles II ?

     King Charles II, Stuart King of England, had many mistresses in his life.  Essentially, women was the way to his mind and everyone knew it including Louis XIV. Louis XIV used Louise de Keroualle as a spy to get closer to Charles II. She came around King Charles II second half of his term after being in exile for some time.  When Charles II sister Henrietta died de Keroualle was the great remembrance of his sister. Therefore, she used that to her advantage. He found de Keroualle to be a mistress with the friend traits. In result, she ended up with lavish jewelry and all the finer things in life. She was determined to get what she wanted as well as receiving  love from the king that eventually made people upset due to the popish plot and the fact that she is French.

    However, Louise de Keroualle also made more negative associations to King Charles II.  Louise de Keroualle manipulated the mind of Charles II by influencing him to marry his niece, the Orange marriage, that destroyed the House of Stuart.

   Moreover, the Treaty of Dover is the true meaning behind the request for Louise de Keroualle being sent to England.



Popish Plot

August 13, 1678 was the beginning of an event that the European history will never forget. It was the direct execution of Roman Catholics that eventually lead to other acts such as the Papists' Disabling act in 1678.

  • Versailles in the 18th century
  • by Gerard Valck, after Sir Peter Lely, mezzotint, 1678
  • King Charles II

A closer relationship between France and England was something that was discussed for quite some time. However, it took some doing to actually trigger the occurrence. France requested England's aid in hopes that it might help them conquer the Dutch republic. Along with it came the promise of access to a few ports in the Dutch republic, which would then broaden England's trade spectrum. In the midst of all of this came the influential involvement of Louise de Keroualle. What seemed to be meaningless pillow talk translated into valuable  nuggets of information that caused her to be a key player in European history. By acting as a spy, Louise made her presence least-known to everyone but the people in power. Unbeknownst to them, Louise had a certain coy demeanor about herself that made her intriguing. Not only was she intriguing to get to know, but she was also intriguingly trustworthy. Therefore, the secrets of nobility lied between the ears of a mistress. 


More Information on the Treaty of Dover


 The Treaty of Dover has been discussed numerous times throughout the museum. Above shows an image of the great document that changed the lives of many especially the political movement on May 22, 1670. This treaty was a secret to many ministers and European states. This treaty was a pact with France that made an agreement to support the French and in return the French will free Charles II from debt. Additionally, if Charles II voices that he is a Roman Catholic he would receive more money from the French.

 Louise de Keroualle had a great relationship with Duchess of Orleans that helped the signage of the treaty. After Louise de Keroualle and Charles II had a child, Charles Lennox,  she left the English court for France and lived in Paris.

The idea of Charles II as a monarch willing to prostitute his duty to his private appetites – primarily for sex and for excessive amounts of power – fuelled the inflammatory rhetoric of the Whore of Babylon in obscene literature of the period, which exploited the literalization of ‘whore’ to great satiric effect. ( Conway 31)


 Château de La Verrerie

A gift from Louis XIV.


The Duchess of Portsmouth, owing to her nationality, stood apart from the rest, but
it perhaps caused her to be even more dis-liked. (Grant 133)


Solidifying a bond between two nations, the Treaty of Dover was quite a significant conquest in history. However, a major key figure, Louis de Keroualle, was imperative in its execution. Had she not developed a closeness with the king, by which she was granted access to his many secrets, she might not have had any influence at all. Nevertheless, Louis XIV found use for her in the plan by sending her into the opposing country as a harmless soul. Not only did this harmless soul cause quite a stir in the discussion of the Treaty of Dover, but she was considered to be so close with the king that he did not think to question her loyalty, judgment, or overall attitude towards the issue. Essentially, the jointness of England and France had been discussed for quite some time, however, it was Louise who had a part to play in making it all come to past. 

Following the death of Charles II, Louise found herself living a vastly different lifestyle than before. She was stripped of her lavish possessions and confined to live a life of poverty until her death in 1734. However, she will forever be remembered for her unsung contribution to European history.  



Works Cited

Belloc, Hilaire. Charles II : The Last Rally. Norfolk, VA: Gates of Vienna Books, 2003. eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 19 Nov. 2014.

     This eBook discuss the life of King Charles II and the many women that impacted his life. This contributed to the Museum by providing in depth descriptions of Charles II life which helped introduce the importance between Louise and Charles II relationship.  

Bevan, Bryan. Charles the Second's French Mistress; a Biography of Louise De Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth, 1649-1734. London: R. Hale, 1972. Print.

    Bevan tells the life of Louise de Keroualle and her duty as Charles II mistress. I used th book to explain the popish plot more in depth.

Conway, Alison Margaret. The Protestant Whore : Courtesan Narrative And Religious Controversy In England, 1680-1750. Toronto [Ont.]: University of Toronto Press, 2010. eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 19 Nov. 2014.

     This eBook discuss the political contributions to the European history, particularly during the restoration period. This will be beneficial to my museum to explain women, in particular Louise de Keroualle, political desires and the laws that were in effect during the time.

Grant, Colquhoun. "Full Text of "Brittany to Whitehall, Life of Louise Renee De Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth;"" Full Text of "Brittany to Whitehall, Life of Louise Renee De Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth;"N.p., 2007. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.

   This is an online article that stresses the life of Louise de Keroualle. This helped myself create a better understanding of Louise and why she became a spy.

Hutton, R. "The Making of the Secret Treaty of Dover, 1668-1670." The Historical Journal 29.2 (1986): 297-318. JSTOR. Web. 03 Dec. 2014. <>.

   Here is the explanation of the Treaty of Dover. I used this journal for the explanation of the treaty of dover and defining what it is.


Kcharlesii. Digital image. TudorsandStuarts. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <>. Digital Image.

Ley, Peter. 00077401. Digital image. The J.Paul Getty Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <>. Digital Image.

Mw38192. Digital image. National Portrait Gallery. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <>. Digital Image.

P01rhx7v. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <>. Digital Image.

Potter, Clifton W., Jr. "Popish Plot." Salem Press Encyclopedia (2014): Research Starters. Web. 3 Dec. 2014.

  This article explains the Popish Plot in its full entirety. This was beneficial to my museum by given factual information on the Popish Plot.

"Royal Splendour." : Louise De Keroualle Mistress to the King. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2014. <>.

A Blog about Louise de keroualle. Used the images from this blogger.

Rowlandson, Thomas. Portsmouth_Point_by_Thomas_Rowlandson. Digital image. Wikimedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <>. Digital Image.

Scott, Susan H. The French Mistress: A Novel of the Duchess of Portsmouth and King Charles Ii. New York: New American Library, 2009. Print.

   This book provides the biography of Louise de Keroualle life and the events that she went through by using fictional characters. This book benefited my virtual museum by giving an updated version of her life and a better understanding.

Versailles-vue-generale-2. Digital image. Catherinedelors. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <>.  Digital Image.



Women, the Novel, and Natural Philosophy, 1660-1830. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, March 2014.

Gender and Space in British Literature, 1660-1820. Co-edited with Dr. Mona Narain of Texas Christian University. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014.