Boudoir diplomacy refers to ‘a manner of conducting business aspired to by certain ambassadors at courts where one or more women were influential or where a queen or empress ruled, as for example, in St Petersburg during the reign of Catherine II of Russia in the late eighteenth century. Modelling themselves no doubt on Castiglione’s courtier, their object was, by flirtatiousness and skill in what Lord Chesterfield described to his son as ‘the art of pleasing’, to contrive admission to the room where only intimate friends were admitted – the boudoir. Here they had unrivalled opportunities for influence.’ Source: Berridge, G. R., & James, A. (2001). A dictionary of diplomacy. Palgrave.
Boudoir diplomacy was a term used to describe the political and social antics of the French court in the late 17th century. It was an era of glittering salons, extravagant parties, and sophisticated intrigue.
One of the most famous examples of boudoir diplomacy occurred when the Marquise de Maintenon, the second wife of King Louis XIV of France, invited members of the court to her private apartments. She used the intimate atmosphere of her boudoir to further her political agenda and to gain influence over the King.
The Marquise would invite prominent courtiers to her apartments and use her beauty and charm to persuade them to support her political interests. She also hosted lavish parties and dinners in her apartments, where she would use her wit and conversation to entice courtiers to her point of view.
The Marquise was particularly adept at manipulating the court through her boudoir diplomacy and is often credited with having a major influence on the politics and society of the time.