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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 291 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LAVAL, a town of north-western France, capital of the department of Mayenne, on the Mayenne river, 188 m. W.S.W. of Paris by rail. Pop. (1906) 24,874. On the right bank of the river stands the old feudal city, with its ancient castle and its irregularly built houses whose slate roofs and pointed gables peep from the groves of trees which clothe the hill. On the left bank the regularly built new town extends far into the plain. The river, here 8o yds. broad, is crossed by the handsome railway viaduct, a beautiful stone bridge called Pont Neuf, and the Pont Vieux with three pointed arches, built in the 16th century. There is. communication by steamer as far as Angers. Laval may justly claim to be one of the loveliest of French towns. Its most curious and interesting monument is the sombre old castle of the counts (now a prison) with a donjon of the 12th century, the roof of which presents a fine example of the timber-work superseded afterwards by stone machicolation. The " new castle," dating partly from the Renaissance, serves as court-house. Laval possesses several churches of different periods: in that of the Trinity, which serves as the cathedral, the transept and nave are of the 12th century while the choir is of the 16th; St Venerand (15th century) has good stained glass; Notre-Dame neither coquetry nor self-interest to their relation, which was sedulously concealed. Nicolas Fouquet's curiosity in the matter was one of the causes of his disgrace. In February 1662 there was a storm when Louise refused to tell her lover the relations between Madame (Henrietta) and the comte de Guiche. She fled to an obscure convent at Chaillot, where Louis rapidly followed her. Her enemies, chief of whom was Olympe Mancini, comtesse de Soissons, Mazarin's niece, sought her downfall by bringing her liaison to the ears of Queen Maria Theresa. She was presently removed from the service of Madame, and established in a small building in the Palais Royal, where in December 1663 she gave birth to a son Charles, who was given in charge to two faithful servants of Colbert. Concealment was practically abandoned after her return to court, and within a week of Anne of Austria's death in January 1666, La Valliere appeared at mass side by side with Maria Theresa. But her favour was already waning. She had given birth to a second child in January 1665, but both children were dead before the autumn of 1666. A daughter born at Vincennes in October 1666, who received the name of Marie Anne and was known as Mlle de Blois, was publicly recognized by Louis as his daughter in letters-patent making the mother a duchess in May 1667 and conferring on her the estate of Vaujours. In October of that year she bore a son, but by this time her place in Louis's affections was definitely usurped by Athenais de Montespan (q.v.), who had long been plotting against her. She was compelled to remain at court as the king's official mistress, and even to share Mme de Montespan's apartments at the Tuileries. She made an attempt at escape in 1671, when she fled to the convent of Ste Marie de Chaillot, only to be compelled to return. In 1674 she was finally permitted to enter the Carmelite convent in the Rue d'Enfer. She took the final vows a year later, when Bossuet pronounced the allocution. Her daughter married Armand de Bourbon, prince of Conti, in 1680. The count of Vermandois, her youngest born, died on his first campaign at Courtrai in 1683. La Valliere's Rel,Jexions sur la misericorde de Dieu, written after her retreat, were printed by Lequeux in 1767, and in 186o Re-flexions, lettres et sermons, by M. P. Clement (2 vols.). Some apocryphal Memoires appeared in 1829, and the Lettres de Mme la duchesse de la Valliere (1767) are a corrupt version of her correspondence with the marechal de Bellefonds. Of modern works on the subject see Arsene Houssaye, Mlle de la Valliere et Mme de Monte-span (186o); Jules Lair, Louise de in Valliere (3rd ed., 1902, Eng. trans., 1908) ; and C. Bonnet, Documents inedits sur Mme de in Valliere (1904).
End of Article: LAVAL

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