Portsmouth, Louise de Kéroualle, duchess of

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Portsmouth, Louise de Kéroualle, duchess of (1649–1734). Of Breton lineage, Louise de Kéroualle accompanied Henrietta Anne, sister of Charles II, to England in 1670; Charles's despair at Henrietta's sudden death and obvious infatuation with Louise encouraged Louis XIV to send her back to England. Her baby-faced charms led Charles to call her ‘Fubbs’ (fubsy=chubby), though her emotional outbursts prompted ‘the weeping willow’ from Nell Gwyn, and she rapidly rose to become ‘the most absolute of the king's mistresses’. Her son by Charles (1672) was created duke of Richmond and she herself made duchess of Portsmouth in 1673. Universally unpopular as Frenchwoman and catholic, she was mercenary, recklessly extravagant, and haughty to inferiors; her Whitehall apartment, extended and altered 1672–4 (further rebuilt 1678), was so luxuriously furnished and full of silver plate as to surfeit Evelyn. James II offered reassurances of protection, but after the 1691 fire she returned to France.

A. S. Hargreaves

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Louise Renee de Keroualle duchess of Portsmouth

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Louise Renee de Keroualle duchess of Portsmouth