Eliza Gilbert

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Gilbert, Eliza (Lola Montez, Countess of Landsfeldt), was born at Limerick in 1824. Her parents were not Irish. At an early age she developed extreme beauty; at fifteen she was married to an old man, Captain James, in Dublin, but quitted him on account of cruelty, and appeared as a ballet dancer in Paris in 1840, and afterwards at Munich. The Annual Register says: "The natural powers of her mind were very considerable; she had a strong will and a certain grasp of circumstances; her disposition was generous, and her sympathies large. These qualities raised the courtezan to a singular position. She became a political power. She exercised a fascination over sovereigns and ministers more widely extended than perhaps had before been possessed by any woman of the demi monde. She was invited from the stage to the palace at Dresden; she was nattered by royalty at Berlin; the good King of Prussia himself offered her refreshment; she was for a short time affianced to a prince... She became the mistress of the old King of Bavaria.

Over this weak but amiable monarch she exercised an unbounded influence. He created her Countess of Landsfeldt, endowed her with an estate of £5,000 a year, with feudal rights over a population of 2,000 persons. She ruled the kingdom, and, singular to say, ruled it with wisdom and ability; had not the revolution driven her from power, she would probably have established a free parliament and liberal institutions at Munich. Her audacity confounded the policy alike of the Jesuits and of Metternich." Her extravagance had dissipated all the treasure lavished on her by the King, her estate was confiscated, she fled the country in disguise, and in London, Paris, and the United States, sank deeper and deeper into degradation. She wrote some trashy books, and she lectured. Finally, a prey to illness, and full of remorse for her mis-spent life, she died in New York, 17th January 1861, aged 37.

Sources

7. Annual Register. London, 1756-1877.

37a. Biographical Dictionary—American Biography: Francis S. Drake. Boston, 1876.

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