“Vert-Galant” had a number of mistresses. So much so that some were forgotten for centuries. Among the latter are Henriette de Balsac d’Entragues, Marquise de Verneuil. And yet he who replaced the beautiful and tender Gabrielle d’Estrées at the side of Henri IV was a major figure at court at the time.
“She is the one who stayed in favor with the first Bourbon king the longest, about ten years. She is also the one who received the most colossal fortune from him,” emphasizes Flavie Leroux in the introduction to the biography dedicated to him by the Fayard publishing house. This 350-page work titled ” Marquise de Verneuil. Mrs. Henry IV “, aims to trace the unique fate of this woman with all possible neutrality. And that throughout our existence.
Beauty, but also the spirit of the devil
If Henriette de Balsac d’Entragues was already the subject of old publications, they mainly focused only on the period when she established herself as one of the central figures of the reign of Henry IV. However, after the death of the monarch who gave her two children, she lived another 23 years before dying in 1633 at the age of 53. Moreover, she was always presented as treacherous, calculating, scheming, ambitious, vain, vain… Her chief biographer, Charles Merki, said of her in 1912: “She could play many characters; volatile and fanciful, she was reshaped at will and soon molded by the rascals of the Court, – naïve, charming, cuddly, promising, aloof, cold, stern, even irritable – she had not only beauty but “the spirit of the devil”, reports Flavie Leroux.