A definition of a “mistress” is: a man’s long-term female lover and companion who is not married to him. This term is especially pertinent when the man is already married to another woman. They do not live together openly, and the relationship is usually secret.
Historically, the most famous mistresses are the royal mistresses of European monarchs. Here are some examples.
Diane de Poitiers (1499 â€“ 1566), a French noblewoman, and the favourite mistress of King Henry II of France (1519 â€“ 1559) who was King of France 1547 until his death. She became his mistress in 1538, when he was 19 and she was 39. When the king died, Queen Catherine de’ Medici banished her.
Barbara Palmer (nÃ©e Villiers) (1640-1709), an English courtesan was the most notorious of the many mistresses of King Charles II of England. She bore him 5 children. She was known for her extravagance, bad temper and promiscuity and was described as “the curse of the nation”.
Madame de Montespan (1641â€“1707), was the chief mistress of King Louis XIV of France (1638-1715), with whom she had 7 children. Yes, I know it sounds weird, but “chief mistress” was almost an official position in the French government then, and the post comes complete with its own apartments! Some even called her the “true Queen of France” due to her influence at court. Goodness knows if she even had a say about what type of bathroom faucets should be used. She “reigned” from around 1667 to the 1680s, when the Affair of the Poisons (L’affaire des poisons) finally pushed them apart.
Nell Gwyn (1650â€“1687), the mistress of King Charles II of England (1630-1685), with whom she had 2 sons.
Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764), a member of the French court, was the chief mistress of Louis XV (1710-1774) from 1745 to her death.