Images of the past

A chronologue of beauty

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Illegitimate Offspring of Royalty

Product of a love affair between the king and his mistress the royal bastards were the prettier,smarter and stronger children of monarchs. It was thought the bastards were better looking than their legitimate half brothers and sisters because they were made with passion and love unlike their half siblings which were conceived out of duty.The truth was that legitimate children were often products of second,third or even first cousin marriages so their gene pool was much narrower leading to disorders and physical traits being passed form both parents and thus becoming more pronounced. Often the kings loved their bastards more than their legitimate children.they gave them titles,legitimized them and provided well for them after their deaths.When Henry IV traveled in a carriage with his that overturned in a river he grabbed his illegitimate son by Gabrielle d'Estrees,Cesar Duc de Vendome and carried him to safety leaving everyone else, including his wife Marie de Medici,  to fend for themselves.

Cesar de Bourbon Duc de Vendome son of  Henry IV of France 
and Gabrielle d'Estrees

Son of Cesar de Bourbon,Louis de Vendome Duc de Vendome,1630 by Dumonstier

Second son of Cesar de Bourbon,Francois de Vendome,
Duc de Beaufort in 1649 by Jean Nocret 

Gabrielle Angelique de Bourbon daughter of Henry IV and 
Gabrielle d'Estrees by Dumonstier

Diane de France,daughter of Henry II of France and Filippa Ducci

Marriage of Diane de France to Orazio Farnese,1553

Diane de France by Francois Clouet, c. 1570

Louis XIV of France had all of his children by his two main mistresses,Madames La Valliere and Montespan legitimized and married them into the most noble families in France.In fact most of the nobility in the world is descended from illegitimate children of monarchs.Louis married his daughters into the junior branches of the Bourbon family,one of them becoming Princess of Conti, another of Conde and his youngest daughter marrying the Duc d'Orleans, the highest noble in the land after the King son of the King's brother. His sons married daughters of the grandest nobles in the land. They considered it a great privilege to have some of the King's sacred blood mix with their own.

Louise de La Valliere and her children

Louise de La Valliere and her children

Young Comte de Vermandois and his sister the future Princesse de Conti

Louis de Bourbon, Comte Vermandois son of Louis XIV and
 Louise de La Valliere by Mignard

Marie Anne Princesse de Conti daughter of Louis XIV and Louise de La Valliere
 in 1680 by Francois de Troy

Marie Anne Princesse de Conti,1700

Marie Anne Princesse de Conti on horseback, 1683

                                    Madame de Montespan and her children by Louis XIV

Detail of the young Duc du Maine

Louis Auguste Duc du Maine son of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan,1690 Mignard

His wife Louise Benedicte de Bourbon Duchesse du Maine,1690 Gobert 

Duchesse du Maine

Louise Benedeicte Duchesse du Maine

Louis Charles de Bourbon Comte de Eu,son of Duc du Maine,1715

Daughters of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan,Louise Francoise Princesse de Conde  the elder daughter is on the right with Francoise Marie Duchesse d'Orleans on the left

Louise Francoise Princesse de Conde on left and Francoise Marie Duchesse d'Orleans on right,Pierre Mignard

                   Louise Francoise Princesse de Conde daughter of Louis XIV and
                                                 Madame de Montespan,Gobert

Princesse de Conde by Francois de Troy, 1690

Louis III de Bourbon Prince de Conde husband of Louise Francoise 

Louise Elisabeth de Bourbon Mademoiselle de Bourbon daughter of Louise Francoise 

Louise Anne de Bourbon Comtesse de Charolais daughter of prncesse de Conde 
in 1721 by Antoine Coypel

Marie Anne de Bourbon Duchesse de Joyeuse daughter of Louise Francoise,1733

Louise Anne de Bourbon Comtesse de Charolais,1731 Nattier

Elisabeth Alexandrine Mademoiselle de Sens daughter of Louise Francoise,Pierre Gobert

Francoise Marie de Bourbon Duchesse d'Orleans daughter of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan by Pierre Gobert

Francoise Marie de Bourbon Duchesse d'Orleans,1700 Pierre Gobert 

Philippe Duc d'Orleans husband of Francoise Marie by Jean-Baptiste Santerre

Marie Louise Elisabeth d'Orleans Duchesse du Berry,1718 Pierre Gobert

Louise Adelaide Abesse de Chelles daughter of Francoise Marie,Gobert

Charlotte Aglae d'Orleans Duchesse de Modena daughter of Francoise Marie by Pierre Gobert

Philippine Elisabeth Mademoiselle Beaujolais daughter of Francoise Marie,1731 Nattier

Louise Diane d'Orleans Princesse de Conti,
daughter of Francoise Marie Duchesse d'Orleans

Louis Alexandre de Bourbon Comte de Toulouse youngest son of 
Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan,1708 by Hyacinthe Rigaud

The next French King Louis XV also had many illegitimate children but unlike his great grandfather he did not recognise, legitimize or ennoble them. They were quietly passed off as the mistresses children by their husbands.One of his bastards, a son, looked so much like him that the whole court called him Demi-Louis.Madame de Pompadour, much unhappy that she was unable to have a child with the King after suffering many miscarriages and having a daughter by her husband of similar age wanted to mix her blood by that of the King in some way and one day suggested to the king that she should marry her daughter to the little boy due to his beautiful looks and asked the King did he not find him beautiful and would he not kiss him insinuating that he was his son.The King looked at her sternly and that was the end of that.

Marie Francoise Filleul,Marquise de Marigny,daughter of Louis XV and Irene de Buisson de Longpre, with her husband Abel Poisson in 1769 by Louis Michel van Loo

Louis,Comte de Narbonne-Lara son of Louis XV and Francoise de Chalus

Marie Adelaide,Comtesse de Narbonne-Lara,wife of Louis Narbonne-Lara

Actress Louise Contat,mistress of Louis Narbonne-Lara,Janinet

The Spanish kings always put their bastards in his or their half-brothers services making them Governors of provinces and generals in the army, their loyalty to the crown assured by blood. The Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain Charles V had some very capable bastards. His son Don Juan of Austria is a legendary naval officer and was appointed Governor of the Low Countries and his daughter Margaret of Parma was made governor of the Netherlands, a Spanish province at the time.

Don Juan de Austria son of Charles V and Barbara Bloomberg
 in 1585 Alonso Sanchez Coello 

Don Juan de Austria

Margaret of Parma daughter of Charles V and Johanna Maria von der Gheynst
 by Anthonis Mor

Margaret of Parma Duchess of Parma,Clouet

Margaret of Parma in 1562 by Anthonis Mor

Alessandro Farnese son of Margaret of Parma and Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma
by Alonso Sanchez Coello, c. 1550s

Alessandro Farnese by Sofonisba Anguissola

Alessandro Farnese Duke of Parma by Jean I de Saive, 1585

Juan Jose of Austria son of Philip IV of Spain and Maria Calderon 
in 1642 by Eugenio de las Cuevas

In England and Scotland bastards have a long tradition and some of the most prominent families are descended from them. Henry VIII had many but only recognized one and even thought of placing him on the throne, since he did not have living sons with his Queen, or even marrying him to his legitimate daughter the Princess Mary. But alas this son also died pretty young and it came to nothing. Henry had a mistress Mary Boleyn,sister of future Queen Anne Boleyn, and is thought to have fathered two children with her although he never officially recognize them and they carried Marry's husband's name Cary. Then there was Charles II who proved that the fault was not with him for having no children by his queen by having dozens of bastards.One of his courtiers George Villiers said "A king is supposed to be father of his people and Charles certainly was father to a good many of them"

James Stewart,Earl of Moray son of James V of Scotland and Margaret Erskine
in 1561 by Hans Eworth

Son of Henry VIII and Elizabeth Blount Henry Fitzroy,Duke of Richmond 
by Hans Holbein, 1525

Henry Carey, Baron Hunsdon son of Henry VIII and Mary Boleyn
Steven van Herwijck, 1561-63

Lady Catherine Carey daughter of Henry VIII and Mary Boleyn by 
Steven van der Meulen, 1562

James Scott Duke of  Monmouth son of Charles II and Lucy Walters

Charles FitzCharles,Earl of Plymouth son of Charles II and Catherine Pegge

Charles Beauclerk,Duke of St.Albans son of Charles II and 
Nell Gwynn by Simon Verelst

Lady Diana de Vere, Duchess of St.Albans,c. 1690

James Beauclerk,Lord Beauclerk,son of Charles II and Nell Gwynn 
in 1675 by Wissing

Charlotte Lee Countess of Lichfield daughter of Charles II and Barbara Villiers,
with her mother by Henry Gascard

Charlotte Lee Countess of Lichfield,c. 1716

Lady Anne Palmer daughter of Charles II and Barbara Villiers 

Daughter of Charles II and Barbara Villiers,Barbara Fitzroy,1685 

Charles Lennox Duke of Richmond son of Charles II and Louise de Keroualle, 
with his mother by Henry Gascard

Charles Lennox Duke Of Richmond,c. 1685

Anne Brudenell Duchess of Richmond wife of 
Charles Duke of Richmond by Michael Dahl

A grandson of Charles II,Charles Lennox 3rd Duke of Richmond 
in 1758 by Reynolds

Charles II's granddaughter Anne Lennox Countess of Albemarle 
in 1745 by Thomas Hudson

James FitzJames Duke of Berwick,son of James II and Arabella Churchill

Olga de Meyer daughter of Edward VII of England and Marie Blanche Sampayo

The portugese king Peter I had a son by a woman known only by the name of Theresa who on the death of his father and his half brother would inherit the throne of Portugal, a very rare occurrence for a  royal bastard, founding the house of Aviz. The current exiled royal family of Portugal the Braganzas are descended from him by his last son Alfonso, 1st Duke of Braganza.

Marriage of Joao I of Portugal and Philippa of Lancaster,1479

Isabella of Portugal daughter of Joao I and Philippa of Lancaster
 in 1545 by Petrus Christus

Isabella of Portugal Duchesse de Bourgogne in 1445 by Rogier van der Weyden

Beatrice de Portugal Countess of Arundel illegitimate daughter of 
Joao of Portugal and Ines Pires,effigy from her tomb, died in  1447

Surprisingly even popes had illegitimate children that they often openly acknowledged and made made their sons cardinal. Some of them became popes themselves and married their daughters into powerful noble families.

Cesare Borgia Duc de Valentinois son of Pope Alexander VI and 
Vanozza dei Cattanei, 1518 by Dosso Dossi

Gioffre Borgia Principe de Squilacio and Comte de Alvito son of Pope Alexander VI and 
Vanozza dei Cattanei with his wife Sancha of Aragon,1510

Lucrezia Borgia Duchessa di Ferrara Modena and Reggio daughter of 
Pope Alexander VI and Vanozza dei Cattanei,1492 by Pinturicchio

Alfonso d'Este Duca de Ferrara Modena and Reggio 
third husband of Lucrezia Borgia,Dosso Dossi

Ercole II d'Este Duca di Ferrara Modena and Reggio, 
son of Lucrezia Borgia

Lorenzo Cybo Duca de Ferentillo grandson of Pope Innocent VIII 
through his illegitimate son Franceschetto Cybo,1523 by Parmigianino

Pier Luigi Farnese Duca di Parma son of Pope Paul III and Silvia Ruffini

Gerolama Orsini Duchessa di Parma wife of Pier Luigi

Cardinal Ranuccio Farnese son of Pier Luigi in 1542 by Titian

In Italy Cosimo de Medici married his long time mistress Camilla Martinelli but not before he had a daughter with her. Virginia de' Medici was born two years before her parents married. But she still made a grand marriage and became Duchess of Modena and Reggio.

Virginia de' Medici Duchessa di Modena and Reggio daughter of 
Cosimo I de' Medici and Camilla Martinelli

Laura d'Este Duchessa di Mirandola daughter of Virginia de' Medici

All the bastards so far have been from male monarch but Catherine the Great was an exceptional  woman and here again she proves the exception to the rule. She had many lovers and was even engouraged to have a child by one of them by her predecessor the Empress Elizabeth of Russia since her husband seemed incapable of committing the sexual act. She did have a few illegitimate children, even her successor Czar Paul I of Russia could have been fathered by her first lover Serge Saltykov as she indicated in her memoirs.

Alexei Bobrinsky Graf Bobrinsky son of Catherine the Great and 
Aleksei Orlov,1770 by Carl Ludwig Christinek

Aleksei, Graf Bobrinsky

Portrait of Elisabeth Temkina by Vladimir-Borovikovsky,  1798 Elisabeth Temkina was reputedly the daughter of Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, and her favourite, Prince Grigory Potemkin

Anna Karolina Orzelska was daughter of Augustus the Strong and a French wine merchant's daughter Henriette Renard.She was her father's favorite child,of whom he had many illegitimate ones probably as many as fifteen and only one legitimate son,because she looked so much like her father and despite being poorly educated she proved an excelent addition to court life. She lived scandalously,smoked tobacco drank and had many love affairs.Anna Karolina also excelled in horse riding,dancing and hunting and in her turn became the Mistress of Frederick Wilhelm I of Prussia.

                                     Anna Karolina Orzelska in 1728 by Louis de Silvestre

                                                        Anna Karolina Orzelska,1730s

                                          Anna Katarina Orzelska,1730 Rosalba Carriera

                                               Portrait of a Polish Princess,1644 Peter de Rij

The Polish princess above is one of two illegitimate children of King  Wladyslaw IV Vasa and his mistress Jadwiga Luszkowska also a daughter of a wine merchant.They also had a son who was a Captain of the Guard for Queen Christina of Sweden,his second cousin,while she lived in Rome.


  1. Wow, so much this.

  2. great gallery. harvested them all for my genealogical database. thanks for posting.

  3. excellent post. thank you. my name is janeene browne, blank. commenting as janeene browne . the e on the end of brown is important for your geneology work. the name has always been spelled browne. my aunt used an online geneology research site, who did not use the e at the end of browne, and got her hooked up with the wrong families, and bilked her out of a lot of money. my research is correct. jbb. 12/27/16.

  4. Lovely page! One error I found, Olga de Meyer was suspected to be the natural daughter of Edward VII, not Edward VIII, of England.