Another highly successful mistress today, though she tragically died just before she was made a wife. Gabrielle d’Estrées was the mistress and beloved of Henry IV of France. She accompanied him during his campaigns, making sure he was well fed, doing his laundry, and acting as his secretary.
When their son was born, he legitimised the child and the text validated his mistress as ‘worthy of our friendship’. He also recognised and legitimised the other two children they had together, a daughter and a son.
And he made her a Duchess, duchesse de Beaufort.
Five years after the birth of their first child, Henry applied for an annulment and authority to remarry, and gave his mistress his coronation ring as a sign of his intentions. But before they could wed, Gabrielle died.
Henry gave her a funeral fit for a queen, and wrote: “the roots of love are dead within me and will never spring to life again”.