Mancini, Laura, duchesse de Mercœur (louˈrä mänchēˈnē düshĕsˈ də mĕrcûrˈ) [key], 1636–57, eldest of five famous sisters, nieces of Cardinal Mazarin, who were called from Italy to enjoy his patronage at the French court. She was married to Louis de Vendôme, duc de Mercœur, and grandson of Henry IV. Although not a beautiful as her sisters, she was greatly esteemed by Anne of Austria and Louis XIV. She was the mother of the famous General Vendôme. The second sister, Olympia Mancini, comtesse de Soissons kôNtĕsˈ, swäsôNˈ, 1639?–1708, was after marriage, a member of the queen's household. Because of her court intrigues she was exiled. She was accused of poisoning both her husband and the queen of Spain, and to avoid imprisonment, escaped to the Low Countries, where she lived to see the military successes of her son, Prince Eugene of Savoy. Maria Mancini, princess of Colonna kōlônˈnä, 1640?–1715, third of the five sisters, received the attention of Louis XIV, who wished to marry her, but Mazarin prevented it. An unhappy marriage led her into many escapades. Most of her life was passed in Spain, where she had many misfortunes. Hortense Mancini, duchesse de Mazarin ôrtäNsˈ, märärăNˈ, 1646–99, fourth and most beautiful of the nieces, was the favorite of Cardinal Mazarin. Her hand was sought by the future kings of England and Portugal, but her uncle married her to Armand Charles de la Porte, who took the title duc de Mazarin. Hortense left her husband, and passed the remaining period of her life in England, where she was a court favorite. Marie Anne Mancini, duchesse de Bouillon märēˈ än, bōyôN, 1649–1714, was famous for her vivacity and wit. She became the center of a literary circle in Paris and was the patroness of La Fontaine. Because of her acquaintance with La Voisin (see Poison Affair) she was banished in 1680.
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