Marie-Anne Walewska (1823 - 1912), was a French courtier and royal mistress. She is known for her relationship to emperor Napoleon III of France in 1857-1861. She served as dame d'honneur to empress Eugénie de Montijo in 1868-1870.
She was born to the Italian count Zanobi di Ricci and princess Isabelle Poniatowski and married the Polish count (later duke) Alexandre Colonna-Walewski, the son of Napoleon I, who was a minister of the French cabinet during the second empire. She is described as an elegant and intelligent blonde beauty and was a leading member of the high society of second empire Paris.
In July 1857, Walewska was reported to have replaced Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione as the main lover of the emperor. Their relationship was well known and attracted attention in diplomatic reports, and she herself alluded to it, possibly to give the impression that she had influence upon affairs of state. She was in parallel a member of the private circle of the empress, who reportedly refused to let the affair affect their relationship. The relationship with the emperor was not exclusive, as he was constantly reported to having seduced one after another of the ladies at court, but she remained his only serious mistress until their relationship ended in 1861.
Walewska succeeded Pauline de Bassano as dame d'honneur in 1868.
|Ancestors of Marie-Anne Walewska|