Whether or not this is entirely true is debated. This article is from The Terrific Register and was written in 1825 so I doubt the complete veracity of the facts but it’s truly an amusing story.
The duke of Richelieu was the cause of an unprecedented duel between two females, Madame de Polignac and Madame de Nesle, who disputed the possession of him. The duke had repeatedly refused to the see the former, but this was of no avail. Madame de Polignac still loved her inconstant gallant with as much ardour as ever, and was therefore jealous of all the ladies that had succeeded her, not singly, but in troops. Tortured by jealousy, she one day met Madame de Nesle, and challenged her to fight with pistols in the Bois de Boulonge. Madame de Nesle eagerly accepted the challenge, being animated by the same spirit as her fair antagonist, and hoping either to kill her antagonist, and thus remain in undisturbed possession of her lover, or to evince the strength of her attachment, and the ardour of her passion, by an honourable death. The ladies met, and fired at each other. Madame de Nesle fell, and her fair bosom was covered with blood. “Come on,” exclaimed her antagonist, “I will teach you the consequences of robbing a woman like me of her lover; if I had the perfidious creature in my power I would tear out her heart as I have blown out her brains.”
A young man who had heard these cruel words, begged her to moderate herself, and not exult over her unfortunate opponent, whose courage, at least, could not but command her respect. “Silence, young coxcomb,” cried Madame de Polignac, “it does not become you to give me instruction.” *insert snickers at the insults*
Madame de Nesle had not been wounded in the breast, as had first been feared, but very slightly in the shoulder. On coming to herself, some person asked her if the lover, for whose sake she had fought, was worth exposing herself to such a risk for him? “O yes,” replied she, “he deserves much better blood than what circulates in my veins to be shed for him. He is the most amiable man of the whole court; all the ladies lay snares for him; but I hope, after this proof of love which I have given, to obtain the exclusive possession of his heart. I am under too great obligations to you,” continued she, “to conceal his name,——it is the duke de Richelieu; yes, the duke de Richelieu, the first-born of the God of War and the Goddess of Love.”
*dissolves in laughter*
Such a bad photo (and such awful dialogue) but that’s honestly the best I find of either lady (also their clothing isn’t very early 18th century either). The second photo is of the man they fought over. No to point fingers or anything buuuut total popinjay right there! Either way I am loving those red heels!