"Madame de Pompadour was born Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson in 1721. When she was nine, her mother took her to a fortune teller, who told them that one day Jeanne-Antoinette would reign over a king’s heart. Convinced her daughter was destined for greatness, Jeanne-Antoinette’s mother saw that she received the best education, including voice lessons from the star of the Paris opera. At a masked ball, the recently widowed king Louis XV became smitten with Jeanne-Antoinette. He installed her in an apartment above his own at Versailles, where a secret stairway allowed him to visit her without being seen. There, she amassed a huge library of books, becoming a friend and patron of artists and writers, including Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Diderot. Although Jeanne-Antoinette ceased to be Louis’s mistress after only five years, she remained at court as his friend and pimp-in-residence, interviewing young girls and introducing to him those who passed muster. She became heavily involved in politics and was blamed for France’s disastrous involvement in the Seven Years’ War. Still, the king remained loyal to her until she died of pulmonary failure at age 46."