Catherine Charlotte de Gramont was born in 1639 as the daughter of Marshal Antoine de Gramont and Françoise Marguerite du Plessis, a niece of Cardinal Richelieu.
In 1660 she married Louis I of Monaco. She was three years older than him, and rumours went around that she was still unmarried because she had been in love with a cousin whom her father had refused to allow her to wed. 1 They went on to have seven children, though two died young.
She is described as, “piercing direct dark eyes, aristocratic nose, a mocking smile, flawless white skin and a voluptuous figure swathed in expensive gold silk décolleté gown.” 2 She had a taste for adventure and had tried her best to avoid this marriage.
Louis succeeded his grandfather in 1662, and she visited Monaco that same year, reportedly crying the entire journey and her lover followed behind in a coach disguised as a merchant. She stayed for three years, before returning to the French court of Louis XIV, where she was a lady-in-waiting to Princess Henrietta of England, the Duchess of Orléans. Some rumours even say that she and Henrietta were lovers.
At court, Catherine Charlotte had many lovers, including the King and his brother, the Duke of Orléans, and she was nicknamed Catherine the Torrent. Her affair with the King lasted just a few months, while her husband went off to war. Her affair was a plot designed by Henrietta, who wished to distract him from Louise de la Vallière and thus have him for herself. Catherine Charlotte was banished from the French court in 1668 and was forced to return to Monaco.
She was allowed to return to Paris in 1672, and she died there on 4 June 1678, after a long and painful illness. She had not seen Monaco or her husband for the last six years of her life.