If any king passed on his womanizing genes, it was Henry IV of France. A notorious lothario himself, Henry's grandsons included the biggest ladies' men of the seventeenth century: Charles II of England and, of course, Louis XIV of France, the "Sun King." Louis's conquests include the Kardashian sisters (and cousins) of Versailles. Dubbed "Les Mazarinettes," these seven women seduced and married their ways into the highest echelons of society.
Cardinal Jules Mazarin was one of Louis's primary ministers - and probably the lover of his mom, Anne of Austria. Considering he was a churchman, he didn't have any kids of his own (not that that stopped some clerics), but he wanted to advance his own family members. He did so by bringing his seven nieces, who bore the surnames of Mancini and Martinozzi, to court, starting in 1647...and arranging the highest-ranking of marriages - and affairs - for these stunning young ladies, born minor noblewomen.
Let's start with Marie Mancini, Louis XIV's first love. She was so gorgeous that the young king wanted to give up an arranged marriage to make little Marie, his dance and singing partner, his queen. He was willing to give up nothing less than a political alliance with the Spanish for one woman. But, despite the advantage it would bring his family, Mazarin knew politics demanded Louis marry his first cousin, Maria Theresa: love be damned! The cardinal used all his wiles to convince Louis to do his duty by his monarchy and his country, which he eventually did...reluctantly. Poor Marie was then married off to a powerful Italian nobleman, Lorenzo Colonna.
Marie Mancini, Louis XIV's teenage dream.
Then there was Laura Mancini, whose marriage to one of the highest-ranking noblemen in France was a "political coup" for Mazarin, according to historian Sharon Kettering. Louis, duke of Mercouer, was a grandson of the aforementioned Henry IV (through a secret love child, of course!), and Mazarin raised him even higher, making his new nephew-in-law, who wed Laura in 1651, an admiral.
Laura's sister Olympia, a strong-willed beauty who also flirted with Louis, married an Italian prince and gave birth to the great general Prince Eugene of Savoy. Perhaps most famously, Olympia, who became a prominent noblewoman at Louis's court, was ensnared in the "Affair of the Poisons." She was supposedly a client of the infamous witch and poisoner La Voisin, supposedly attempting to kill her own hubby and one of the king's mistresses; the scandal led to her fleeing France. Interestingly, the Mancini sisters' father, Lorenzo, was really interested in necromancy and other magical arts, so this kind of stuff ran in the family.
The lovely Olympia Mancini, alleged poisoner and exile.
The other two Mancini sisters were Marie Anne and Hortense. The former wed another important French nobleman and served as a patroness of the famous poet La Fontaine, though she, too, got caught up in La Voisin's poisoning scandal.
But Hortense was perhaps the most like Kim Kardashian of the five sisters, scoring the biggest prize of all; she was the British King Charles II's official mistress after arriving at his court in 1675. Dark-haired and sultry-eyed, she was curvaceous and an incorrigible flirt with men and woman alike.
Hortense Mancini, mistress of Charles II of England.
Years before, the "Merry Monarch" wanted to wed Hortense (sound familiar?), but he didn't have a kingdom at the time. In fact, every prince in Europe wanted her, but a creepy, old guy wound up marrying her; years later, after leaving her spouse, sexy, wild Hortense was a vibrant woman who seduced Charles. She played guitar and danced, gambled, and had flings galore with men and women, ranging from Charles and the Prince of Monaco to the King of England's own illegitimate daughter. Hortense also penned her own novelistic memoirs.
So the Mancini girls got the best of what Uncle Mazarin had to offer, but what about their Martinozzi cousins? They didn't get the short end of the marital stick; one wed a distant cousin of King Louis, while the other became the mother-in-law of King James II of Great Britain.