‘All the world knows her storie’: Aphra Behn and the Duchess of Mazarin

Claudine van Hensbergen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In December 1675, Hortense Mancini, Duchess of Mazarin (1646-99), rode into London on horseback disguised in male clothing (en cavalier). e event did not go unnoticed. A record in the Calendar of State Papers contains an account of a co ee house conversation that took place between a pair of Frenchmen and several ‘co sts’ detailing Mazarin’s arrival: 1st Co st. Pray tell us, if you know, what news the late notable express brought. Frenchmen. We know not of any. 1st Co st. Have you not heard of the courier arrived three days since with a retinue that marked him for a man of great quality? 2nd Co st. I saw him and his attendants alight from their post horses, terribly weather-beaten, having rid in the late storms. 1st Frenchman. I now understand. Was it not in Bedford Street, Covent Garden? 1st Co st. Yes. 1st Frenchman. en I will tell you that the person you saw was indeed an extraordi- nary courier and one of great quality. 2nd Frenchman. In truth it was not a courier, but a very illustrious ‘courreuse’. 1st Frenchman. e courier you saw alight, booted and spurred, covered with a great coat and still more covered with mud was the fair Duchess of Mazarin herself.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProstitution and Eighteenth-Century Culture
Subtitle of host publicationSex, Commerce and Morality
EditorsAnn Lewis, Markman Ellis
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781315655703
ISBN (Print)9781848931343, 9781138661509
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameThe body, gender and culture

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