Jeanne Antoinette Poisson Pompadour, marchioness de, mistress of Louis XV., born in Paris, Dec. 29, 1721, died in Versailles, April 15, 1764. She was the natural daughter of a butcher. Her mother gave her a good education, and married her in 1741 to a farmer of the taxes named Le Normand d'Etioles, shortly after which she first attracted the attention of the king while he was with a royal hunting party in the forest of Senart; but it was not until after the death of Mme. de Chateauroux (1744) that she became openly the king's favorite. She accompanied Louis during the campaign of- Fontenoy in May, 1745, and on her return was presented at court by the title of marchioness de Pompadour. She patronized learning and the arts, embellished Paris, and with the assistance of Voltaire and Bernis organized brilliant fetes. Even after she had lost to a great degree her hold upon the king's affections, she retained her power by making herself necessary to his comfort. She soon undertook to save him from the fatigues of government. She interfered with the finances, made and unmade ministers, and favored by turns the Jansenists, the Quietists, the infidels, and the parliament, that she might have the support of all parties.
Flattered by Maria Theresa, who sent her an autograph letter, and irritated by the sarcasms of Frederick II. on the dynastie des cotillons, she brought about the alliance of France and Austria against Prussia which resulted in the disastrous seven years' war. In 1757, after the attempt of Da-miens to assassinate the king, she was obliged to quit the court; but being soon recalled, she caused the ministers D'Argenson and Machault, who had advised her dismissal, to be disgraced. Her influence upon military appointments was one of the chief causes of the ill success of the war. She recalled Marshal d'Estrees after the French victory at Hastenbeck, and prevented the recall of Soubise after the defeat at I Rossbach. She dismissed the minister Bernis, who advised peace, and replaced him by Choiseul. But in Choiseul, to her dismay, she soon found a master. He assisted her indeed to procure the suppression of the Jesuits, but it soon became apparent that his power depended no longer on her favor. She died hated by the nation and little regretted by the king.
Besides ah annual income of nearly 1,500,000 livres, she had received the territories of La Celle, Crecy, and St. Remy; the chateaux of Aulnay, Brinborion, and Bellevue; and splendid establishments at Paris, Versailles, Fontainebleau, and Compiegne. She gave freely to the poor, patronized inventors, artists, and men of letters, and made magnificent collections of works of art and curiosities. She drew and engraved with considerable skill. The Memoires and Lettres published under her name are not authentic. - See Madame de Pompadour, by Capefigue (Paris, 1858), and Les waitresses de Louis XV., by De Goncourt (2 vols., Paris, 1861).