She lived with a variety of men, though her situation truly altered only when she met the comte Jean du Barry. While he had a title, and knew many aristocrats, Jean was a notorious gambler and spendthift, and was deeply in debt. Among his friends – and enemies, of whom he had many – he was known as”le roue.”
In truth, he was little more than a glorified pimp. Du Barry used to take in shopgirls and maids of the time and promise them that with his tutelage they might become the mistress to a Duc. He would then send them off to his friends for sex and take a large percentage of their earnings. He supposedly took Jeanne in because he thought it would attract more people to come and gamble with him. I don’t think I even need to tell you that he cheated at cards. He did.
The police did know all this about Jean, but there wasn’t much they could do. However, upon seeing Jeanne, one policeman wrote “he will certainly try to barter her to his own advantage, but one must admit him to be a connoisseur – his merchandise is always of fine quality.”
The comte Du Barry did seem particularly charmed by Jeanne, though. He began to introduce Jeanne as her mistress, and he sent her off to a great deal of notable men – the most notable of which was probably Cardinal Richelieu, who would later be one of her defenders at court.
However, it was only a man who didn’t want to sleep with Jeanne that led to her becoming the King’s mistress.