Justus and Hortense


Presumed Portrait of Hortense Mancini, by Justus van Egmont. I want sleeves exactly like that on my next dressing gown.

In my imaginary world, Justus and Hortense like Lucien et Aristide very much. I imagine they all hang out at a bar drinking kombucha together of an evening.

More seriously, Hortense was a serious power player in mid-17th century Europe. The niece of Cardinal Mazarin, she secured the protection of both Louis XIV and the Duke of Savoy when fleeing her husband, whilst Charles II installed her as his chief mistress when she came to visit her niece Mary of Modena (James II’s wife, and Charles’ sister in law) in England in the 1670s.

Despite a series of scandalous affairs with women of the aristocracy, including with one of Charles’ daughters, and a public fencing match in nightgowns with the Countess of Sussex, she managed to retain a pension even after the Glorious Revolution. Her life criss-crossed Italy, France, Switzerland and England, a reminder that for those at the centre of power it has always been an international world.



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