April 12th 1764.
"Madame de Pompadour is very weak, Sire. The coughing has worsened and is accompanied by much blood. It is not a sight that you should see, Sire. It is unbearable to see such an extraordinary lady in so much pain."
The King looked down at his beloved friend with a deep sadness in his eyes.
Aged only forty-two, Madame de Pompadour was already at the end of her life. She had often suffered from frequent colds during her time at court and specks of blood were sometimes coughed up every so often but she had never thought anything of it because it never caused her any serious pain. After returning to court from a hunting trip with the King just a few days before, Madame de Pompadour had fainted during a card game and was taken ill with a high fever. Only hours later she began coughing and blood began coming up, only this time the coughing was causing her severe pain and it even hurt for her to breath.
The physician was certain that she would die and the King was finding it very difficult to accept the fact that God would so soon take away his most beloved and trusted friend of nineteen years.
"I will stay with Madame de Pompadour. Day and night I will be here until her last breath. I will do what needs to be done for the kingdom at her desk. But the only ones allowed in and out of this room are the Archbishop and her servants. Matters that I need to attend to with my ministers will be done in Madame's salon."
"Sire, I do not think..."
The King interrupted the physician.
"Do not speak. I have said what is to be done. I will care for my beloved Jeanne until she is gone from this world. Do you understand me?!"
The physician and the King's two ministers nodded and then bowed in unison.
And so the King moved into Madame de Pompadour's apartments immediately.
Madame de Pompadour awoke slowly, her eye lids fluttering open. Her body was very weak and she could barely move her hand towards the King's hand. When the King felt her fingers lightly brush over his, he opened his eyes and smiled at her.
"My dearest Jeanne, how do you feel?"
It took her a moment to reply. Her voice was raspy and low.
"I am fine, Louis. It only hurts a little..."
She paused to swallow in pain before continuing. Of course she was lying. The pain was severe but she tried her hardest not to show it to the King.
"But I am glad that you are here."
"I would not be anywhere else, Madame. I will not leave this room. For now, I am simply Louis. The man who is caring for his greatest friend and confidant in her time of need."
The King's words made Madame de Pompadour smile. There was silence between them both for a few minutes.
"I am dying Louis."
These words shocked the King even though he knew very well that they were true.
"Please, Madame. Do not speak of it. I... I cannot bear the thought of losing you."
Tears began to stream down his cheeks.
For the very first time since Madame de Pompadour had met the King, she saw him cry. It was the weakest she had ever seen him and it broke her heart.
"My dear King, please do not shed tears for me. God is watching and you must stay strong. We both must stay strong." Her voice was raspy and weak so the King had to listen very closely in order to understand her words.
"How will I live without you? What will I do?"
For a moment, Madame de Pompadour just looked at the King.
"Place my hand on your cheek so that I can touch your face."
The King did so and felt her hands were cold against his dampened warm cheeks.
"I love you, Louis. I always have. Even when we ceased our affair all those years ago, I never stopped loving you. You gave me so much and yet all I could give you was my loyalty and friendship. I could not even give you children or the intimacy that you craved."
"Madame, you have nothing to feel guilty about. None of that matters now. Your friendship, trust and undying loyalty were always more then enough for me."
"Louis, my darling." Jeanne tried not to appear weaker then what she already was but she could not hold back the groans of pain or her tears.
"Let us pray together." The King said.
Madame de Pompadour nodded and they held each others hands and closed their eyes to pray silently.
In the early morning hours on April 15th 1764, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, aged only forty-two, died from what we know today as Tuberculosis. At the time of her death it is said that King Louis XV was in so much sorrow that he would not let go of her hands after she was gone. It took the Queen coming to his side to finally get him out of Madame de Pompadour's room. Having respected Madame de Pompadour, Queen Marie Leszczynska said a prayer over the lifeless body after the King had left the room.
Throughout her career at the French court the Marquise de Pompadour was not only a close friend and important advisor to the King but she also acted as a sort of Prime Minister. She amazed the King's advisors who never thought a woman could work so hard nor do so well at what they thought to be only a mans job. Every time the King looked at Jeanne he saw not only a beautiful woman but also a loyal, caring and trustworthy friend. She had made herself absolutely invaluable to him so when she died, the King was left without her and that is where his downfall really began.
Madame de Pompadour was given a Queen's funeral and on the day her body was taken from the Palace of Versailles, it was pouring rain. King Louis was said to have remarked with sorrow' "What terrible weather the Marquise has to make her journey in."
Voltaire, who had been a well loved friend of Madame de Pompadour, wrote on her dearth:
"I am very sad at the death of Madame de Pompadour. I was indebted to her and I mourn her out of gratitude. It seems absurd that while I, an ancient pen-pusher, hardly able to work, should still be alive but a beautiful woman in the midst of a splendid career, should die at the age of forty-two."