Top 10 of the Most Influential Mistresses

These mistresses had much more power than usual.

by Iva Rizova

In the past, the woman was looked at with disregard. Her main goal was to give birth to her husband’s heirs, and she rarely had more functions. Although there are exceptions, it was strange and unacceptable for a woman to rule, even if she was the legal heir of the monarch. However, some members of the fairer sex showed more cunning and hypocrisy and gained hidden power. See who were the most influential royal mistresses.

Agnés Sorel

Agnés Sorel

She was the mistress of King Charles VII of France and the first officially declared royal favorite. Before her, the royal lovers were in the shadows, although everyone knew who they were.

Agnes’ family belonged to the petty French aristocracy. Because of her background, from an early age, she was prepared to become part of the entourage of the Queen of Naples and received a good education. Alas, her fate dictated otherwise.

The Dauphin noticed her beauty, and soon Agnes became the first lady of his wife Marie d’Anjou’s retinue. None of Charles VII’s other lovers had such an influence on him. Agnes acquired several castles in less than a year, arranged posts for all those close to her, and received the world’s first cut diamond.

Agnes bore the king four children who they raised as legitimate. But during the last pregnancy, the condition of the royal favorite deteriorated sharply, and she died. She is said to have been poisoned with mercury by Crown Prince Louis, who considered his father’s relationship with Agnes, an insult to his mother. Arguably one of the most influential mistresses ever.

Barbara Villiers

Barbara Villiers

She was one of the most beautiful women (and mistresses) of the seventeenth century, but she was also a really dangerous woman. The writer John Evelyn even called her the “curse of England.”

At the age of 15, Barbara already had many suitors and did not shy away from responding to their lustful looks. So her father decided to marry her before his daughter’s reputation became desperately bad. Shortly after the wedding, the newlyweds went to Hague, where the exiled King Charles II was hiding.

Barbara wasted no time and immediately became his mistress. After Charles ascended the throne again, she became his unofficial wife. She bore him six children, of whom he confessed five because even the king was aware of Barbara’s love affairs and doubted how many of them were really his.

The king’s favorite wore the most expensive jewelry, spent large sums on gambling, and the king satisfied all her whims. Barbara even entered the Queen’s entourage and received the title of Duchess of Cleveland. Thanks to her relationship with the king, Barbara is the great-grandmother of Princess Diana.

Bianca Cappello

Bianca Cappello

Only fifteen-year-old Bianca ran away with her lover Pietro Bonaventure. The money her new husband stole before they married in Florence failed to meet the needs of Bianca, who was accustomed to a comfortable life.

Her father announced a reward of 1,000 ducats for capturing Pietro, and the Venetian Republic demanded that Florence return the fugitives. This was welcome for Bianca because they had to win the Tuscan duke’s patronage, which meant she would become his mistress.

Bianca was housed in a specially built palace just for her, right next to the residence of Francesco Medici and his wife. But she was not satisfied with that. She pretended to be pregnant and took the newborn son of a maid, whom she introduced as her own. The Duke of Tuscany recognized him as his illegitimate child and gave him the name Antonio Medici.

After his wife died, Francesco married Bianca. Although she played a significant role in political life, she failed to secure the throne for Antonio but earned the nickname “The Witch.” Bianca and Francesco died almost simultaneously and were later found to have been poisoned with arsenic.

Gabrielle d’Estrées

Gabrielle d'Estrées

King Henry IV of France so adored her that he intended to marry her and make her Queen. The two had a similar fate, as Henry became king of France, and she became his mistress by accident.

The noble Roger de Belgard fell in love with Gabriel, and they got engaged. But he made the fatal mistake of telling the king of her beauty. Convinced of Roger’s words, Henry did his best to remove him and turn Gabrielle into his mistress.

But she rejected the king and made him work hard to surrender to him. He offered a large sum of money to her father to redeem her and achieved his goal. When Gabrielle gave birth to their first child, Henry began to think about how to divorce Marguerite de Valois, from whom he inherited the French throne.

During Gabriel’s fourth pregnancy, the king announced that they would be married on Easter so that their next child would be legitimate. Gabriel’s sudden deterioration thwarted his plans. She died a few days later. She was allegedly poisoned to prevent her from being proclaimed Queen. One of the most dangerous mistresses as you can see.

Maria Walewska

Maria Walewska

Winning Maria’s sympathy proved to be the most challenging task for Napoleon Bonaparte. The Polish aristocrat was married to 50 years older count. Unlike most women in her situation, she did not want to cheat on her husband.

Napoleon was impressed by her beauty and modesty. But his usual tactics hit a snag. When she received a note that unequivocally told her to give herself to him, Maria did not even bother to answer. The emperor’s second letter also received no reply. Maria’s inaccessibility increasingly inflamed Napoleon’s passion.

Polish aristocrats persuaded the countess to surrender to him and sent her to a meeting with Bonaparte. The night passed in the emperor’s unsuccessful attempts to calm the sobbing Maria. Napoleon constantly invited her to lunch or dinner and sent gifts, which she returned. Finally, he promised to restore the independence of the Kingdom of Poland, and Maria surrendered.

Maria’s husband concealed her relationship with the emperor. When the Countess gave birth to a son, Napoleon was in seventh heaven because it was proof that he was not impotent. During Bonaparte’s exile on the island of Elba, Maria was the only woman who went to see him. One of the mistresses with big influence.

Diane de Poitiers


At the age of 15, Diana was married to Louis de Brese, the grandson of Charles VII, and Agnes Sorel, who was four decades older than her. She was part of the entourage of three queens, and in 1525 she was sent to train the French princes’ taken hostage. Henry was attracted to her beauty, even though Diana was 20 years older.

After they returned to France and Diana’s husband was no longer alive, Henry began courting her. But she did not respond to his feelings. That changed when the dauphin died, and her suitor had to inherit the throne. Diana realized that age would not play in her favor and began a daily exercise regimen and diet.

Her influence over the king was total, not only in palace life but also in politics. Seeing that Henry and Catherine’s marriage was fruitless for nine years, Diana obliged the king to perform his marital duties regularly, and the Queen gave birth to ten children.

After Henry’s death, Diana was sent from the palace. Catherine de’ Medici did not allow her to attend the funeral and demanded the return of all the royal jewels.

Lola Montez


At the age of six, Elizabeth Rosana Gilbert went with her parents to India, where she began dancing lessons. She perfected the art of dance in Spain and received her nickname Lola Montes. Dancing has become her primary means of enchanting men.

Ten years later, she married an officer. But that did not stop her travel. Among her admirers were even Balzac and Dumas. In 1846 she found herself in Bavaria, where the sixty-year-old King Ludwig fell in love with her on their first meeting.

Forty days later, he changed his will and, in addition to a monthly allowance, ordered Lola Montez to receive 100,000 guilders after his death, provided she was not married or widowed. Ludwig even gave her the title of Countess to Landsfeld, but the ministers were dissatisfied and gave him an ultimatum – if Lola does not leave the country, he must abdicate. The king chose the dancer.

The wave of protests against Lola spread, and she left the country, and Ludwig’s son ascended the throne. Then she went to America and remarried but was accused of bigamy. According to the official version, she died of pneumonia, but rumors claimed she was diagnosed with syphilis.

Madame de Montespan

Madame de Montespan

Her parents were representatives of two of the oldest noble families. Françoise’s astonishing beauty and shrewd mind attracted many candidates for her hand, even though her dowry was small. She chose to marry the Marquis de Montespan.

Their marriage was not happy, although they had two children in a short time. The offer to become the court lady of Queen Maria Theresa was like a lifeline for Françoise. She soon attracted the king’s attention, and Louis XIV gave her several apartments connected to his.

Meanwhile, the Marquis arranged a symbolic funeral for his wife. Françoise’s ambition grew, and she was determined to keep the king’s attention. She bore the king seven children, of whom he recognized several.

However, they discredited her name during the poisoning affair, and she lost Louis’s favor but was not among those punished. It was said that she prepared love potions and performed black magic to keep the king’s love. It is a fact that during their twelve-year relationship, Louis achieved his most tremendous success as monarch and that Madame de Montespan was his only mistress from whom he sought advice.

Madame de Pompadour


Jeanne Antoinette was of bourgeois origin. Her mother took her to a fortune teller when she was 9. She predicted that one day she would reign over a king’s heart. Her mother believed the prophecy and did her best to prepare her daughter for the role.

Jeanne married another member of the bourgeoisie and opened her own salon on her estate. The fortune-teller’s words had left their mark, and she considered how to get into the king’s field of vision. She researched where and when the king rode and accidentally got in his way. Jeanne was beautiful, intelligent, educated, and had a variety of talents that impressed Louis XV.

She went to a masquerade ball in the palace dressed as the goddess Diana. Soon Jeanne became the king’s official mistress, received the title of Marquise de Pompadour, moved to the court, and divorced. Despite criticism of her origins, no woman has succeeded in displacing her from the king’s heart.

Experiencing two miscarriages seriously shook her health and ended their physical relationship. However, Jeanne began to choose the king’s companions and thus maintained her influence until her death.

Nell Gwyn


Nell’s fate is like the Cinderella tale. Her father was a debt prisoner, and her mother a brothel owner. Nell sold fish, vegetables, and oysters and did various household chores to earn extra money.

Her luck smiled, and she started working as an actress in the Royal Theater, where she met one of the palace poets. According to rumors, the royal court wanted to find a new mistress of the king. A year later, Charles II noticed her and invited her to dinner with his brother, but it turned out that none of them brought money, and Nell covered the bill. That’s how their relationship began.

The actress was in direct competition for royal attention with Louise de Kerual. Unlike Louise, people loved Nell for her character, sense of humor, and lack of snobbery. Besides, Nell enjoyed simple pleasures and did not claim titles, which Charles liked.

She bore two sons to him, but only one reached adulthood. The king secured his beloved and their son before he died. Two years later, Nell died, leaving everything Charles had given her to her son. But she did not forget to set aside a small sum for the poor and repay the prisoners’ debts. 

Being a royal mistress was one way to gain power, even if you did not have blue blood. Some contented themselves with being the king’s second wife, while others, like Anne Boleyn, longed for more. But in most cases, they became the object of envy, or their fate played a bad joke. These mistresses indeed had an interesting life.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Related Posts

Leave a Comment