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The Chevalier de Lorraine as “Maître en Titre”: The Male Favourite as Prince, Partner and Patron

Spangler, JW (2017) The Chevalier de Lorraine as “Maître en Titre”: The Male Favourite as Prince, Partner and Patron. Bulletin du Centre de recherche du château de Versailles. ISSN 1958-9271

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Abstract

This article examines a major figure of the court of Louis XIV who has never received a full academic study. It demonstrates how a royal favourite in a same-sex context in the early modern period can be analysed in a similar manner to more well-known royal mistresses, or “maîtresses en titre”. It presents a thorough portrait of Prince Philippe of Lorraine, better known as the Chevalier de Lorraine, in the full context of his family (a cadet branch of the princely house of Lorraine), his friends (the household of Monsieur, Philippe, Duke of Orléans, brother of the king), and court culture more generally at the end of the seventeenth century. Such an analysis demonstrates a number of things: that, contrary to much recent scholarship on homosexual identities and relationships in the early modern period, long-term partnerships did exist, although they were unorthodox; and that, like other royal favourites, the Chevalier de Lorraine maintained his position at the top of a powerful court hierarchy through both the support of his family and a prominent patronage network. Patronage in particular is examined, citing both usages of clientage and brokerage, as the chief means for self-enrichment and survival at the court of France in this period. By the end of his life, the Chevalier de Lorraine had become one of the most successful courtiers due to the combined factors of his princely birth and continued support of this family, his long-term cultivation of his position as “maître en titre” of Monsieur, and the effective management of a large patronage network.

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