Tracking Lola Montez in Paris

Believing, as I do, that an author should do his own research so far as time and money permit, I went once again to Paris on the trail of the truth about Lola Montez in Paris.  The results surpassed my expectations and I’m confident now that Lola prepared to seduce King Ludwig I while she was still in Paris in 1846. Portraits show that she transformed herself from an auburn haired Irish beauty to a black haired Spanish grandee’s daughter. She had some  knowedge of Spanish and Catholicism from her earlier stay in Spain. In Munich, she had to pretend to be a Spanish Catholic and she played her part well. By 1846, she already had a Ph.D in seduction (if such a thing existed). Once she got access to old Ludwig, it didn’t take her long to make him believe that she was the best mistress he could find.

Lola Montez must have been a great actress if she really made the Court of King Ludwig believe that she was indeed a Spanish noblewoman and a Catholic when she was neither . Her command of Spanish was poor but so was Ludwig’s. The Jesuits, whom she accused of persecuting her, may have had their suspicions.

If Lola had not engaged in politics and settled down quietly, she might have enjoyed a long and luxurious life as the Duchess of Landsfeldt and the King’s favourite.  There was unending jealousy amongst those at Court who sought to promote their own ends. Lola Montez was inexperienced in dealing with this constant intrigue and pushed too hard to get her views paramount. Inevitably, she had to go sooner or later or be killed.

Even after she was forced to flee from Munich, she continued to enjoy a substantial allowance from Ludwig. Her  marriage in London, first in a Catholic church and later  that same day in a Church of England ceremony, caused Ludwig to doubt her Catholicism and he stopped her allowance on the grounds that her new husband had enough money to support her.

Religion of Catherine Hayes and Lola Montez

Many writers appear to have been under the impression that one or both of these two Irish women were Catholics. Let me tell you here and now, the religion of Catherine Hayes and Lola Montez  was Church of Ireland into which they were born and bred but at times they pretended otherwise. In parts of the world, Catholics were in the majority and it was best to appear to be of that faith.

Catherine Hayes helped Father Matthew, the temperance advocate, when she was in New York and gave a concert to raise money for the roof of a Catholic church in New Orleans. Lola Montez had to pretend to be a Spanish Catholic to become a Countess of Bavaria. Imagine an Irish protestant from a lower class background being able to achieve that status in a country which was then violently anti-protestant. She must have been a very good actress to fool everyone including the Jesuits. Neither Catherine nor Lola cared much about any faith.

In the 19c, the official religion in Ireland was the Protestant Church of Ireland and the ruling class belonged to it. There was bitter animosity between Catholics and Protestants which continues to the present day in some areas. A mature student at a local Adult Education Centre wrote some essays which have been published in a booklet. This is what she says about going to school in the 1950’s at the age of four.

“My oldest sister carried me to the school on the carrier on the back of the bicycle. I will always remember my sister ( name removed) leaving me at a neighbour’s gate. I would go through the neighbour’s yard. I never stopped to play with the children there. There were nine children in that family and they went to a different school. We were Church of Ireland and went to the Church of Ireland school.”

That’s an example of the deep divisions in Irish society which prevented even the children from mixing and perpetuated the hatred and suspicion which fueled the Northern Ireland troubles.

Current Affairs of Lola Montez

Although she died almost 150 years ago, the legend of Lola Montez lives on in Munich where she became King Ludwig’s mistress and he made her the Countess de Landsfeldt. There is a cabaret act in Munich featuring Lola which is described on this German website which includes a topless photo of the dancer.

After her affair with the King ended , Lola went to London where she was married twice on the same day. Presumably, she was still pretending to be a Catholic so that Ludwig would continue her generous allowance. They married first at the French Chapel and went to St. George’s in the afternoon. Lola was already legally married and was charged with bigamy soon afterwards.

I also found that there is a new book “Sex with Kings” by Eleanor Herman which includes Lola Montez as one of the lovers.You can order that for light reading. There is also a German edition “Seks met de Koning”.

Lola Montez didn’t worry about seducing other women’s  husbands. This 1815 cartoon by Rowlandson reminded me of the incident in Australia when she was injured by an irate wife.

Rowland Cartoon

“Neighbourly Refreshment”

Famous Biography

The Famous Biography blog is about the lives of two internationally famous women, Catherine Hayes  and Lola Montez.They both travelled the world and earned fame and fortune. Lola Montez became a courtesan and erotic dancer as a result of circumstances and her extrovert character.

Catherine or Kate as she was popularly known in America and Australia was a lyrics lover and had many written specially for her. One in particular is extremely important in the context of her true lifeand that will be discussed in the new biography ‘Virtue and Vice’.

Catherine Hayes began her singing career in 1839 when she went to Dublin to study under Antonio Sapio. After three years, she returned to Limerick and persuaded the Bishop to underwrite her new dream of becoming an opera star despite the Church’s opposition to stage careers for women.She left Dublin for Paris in October 1842 to study under Manuel Garcia.

Rosenberg tells us in some detail of the evening he spent with Catherine and Mary Hayes at the home of Bowes and his wife ‘just off the Champs Elysee going towards the Arc de Triomphe’. Garcia was also there. After dinner, Rosenberg and Garcia accompanied the ladies home.They left them ‘at their door’ and proceeded past the Madeleine and along to Boulevard des Italiens.His original description of that meeting is important as it proves that Catherine had set up a household of her own in Paris and didn’t live with the Osborne family as others claim.

We don’t know much about Catherine’s life in Paris between October 1842 and April 1844 when she left for Milan.Garcia didn’t allow his pupils to sing in public but we now know that she did so on at least two occasions. Bishop Knox must have continued to support them as usual and was probably a regular visitor to their home. We know that he favoured life on the Continent and in France in particular and that he left Ireland in 1842 never to return to his See. He had a very high income from his Bishopric and his lands and could well afford to live where he choose.

In 1844, Lola Montez arrived and stayed at 24 Rue de la Victoire quite close to where Miss Hayes lived. At that time, Lola was Liszt’s mistress and he’d sent her on ahead to await him in Paris.She said she was there to improve her dancing and actually appeared at the famous Paris Opera dancing in “Le Bal de Don Juan” .Her numbers were entitled ‘Lolita’ and ‘Los Boleros de Cadiz’. She was onlyallowed to give a couple of performances because there were protests from some who said she was below the standard they expected at the Opera.

Life in Paris was anything but dull for the artistic set. Lola got her share of publicity by her usual outrageous behaviour but Kate kept a low profile. Her mother’s presence will have helped her to remain discreet. In 1844, Garcia and Kate appear to annoy each other more than usual and she decides to complete her studies in Milan. She was a difficult pupil at times. Witness the incident at Bowes’ house when she insisted on singing an Irish ballad much to Garcia’s disgust.  No doubt there were other occasions when she kicked over the traces apart from the concerts mentioned above.

Note: Catherine Hayes made a fortune only to lose most of it on her death bed to criminals who forged her will.