Birthday: August 19, 1743
Died At Age: 50
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Jeanne Bécu, Comtesse du Barry
Born Country: France
Born in: Vaucouleurs, France
Famous as: Mistress of Louis XV of France
Spouse/Ex-: Comte Guillaume du Barry (m. 1768)
father: possibly Jean Baptiste Gormand de Vaubernier
mother: Anne Bécu de Cantigny
Died on: December 8, 1793
place of death: Place de la Concorde, Paris, France
Cause of Death: Execution
Who was Madame du Barry?
Jeanne Bécu, Comtesse du Barry, popularly known as Madame du Barry, was a French courtesan, who served as the last chief mistress of King Louis XV of France. She also used to exercise influence in politics. Though she received a lot of hatred as well as opposition, especially from Duke of Choiseul, Secretary of State and an ally of the king’s former mistress, she managed to hold her position in the Court till Louis XV’s death. Also known to be quite fond of the arts, she was also a patron to several painters as well as craftsmen. She was banished after the death of King Louis XV. Shortly after, she became an unfortunate victim of the Reign of Terror that was a part of the French Revolution.
Childhood & Early Life
Jeanne Bécu was born in Vaucouleurs, France, on 19 August 1743. She was an illegitimate daughter of Anne Bécu and her father was possibly Jean Jacques Gomard. After she finished her education, she worked as a shop assistant at a fashion house in Paris. During this time, she became acquainted with Jean du Barry, a war contractor.
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Life as a Courtesan
Jeanne Bécu became the mistress of Jean du Barry, and soon he introduced her to Parisian high society, and her beauty attracted and captivated a lot of men. In 1768, she eventually attracted the attention of King Louis XV and a meeting was also arranged between them. Louis XV was already an old man by this time. Jeanne was unable to qualify as an official royal mistress, as it required her to be married to a noble. Therefore, Jean du Barry arranged a nominal marriage between her and Guillaume du Barry, his brother, after which she joined Louis XV’s court.
Madame du Barry started living a life of comfort. She began to receive jewelry and estates from the king as well. The king also gave her a young Bengali slave named Zamor. She used to wear extravagant gowns which exhausted the treasury more and more. This led her to creating several rivals and enemies. Duchesse de Gramont, who was the sister of Duke of Choiseul, was her bitter enemy, and she had tried her best to acquire Jeanne’s position. Madame du Barry also earned the scorn of Dauphine Marie Antoinette, who chose to side with Choiseul.
The king was so infatuated by Jeanne, that he ordered a diamond necklace to be made for her that would cost around two million livres. However, Louis XV passed away before it could be completed. After his death, his successor Louis XVI banished her from Versailles and sent her to a convent in Meaux.
Trial & Execution
When the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution took place, Madame du Barry was found guilty of assisting the émigrés who had escaped. She was sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Tribunal of Paris, and was eventually executed with the guillotine on 8th December 1793. Before her execution, she cried and plead for mercy. She also tried to save herself by revealing the hiding place of the gems that she had hidden.
After her death, she was buried in the Madeleine Cemetery, along with many others who had faced execution. She was fifty years old at the time of her death.