I have to admit that I was not a huge fan of French history,
but I was fascinated by the history of Louis XIV til Marie Antoniette’s death.
In between them/those period, came Madame de Pompadour – a fascinating woman with a humble background, who managed to make a lot of difference on France in culture.
Of course she was written by many people, but I was especially fascinated by Nancy Mitford’s writing upon her. Nancy made Madame de Pompadour seemed someone who we sometimes bump into from day to day, made the work or the idea of her job as mistress less than simply about sleeping with the king. In the biography, Madame de Pompadour worked to entertain the king, to be a woman without trouble – a woman who wouldn’t cause man any unnecessary stress unless he was willing to, for example willing to provide income for her to spend.
Through the biography (and through previous posts on mistresses), there were overlaps between work as mistresses/courtesans and sex workers (especially high-class escorts), who were positioned outside general circles men have. There were also a great deal of involvement on other elements, especially emotional involvement, e.g. mistress has to help the man relax from his duties.