Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Secret Princess: Fact or Fiction?

In the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, a library located in Paris, France, hangs the portrait of a French nun named Louise Marie Therese, also known as the Black Nun of Moret. I first heard about her from a tour guide during a tour of the palace of Versailles and became instantly intrigued by her story. I was so fascinated by this woman that I based my first romantic suspense thriller, The Paris Secret, in part, on her life.

Who is the Black Nun of Moret? Well, that remains a mystery. What is known is that she was born in France in 1664. She spent most of her life in a convent in Moret-Sur-Loing, and took her final vows as a nun at the age of 31. I know it hardly sounds like an exciting life. But if you believe the stories surrounding her parentage then what seems like a very ordinary life becomes anything but.

According to almost 350 year-old gossip, Queen Maria Theresa of Spain, wife of King Louis XIV, gave birth to a child fathered by her African lover, a servant named Nabo. This child was allegedly Louise Marie Therese, the Black Nun of Moret. The story goes on to say that upon her birth the public was told the baby girl died at birth. But she was actually secretly spirited away to live with a wet nurse in the country for several years before entering a convent in Moret. The Black Nun of Moret is mentioned in the memoirs of several members of the French royal court, including King Louis’ mistress Madame De Montespan, as well as his second wife Madame De Maintenon. Writer and philosopher Voltaire was allegedly of the opinion she was actually the king’s daughter, as he’d had at least one African mistress. And Pulitzer Prize-Winning playwright Lynn Nottage even wrote a play about the Black Nun of Moret called Les Meninas.

But is the story true? Was Louise Marie a secret princess denied her birthright? For fictional purposes I made the story true in my novel, The Paris Secret. In truth, many skeptics point out that Queen Maria Theresa was by all accounts a devoutly religious woman who would have never strayed. Some have pointed out that the very nature of life at court, where queens gave birth publically, and hardly ever spent a moment alone, would have prohibited any such affair from taking place. Still others theorize that Louise Marie Therese was actually the daughter of King Louis’ coachman and his wife, who were Moors, and she was sent to a convent after their deaths. What do I think? I think anything is possible. But whatever the truth is, all the speculation surrounding this possible ‘secret’ princess sure makes for one hell of story.

Angela Henry is the author of the Kendra Clayton mystery series and The Paris Secret released by Carina Press.

Thanks for blogging with me today, Angela. Very intriguing post! Dear readers, don’t forget that the more you stop by and comment, the more times you’re entered into the drawing for the grand prize. See full details on the '30 days of Danger & Secrets' tab at the top left of the blog.


Wynter Daniels said...

Fascinating gossip! The Paris Secret sounds very intriguing.

Angela Henry said...

Thanks, Wynter!

crazycatlady58 said...

What a interesting plot, can't wait to read the whole thing.

Cathy M said...

What a great fun fact, I haven't heard that story before.

Kaylea Cross said...

Hi Angela. I love Paris and I love history, so I'll be adding your book to my TBR pile. Congrats on your new release!

Angela Henry said...

Hi Guys!

Thanks for all the kind words. It is a pretty fascinating story, especially since we'll probably never know if it's true ; ).

Kaylea & crazycatlady58-Thank you! I hope you enjoy it.

And a big thanks to Katie for letting me guest blog today!

Diane said...

Sounds like a good mystery!

Sarah said...

How fascinating! I love it when authors inject history into their books :-) Can't wait to read this book.

smaccall @

Nicola O. said...

I'm such a sucker for stories set in Paris. I'll pick this one up just because of the Eiffel Tower on the cover, lol.

Angela Henry said...


Thank you Diane, Sarah, and Nicola! I hope you enjoy it! I tend to write the kinds of books I enjoy reading myself, which often includes lots of history. As for the Paris setting, the book was actually rejected by a couple of publishers because of the foreign setting. Go figure. I'm so happy Carina felt differently ; )