Josefina Luisa de Balbi

Josefina Luisa de Balbi

Favorite of Louis XVIII
Country: France

Content:
  1. Josephine Louise de Balbi - Countess de Comon
  2. A Scandalous Love Affair
  3. The Power of the Favorite
  4. A Controlling Favorite
  5. The Queen of Emigration
  6. The Powerful Favorite
  7. A Scandalous Affair
  8. An Alliance with Russia

Josephine Louise de Balbi - Countess de Comon

Josephine Louise de Balbi, also known as the Countess de Comon, was the favorite of Louis XVIII. At the age of 17, she married Colonel de Balbi and later became a lady-in-waiting to the Countess of Provence, where she gained many admirers. During the revolution, when the king fled Paris, Balbi followed him and became the uncrowned queen of the emigration. She later went to Holland, where her relationship with the Count d'Arshambo caused a scandal. Upon returning to France, she was met with a cold reception from Louis XVIII.

A Scandalous Love Affair

In the summer of 1791, as the people demanded freedom and the most eminent individuals blindly obeyed the tyrant of love, Josephine Louise de Balbi found herself in Koblenz, where the royal court of Louis had relocated from tumultuous Paris. The Countess de Comon, later known as the "queen of emigration," carried the title of Countess de Balbi and was called Anna de Comon de la Force. She was beautiful, charming, cunning, witty, and passionate. One day, her husband unexpectedly found her in bed with Chevalier de Jaucourt. The passionate lovers did not even notice his presence and continued their blissful activity. Enraged, Mr. de Balbi attacked his unfaithful wife with a sword, injuring her. However, she did not lose her composure and claimed that her husband had hallucinations, and there was no lover in sight (unknown to her, Chevalier de Jaucourt had already escaped through a secret passage). Eventually, Mr. de Balbi was deemed insane and locked up in Bicêtre. But the countess was not satisfied with getting rid of her bothersome spouse; she insisted that her lover be granted all the titles and positions of the count.

The Power of the Favorite

Free in body and heart, Josephine de Balbi began to seek outlets for her remarkable amorous abilities. As a lady-in-waiting to the Countess of Provence, she set her sights on seducing her future husband, Louis XVIII. The count, relatively new to the pleasures of love, sought to make up for lost time and desired the attention of as many women as possible. Enthralled by these new "manly" sensations, the count boasted to all about his exploits in a rather frivolous manner. It was only a matter of time before de Balbi made her move. One beautiful evening, she cast her seductive gaze on the count, who trembled in response. Soon enough, they were behaving in bed as if they had known each other their whole lives.

A Controlling Favorite

Becoming the favorite, de Balbi wanted to settle in the Luxembourg Palace. The Count of Provence immediately ordered the preparation of luxurious apartments for her. "Enter, madam. All of this is yours!" he solemnly proclaimed. However, upon inspecting the rooms with a critical eye, the countess declared that the furniture was simply dreadful. The maitre d' returned to his quarters completely distraught. That night, he found a solution to the problem: what if everything was blamed on the guards? Suppose they had set the rooms on fire, and everything was burned down? After the "fire," the rooms were redecorated to the countess's taste: green and white silk, with plenty of gold.

The Queen of Emigration

In the early days of the French Revolution, de Balbi wisely decided to distance herself from the people's anger. The best solution was to go into exile. However, the king's brother, who sympathized with the revolutionaries and even supported them by attacking Marie Antoinette, did not want to leave France. Believing that the people would only demand the exile of the queen and the abdication of the king, he decided to stay in Paris to immediately seize the throne.

But de Balbi disrupted his plans. "I'm leaving," she declared. "And you must follow me! In a week, I will be in Mons... Arrange your escape. By the way, you will be able to better manage events from the outside." His Lordship adored his little countess, and he agreed. A month later, on June 20, 1791, the same day the royal family fled to Varennes, he left the palace disguised as a foreign tourist, got into a carriage, and arrived in Mons, where his wife and de Balbi awaited him. That evening, he definitively abandoned his marital bed and "emigrated" to his favorite.

The Powerful Favorite

In Koblenz, the mini-court, which tried to imitate Versailles in everything, was managed by the prince's favorite. From her bed, she pulled the strings, spun intrigues, appointed officers to the army of Condé, dismissed counselors, and recalled diplomats. Their rise and fall depended solely on the countess... The extent of the favorite's power was eloquently described by Joseph Turkain: "Initially, emigration was a pleasant pastime for the nobility, ambitious individuals, and pretty women. It was a trend, and only later it became a necessity. Women played the biggest role in setting the trend. Therefore, emigration can be considered the creation of the fairer sex. Koblenz belongs to them; it is their arena, their theater, and they play their parts perfectly. The leading role, undoubtedly, is assigned to Madame de Balbi." The queen-favorite held meetings in her room with generals, diplomats, and courtiers, discussing current events. These "consultations" were sometimes very frivolous and did not conform to our ideas of politics, but at that time, no one was bothered by it. For example, Madame de Balbi could, while commenting on the outcome of a battle or a decision of the Convention, undress and start putting on a nightgown... Authoritative and arrogant, she allowed herself to be contemptuous with the most distinguished people in France.

A Scandalous Affair

In the Schönbornlust Castle, everyone knew that de Balbi was deceiving the Count of Provence with rare perseverance. Every servant could name the noblemen who had engaged in amorous activities with the countess on the carpet. Her audacity did not shock anyone because licentiousness was the only entertainment for the emigrants in Koblenz. Delighted to have escaped the dangers of the revolution, they indulged in pleasures, organized "striptease" dinners, where the atmosphere of intimate dinners, dear to Louis XVIII's heart, reigned.

An Alliance with Russia

At the beginning of 1792, on the day of Epiphany, this debauchery led to a terrible scandal. At a party hosted by Madame de Lange, a destitute German beggar who had sought alms was beaten. Many Prussians considered the king's brother a protector of debauchees. De Balbi, annoyed by the scandal caused by the orgy at Madame de Lange's, feverishly sought a way to rectify the situation. It was necessary to find a powerful and wealthy monarch who would agree to finance the emigration immediately. The favorite remembered Catherine the Great, and her envoy, Count Romanov, who had just arrived in Koblenz.

Having devised this plan, she invited the Russian diplomat to her residence, charmed him, and bestowed upon him a few bold caresses. That same evening, he realized he was infatuated with her. The next day, he fell at her feet. She raised the Russian, laid him on her own bed, and became his mistress. Within weeks, he became a slave to this devil in a skirt and gained Catherine's support for the emigration...

Thus, what one woman destroyed, another woman restored. It was once again convincingly demonstrated that the most intimate part of a woman's body, like Aesop's tongue, is capable of both the most beautiful and the most wicked deeds... With a single movement of her hip, Madame de Balbi turned Russia into an ally of the emigration.

© BIOGRAPHS