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Louis-Joseph Vendôme
(1654 - 1712) France

Louis-Joseph Vendôme

General, marshal of France

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Paris' Place Vendôme, one of the city's best-known squares, once contained a mansion, popularly known among 17th century Parisians as the "Hôtel de Sodome". It belonged to the Dukes of Vendôme, descendants of an illegitimate son of King Henri IV. Several members of the family were famous both for their homosexuality or bisexuality and their military successes, especially César (1594 - 1655), who scored a brilliant victory over the Spanish, Philippe (1655 - 1717) and particularly Louis-Joseph, one of Louis XIV's best generals.

Luois-Joseph de Vendôme, reputed for his sang-froid in battle, won numerous victories in campaigns in Italy and Spain, where he died and was buried in the Escorial. According to contempoary accounts, notably that of the Duc de Saint-Simon, Vendôme "plunged", throughout his life, "more than anyone else", into sodomy: "his valets and officers ... always satisfied" his desires. His penchant was well known, and those seeking to win his patronage began by paying court to his favourites.

Vendôme owned a chateau at Anet, near Paris, and other contemporary wrote that "the peasant men of the environs of his fine propertu at Anet waited for him as he went out hunting, as he would often take them into the woods to fuck him, giving them a coin for their work. The money helped them to pay their taxes".

Louis XIV acepted the homosexuality of Vendôme and other members of the court, such as Lully; indeed, Lully and Vendôme were close friends, and musicians first performed Lully's opera Acis et Galatée at Vendôme's chateau in 1686.

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Source: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, from Antiquity to WWII, Routledge, London, 2001

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