She had everything in the world.
Once, she had all the glamour and riches she dreamed of when she was a kid. All the flowy and layered dresses, the jewellery of beauty she’d never seen before, the beautiful gardens she thought only existed outside of this world. She had the complete attention of the number one person in this kingdom, the one who was appointed by God himself as the successor of the Sun King.
She was, after all, the Madame du Barry.
The wheel of fortune was always turning. Jeanne Bécu had always known of this. She was born fatherless and her mother was only a destitute seamstress in a small town in Lorraine. Once when she was a child, Fortune blessed her when her mother’s lover took them to live in luxury in Paris. He showered them with richesse and attention. But good luck could only last as long, once she turned fifteen, all the love and money stopped and they were thrown into the streets to survive. As Jeanne had stepped into adolescence, she would have to work downtown either as a domestic helper, a launderer, a seamstress like her mother, a merchant of any kinds of product, or, worst case scenario, as a prostitute.
And did Jeanne go down that road. Her dream of becoming a fashion merchant was scrapped immediately once she knew how much a woman can make just by opening her legs. Jean du Barry was the man who opened her way into this world, only God knows how much she always thanked him. Jean found her when she was not sure what to do to earn some bread and cheese in the bustling city. He saved her 19-year-old self by making her his mistress, giving her the protection and security she desperately needed at that time. But not only that, Jean also gave her enough agency to earn on her own, simply by selling love to drooling men who were willing to pay a generous amount of money.
Her world turned upside down once one of her clients, a man titled the Duke of Richelieu, told her that King Louis XV was currently looking for a new mistress. His old favorite, the beloved Madame de Pompadour, passed away due to tuberculosis. If Jeanne ever had a chance she should not miss, then this was it. They all saw what Madame de Pompadour had, and Jeanne wanted every piece of it, or even more.
Fortune was on her side, the king took a liking on her. Alas, she was still a regular mistress of him, not the favorite one. She was in Versailles, but in the Parc-aux-Cerfs apartment, not the grand castle. No, she did not want just this. Jeanne wanted everything, but she was not of noble blood. And the king could not took a peasant as his royal mistress; the official mistress must be a lady from the noblesse.
Then so be it; Jean once again opened another door for her. He convinced his brother Guillaume, the Duke du Barry, to marry her and made her a part of their noble family. On the evening of their wedding ceremony, Guillaume went home to Languedoc while Jeanne, now officially addressed as Madame du Barry, went straight to Versailles. The next year, the king made her the official royal mistress.
Screw the priests who condemned adultery, they had no idea how hard it was to live in destitution. They had all the money in the world, coming from the fools who thought that their place in heaven can be bought with gold. She always wanted that richesse, that life, that title, and now she had everything.
Du Barry’s life in court was great. Sure, people talked behind her back, calling her coming from every bed in Paris, had no manners, and other denigrating insults, but why should she care? She had all the things she ever wanted and such words would not hurt her, not even one bit. The only time she felt perverted was when that German harlot, Marie Antoinette, refused to acknowledge her existence. “There are a lot of people in Versailles today.” What was that even supposed to mean?
Antoinette was a nuisance in her otherwise perfect life, moreover after the king’s passing and Antoinette’s husband was anointed to success him. Du Barry still had all the money and jewellery she compiled along the years, so she could buy her way out of the exile Antoinette imposed upon her. She was once again involved with wealthy and powerful men and found herself living in plenty of comfort and love.
But as she experienced in her younger days, luck never stayed long. This time, a revolution was what toppled her from her place of comfort. The people was angry towards the royal family, the court, and the noblesse. The three elements that was once what she pursued now endangered her. Du Barry had to run, leave Versailles with all the grandeur she desperately wanted to keep while on the run.
But she could not. And Du Barry was old, and running was exhausting, and she could do nothing when the mob captured her and put her in queue for execution. No one came to her rescue anymore. Not Jean, not Richelieu, not Louis. Du Barry was alone now, waiting for the roster to mention her name and put her neck on the guillotine. She was ripped of everything: the men, the richesse, the title. She was humiliated, fallen from grace as the Jacobins dragged her across the Place de la Révolution, screaming for mercy and help.
“One more moment, Mr. Executioner, I beg you!”
When life flashed before her eyes, she realized that once again, she was the simple Jeanne Bécu.
Madame du Barry (1743–1793) was the royal mistress of King Louis XV of France. She fell victim to the Terror and was beheaded in Place de la Révolution (Place de la Concorde today) on December 8, 1793.
Fiancé challenged me to write something historical about greed in an hour, so this is it.