Saturday, September 3, 2016

Diane de Poitiers

Today's birthday celebration is, for once, not an artist, but a woman of power and influence in 16th century France. Today's news trivia is all about how she hastened her death by drinking an elixir containing gold. There are far more important things about Diane de Poitiers than her death at the age of 66 due to drinking an elixir containing gold. Although she was 20 years older than the king, Henri II, she captured his favor and kept it until his death. Given the lethal sexual politics of any monarchy, that was no small feat. Her downfall came after Henri’s death when Catherine de Medici exacted her revenge.

Diane possessed a sharp intellect and was so politically astute that King Henry II trusted her to write many of his official letters, and even to sign them jointly with the one name HenriDiane. Her confident maturity and loyalty to Henry II made her his most dependable ally in the court. Her position in the Court of the King was such that when Pope Paul III sent the new Queen Catherine the "Golden Rose", he did not forget to present the royal mistress Diane with a pearl necklace. Within a very short stretch of time she wielded considerable power within the realm. In 1548, she received the prestigious title of Duchess of Valentinois, then in 1553 was made Duchesse d'Étampes. The king's adoration for Diane caused a great deal of jealousy on the part of Queen Catherine, particularly when Henry entrusted Diane with the Crown Jewels of France, had the Château d'Anet remodeled for her, and gave her the Château de Chenonceau, a piece of royal property that Catherine had wanted for herself. However, as long as the king lived, the Queen was powerless to change this.

After Henry died, Catherine moved in for the kill. Luckily for Diane, Catherine "settled" for the chateau and not Diane's life.

Henri II's mistress, Diane de Poitiers–born OTD 1499–and killed by her desire to look young… …


Carla Ives said...

Interesting. Thank you. I knew some of this, but especially not the part about the Pope giving her a pearl necklace. She must have been something else! She was beautiful. Even the somewhat stiff (my opinion) portraiture of that age couldn't hide it. I wonder if she really drank the gold or Ms. Catherine had it forced upon her. Hmmm

nancy namaste said...

The story about the gold comes from a rather unreliable source so I take it with a grain of salt.